You think economics is boring? The idea of a Communist Party’s five-year development plan has never excited you? Think again.
On Tuesday China’s state-run Xinhua news agency tweeted what must surely be one of the weirdest, cheesiest and most psychedelic cartoon musical propaganda videos ever issued by a Communist regime in history.
It’s a three-minute musical singalong number meant to extol the virtues of China’s latest Five Year plan, due to be approved at a meeting of the Communist Party's top leaders in Beijing this week.
And it’s meant for you — an English-speaking audience.
“Hey have you guys heard what’s going on in China?” it opens by asking as the beat gets underway. Not just “President Xi Jinping’s new style,” but a “huge deal” — in fact something that is so big it’s “China huge.”
Yes, you guessed it, the “shi san wu,”or 13/5, shorthand for the 13th Five-Year Plan.
“If you wanna know what China’s gonna do, best pay attention to the shi san wu,” the chorus chimes. And repeats, over and over, until you wish you had never heard it.
The cartoon is vaguely reminiscent of the sort of thing Terry Gilliam used to produce for Monty Python, complete with disembodied mouths, lily pads carrying computers and typewriters, purple flowers growing out of purple hands, and hands growing out of green buckets.
There is a crude two-dimensional spaceship flying past, a giant child with an aviator’s hat and multicolored goggles, and four-person musical band riding on the roof of a bus — one sporting the lightning flash make-up worn by David Bowie on the cover of his "Aladdin Sane" album.
But the psychedelia simply serves to underline the stultifyingly sycophantic nature of the lyrics, meant to show that the plan is a brilliant, deliberative, extensively researched document — and definitely not something imposed by a small cabal running a Communist one-party state.
The five-year plan, the video jauntily declares, is drawn up by “government ministers, think-tanks and party leaders,” as well as “doctors, bakers, farmers too, and even engineers who deal with poo.”
It is refined over incessant research and discussion, “more and more discussion," “hundreds of rounds of discussion,” at every level, until it gets better and better. So much discussion you would not believe. “Crazy, right?”
Watch, if you have three minutes to spare.