Sat, Mar 14, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's News Watch: Now playing: 'Betrayal: The Revue'

By Johnny Neihu 強尼內湖

Things are getting too serious around here, dammit, so I thought I’d lighten up and talk about something more accessible.

Is betrayal light enough for you?

I got thinking about the subject when I read of the final collapse of the reputation of a fine artist.

His name is Zhang Yimou (張藝謀). You might have heard of him.

This one-time darling of the international film festival circuit and regular victim of Chinese censorship and other repression (not to mention a stint in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution) is a giant of modern Chinese cinema.

Well, this giant has just fallen down the beanstalk, Jack.

Not only has he upped the ante on his Beijing Olympic extravaganzas by agreeing to direct a fireworks show and military parade for China’s National Day on Oct. 1, the Guardian on March 4 reported that the newly minted Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference member is “currently deliberating between three or four state-sanctioned screenplays” for a film celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic.

Yes, you read that correctly.

What was it that made this man go over the edge and bury himself in the lap of the Chicom propaganda machine? Did the thought of former squeeze Gong Li (鞏俐) marrying a foreign cigarette tycoon before becoming a Singaporean citizen finally go to his head? Or did a premonition of Zhang Ziyi (章子怡) frollicking naked on a beach with whitey trigger a Caligula-like fit of madness?

Nothing like a bit of loin envy to get your nutty nationalism gland secreting, as Mama Neihu would say.

Zhang is shaping up as the Guo Moruo (郭沫若) of the 21st century. Or, to put it more directly, Beijing’s willing artiste bitch.

How are we going to watch this man’s movies now without shedding a tear for his outhouse career trajectory? It’ll be like laughing your ass off watching The Naked Gun — and then O.J. Simpson shows up.

Instant sobriety.

Zhang’s oft-repeated claim that he is not interested in politics is finally, and permanently, discredited. These days he’s cashing in on oppression and spouting sophomoric theories of Chinese fortitude to rationalize suffering of those with far fewer means. Consider all of this carefully, then read some of the interviews that this man has given the Chinese press on his Olympic experience, complete with mockery of “Western” attitudes.

Add it all up, and what we see emerging is one deeply disgusting situation.

Speaking of negative emotions, I’ve been reading the latest issue of Taiwan Review.

Don’t misunderstand me: I kinda like the Government Information Office (GIO) mag. It’s a nice glossy effort with pretty pics and useful stories.

No, I was referring to a review of a new tome by Su Chi (蘇起), secretary-general of Taiwan’s National Security Council.

The reviewer is Robert Green, a former editor with the mag. The book details Su’s adventures in formulating and manipulating Taiwan’s cross-strait policy. It’s called Taiwan’s Relations with Mainland China: A Tail Wagging Two Dogs, where the “tail” is Taiwan and the dogs, in an unfortunate metaphor, are the US and China.

Green’s writing is not crudely unbalanced. His references to former presidents Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) are quite sensible. His writing does not initially tempt one to label him a pan-blue-camp shill.

But there is a problem, and it’s quite a sizable one.

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