Captivated by their scintillating Web advertising, I went to see Shen Yun, now branded “China earlier than Communism”. Shen Yun is the theatrical enterprise of Falun Gong, apparently a slightly worthwhile enterprise. Falun Gong is a controversial spiritual motion that’s ostracized in mainland China and Shen Yun is controversial, too: see, for instance, the New Yorker right here.
I wasn’t significantly excited. The present is split into many, shorter bits. Some are slightly attention-grabbing: I used to be enchanted by an Erhu soloist and located the singers fairly good. I believed the orchestra was glorious, and Shen Yun appears clearly able to attracting nice expertise. They attracted nice curiosity too; the theatre was packed, for a matinee in a mid-size Italian metropolis, and many of the viewers members had been Italians, slightly than Chinese language expatriates. Within the songs, a few verses had been explicitly anti-evolution and anti-atheism, with out a lot of an argument greater than, “this stuff are unhealthy for you.” Nonetheless, I don’t suppose many seen in any respect.
I used to be extra puzzled by the slightly naïve and cartoonish, dancing presentation of dramatic occasions reminiscent of protest repression and “organ harvesting”. I want I might ask any person from China if that form of illustration, which is essentially euphemistic because it goes by dancing in lovely costumes, resonates together with her. To the Western eye, it doesn’t: it trivializes one thing very critical.
Nevertheless, the massive criticism of Falun Gong is that this present is propaganda wrapped up in theater. I feel that’s unfair. If that is propaganda, it’s of the plain, therefore innocent, variety. The denunciation of communism is evident, however it isn’t overwhelming (it doesn’t contact any financial arguments, for instance) and it may be ignored by the viewers. In actual fact, I feel many of the viewers, within the case of the illustration I attended, didn’t pay a lot consideration and wasn’t nudged to. Plus, I can hardly see why this sort of “propaganda” ought to be an issue, in a world by which we’re deafened by politically appropriate propaganda of the alternative time: which isn’t extra refined, however solely extra urgent. Whereas my sympathies don’t lie with the spiritual values of Falun Gong, I’m appalled that such a present may be thought of a “drawback” by anyone.
A final, bittersweet remark. Falun Gong might have gone for extra spiritual preaching, or extra political pamphleteering. As an alternative, they created a music present and achieved large success. They understood one thing most of us libertarians don’t: that individuals reply to tales, to not arguments. Maybe some artistic minds in our motion ought to create a present, “America earlier than socialism”, and tour the world and compete with Shen Yun. I guess it wouldn’t be the worst strategic transfer within the historical past of libertarianism.