Me And 700 Million

Only two hours left in the lunar year. So, if you already blew your January 1 New Year’s Resolution, you can pretend you’re Chinese and start again. Twelve o’clock will release a real barrage of fireworks, but there’s been a steady clamor all day. Most of their fireworks are just horrifically loud, just a minute-long string of explosions – it sounds like a train coming down the street. I made the mistake earlier of trying to drag my cat to the window to let him get a closer look at the fireworks. Yeah, he tore my shirt to shreds with his claws.  

Right now we’re watching the four-hour national TV special. Beside the World Cup (with like 25 billion viewers), it’s gotta be one of the most viewed programs in the world. The only statistics I can find on it is “hundreds of millions” and “700 million” viewers. But, to put that in perspective, Sunday’s Super Bowl was the second most viewed program in American television history with 90+ million viewers.  

Anyway, this program is filled with tons of China’s most famous people. Lots of singing, skits, traditional dances, and all kinds of cool performances. The government uses the program to launch a theme for the year. Also, the skits create a bunch of catchphrases that will bounce around the country for the next year. It’s kind of a four-hour panorama of Chinese culture. Just about every character in a skit is a veritable duplication of someone we encounter on the street everyday. It’s pretty cool to know that so many people are watching this thing right now.  

Speaking of TV, the need for the use of media in the country for the spread of the Gospel is so important. The government considers the television one of their most powerful tools and this program is a perfect example. With the large element of control in the media here, media ministry will have to be creative and strategic. Television and radio are pretty much out, but internet will likely need to play a key role. All these students pack their little MP3 players everywhere they go. We’d really like to start harnessing some of this power this year.

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