Sunday, January 8, 2012

Daedalum Films Presents (Part II)

After obtaining the password for the second part of Daedalum Films' documentary "Human Flesh Search Engine," I eagerly went to view the remaining part of the film and am here with a review.

The second part of the documentary was titled "Context" and sought to explain how the internet is used in China, and why this phenomena can grow and thrive in China's cultural setting. Once again narrated by Luis A. Tapia, the film also took comments from four online personalities, including one man who has taken part in these online scavenger hunts.

It began by explaining the backbone of the search engine: forum websites (or BBSs). These websites allow users to register under an anonymous online handle and can access the forums. Forums are available to post questions, images, and allows users to comment on the posts of others. The film explains that the forums grant users the ability to meet other like-minded people, and that many use the forums to gain fame for their online handle through their quick wit and expression.

What the documentary stresses is how these forums provide a means for netizens to express themselves and be heard - something that is not always possible offline. The search engine thus provides an internet democracy, where there is often a "need to make noise to make leaders notice." I loved how the film brought up the internet demographics in China, the largest web population of any nation in the world, which is made up primarily of young adults born in the 1980s or later.

But why China? Tapia's interviewees explain that there is a strong tie to the old Confucian ideal of righteousness that is evident throughout the Human Flesh Search Engine. The Confucian ideal stresses that if one sees something that's unjust, one needs to "right the wrong" in order to be deemed a noble man. To ignore it is wrong.

Lastly the film compared similarities between the search engine and the Cultural Revolution, but went on to stress that while similarities exist, these two events are still very far apart, and that the actions of the past do not appear to be resurfacing in the present. I felt this was a strong argument that I completely agree with.

I felt this was an amazing documentary that was both well-made and informative, that brought to life many of the cases and sentiments that will be discussed and posted on this research blog.

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