1 02 2009

“Uphold science, eradicate superstition” (1999)

This image, representing the Chinese space program, is fairly recent. At first glance, it is reminiscent of 1970s/1980s design and “Star Wars” movie posters. Compared to the imagery of the 1960s and 70s, this image is softer, with an element of fantasy in its abstractness.

The purpose of the image is clearly to inspire hope in the viewer. The woman in the picture, our only real figure and our secondary focal point, looks calmly hopeful towards the starburst, our primary focal point. As to what the starburst represents, my supposition would be the bright, unknown future. It takes precedence over the Earth, the woman, the rest of the galaxy, and both space shuttles.The clustering of the planets around the starburst would lead one to naturally assume that the starburst is the sun, but we would assume that their destination would not be the sun.

Why is the image of a woman rather than a man? In a literal sense, I would say that, since only men are astronauts, propaganda like this is a way to make women feel included. Women are traditionally the “hopers” and, as conveyed by this image, the ones who stay behind while others go out and explore the future. Helping flesh out my argument on this point is the phallic nature of the rocket. It is interesting that the starburst is repeated (in an incredibly subtle nature) on the woman’s ear, like jewelry, connecting her to the larger starburst.

Topic ideas

26 01 2009

1) An investigation into the representation of women in visual culture in the 1980’s and how, if it all, the representations changed over the decade. By visual culture, I mean that I would be looking at movies, political art, movie posters, album covers, posters, magazines, etc. It’s pretty broad, which is why I narrowed it down to the decade, so we’ll see where it goes.

2) My other topic would require a lot more internet research to even start on, but I’d like to look at the 1990s-2000s Shanghai revival. For example, the re-opening of jazz clubs (from the 1920s and 1930s) and the revival of the original Sinified jazz music.

China’s internet crackdown

17 01 2009

So I’ve been coming across a lot of articles on the “smut” crackdown going on in China right now and thought I’d share some tidbits.

“China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center (CIIRC) said in a statement that all 14 portals named on the list contain content which either go against public morality or harm children’s psychological health. The new list included Microsoft’s MSN China. The CIIRC said the portal’s movie and community sections contain a large number of lewd pictures.”

Also, as of January 12th, they had shutdown/blocked 91 websites in the new year! Interestingly, another article I read said that “China’s fast-growing population of Internet users has risen to 298 million after passing the United States last year to become the world’s largest.” (from http://www.danwei.org, along with the above quote)

History 471 Introductory Post

15 01 2009

Ni hao, everyone!

I’m Amanda and I’m kind of a China-phile (Sinophile?). I’m a second semester senior writing my thesis on the portrayal of women in visual media during the 1950s-1970s in China. In December, I even took a trip to New York City to check out a fantastic exhibit on art under Mao. Despite the fact that I’ve spent three semesters pretty much immersing myself in twentieth-century China (but trust me, I’m no expert), I have no idea what I’ll study during this course. I really love advertisements and pop culture/media output, so I suppose the Back Dorm Boys might actually be a good start?

And finally, my Google Reader (I think this tells a lot about a person) includes not only translated Chinese news stories, but cooking blogs, graphic design blogs, wedding blogs, Psychology Today, TreeHugger, and multiple Overheard in… feeds.

Reefer Madness

30 11 2008

I think this one was of the most entertaining and historically interesting movies that we’ve watched all semester. Most of the movies that we’ve studied have focused on events rather than ideas. It’s important to remember that the movie is hilarious to us because we’ve come so far as a culture — though not quite far enough. Anyone remember the anti-marijuana commercial from just a few years back, where a high girl runs down someone in her car? Recently, they’ve gotten more humorous, and try to portray drugs as silly and stupid. The way this stuff is advertised to us has changed, but I think that is mostly because of the extensive advertising research done into what teenagers are receptive to.

But back to the film. It was over the top, as all propaganda is. I can’t imagine that it would have prevented too many young kids from smoking pot (and I never thought it was all that common in the 1930s), but it unfortunately would have put overprotective parents on high alert. The film itself is not poorly made for its time, but I have to say that I think it’s for the best that it disappeared until the 1970s. We all go through the D.A.R.E. program, and are generally more informed about sex and drugs.

Besides, as the movie shows, if a teenager is going to get high and have sex, the law isn’t going to stop them. It’ll just be there to punish them when they finish. And can we comment on the fact that while the film was originally aimed at parents, we see adults acting irresponsible and cruel, while the teenagers are just thoughtlessly stupid? Were they Communists or something?