Chinese arts and censorship
Two American artists who have worked in China for many years – an actress and a rapper – talk about censorship's effect on creativity.
This story was originally covered by PRI's The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.
The Chinese government has strict control over its citizen's production and access to media, but after living there for a combined total of 30 years, rapper Jeremy Johnston and actress Rachel DeWoskin believe the creative arts are thriving.
Although Johnston describes Chinese cultural life as being "on another planet," DeWoskin says that the Chinese people have access to outside media. She explains: "[the] Chinese people are marvelous tunnelers and thwarters of, kind of, internet firewalls and restrictions. People go under every possible wall. They read a lot of what the Chinese government may think, or pretend, they're not reading."
The creativity needed to circumvent firewalls is the same creativity that is exhibited in the arts. "I think there's a kind of art that comes out of that tension -- a kind of art that comes out of the friction between, sort of, government control and individual inspiration," says the actress.
Having access to foreign cultures doesn't mean that Chinese arts are mimicking others. "I would also say about that the idea I think some Americans hold, that things in China are copycat, like fashion and music, and that there's nothing really unique, is not right." DeWoskin continues, "I think China has it's own, incredible, kind of pop culture and artist culture that comes straight out of China."
"The Takeaway" is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.