27 July 2008


I haven't written on anything in more than a month, not having seen any interesting conspiracy theories. But I read this yesterday New Yorker piece on Tang Jie, a young Chinese philosophy student who posted this video on a Chinese site called Sina, where it got over a million hits. The same video on YouTube has only gotten a little over a thousand, but I think it would have little meaning to most Americans. The video is made in the style of Western conspiracy videos, with still images, lofty music and poorly written, vague titles. Unlike your average American conspiracy theorist, however, Jie appears to be a modest, bookish philosophy student with a deep love for his country. He criticizes Western media, implying a conspiracy to present China as a backwards and evil country.

The video itself makes little sense to me, beyond the basic idea. The visuals are hard to understand and the argument is fragmented and far from complete. Apparently Jie made the video because he was sick of seeing so much distorted information about China online, and couldn't find anything that opposed the mainstream perspective. The video itself is relatively innocuous. The only image that really caught my attention is one of the Dalai Lama and George Bush meeting over a swastika, the relevance of which I don't quite understand, though I guess ambiguous imagery is a convention of these videos. It uses a lot of empty rhetoric about the Chinese standing up, the truth leading the people, etc.

Despite the resemblances to video like "Fuck the Corporate Media"--which you can view in my last post--the essential difference of this film is that it sides with the Chinese government. Most conspiracy theories involve the collusion of the media and the government, but 2008! China stand up! only accuses the foreign, and to a lesser extent foreign nations, of a conspiracy against the Chinese. Jie doesn't resemble the traditional conspiracy theorist, and the video has a more earnest tone. It's certainly less mockable than "Fuck the Corporate Media."

It addresses the controversy over the Beijing Olympics, which is a product of the general feeling of China's growing power in the world, and the predicted opposition of the US, and theorizes a new Cold War between the US and China, a compelling if extreme idea. But this is obviously another genre convention, taking the seed of an idea to its most absurd conclusion.

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