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Jul. 2007, Volume 4, No.7 (Serial No.

32) US-China Education Review, ISSN1548-6613, USA

Positive effects vs. negative effects of British and

Hollywood movies in China

(English Department of Foreign Languages School, Northeast Normal University, Changchun Jilin 130024, China

Abstract: With the economic development of China, especially since China opened her national gate to the
world, more and more European and Hollywood movies have been swarming into Chinese markets. They have
brought with them so many positive effects and negative effects at the same time to our life in different aspects.
This paper focuses on the major affirmative functions and negative functions of British and Hollywood movies in
Chinese daily life.
Key words: aesthetic function; cultural function; historical function; violence; eroticism

With the economic development of China, especially since the reform of Chinese economic system and since
China became open to the world, more and more Hollywood and European movies have been imported. In fact,
they are like a flood pouring into Chinese markets and like snowflakes showering our life. People in China can
employ different means to enjoy the dumping abundant dinner. They can go to the cinema, or just sit or lie on the
sofa in their sitting room watching DVD movies by the home video, or sit in front of a computer seeing a movie
on the internet. As English major students and teachers, we are located on the front line, confronted with the
countless western newly-produced movies because we have a formally reasonable excuseseeing English movies
is an effective way of improving our listening ability and getting to know western cultures. We do have seen much
more English and Hollywood movies than other people indeed by taking the advantage of studying English and
teaching English. Both students and teachers are crazy about Hollywood movies. But if we cool our head, pause
and reflect. What advantages and disadvantages have British and Hollywood movies brought us? It is hard to say
in one word, because so many affirmative functions and negative functions are occurring to our mind like in
brainstorming. Therefore, we have to order them systematically.

1. Positive effects of British and Hollywood movie

The positive effects of English and American movies take the dominant position in our mind, of course.
1.1 Aesthetic function
At first, English movies, especially Hollywood movies, as products of multi-media, can give people a kind of
audio-visual shock. This is the aesthetic function of them.
Everybody can remember during the 1990s when we sat in a cinema, seeing the famous Hollywood movie
Titanic, we were shocked. Nobody would refuse to enjoy the aesthetic feast. We have to admit we were moved by

This paper is one of the research results of National Education Science 15th Key Planning Project (DEA030112).
The mainly references of this paper are Movie Review (2003-2006), Movie Literature (2001-2006), and World Screen(2001-2006).
YANG Jie , associate professor of English Department of Foreign Languages School, Northeast Normal University; research field:
USA literature.

Positive effects vs. negative effects of British and Hollywood movies in China

the love story, but no matter in grand panorama or the scene or the setting, it provides us with grandeur and beauty
with the help of the latest technology. When I saw Anne of Green Gables, which were in video tapes that I
borrowed from my American teacher Tova more than ten years ago, I was deeply fascinated with the green
grassland of Canada. Up to now, I have been still longing for the piece of mysterious generous land. We also
indulge ourselves in the enjoyment of seeing Brave Heart and The Blue and The Gray. The exotic land far away in
the past seems to approach us.
All these terrific movies satisfy our aesthetic demands at maximum.
1.2 Cultural function
Secondly, as to cultural carrier, Hollywood and British movies tell us about the different aspects of alien
cultures. They have brought the western life style and have conveyed their ideas and values to all Chinese
audience. Today in China, the western life style is more and more widely accepted by Chinese people, especially
young people and it also affects our daily life a lot.
In diet culture, more and more young people like to go to McDonald or KFC for western food rather than go
to Chinese food restaurants. Funnily enough, fast food like hamburgers, sandwiches and chips, which is
considered as junk food in the West, has become the most delicious food of Chinese young people.
As for life culture, the western life style has also been imitated by most Chinese intellectuals. In the past, old
friends or acquaintances got together at home or in the restaurant. But today, they like to meet old friends in a bar
or in a club. They would like to recall whats happened to them while drinking wine and appreciating music which
has to go with it. They have a reasonable excuseenjoying the kind of atmosphere and taste.
In clothing, people are now paying more attention to brand, fashion, trend and even pursue individuality.
More than twenty or thirty years ago, Chinese people were all dressed in blue or gray, which has already become a
history forever. Today, walking in a street, colorful, gorgeous and fashionable clothes of different fashions will
catch your eyes. Our life has been colorful and individual indeed.
By seeing Hollywood movies, we get to know more about their political standpoints and political ideas
which belong to the political cultures of the USA and Great Britain. We also know that American people take the
most advantage of their democracy and freedom. Frankly speaking, these movies act as bridges between the east
and the west, which likes a window through which Chinese people can get to know and understand the different
aspects of their cultures. They are also a means of communication.
1.3 Historical function
We got to know the western cultures through seeing Hollywood movies and in fact we are copying some of
their life style. But when we saw The Blue and The Gray, we got to know the period of time in American
historythe Civil War. Actually we realized something deeper: so many masses have sacrificed their lives in the
time of war. Seeing Brave Heart, we can learn something about the history of Great Britain. We can also
understand why Scots pay more attention to their identity today, because there are historical reasons. The conflict
between English people and Scots has been existing so long.
1.4 Social and moral functions
Western movies tend to convey their ideas and values. Democracy, freedom and universal love are advocated
in the western countries, especially in the United States. To be more exact, American people stress harmonious
environment and individuality. Although some Hollywood movies tell us a story about an individual, they intend
to tell us the life of the individual and the way of his living. We can know from the movies what American society
like, how American people live in that society, what they pay attention to in their daily life and how they think

