Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Friday, July 06, 2012

US Movies and China's Second Cultural Revolution

One of the saddest things about China is the heavy influence of the worst parts of American culture, especially Hollywood and the movies that flow from America. In Hollywood, if you haven’t noticed, the heroes of our movies tend to be rebellious, social misfits living immoral lifestyles. The impact of these movies in China is rather unfortunate, as my Chinese tutor explained. She sees a “cultural revolution” taking place in which the culture of China is being affected–adversely–by the values imparted through American media.

In Chinese culture, young people who are respectful of parents and teachers have long been the standard. But now, influenced by American movies, it is increasingly acceptable for students to be brats. Our teacher told us that some parents even worry about the good, quiet, obedient students and feel that they will be too quiet and too unpopular. They want them to be “cool” like those darling brats in the movies, and so they push them to be a little more “normal.” So the role models held up for young people have been turned on their heads, thanks in part to the negative influence of American movies. Yes, that's just anecdotal and perhaps not an accurate reflection of national trends, but the impact of America on dress and behavior is not hard to miss on the streets of China.

So pervasive is the influence of American movies that our Chinese teacher, a well educated woman in her late 20s, was shocked when she found out that many Americans, including my wife and I, find the immorality of American movies to be disgusting and raunchy, and that we seek to live very different lifestyles rooted in morality. She gasped. She put her hand on her throat in surprise and amazement and said, “What? We thought all you Americans are that way! That's all we know from the movies.”

We had been meeting with her for some time. I thought she knew us relatively well. And yet she thought we were moral libertines who had no problem with sleeping around and with the degraded, immature lifestyle embraced by Hollywood and its celebrities. Hmm, so much for the idea that people can just look into the eyes of Mormons and see something good. She looked into my eyes and saw Hugh Hefner. I wasn’t leering, really!

We need to let people know who we are and what we stand for or they just won’t get it. Here in China, where we can’t do missionary work, we can still talk about our support of family values and our distaste for the values of Hollywood. And perhaps we can help like-minded people here recognize the downward pull of this second cultural revolution, made in America by but opposed by many Americans, and resist it before it causes more severe harm and pain in this great nation. And I hope you folks over there can help preserve fundamental values in your culture as well and throw out Hollywood as the source of American morality. That would be a revolution worth fighting for. 


Anonymous said...

From what I understand, many Chinese men have a mistress or two on the side. This has been going on for centuries, so you can't tell me they get this from Hollywood. Also, the Chinese have issues in doing good business --their unscrupulous at times, and perhaps moreso than Americans.

I feel as though there are so many wonderful movies available these days. Could it really be that the few bad flicks are the ones making their way to China? I would have thought they would be inspired by some of the movies put out by Hollywood.

The Chinese government bans access to a lot of media. I see so much good in many media outlets. People getting together to fight for a cause they believe in, people supporting each other, and most of all the world is becoming a smaller place as we are brought closer together through websites like Facebook. The Chinese can't even access the Facebook we know.

The US is a good place with good morals and many fine movies. As with anywhere in this world there are always people making wrong choices. Change your perspective and be part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

The first "their" should read as "they're"

Anonymous said...

Saudi Arabia is feeling the effect, going both ways, of having western internet influencing the cultural upbringing of thier children, both making some more worldly and others more radicalized.

Mark Steele

Paul said...

Agree wholeheartedly with Anon 1 -

There are bad movies, for sure. Immoral movies, etc. But who cares about them?

There are very, very wonderful movies that have somehow become the American literature in the post-novel era. Why wouldn't we share with the world our Lord of the Rings films, Finding Nemo, Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Schindler's List, Green Mile, anything by Pixar, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, so many fantastic movies?

There is plenty of trash, true, but America makes the best and most beautiful movies that have ever been made. And the Chinese will be richer, as we are, for having seen and loved these movies.

The great thing about movies, as with all art, is that the best survives and the worst is forgotten.

Anonymous said...

It's true that Hollywood cranks out a lot of junk, but I have to agree with Paul and Anon 1. American film (and TV!) of the past century, the best of it, anyway, is one of America's greatest gifts to posterity. Instead of bemoaning the worst, we should be acquainting the world with the best.

Of course, you can't judge what's best solely in terms of its uplifting effects on the behavior of children or on people's perceptions of Americans. A lot of great American film and TV is laced profanity and "immoral lifestyles" but is nonetheless aesthetically powerful, morally serious work, in many of the same ways as that of Shakespeare or Hemingway.

-- Eveningsun

Unknown said...

It has always been the mistake that creative people make that in order to have freedom of expression they must also have freedom from moral restrictions. You will see it all through out history in art and literature, and now in film. Nevertheless the truly great works of art literature and film, those which really inspire are those that exhibit a sense of morality.

Mark said...

I love your blog! My girlfriend is originally from Shanghai.

Is there a way to send you an email?

Thanks, Mark of Mpls. MN.

Jeff Lindsay said...

You can try jeff at my name.com, where my name = jefflindsay. I get way too much email, so if I miss yours, I apologize in advance, but I try to respond to most of it (but not to nasty grams or humongous lists of arguments).

Jeff Lindsay said...

Mark, I've got to warn you. If you have a girl friend from Shanghai, there's a chance she's going to expect a lot more care and attention than American men are used to, on the average. Contrary to many stereotypes about China, men in Shanghai are surprisingly attentive and service oriented, often cooking, taking care of the kids while the women chat at the park, etc. That's not just my opinion, I've had Chinese women tell me this, too. And Shanghai women tend to be savvy, quick witted, forceful, and definitely able to get their way. This is what I'm seeing over here anyway, on average. So I hope you're able to live up to the high expectations she might have. Shanghai people are so interesting and defy lots of stereotypes that the West has about life in China.