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War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern China, 1937-1945: Chang-tai Hung
University of California Press | ISBN: 0520082362 | 1994-07-07 | PDF (OCR) | 432 pages | 8.37 Mb

This is the first comprehensive study of popular culture in twentieth-century China, and of its political impact during the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 (known in China as "The War of Resistance against Japan"). Chang-tai Hung shows in compelling detail how Chinese resisters used a variety of popular cultural forms--especially dramas, cartoons, and newspapers--to reach out to the rural audience and galvanize support for the war cause. While the Nationalists used popular culture as a patriotic tool, the Communists refashioned it into a socialist propaganda instrument, creating lively symbols of peasant heroes and joyful images of village life under their rule. In the end, Hung argues, the Communists' use of popular culture contributed to their victory in revolution.
Summary: Popular Culture or Elite Manipulation?
Rating: 4
War and Popular Culture: Resistance in Modern China, 1937-1945 by Chang-tai Hung outlines the use of popular culture by both the Communist and the Guomindang Parties to mobilize the rural population during the Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese invasion forced the urban population from coastal treaty ports to the "hinterlands", putting many intellectuals and elites in contact with rural peasants. This "Ruralization" created an opportunity to recruit the peasantry to Communist and GMD causes. Hung outlines several types of popular culture mediums that were used to politicize the "masses", but he concentrates most thoroughly on cartoons, literature, and newspapers.
Poor communication and transportation channels, as well as the staggering illiteracy rate in rural China, made dissemination of media difficult. It was necessary for both parties to "activate an unprecedented, ambitious propaganda campaign." (p. 3)
Both parties used the technique of "pouring new wine into old bottles', or inserting new themes into old popular culture forms to win support. Hung asserts that the Communist Party was more adept at co-opting folk art due to having experience operating in rural areas, unlike the GMD. Also, the Communists created more varied and compelling propaganda because they not only created anti-Japanese works, but also portrayed images of progress and happiness that could be actualized through socialist reforms.
Unfortunately, some of Hung's assertions are simplistic or false. Hung admits that even in the interior, writers, artists, and actors were confined to larger towns, not remote villages. It is difficult to accept that propaganda that was principally disseminated in larger towns could have the widespread effect that Hung suggests it does. Hung also admits that intellectuals, not peasants, created these works. The art created by the political parties imitated the style popular culture, but does that automatically make it popular? Most damningly, Hung fails to establish that the propaganda actually worked. It is not enough to simply create a catalog of propaganda and assert that it was effective because it existed. Hung does not provide metrics for the effectiveness of the propaganda campaigns.
Rhetorical faults aside, War and Popular Culture contains many fascinating examples of art and literature produced during the Sino-Japanese war. Additionally, it gives a plausible account of the enormous transformation in artistic styles that Chinese art underwent during this period. This movement from an elitist Confucian style to a new and more accessible form represents a tremendous aesthetic and cultural shift. Because this book contains such a wealth of examples of "popular culture" it also serves as a useful reference work.
Summary: Criminally Pathetic Thing, Prejudice.
Rating: 5
You know what? Falsely accusing people is a crime. And in a civilised country, the basic human rights asure every suspected person to be given a chance to appeal and refute. When the World War 2 ended, however, the Allied Powers, especially the U.S.A., never allowed Japan to be given a chance to have fair trials. The U.S. oriented occupation forces whitewashed Japanese wartime history with their version of it and gave it to the Japanese people and the whole world. Therefore, what you now believe Japan's crimes in the war are, in fact, unsubstantiated non-facts. A bunch of propaganda. It benefitted the U.S.A. and China and the former Soviet Union immencely, for they had a lot of war crimes themselves that were committed against Japanese civilians to hide.
What the most inportant thing when you come across those refutations is that you decide if the refutations are mere anti-propaganda propaganda or not by yourself using your best objective mind to examine whether their grounds of arguments are healthy and genuine.
Stop throwing ugly slur on the face of the refuter. Make good, solid counter-arguments instead. Otherwise, it may be inevitable that you will be branded as pathetic dogs of war-propaganda.

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