Positive effects vs. negative effects of British and Hollywood movies in China

about the society and the world. From the background to the movies we can also learn the history and the society
that the characters live in. At the same time, we can know what is right, what is wrong; what is good, and what is
bad. These are the social and moral functions of Hollywood movies.
We just take Mrs. Doubtfire as an example. The movie tells us a story about divorcethe most common
family problem which is in fact the most serious social problem. Superficially it is a story, but in fact it reflects a
very significant theme, that is, when mother and father divorced, it does not mean that they do not love you any
more. It means that they do not love each other, as a result, they will separate from each other. But mother and
father still love the children. Although the children may live with one of them, or the children may live with your
grandparents, in fact, home will always exist in the childrens heart. It does remind us adults that we should show
more concern to the feelings of our children if there is a problem between husband and wife.
Although we benefit a lot from Hollywood movies, they still bring about some bad influences when they
offer beneficial elements to us.

2. Negative effects of British and Hollywood movies

If we say mammons and epicurean are brought about by British and Hollywood movies, it is over
exaggeration. These dregs have already existed in the long river of our Chinese history. But a few bad effects
should be mentioned, which are obviously given by Hollywood movies and no one will deny it.
2.1 Violence
At first, violence should be considered the most serious social phenomenon that reflected in Hollywood
movies. One of my students once said to me, Although I got to know the logo BMW in the movie 007, I had to
say the most typical violent movie is 007. In reality, the spread of western culture has been coming with violent
scenes together.
About two decades ago, The First Blood was shown in the cinemas of China. Since then, more and more
violent scenes, terrorist scenes and the movies of violent crimes have been crammed before the eyes of Chinese
audience. Movies like True Lies, Speed, Pulp Fiction, The Silence of the Lambs, Leon, The Professional, Face/Off,
Chicago, Air Force One, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Terminator series are all examples. No matter how good and
how significant their themes are, the bloody scenes such as killing, murdering with shotguns and extremely cruel
means the criminals adopt and employ in these movies make us unable to continue seeing them. Usually when
children and young adults see these movies, they will follow and imitate their behavior, because they just think it
cool, and we know they are not old enough to have the ability to elect the good from the bad and to decide what is
good and what is bad. And children will behave rudely even to their dolls and toys and learn to solve problems by
violence after seeing such movies.
Now more and more juvenile delinquencies take place in our society predominately due to the violent
2.2 Eroticism
Some people say that western movies make Chinese peoples morals declined because they are full of sexual
scenes, such as bareness and sex. In the past, sex was a topic that people felt shamed to mention, but today more
and more young people in China begin to pay less attention to their sexual behavior. Some people dont think it
shameful to have sexual relationship before marriage. It does challenge our Chinese traditional morals and values.
As a result, our traditional morals and values are shaken.

Positive effects vs. negative effects of British and Hollywood movies in China

Some of my colleagues said that western movies had brought the freedom of sex to China and there were a
lot of bed shots in them. It is true. The movie Instinct is a good example. Just with the introduction of the vulgar
and ugly things introduced in the Hollywood movies, many problems such as porno, coprology, canals and
one-night love have emerged and became prevalent. Everybody knows that it is a moral backwardness of the
society. It also leads to the growth of divorce rate. This makes the smallest cell of the societyfamily insecure,
displaced and transitory.

3. Conclusion

Just like the two sides of a coin, Hollywood movies have good influences and bad influences to China
simultaneously. We must acknowledge that British and Hollywood movies are just a kind of cultural invasion.
Pessimistic people in China think it is more serious than the Japanese invasion during the 1930s. Optimistic ones
think that we should hug the western movies with our arms because they are the elite of human culture. I dont
think we should be too extreme. We should meet the cultural shock with our strong antibody. I remember that LU
Xun, one of the greatest writers in China once said that as for how to deal with cultures from foreign countries, we
should adopt and employ this measure: get rid of the dregs and take the best to apply in our work. We have to keep
it in our mind and I think it is useful.

(Edited by ZHANG Dong-ling and REN Li-ping)