PLUS brolly-toting Premier Wen and X-ray of Homer Simpson’s brain!
In the good old days, a career with the People’s Liberation Army was often seen as an iron rice bowl and highly sought after by parents for their sons. As one of the key avenues for social mobility after the founding of the PRC, it was not uncommon to find propaganda posters like the one you see on the right extolling the virtues of the army and how becoming a soldier will bring glory to the entire family.
As Stefan Landsberger’s wonderful resource on Chinese propaganda posters tell us:
At the same time, the PLA was very much aware that it needed to recruit its new forces from the younger generations. Mixing messages of toys-for-boys and care for society at large, young and old, the Army put on its most acceptable face for all to see.
Unfortunately though, we are now in the 21st century and even the PLA has no more need for uneducated and unskilled recruits from the countryside, preferring to recruit university graduates instead who are lured by many other better paying jobs. The PLA’s recruitment problems has meant a reduction of the ranks of some 1.5 to 2 million in the last 15 years.
But fear not, we can always “move with the times” and create a new spin, and China Daily is here to help! Today’s paper tells us of 25 year old English graduate, Chen Xia in Nanjing who has “never been short of admirers” but has chosen to tie the knot with an army man who has “neither a college degree nor a fat pay packet”. Inspiring!
We all know what the favourite newspaper of English language majors in China is, right? Right? Here’s an interesting juxtapose of quotes from mother and daughter. Chen’s mother herself married a soldier more than 30 years ago:
“Married but alone, you have to handle most domestic affairs yourself, as your husband is mostly away,” said Zhang Yufen, Chen’s mother.
“You can be free of anxiety while marrying army men. They are always reliable and loyal to the family,” said Chen.
Ooohhhh… let’s put two and two together now. The husband is mostly away protecting the motherland but you can ALWAYS count on him to be reliable and loyal and faithful to the family eh?
The story also had a shocking statistic for us from a recent survey (conducted by the ever authoritative China Youth Daily, no less) which found that:
…nearly two in three of 1,500 respondents would like to marry servicemen and women.
Wow, all you single men and women out there, are we missing something here! [Hint to budding entrepreneurs: Start approaching venture capitalists for funds to set up China’s first lonely hearts portal for single soldiers! PLAist.com, anyone?]
The old state-run papers clearly know that in this day and age, hardcore propaganda is becoming less and less effective and they have to master the art of spin fast before they go down the way of the dinosaurs. Another fine example of this is brought to us by Adam Minter of Shanghai Scrap who notes that according to yet another China Daily story, “Premier Wen Jiabao holds his own umbrella in the rain, and that is cause for celebration among Chinese internet users”.
Danwei today has another one that cracked us up, although this one is much more of a terrible mistake than it is a creative spin by the wonderful Xinhua journalist who chose to illustrate a story on the causes of the debilitating disease multiple sclerosis with an X-ray photo of Homer Simpson’s brain.
Photo from Stefan Landsberger’s Chinese Propaganda Posters.