Propaganda

Most is either complete shit or mildly inspiring


http://www.discogs.com/label/741627-中国唱片?page=1&genre=All&limit=500

‘I AM A SUNFLOWER’: AMAZING CHINESE CHILDREN’S PROPAGANDA RECORD

http://dangerousminds.net/home/dangerou/dangerousminds.net/html/content/uploads/images/made/chrootcontent/uploads/images/iamasunflower_465_465_int.jpg

On some level, a lot of the music we play for kids—and the music we teach them to sing—is propaganda. Not necessarily overtly so, but beyond learning the alphabet and numbers, the music we offer children is always going to serve as some manner of cultural value metric. And such music originating from a hypernationalist, militaristic culture is sure to seem utterly nuts to cultures that don’t go so completely all in for that kind of thing.

Case in point: China. A friend of mine with the dually cool distinctions of being both a university librarian and a badass sludge/doom bass player turned me on to some Chinese children’s (and other) records, dating I think from the early ‘70s, which had recently arrived in her employer’s collection via a donation. They were all pretty amazing—just the song titles alone sound alien enough to underscore incredible cultural differences:

THE PEOPLE IN TAIWAN LONG FOR LIBERATION

PATROLLING ON THE GRASSLANDS

THE OIL WORKERS ARE FULL OF ENERGY

CHAIRMAN MAO IS THE RED SUN IN THE HEARTS OF ALL NATIONALITIES

The killer item, though, was an 11-song 7” children’s record called I am a Sunflower, with wonderful cover art of smiling children marching with shouldered rifles and songs expressing totally overt themes of youth para-militarism:

LITTLE RED GUARDS GROW STRONGER IN THE FIGHT

GROWING UP AT THE SIDE OF CHAIRMAN MAO

LITTLE RED GUARDS ATTEND A REPUDIATION MEETING

I’LL GO TO THE BORDER REGION, TOO, WHEN I GROW UP

Now, it’s maybe easy to be cast aspersions at all that, but we have our school kids sing “The Star Spangled Banner” which is forthrightly a war song, and the differences between the Young Pioneers/Little Red Guards and the Boy Scouts are surely more a matter of degree of fanaticism than of kind

CRITICIZE LIN PIAO AND DISCREDIT HIM COMPLETELY

OK, holy fuck, WHAT? That’s pretty disturbing: Lin Piao was an officer in the People’s Liberation Army, and was instrumental in the communist victory in China’s civil war. He died in 1971, in an iffy plane crash. After decades of enjoying high rank in the party—I mean HIGH rank, at the time of his death he was Communist Party vice-chair and Mao’s presumptive successor—he or his son led the Project 571 coup against Mao. The family was attempting to flee after the coup failed, and it’s been pretty widely speculated that the plane crash may have been an assassination. He was branded a traitor posthumously; his name was scrubbed from the Little Red Book, and there was a goddamn children’s song about how hard he sucked. Here it is. I will fully cop to having ripped this from the record and uploaded it myself. Ordinarily that’s a HUGE no-no, but I’m making an exception in this instance because I’d quite enjoy the comic irony of a DMCA copyright takedown coming from China.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/qszL4Cuy71c

That’d be really cute if you had no idea what it was about, right?

If this sort of thing interests you, you should know that a compilation is commercially available: Songs of the Chinese Cultural Revolution was released in 2009, as a 19-song CD. All but six of the songs are sung by a children’s choir. The physical release is out of print, but it remains available digitally. Check out “Children of the Chuang Nationality Love Chairman Mao” and “We Are Little Red Guards Full of Pep and Vigor.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/embed/NDjoBxgB-UQ

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ne6rmYkvMX0

 
BIG ups to Beth P and the CSU Special Collections Library for sharing this find with us.

3 Likes