Gone are the long propaganda documentaries featuring 3-hour speeches from Dear Leader Mao.
Now the media is proclaiming the Communist Chinese Party is making “must-see TV.”
CNN really is the Communist News Network.
“Mining Town” is a new23-episode propaganda series from Red China, which was produced as part of the 100th anniversary of China’s Communist Party.
You better believe that everyone — and I mean, everyone — will be participating in this centennial celebration, OR ELSE!
You will party! What does that mean? Anything the Chinese Communist Party says it does that given moment.
The propaganda reel “Mining Town” resisted the temptation to lard the TV series with long party conference scenes where the hero demonstrates of the heroine their memorization of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book.
The result is a popular social drama.
“Mining Town” scored a 9.4 out of 10 on Chinese review site Douban.com, and the rating was by no means totally not rigged.
Chinese propaganda officials are shocked by their sudden success and are now attempting to dissect their surprise hit.
Since the Death, the Chinese Communist Party has struggled to win audiences when competing with commercial TV and film, whether domestic Chinese productions or godless Hollywood imports.
The domestic movie product from China has been so lackluster that the Chinese Communist Party juices the numbers to save face — even though, under the threat of violent punishment, financial sabotage, and/or imprisonment, the Chinese Communist bosses can compel the country’s top directors and stars to participate.
As part of their public relations scheme, the Chinese Communist Party makes state-owned companies buy tickets for their employees.
All of this makes Chinese leader Xi Jinping a sad man. Because all though he has commanded China’s communications apparatuses to “tell China’s story well.”
Rather than lone, droning speeches, now China’s dictator Xi Jinping says it is imperative to “encourage the creation of artistic content about party history, especially film and TV.”
“Mining Town” is state-funded propaganda series, which is directed at the domestic Chinese audience and specifically depicts the grand purported success of a program Xi Jinping helped to create that is focused on poverty alleviation.
The 23-episode TV series never mentions the Chinese Communist Party Chairman’s name once, which is a detour from the old hammer and tongs approach of communist China’s party messaging.
Communist China is now in the business of the “soft sell,” which brutal dictatorships always find is hard to balance when they’re running detention camps and committing genocide of the Uighurs, such as in China’s western providence of Xinjiang.
“The palatability of propaganda has always been a challenge for the party,” said David Bandurski, co-director of the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project. “Shows like ‘Minning Town’ show how sophisticated the media environment has now become, certainly against past failures, in commercializing this party history and quite literally selling it.”
“A lot of these types of TV dramas don’t do a great job of looking for a story,” said Kong Sheng, director of “Minning Town.” “You shouldn’t be so fixated on the message that you don’t know how to deliver it.”
China’s National Radio and Television Administration are promoting “Mining Town” as part of the party’s 100th anniversary under the theme “faith makes China great.”
In meetings with TV regulators, the director Kong Sheng said he had to push for the party hacks that he needed believable characters and genuine conflict if the Chinese Communist Party was to have any hope of reaching young viewers. The director hired local officials and actors to perform in the local dialect instead of standard Mandarin.
China’s National Radio and Television Administration refused to answer questions about the show.
Instead of trumpeting a model of bureaucratic virtue, officials appear scheming and focused on using the “poverty alleviation” program to boost their careers. At one point, the party hacks pay agricultural experts to come to teach the town how to grow mushrooms, but then realize they don’t know how to sell them.
“It confronts the problem that government-engineered initiatives to help the poor, such as growing mushrooms in this case, often fail,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.
“The scenes are authentic, the costume designs are sincere, the dialect version is also very rustic and the cast is strong,” said popular comment on a rating site.
Can you believe anything that comes out of China when the Chinese Communist Party is intent on manipulating every aspect of society? The answer is no.
A TV drama produced by the Chinese Communist Party last year about fighting the COVID-19 pandemic earned an average score of 2.4 out of 10 before the Chinese Communist Party tried to bury it by pulling it from the public rating system.
The main protagonist was among the group of Chinese celebrities who protested and cut ties with Western clothing brands that spoke out about China’s genocide and enslavement of the Uighurs.
In January of 2021, China’s TV regulators brought the show’s production team in along with other industry experts and local party officials to crack the secret behind the show’s success and try to replicate it.
The results since are mixed: in March, state Chinese television released “Classics of China,” which adapted ancient Chinese texts into short stage plays and has garnered 250 million views on YouTube.
The Chinese Communist Party promises you that no clicks were farmed.
China is now editing an international version of “Mining Town.” If you are a masochist and force yourself to watch the entire series, just know that the version you’re watching is very different from the version broadcast in China.
“This is about reshaping the narrative about China both domestically and internationally,” said one the observer.