November 16, 2004

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The death of Chinese humour

If you only read one post about China this year, you should read more blogs. But if it really has to be just one, make it this excellent essay by David Moser titled "Stifled Laughter: How the Communist Party killed Chinese humour". A small taste:

It is ironic that China, with the world’s largest population, also wastes more human resources than any country on earth. An entire generation of talent was effectively lost during the Cultural Revolution. And it could be argued that, since 1949, China has metaphorically shackled and silenced all its Lenny Bruces, Mort Sahls, Richard Pryors, Dick Gregorys, Eddie Murphys and Margaret Chos. Of course, all cultures are different, and such potential Chinese comedic geniuses would have undoubtedly produced standup comedy with “Chinese characteristics”. The pity is that we will never know what that comedy might have been like.

If crosstalk is dying, it is not because of inexorable market forces, or because of some ineffable cultural difference. It is rather the fault of the Communist Party, whose paranoia and pathetic sense of dignity has produced a media environment in which nothing truly humorous can ever arise and flourish. It is the Party that killed the laughter. And this is truly no laughing matter.

Add humour to the pile of damage the Communists have done to China. I rarely say this: read the whole thing.

posted by Simon on 11.16.04 at 04:03 PM in the China history, education & culture category.


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This has to be taken into context what China was in the 1940s. it was a feudal place in chaos.

The communist moved china up somewhat, and then back down somewhat. Two steps forward, one step backward.

In a way, china's rapid growth now may be attributable to the foundations that may have been laid down in the 60s and 70s?

all the best,

posted by: wilson ng on 11.17.04 at 01:39 PM [permalink]

Wilson, you could argue that China moved one step forward and many steps back, especially with Mao's chaotic Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolutions. China's emergence in the last 25 years has been because Mao died and more sane leaders took the helm.

posted by: Simon on 11.18.04 at 11:20 AM [permalink]

Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win By fearing to attempt. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Measure for Measure", Act 1

posted by: Acuvue bifocal contact lenses on 11.25.04 at 12:10 AM [permalink]

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