In April 2013 many Chinese took to social media to mock the excessiveness of anti-Japanese war dramas on Chinese television. Anyone who channel surfs inside China knows that anti-Japanese dramas are staple programming. The programs, which whip up hatred of the Japanese, have in recent years gotten the green light because 1) they serve the political objectives of China’s leaders by polishing up the liberation credentials of the CCP, 2) portray the CCP as China’s protector against outside aggressors, 3) distract Chinese from internal woes, 4) are an easy sell to Chinese audiences who have been reared on anti-Japanese sentiments and 5) are easy to make in a heavily restricted media environment where most contemporary issues are impossible to explore. But the flood of anti-Japanese programming has also resulted in extreme competition in a production environment that encourages low-budget fare. As a result, these programs have raced to the bottom, resorting to ever more extreme violence and sexual content to lure audiences. One recent example cited by fed-up web users was a scene in one program in which a naked young woman salutes Red Army soldiers who have just rescued her from rape as the hands of brutal Japanese soldiers. In another program a Japanese soldier is sliced in half by a heroic peasant warrior capable of ridiculous feats of violence. In the above cartoon, posted to Sina Weibo by artist Johnny Won (原子漫画), Chinese television viewers, grey and faceless, sit on a grey sofa and watch a pastiche of tasteless anti-Japanese programming. They throw their hands up with joy as a Japanese soldier is split in two.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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