I don’t know if you’ve seen the film iThree Amigos! or not. It’s not particularly good – it has its moments, but overall it’s a bit obvious and feels somehow self-indulgent. Still, there are far worse things you could see on TV.
My own feelings about iThree Amigos!, though, are rather coloured by the first time I saw it. It was round at a friend’s house, where we watched it on video, and as the film ended and we all agreed we thought it was only so-so, one of us pressed STOP, bringing up the default TV channel, which turned out to be a BBC channel.
Onscreen, Kate Adie was speaking over live footage of people being shot in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. It was 4 June 1989, twenty years ago to this day, and under orders from the government, the army were shooting protesting students. Any lingering traces of feeling lighthearted or flippant after watching the video dropped away pretty sharply.
The exact number of people killed that night is unknown; some reports have it in the thousands, whereas others suggest that hundreds died. Whatever, it’s a matter of historical record that a large number of students died for protesting that night, as a result of an order from their government. Officially speaking, on the other hand… well, it’s pretty much as if the events didn’t occur.
Which is, to my mind, an intellectual insult to physical injury (and far worse); attempting to erase these events from history, as if the past were an Etch-A-Sketch is just plain daft. And given the evidence that it occurred, pretending it didn’t is akin to a government pressing its hands to its ears and singing ner-ner-ner can’t hear you. Though that’s pretty much the overall attitude to human rights from the ruling party in China, it seems (ask the Tibetan people).
I’ve written before about my dislike for the habit of ‘rewriting events’, and I still find it frustrating to this day (mainly because it means a choice of some sort to ignore things which happened in favour of things which didn’t happen), but when it manifests on a national scale, it’s even more alarming.
Granted, the UK isn’t immune to this either – from the way people carry on, you’d think that the nation did nothing but venerate the Princess of Wales constantly before her death, and that nobody at all was fooled at the time by the lies about weapons in Iraq – but it doesn’t tend to end up with tanks rolling into the middle of a protest zone and hundreds of teenagers dying of bullet wounds, only to have their blood and their memory wiped away as if it had never been.
This post, along with a lot of other online information, may not be available to Chinese readers, for which I apologise, though in a way I feel it backs up the point made.