My mom brought home a discarded videotape from work years ago, when I was a freshman in high school. On the tape was Sunrise Over Tiananmen Square, a documentary short and autobiography of Wong Shui Bo, a Chinese artist who grew up in China from the 60s-80s.
The tape has since been lost in the re-shuffling of our house, and I’ve always thought of looking for it. I remember being struck by the narrator’s measured cadence, combined with images of his artwork, and stark photographs of Mao’s China. Half animation, half documentary, it was a beautiful and powerful thing to watch.
Lo and behold, a 2 minute search reveals the film available online in its entirety.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Mao Zedong and recent Chinese history, having just finished Jung Chang’s biography. There’s more to think about here – about how superpowers in general are created, almost inevitably through violence, and how they are sustained. I’ve been thinking that calling people monsters and evil just lets them off the hook. And lets everyone else who collaborated with them off the hook too. How appropriate is retroactive moral judgment? Some answers, more questions.