China’s ‘Rose’ in 1940-50s and ‘Wolf Warrior in 2010s

The Album Cover of ‘Rose, Rose, I Love You’ (photo from Sheet Music Warehouse)

Two Chinese movies are fostering destructive effects on cultural development and sublimation in China despite their recent box office success.

The ‘Wolf Warrior 2’ made a so-called world total of USD867.6 million of which $2.7 million is from the United States and $854.2 from the mainland.

Another film ‘Operation Red Sea’ came to the market later and in just two weeks the box office has reached USD333.9 million on mainland, but merely $1 million in the United States.

They both are of the similar type to the American popular action movies about battles and superheroes. In short, fight, fight, fight. The solution to a conflict of interests between two parties is elimination of the ‘Other’ by bloody fights and weapons.

China, despite its gigantic market, is falling into the trap of non-stop violence, gun culture and alike. Should this brainless style go on, it would neither cultivate a new benchmark for art, nor yield echo from the peoples all over the world.

Such a sadness reminds me of the song “Rose, Rose, I Love You” recorded by American singer Frankie Laine. It was a well received song in the 1950s and its highest ranking on the American Billboard chart was #3.

This fine piece was actually composed by a Chinese musician Mr. Chen Gexin and first recorded by Ms. Yao Lee in Mandarin in 1940. When the song was brought to England by broadcaster Wilfrid Thomas, it attracted the attention of some people in the industry and then we had this in English ……

Although this song was the only ‘written-by-Chinese’ popular hit in the UK’s and US’ music markets, it means it is not impossible for some Chinese cultural items to appeal to the mass public overseas. If we trace back to history, it was chinaware, silk and tea that not just captured the attention of the Europeans but also transformed their daily lives in both cities and rural towns. The art of ceramics, for example originates from China and by now peoples all over the world are making both technological and artistic progress here and there.

Forget about the terms ‘Soft Power’ and alike. If there is a global role for the Chinese culture to play, it should be ‘Co-existence’ between strong and weak, between big and small, and between fast and slow, because the quest for win-win solution embodied in ancient Chinese philosophy is workable with the technologies nowadays. China does not need another version of “Self-vs-Other” or “us-vs-them” problem to be resolved by violence.

Take a look at ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Gone with the Wind’, ‘Odd Couple’, ‘Titanic’, ‘Juno’, Charlie Chaplin’s classics …… Stories about love, friendship, social class problems all can make money as well. The key point is whether you can present it well. China’s peaceful rise can never materialize if the cultural artists keep on imitating the American violent subculture for earning quick money.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

Categories: Media & Entertainment

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2 replies

  1. The author blurs a bit, or more perhaps, distinctions between the rubbish vomited out by Hollywood and the culture that is genuinely American. As for those estimable products from China, who would know of them if not for traders of centuries past committed to opening the great, but insular kingdom? If not for Nixon’s entreaties, would China still be closed to all things Western? Possibly so, Perhaps, likely so. And as for Chinese culture, of what is he speaking? Does he speak of the Uighars or the Manchurians? Perhaps it is the Cantonese or the Tibetans, if the latter can even be called Chinese. Or perhaps he writes of the Hong Kongers or the Beijingers? Does he know? I read there are at least 35 languages in China. This makes it difficult to speak of Chinese culture as a monolith, as the author has done. As for America, much the same. Notwithstanding the author’s confusion of Hollywood and authentic American culture, does he know the difference in culture between a Mormon from Utah and an Appalachian Baptist? Or the difference in culture between a North Dakotan of Scandanavian descent and African American from Alabama. Or of a Bronx dweller of Italian descent and West Texan? Or a Jew from Queens and a Pentecostal from Kansas? Or a Cuban American from Miami and a Mexican American from Los Angeles? Maybe he means the Chinese Americans living in San Francisco? No, he doesn’t know of what he writes because he has not been precise with words, confusing film and culture, and giving far too much value to film.

    And what does China principally export today?: Theft of all property technological, intellectual, and otherwise. Also, much adulterated agricultural products and contaminated goods of every type. The Chinese are without conscience, an embarrassment to all virtue. The Chinese Communist Party has turned China into an unprincipled nation of thieves governed by the dictator, Xi. When I weep for the shortcomings of my own country, I think of the corruption of China and I consider that America is not yet beyond redemption and that we could plummet deeper into the cesspool of historical experience should we pursue the socialist path of China, Cuba, Venezuela and other nations, as some Americans would have us do. To be a socialist is to make the state a god, and to make the government leader, God’s prophet and highest priest. It is sacrilege.


    • [a] I, this article’s author, share the view that both the American and Chinese, or in fact all other nations’, civilizations grow on diversity and ever-changing dynamics. As mentioned in my previous articles, I admire the ancient Greek as well as modern European and American values, ranging from the Enlightenment thinkers to Michel Foucault. The films ’12 Angry Men’ and those named in this article (e.g. Sound of Music) exemplify the adorable American values. It is why at the end of this article, I clearly use the word ***’subculture’*** to warn the Chinese filmmakers not to “imitating the American violent subculture for earning quick money”.

      [b] Mr. Frymire is right to highlight the diverse background of the Chinese civilization. However, in a short article like mine, I assume it is understandable that it is easier to make the point clear by referring to the mainstream Confucian moral values which emphasize harmonious co-existence, peaceful solution to conflicts …… I do not deny that China nowadays has lots of problems here and there. However, this nation could have never grown so fast and big in the past 30 years were there not a solid and sound morality in this society (It has been studied and proved by lots of scholars worldwide, even in the early 1970s e.g. Dwight Perkins of Harvard U), Sadly, moral decay is also taking place on mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong (Greater China). As a public intellectual, I want to do something positive, and it is why I am writing here.


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