- - Thursday, May 21, 2015

China’s sustained, state-mobilized anti-Japanese propaganda campaign, one that has permeated the main news, arts and entertainment industries, has run into a wave of domestic criticism, as many World War II-themed anti-Japanese dramas on television have come across as bizarre, vulgar, even pornographic kitsch. The campaign is causing public revulsion and condemnation.

Popularly mocked as “Resisting-Japan Bizarre Dramas,” these movie and TV productions often portray the communist-led anti-Japanese forces during the war in the most hagiographic and self-glorifying light. Chinese forces are shown carrying out all sorts of miracles to destroy Japanese troops, with soldiers throwing rocks to down Japanese military aircraft and a lone Chinese woman using hunting bows to kill dozens of fully armed Japanese soldiers.

In one episode of the TV series called “Our Unit Designation Shall Never Fade,” a Chinese battalion commander brings down a high-flying Japanese military airplane by hurling a hand grenade into the air. “Kill Every Japanese Devil” has a scene that shows a Chinese man using a sewing needle to dispatch Japanese invading soldiers. In the drama “Fabulous Resisting-Japan Hero,” the protagonist is immune to Japanese bullets and swords and is able to cut a Japanese soldier, with his bare hands, into two parts, from head to toe, like a cleaver slicing the length of a stick of bamboo.

The scripts are also bizarre and incredible.

Indelibly imprinted into the Chinese popular lexicon are many infamous lines from these “Resisting-Japan Bizarre Dramas.” One of them is this gem: “My grandfather was brutally killed by the Japanese devils when he was only 9 years old. I hate the Japanese.” Another is a sentence in one drama that has been made into a mocking ringtone: “I knocked out a Japanese devil’s machine-gunner with a single bullet from 800 li away!” A Chinese li is roughly a third of a mile, so the good comrade could kill a Japanese solider from 248 miles away.



The standard Chinese term to describe World War II is the “Eight-Year War of Resistance against Japan,” counting the 1937 Marco Polo bridge incident as the beginning of the conflict. But the term was not used until after the war was over in 1945. Yet many Chinese TV and movie dramas routinely use this phrase in their scripts as if the communists already knew in 1937 or 1940 exactly how long the war would last.

To many Chinese viewers, the most repulsive aspect of these crudely anti-Japanese productions is the blatant display of salacious, often pornographic, scenes, broadcast during the prime evening viewing slots.

In a highly watched drama called “The Man From the Frontier City,” a man gives a beautiful widow an aphrodisiac drink, followed by a full five-minute depiction of the woman’s masturbation and the subsequent sex act between the two. The nation’s jaws dropped from the broadcast.

This month, the talk of the nation in China is an episode of a popular anti-Japanese TV drama, broadcast by a station in Sichuan, China’s most populous province. Titled “Let Us Fight the Japanese Devils Together,” the series, featuring the wife of 110-meter hurdler Liu Xiang, China’s most celebrated athlete, is often criticized for its racy and steamy soft-porn contents masquerading as an officially sanctioned serious drama.

In this particular episode, the male protagonist, a bandit leader turned anti-Japanese hero, is detained by the Japanese occupation authorities. His wife, played by actress Ge Tian, Mr. Liu’s wife, visits him in the cell. She miraculously manages to hide an elongated stick-type grenade in her vagina and passes the guards. While being watched by the Japanese military interrogator and his Chinese collaborator, the two then perform a last act of erotic intimacy while the husband insults the Japanese emperor. When the Japanese interrogator is about to shoot the man for the royal insult, the husband pulls the grenade from his wife’s body, and the woman gleefully pulls the ignition pin, thus sacrificing their lives for the party and the motherland.

Their last words: “Let’s have an ecstatic moment one more time.” Enemy defeated, game over.

The backlash to these socialist, surrealist dramas has been momentous in China, so much so that the party leadership moved to curb the enthusiasm of the country’s artistic propaganda community. The official Xinhua News Agency on Thursday published a rare hard-hitting article calling the shows “vulgar and deviant.” After a national outcry, the Communist Party’s propaganda department promptly banned the broadcast of “Let Us Fight the Japanese Devils Together.”

But short of abandoning the Japan-demonizing policy altogether, many remain doubtful that such “vulgar and deviant” kitsch on China’s public airwaves will be effectively eliminated.

Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected] and @Yu_miles.

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