Advertisement

Just Beat It! Popular Legacies of Cultural Revolution Music

  • Barbara Mittler
Chapter
Part of the Chinese Literature and Culture in the World book series (CLCW)

Abstract

Year 2003: A Chinese taxi driver is being asked whether he likes to sing. “Oh yes,” he does, and he especially likes to sing to himself when he is alone in his car. And has he heard of the model works yangbanxi)? Does he like to sing them, too? “Of course,” he has, and “of course,” he likes them, too, and in particular the one tune that he then proceeds to “teach” his clients: a song from one of the model works from the Cultural Revolution, the ballet The Red Detachment of Women. His clients, a group of youngsters in their twenties join in: they, too, as it turns out, know the tune quite well. Indeed, as they get out of the taxi a little later, they immediately begin a street break- dance, attracting many other youngsters to come and join them, and to dance to the sounds of The Red Detachment of Women. The scene ends in a “mass choreography” of synchronized dancers, Michael Jackson-style.

Keywords

Popular Culture Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Oral History Popular Music 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Geremie R Barmé, In the Red: On Contemporary Chinese Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 186Google Scholar
  2. Gregory Lee, ‘“The East Is Red’ Goes Pop: Commodification, Hybridity and Nationalism in Chinese Popular Song and Its Televisual Performance,” Popular Music 14(1) (1995): 95–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barbara Mittler, A Continuous Revolution. Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press Asia Center Series, 2012)Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    See Zhang Shuo “Michael Jackson’s Influence on Chinese popular music”, Touth Writers Qingnian wenxuejia (4) (2011): 125–127.Google Scholar
  5. 39.
    See, for example, Paul Clark, The Chinese Cultural Revolution. A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)Google Scholar
  6. 42.
    Ching Kwan Lee and Guobin Yang, “Introduction: Memory, Power, and Culture,” Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China, edited by Lee Ching Kwan and Yang Guobin (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 1–20Google Scholar
  7. 43.
    See Karl H. Hörning, “Kultur und soziale Praxis: Wege zu einer ‘realistischen’ Kulturanalyse,” Kultur Medien Macht: Cultural Studies und Medienanalyse, edited by Andreas Hepp and Rainer Winter (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1997), 31–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 46.
    For examples of photographs of cinematic performances, see DACHS 2009 Cinema Performances in the Countryside. See also the reports especially in Du Honglin Broken Souls Awakening from Their Dreams: Reports by Sent-Down Youths from Times of Trouble (Ningbo: Ningbo, 1996)Google Scholar
  9. 47.
    Barbara Mittler, “Popular Propaganda? Art and Culturein Revolutionary China,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 152(4) (2008): 466–489Google Scholar
  10. 49.
    Thymian Bussemer, Propaganda und Populärkultur: Konstruierte Erlebniswelten im Nationalsozialismus (Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitätsverlag, 2000), 69.Google Scholar
  11. 50.
    For a discussion of sexual elements in the model works and other model art during the Cultural Revolution, see Mittler, Continuous Revolution, chapters 1 and 6. See also Xiaomei Chen, Acting the Right Part: Political Theater and Popular Drama in Contemporary China (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002), 37Google Scholar
  12. Rosemary Roberts, Maoist Model Theatre: The Semiotics of Gender and Sexuality in the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) (Leiden: Brill, 2010).Google Scholar
  13. Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang, “From Gender Erasure to Gender Difference: State Feminism, Consumer Sexuality, and Women’s Public Sphere in China,” in Spaces of Their Own. Women’s Public Sphere in Transnational China, edited by Mayfair Mei-Hui Yang (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999). She takes prescribed asexuality at face value.Google Scholar
  14. 52.
    Terence H. Quaker, Opinion Control in the Democracies (London: The Macmillan Press, 1985), 196.Google Scholar
  15. 53.
    John Fiske, Understanding Popular Culture (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989), 141.Google Scholar
  16. 54.
    Jacques Ellul, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes (New York: Knopf, 1965), 7–8.Google Scholar
  17. 57.
    Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), 43Google Scholar
  18. 58.
    John Fiske, “Populäre Texte, Sprache und Alltagskultur,” in Kultur Medien Macht: Cultural Studies und Medienanalyse, edited by Andreas Hepp and Rainer Winter (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1997), 74Google Scholar
  19. 61.
    Ibid.; Alex S. Edelstein, Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 1997)Google Scholar
  20. Nancy Snow, Propaganda, Inc.: Selling America’s Culture to the World 3rd ed. (New York: Seven Stories, 2010).Google Scholar
  21. 65.
    Rainer Gries, “Zur Asthetik und Architektur von Propagemen: überlegungen zu einer Propagandageschichte als Kulturgeschichte,” in Kultur der Propaganda, edited by Rainer Gries and Wolfgang Schmale (Bochum: Winkler, 2005), 9–35Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Barbara Mittler 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Mittler

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations