“Are you afraid? No! Are you afraid? No! Just need the order to kill kill kill!”
So go the lyrics in the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) slick new recruitment video.
With fast cuts and a rap-style sing-along tune, the Chinese military is reaching out to the young people it needs to fill its enormous ranks.
The lyrics appear on screen so there’s no mistaking the message: “Always think about the mission; the enemy forever in your eyes.”
And there’s the question: “Wars can break out at any time. Are you ready?”
China’s ever-expanding military has been putting an ever-expanding effort into its public image here. In recent times there have been other high budget recruitment videos like when we saw a Top Gun type of short film on board China’s first operational aircraft carrier.
However, this one is clearly an attempt to make the PLA cool.
The video presents plenty of alluring images: the cutting-edge technology available, the excitement of becoming a deadly soldier, snipers vs terrorists, patriots vs China’s enemies, guns, kung fu, tanks, jets.
There’s even the chance to rescue a maiden who’s been taken hostage. This, by the way, seems to be the only time a woman appears in piece.
Other countries within the region may watch this and feel a little threatened, but they are not the intended audience.
The filmmakers could not care less if certain people don’t like it. They have only one goal – get young people to enlist.
‘Only kids who fail join the military’
So how is Groovy PLA going down in cyberspace?
On China’s popular social media sites the response has been mixed, but you do have to search harder for clear support.
There is the odd “This promo is awesome!” and comments like “these are exciting and passionate images”.
Yet many more people seem to be making fun of it.
“How much did this one cost?” one person asks.
“There’s no theme here and the rap doesn’t make it better,” says another.
Then there are those openly ridiculing PLA recruitment with comments like: “In my town only the kids who failed at school joined the military, and bribery was necessary to make your child a team leader.”
All the negative comment prompted somebody to quip: “I feel relieved that it’s not as easy to brainwash Chinese people as it used to be.”
But again maybe they are not the type of people who would join the army anyway.
The proof of the pudding will be in the number of newly enlisted cadets in the coming months. Cadets who “with bullets through the chest will have missions carved on our hearts”, who from the inland to the border can “can fight… can win” and, what’s more, who will pledge to “submit ourselves to Communist Party directions” in order to “defend our country’s dignity”.
By STEPHEN MCDONELL May 3, 2016 on BBC News
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