A blasphemy that masquerades as art

Shen Yun Performing Arts, an art troupe that is part of the Falun Gong organisation,has staged its Shen Yun shows, supposedly aimed at propagating Chinese traditional culture, around the world since 2004.

Li Hongzhi, founder and head of Falun Gong, is portrayed as a reincarnation of Li Shimin,an emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618- 907), and all the performances are based on this far-fetched theme.

In fact, these shows are replete with the ideological claptrap of Falun Gong, and little effort is spared in demonising the Chinese government.At the same time, historical and cultural facts are distorted after audiences have been duped into handing over their hard- earned money for this so-called show that is really nothing more than a political tool.

These shoddy displays of “Chinese ethnic dancing and singing” are also nothingmore than low-rent plagiarism that feeds on China Central Television’s Spring Festival Gala, but nevertheless they deliver Falun Gong to thousands of audience members, whose minds, made pliable with the belief that they are about to enjoy an evening of refined culture, will soon be assaulted with everything the Falun Gong propaganda arsenal has to fire at them.

In fact the reviews are in onthe Shen Yun shows from some mainstream Western media, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and CBC television in Canada, and — let’s put it politely — they are not good. Instead the shows are seen for what they are — messengers of all that is rotten in Falun Gong rather than conveyors of all that is wonderful in Chinese culture.

On the other hand, some media outfits go out of their way tolaud the shows, but you can be sure who is pulling their strings. The so-called reviews in such media are so over the top in their e usiveness that the show comes across as a farce along the lines of The Emperor’s New Suit.

Real art has no borders, but Falun Gong’s so-called art clearly does have them. For example, there is an organisation called Feitian Arts School whose poorly disguised agenda is in fact to snare new members for the cult. The school, of course, has nothing but the best to say about the Shen Yun shows. When a school says that only Falun Gong adherents, or those who are heading in that direction, can be accepted into the schools, you know that there is something that is highly suspect.

Even for those who know little about Chinese culture, it becomes quickly apparent that the Shen Yun show is nothing to do with true culture, but is instead an exercise in brainwashing. Those with discernment know that Chinese culture has a long history, and is a treasure trove. Scholars and artists from around the world spend their lives studying it and looking for proper artistic languages and means to communicate to modern audiences and readers.

However, many of those duped into attending the Shen Yun show later complain about their disappointment and say it is a grotesque, gaudy mixture of falsehoods.

While arts critics have been just as damning in their reviews, few have found it in themselves to call this travesty what it really is: a blasphemy against real art.

In that light, a call that has gone out in some countries, for people to boycott the show is one that is well worth heeding.

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