So it looks like Cirque du Soleil won’t be coming back to China after this trip. A tipster informs us that during a performance of ‘Michael Jackson: Immortal’ at the Wukesong MasterCard arena the ‘Tank Man‘ photo was displayed on a giant screen in front of a crowd of around 15,000 people.
This was not some politically-sensitive rock concert, but the opening night of Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ‘The Immortal’ world tour, where during the climax of the track “They Don’t Care About Us” the image appeared momentarily for a total of about four seconds within a montage sequence of civil-rights style protest movements, resulting in an audible collective gasp from the audience.
The image, although recognized throughout the world, has been almost completely erased inside of China, where any mention of the events surrounding the protests remain strictly forbidden. The response of the audience (or at least those sat around us) suggests, however, that the image is still recognized, even when taken out of context.
Those dastardly French Canadians! What’s the world come to when you can’t trust a band of travelling circus people?
It remains to be seen whether the Tank Man image will be included in future shows, or if the Cirque organisers are currently “having tea” with the PSB right now. As Bjork found out after her – frankly rather embarrassing – Tibet incident, the Chinese authorities don’t take too kindly to performers who try to play politics.
If you see Tank Man at a Cirque du Soleil show, please get in touch.