David Feng in LSE Bridging Minds Symposium About “Under the Dome” Documentary

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Academic Life, Environment | No Comments

22:00 (UTC±00:00), 15 MAR 2015 | GBR HARROW, GREATER LONDON

Beijing Smog 800

I recently took part in the Bridging Minds Symposium as organised by the China Development Society of LSE (Student Union). My interview, which formed part of the “e-symposium” (this time, the event was more a series of online interviews and features), was about the recent Under the Dome documentary by former Chinese Central Television host Chai Jing.

In my interview feature, entitled Under the Dome: It Made People Think About the Environment, I went into what was beyond the clip: namely, issues regarding current affairs, media literacy, education, and the tolerance of a plurality of viewpoints.

The interview centred on three topics: how the documentary developed (dissemination and eventual dissemination), the message the documentary communicated, and social issues.

When it came to the first issue, I noted that Chai used the kind of down-to-earth language not used by government (and thus, it made more sense to the average commoner). But I also noted that the timing of the film meant that nobody (especially those who were long-time observers of China) would be surprised if it ended up censored — as it was trying to grab the microphone at a time when the Chinese lianghui, or National Meetings of the political advisory body and the national parliament, were looming.

On the second issue, whilst summing up the documentary as one where benefits outweigh faults, I pointed that Chai was “personalising” the problem a bit too much. There was a bit too “me-ness” in it all to make this a really educational film (although if this was more “personal reflections” the problems would be less). I also pointed out there might be problems of Chai “dumbing down” figures or complex strategies.

Finally, on the last issue, I touched upon issues of the documentary related to media literacy, education, and tolerance (or inclusiveness) of other people’s views. Here I mentioned that there were a diversity of views being expressed about the documentary, but also that fuller media literacy was essential to better understanding the message as it is being disseminated. People might only start making better sense of documentaries like these (and taking more sensible action) if media literacy was part of the education systems. It is one thing to watch the documentary, and another to better understand and even question the clip.

You can read the full interview in simplified Chinese and in English on WeChat. (Note: Some of the text in English might be missing spaces!)