Chinese media censors and government officials announced a new program this week designed to indoctrinate artists considered deviant in “a correct view of art,” by forcing them to live among peasants in the countryside. The measure follows a national ban on puns and call for an end to “immoral” art.
The Communist State’s General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and TV announced this week that artists who appeared to need redirection would be sent to “re-education” or “ideological training” in rural areas of China, where they are expected to visit historical sites and live the difficult life of the countryside, directing their attitudes in their art towards patriotism and love of the communist party. According to the BBC, among those chosen are “provincial TV teams who will be visiting a famous battle site in order to find inspiration for an animated film series.”
The move harkens back to tactics used to subdue anti-government artists during Mao’s “Cultural Revolution,” when it was common to force intellectuals, artists, and writers into exile in the country, presumably to learn about the difficult lives of those far from the capital.
The Guardian notes that the government is also claiming the quarterly exile into the countryside will allow artists more contact with ethnic minorities, sending them to “ethnic minority and border areas, and areas that made major contributions to the country’s victory in the revolutionary war.” Such news follows the announcement that ethnic minorities in western Xinjiang province will no longer be allowed to practice religion in public without legal retribution, and attempt at suppressing the Muslim Uyghur community that lives there. The Chinese government had already banned any public observation of Ramadan there earlier this year.
In October, President Xi Jinping made clear in a speech that he was interested in involving the government more deeply in the private artistic activities of Chinese people. “Fine art works should be like sunshine from blue sky and breeze in spring that will inspire minds, warm hearts, cultivate taste and clean up undesirable work styles,” he said, condemning artists who work for money or “lose themselves in the tide of market economy.” Shortly thereafter, Communist Party media watchdogs banned puns in Chinese media, condemning them as “contradictory in spirit to the promotion and continuance of excellent, traditional Chinese culture.” The group also argued that puns could “create misunderstandings” for minors and, as such, are a hazard to the family.