Art and Censorship in China

Evan Osnos offered up a great post on filmmaker Feng Xiaogong and his reent and shockingly open rebuttal to China’s art censors.  At China’s  equivalent of the Oscars, he apparently called the censors “outrageous and absurd.”  A few moments later, his feed was cut.

This comes on the heels of an internet scrubbing of one of my favorite Chinese novelists,  Murong.  Last week, his blogs were all deleted by government censors who are worried about artists who “subvert state power and wreck national unity. . . incite ethnic hatred and division. . . promote cults and. . . distribute content that is pornographic, salacious, violent or terrorist.”

Murong’s  response:

I am writing you this letter because I believe your awesome powers are only temporary. You can delete my words, you can delete my name but you cannot snatch the pen from my hand. In the years to come this pen of mine will fight a long war of resistance, and continue to write for as long as it takes for me to see the light of a new dawn. I believe you will not be able to hide in the shadows forever. . .

Murong is apparently no longer willing to turn himself into a “proactive eunuch”  who is “self-castrated.”

Feng and Murong are only the two most recent artists who are no longer cowed by goon-squad tactics.  Ai Weiwei has become an international sensation, his fame growing in direct proportion to the amount of pressure and harassment he suffers and the number of and beatings and arrests he endures at the hands of CPC cadres.

All of this, of course, just a few years after the Communist Party disappeared Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.  Liu– a poet and literary critic– has been  jailed for most of the last two decades for refusing to self-censor.  His  courage in the face of censorship and suppression may have been the impetus for other artists to stand with a bit more integrity.

Liu wrote to his wife from prison.  These are some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read:

Sweetheart … I am sentenced to a visible prison while you are waiting in an invisible one. Your love is sunlight that transcends prison walls and bars, stroking every inch of my skin, warming my cell, letting me maintain my inner calm, magnanimous and bright, so that every minute in prison is full of meaning.

Given your love, sweetheart, I look forward to my country being a land of free expression, where … all views will be spread in the sunlight for people to choose without fear. I hope to be the last victim.

I am a hard stone in the wilderness, putting up with the pummeling of raging storms, and too cold for anyone to dare touch. But my love is hard, sharp, and can penetrate any obstacles. Even if I am crushed into powder, I will embrace you with the ashes.



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