China’s biggest streaming service is planning to “alleviate the problem of cultural poverty” in China’s disadvantaged rural areas by showing a series of patriotic testosterone-fueled flicks.
iQiyi will leverage its “vast resources in the entertainment industry,” to bring rural areas cultural gems such as Wolf Warrior II, an action-packed story of a Chinese special forces sergeant on a mission to save Chinese nationals from local rebels and white mercenaries in a generic African country.
“We have always been committed to making sure that our great selection of high-quality content is available to people from all walks of life and this initiative is a clear example of how iQiyi bridging societal gaps to achieve this,” Ma Shengjie, Director of Public Affairs at iQiyi said in a press release.
Bridging societal gaps or not, it is clear that iQiyi has chosen the movies with a special purpose in mind. “Patriotic education with new media such as Weibo and WeChat” has been an often repeated goal since China’s Ministry of Education launched a campaign targeting Chinese youth in 2016. Within recent months, many of China’s online platforms have been scolded by regulators for not doing more on patriotic propaganda.
In August, China’s leading e-sport live streaming platform Douyu announced it will close channel of a popular live streamer for content that “insulted historical facts” on the Nanjing Massacre. The platform also said it would initiate patriotic education covering all live streaming channel owners including visits to revolutionary sites and history museums regularly to help improve the streamers’ awareness of historical responsibility.
ByteDance’s short video app Douyin (AKA Tik Tok) was forced to suspend the advertisement side of its business as a result of an advert mocking a war hero violating the “Heroes and Martyrs Protection Act” enacted this year.
Another Chinese online platform Baozou based on Rage comics faced even more severe punishment after being temporarily shut down for poking fun at a communist heroes Ye and Dong Cunrui. Aside from paying RMB 100,000 to the family of the war hero, CEO Ren Jian led his team to apologize in front of the hero’s memorial monument and promised to improve patriotic training for the young team.
Often dubbed as China’s answer to Rambo, Wolf Warrior II (2017) made $854 million at the Chinese box office becoming the second highest-grossing of all-time in a single market. The movie was released a few days ahead of the People Liberation Army’s massive 90th-anniversary celebration on the same day as the state-sponsored film The Founding of the Army.
Among other movies that will be shown by iQiyi is Operation Red Sea (2018) in which Chinese special forces race to save Chinese citizens and locals from terrorists in Yemen. In keeping up with the familiar pattern, the third movie iQiyi will show Operation Mekong (2016) which follows a band of elite narcotics officers investigating a murder of Chinese citizens by local drug cartels inspired by true events.
Aside from these three military patriotic epics, iQiyi will also show Hold Your Hands (2017), a movie said to be inspired by Chinese president’s Xi Jinping 2013 launch of anti-poverty strategy in a Hunan village. Although the movie was praised by Chinese state media, it received a less warm reception among audience than the action blockbusters.