Made in China
For those of you who have garnered some small pleasure from reading my previous compositions, I present to you this short diatribe.
Last month, I happened upon several online news articles reporting that one of my favorite composers, Björk, had been banned from performing in China. Apparently, the Culture Ministry in the People’s Republic declared that her exclamation of “Tibet! Tibet!” during the finale of her recent concert in Shanghai was both illegal and offensive. The Culture Ministry went on to state that her performance contradicted some universal artists’ code of ethics, and that any person who supported Tibet’s independence from China was somehow lacking of moral fiber.
Now, I would like to point out to any and everyone that those adventurous allegations are simply riddled with a whole lot o’ wrong. At first, I was truly astonished that anybody from such a large, diverse, and culturally rich country could ever confuse the role of art―be that literary, visual, physical or musical―in the development and continuation of human society. But, surely as I sit and breathe, another revelation comes upon me: the Chinese government is just as aware of the inherent power in art to move, lead, and shape society as it is unconcerned with promoting human rights initiatives. In light of that notion, it seems that China has succeeded in raising up a generation or two that is either unable to receive art in all its statement-making splendor, or the people are simply too afraid to support anything that could be construed as protest against their government. I was surprised to learn that many in the audience responded unfavorably to Björk’s “criminal” exclamations. Just as I am profoundly nonplussed that such an oh-so-obviously amoral government, in a highly lamentable display of indignation, would so easily and speedily deign to hurl prohibition legislation and a guilt trip at a potential critic.
I would never presume that the United States of America, or any other Western country, is everything it could be. All I know is that the People’s Republic of China, whose government appears in no way possessed by its citizens, may be even more wanting. We can talk all day about “world economic superpower” and scramble to learn Mandarin like flies to feces. However, as people all around the world continue to question and to debate the ramifications of American-led or American-influenced globalization, I wonder as I wander which evil it is, then, China will become.