Written by Frank Li
I have made numerous comparisons between the U.S. and China, from the political systems (America: It’s The Political System, Stupid!), to the political leaders (Correctly Assessing Chinese Leaders and American Presidents), and to history (Human History: the West vs. the East). This post will make a cultural comparison in movies, including TV shows and net streaming.
I touched upon the subject in several previous posts. Two examples:
In America: What is China, Anyway?, I stated “the Chinese are fascinated about America … They love American movies.”
In America: What’s Really Going On in China?, I stated “there is a great ‘cultural renaissance’ in China!”
Let me elaborate on each.
1. The Chinese love American movies and TV shows
Hollywood has produced some of the finest movies over the past century. The world, including China, loves Hollywood!
The first American movie I watched was Futureworld – It was fantastic! Today, China officially imports about 10 American movies yearly, and most of them are huge hits. For details, click: List of highest grossing films in China.
The Chinese also like American TV shows. For more, read: China’s Favorite American TV Shows.
2. A cultural renaissance in China
China had been in a steep decline since 1800, reaching its nadir by 1976. Throughout much of that time, especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Chinese culture suffered great losses.
With the China miracle over the past three and a half decades, Chinese culture has recovered a lot from its prior losses. Two most notable points:
Some Chinese movies and TV shows now are so high in quality that they may even challenge Hollywood and be Oscar worthy, in my humble opinion!
Through many great historical TV shows, China can now boast a population well educated in history, at least!
3. The U.S. vs. China
Most Americans know very little about China, let alone Chinese movies and TV shows. So allow me to offer my fellow Americans a perspective from China:
The Chinese are better at depicting the past, meaning the Chinese make better movies (and TV shows) about China’s history (e.g. The First Emperor and Three Kingdoms). Why? One key reason is that China’s history is not only one of the longest in the world, it’s also the best documented and now best filmed, with hundreds of TV series, most of which are extremely high in quality!
Americans are better at depicting the future, meaning Americans make better movies (and TV shows) about the future (e.g. Star Wars). Why? One key reason is Americans are more imaginative about the future!
I largely agree with this perspective!
How about the present (e.g. romance and drama)? I think the Chinese and Americans are equally good at making movies (and TV shows) about the present.
How about movies and TV shows about present politics? It’s forbidden in China, but it’s great in the U.S. (e.g. The West Wing and White House Down)! Specifically, let’s focus on my favorite: House of Cards …
4. House of Cards
House of Cards is only available via Netflix in the U.S. But it’s widely available in China (House of Card with Chinese captions), free of charge! It was such a huge hit in China that it was actually recommended to me by a friend in China!
House of Cards shows, in a half-truth and half-fictional style, how “over-rated democracy is”. Now, it appears that the Chinese better understand what Kevin Spacey (cast as American Vice President Francis Underwood) meant by that than do Americans …
House of Cards also shows that modern American politics is, in many ways, even worse than ancient Chinese palace politics for one key reason: In ancient China, there was only one emperor, while in the U.S. today, there are 547 (i.e. 435 in the House, 100 in the Senate, 10 in the Supreme Court, plus the President and the VP), all vying for power, money, and sex!
Here are the recent approval ratings for the three branches of our government:
- Americans’ Approval of Supreme Court Near All-Time Low.
What a great government of the people, by the people, for the people!
Despite the lack of freedom of speech in China, the Chinese are, overall, better informed and better educated than Americans, in my humble opinion. How is that possible? Aside from America’s self-destruction as I highlighted in a previous post (Human History: the West vs. the East), here are two main reasons: basic education (Best education in the world) and movies, including TV shows and net streaming!