China's Film Furor Draws Attention to Changing Mores ; A Controversy over Too Much Skin Points to the Chasm Dividing Puritan Official Morality from the Lives of Real Chinese

By Peter Ford writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, February 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

China's Film Furor Draws Attention to Changing Mores ; A Controversy over Too Much Skin Points to the Chasm Dividing Puritan Official Morality from the Lives of Real Chinese


Peter Ford writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


When Chinese director Zhang Yimou's latest blockbuster hit theaters here last month, it sparked just one topic of conversation, and a great deal of controversy.

The film's plot, aesthetics, and artistic ambitions, all those aspects of "Curse of the Golden Flower," were lost in a torrent of shocked comment on the eye-catching manner in which all the female characters' bosoms appear only a breath away from bursting out of their tightly laced bodices.

"A pile of steamed buns," fumed one establishment critic. A mother complained to China Daily newspaper that she had been obliged to repeatedly cover her 5-year-old son's eyes as they watched the movie. "I told him to do so with his own hands, but he wouldn't," she said.

The boy may have been wide-eyed with wonder at the unaccustomed sight of so much cleavage. But even as debate raged in the state- controlled media over whether the censor had been too lax, more evidence emerged pointing to the chasm that divides puritan official morality from real Chinese peoples' lives.

A survey of Beijing teens revealed that almost as many of them approve of living together before marriage as disapprove. And fewer than 1 in 5 of the girls said she would refuse outright if her boyfriend asked for sexual relations.

"The official ideology is still pretty much the same as it was in the late Maoist era" 30 years ago, says Jing Jun, a sociology professor at Beijing's Tsinghua University. "They haven't figured out young people at all."

Nor have young people necessarily figured themselves out, Professor Jing suggests, as they struggle to cope with massive social and economic changes they have seen in their short lifetimes. "The old era has gone, but the new ideology of making money ... leaves a vacuum of ideas regarding morality and behavior in a society changing so fast," he says.

Young Chinese don't seem to be taking much guidance from the official creed of "Socialist morality." The state's response to the tide of greed and lawlessness that has swept the country along with capitalism is enshrined in President Hu Jintao's "Eight Honors, Eight Disgraces," a set of platitudes such as "Be diligent; not indolent," or "Live plainly, struggle hard; do not wallow in luxuries or pleasures."

These dicta translate into the sort of rules that went into effect Feb. 1, obliging Chinese TV stations in prime time to screen only "ethically inspiring" series, in the words of Wang Weiping, an official with the government's broadcast watchdog, quoted by the official Xinhua news agency. Previous regulations have demanded that Chinese soap operas not depict extramarital affairs, and that reality TV shows promote "favorable morality."

While officialdom fiddles with such efforts to improve the nation's morals, a syphilis epidemic is raging throughout the country.

A study published last month found the disease had rocketed to 5.7 cases per 100,000 in 2005 after having been virtually eradicated 12 years earlier.

"Changing social practices such as people experimenting with sex at earlier ages and before marriage," along with "a cultural climate that favors reemergence of prostitution" are behind the epidemic says the study, written by Chinese and US public health experts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

China's Film Furor Draws Attention to Changing Mores ; A Controversy over Too Much Skin Points to the Chasm Dividing Puritan Official Morality from the Lives of Real Chinese
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.