Shen Yun announces return, prepare for commercials

There have been a few nice silver liners in the last year and a half of pandemic life. The slow streets have given us delicious community ties. Take-out cocktails and parklets covered in murals have beautified our streetscapes and redefined our social gatherings. And while the loss of the live theater was devastating, it had the slight edge that we didn’t have to deal with the threat of advertising saturation that is Shen Yun.

It’s baaaack. The Shen Yun website shows that Shen Yun will be in San Francisco at the War Memorial Opera House from January 2-9, 2022. It’s also in San Jose from December 22-26, and actually opens this Tuesday night in Modesto, and is playing a two-night engagement in Fresno on October 30 and 31.

This is not a reduced COVID schedule. Shen Yun typically only plays for a week or so in San Francisco, despite its notorious multi-month advertising onslaught.

This year’s iteration seems more frank about its political bias, with the slogan “China before Communism”. The historical extravagance is funded by Falun Gong, a sort of sectarian meditation group that over the decades has become very political. The group also publishes the very pro-Trump conspiracy journal The Epoch Times, which recently published very favorable “reviews” of Shen Yun such as Lavish Praise for Shen Yun in Massachusetts, Dentist Moved by the True Stories of China Told in Shen Yun. , and Couple Says. Shen Yun made them sit on the edge of their seats.

How the hell can this show afford to do so much publicity? The Chronicle delved into their finances and found that the series was indeed profitable. Their secret is the cost of labor, or rather the lack of it. A very large percentage of Shen Yun’s workforce are volunteers. Each production is regional, but the Chronicle found that the California regional team at Shen Yun spent 62% of their budget on advertising in 2017, the most recent year for which they had tax data.

Reviews of the show are obviously determined by politics. The Chinese Embassy in the United States, which absolutely despises this spectacle, declares on its website that “the so-called ‘Shen yun’ is not at all a cultural spectacle but a political tool of ‘Falun Gong’ for preach sectarian messages, spread anti-China propaganda, increase own influence and raise funds [sic]. Such a spectacle denigrates and distorts Chinese culture, and deceives, ridicules and even harms audiences.

Not to be outdone, the Shen Yun website has a section called The Challenges We Face, in which they say of the Chinese Communist Party, “The main goal is to prevent [Shen Yun] to reveal to the world the tragic reality of the persecution, but that is not the only reason. The Party is also trying to infiltrate Western society to manipulate the opinion of the international community.

Have a good Shen Yun advertising season, everyone.

About Ricardo Schulte

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