Drama Movie

Please Vote for Me Ethical issues of watching documentaries

Let me start by saying that I think “Vote for Me” is an excellent documentary. The filming technique is pure, the structure is tight, the plot twists and turns are brilliant, and I believe the director has achieved a minimum of deliberate posing. In terms of substance, it’s also profound enough that the many international awards and even the Oscar nomination for Best Documentary are not just due to Western prejudice against the Chinese system of government.

But all of this is really the work of the director. Anyone with a little political acumen will understand that in a country like China, which lacks a democratic tradition, an election experiment that completely replicates the American model of democracy is bound to turn into a farce. The Chinese people’s thousands of years of thick-headedness and official culture have determined that in such a prescribed context, the outbreak of these deceptions and dark sides of human nature is inevitable.

No one’s heart is inherently evil, no one wants to show the ugly side of their heart deliberately. Teachers and parents naively believe that this is an experiment in quality education, an education about “democracy” for children, an opportunity to inspire them to be self-improving. But they did not realize that the democracy they understood was the “people’s democratic dictatorship” that our party had been trying to instill for decades. This “democratic election”, which is actually guided by teachers and parents, follows the “unspoken rules” of the Chinese context. For children, the purpose of being class president is very simple and clear: I want others to do it. In the face of this naive thirst for power, let people instead feel kind and lovely.

What the director has done is to dig such a hole for them to jump into, and then everything no longer needs to be deliberately arranged, the wonderful farce is naturally staged: gang up, deceitful attacks, pressure to bribe …… stick plus carrot, nothing is too much. We laughed out loud at the same time, could not help but a chill down the spine – so this is the ugly Chinese.

Can’t help but say the director is brilliant. In the premise of trying to ensure the authenticity of the documentary, it fully explored the human greed, and attacked the Chinese politics, and even the perverse education. But I was disgusted by it – in my opinion, the director missed a very important point: humaneness.

Remember what Mr. Szeto said, the good you praise does not get better by your praise, and the bad you criticize does not transform by your criticism. A documentary, to show the problem, to cause people to think enough. The essence of human nature that is shown is what has the value of passing on to the next generation. The director did unearth the ugliness of human nature, but in an inhumane way – for the evil, not to channel it, but to create an environment to stimulate it. From a purely technical point of view, the documentary is a success, but it has caused permanent damage to the people involved, especially several innocent children. Perhaps the shadow of this childhood will ruin their future happiness for the rest of their lives. The director did not make any mistakes in laws or regulations, but he has lost his morality.

I believe that for most documentary work, the greatest reward of choosing this arduous career is that life confirms one’s philosophy. We all want the world to be a better place, what we do does not necessarily change the world, but as long as there is hope in our hearts, life is good. In the face of the ugliness in the world, all we can do is to hold on to our inner beliefs. I think for a documentary filmmaker, the happiest moment should not be when the work has won any kind of award, how big the income is, but when the subject sincerely says thank you for this.Let’s remember “humanity”.

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