Moviegoers in China are now getting a dose of state propaganda to go with their popcorn — whether they like it or not.
Beginning July 1, Beijing’s media regulators began requiring all Chinese cinemas to air one of four short propaganda videos before every film screened in the country.
The spots, roughly three minutes in length, espouse all of the Chinese Communist Party’s usual shibboleths, such as “core socialist values” and President Xi Jinping’s vision of “the Chinese dream.” To help the socialist medicine go down smooth, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which produced the videos, recruited some of China’s biggest stars, such as Jackie Chan, Fan Bingbing and Angelababy, to appear in the clips.
With epic orchestral music stirring in the background, the celebs face the camera one by one, proudly reciting party slogans and ancient Chinese poetry. In one of the videos, Donnie Yen, who recently starred in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, reads a classic quote from Chairman Mao.
Earlier in the clip, Li Bingbing, who appeared in Transformers: Age of Extinction and co-stars in the upcoming action movie Meg, opposite Jason Statham, soberly states: “No matter what you do, as long as you don’t disappoint our country, our society, our people and your family, then you are helping to realize the Chinese dream.”
Several Beijing cinemas told China’s Global Times, a state-backed daily, that they were instructed to begin playing the video before all screenings starting July 1. No explanation was given for the request, the cinema managers said.
So far, the response to the videos appears mixed. “Many came late for the movie just to avoid the short video, and others complained about the video after watching the movie,” one cinema manager said.
Others, however, have been more receptive to the messaging: “I thought the video was great,” Zhang Xun, 34, told the New York Times earlier this week. “It was easy to understand, it spreads positive energy, and it was relevant to my life.”
Watch one of the videos below.