Given its subject matter and time slot, A Bite of
China was initially considered a "weak player" on TV. Surprisingly, the
documentary became popular immediately after airing, and has made
viewers go beyond thinking about delicacies.
"Man is what he eats," said Ludwig Feuerbach. From
its very beginning, A Bite of China is not just a documentary about
food. "The scenes of digging for bamboo shoots, hanging hams, catching
fish using a net, opening a steamer filled with white steamed buns, and
pulling wheat dough into thin strands for noodles move us to tears. What
a lovely China!" Senior Translation
The touching documentary reminds some people of their
mother, and makes some realize that every grain comes from hard and
laborious toil. Some people see patriotism in the documentary, and some
consider it a great cultural export.
How did this documentary achieve a tremendous
influence beyond its subject matter in such a short time?
"It is not empty propaganda about China's splendid
food culture. Instead, it shows the techniques used in making food and
their production process a as well as the lives of ordinary people, thus
striking a chord with the audience," an Internet user said. The success
of the documentary should be attributed to sincerity and reality.
Nowadays, many works of art that have high investment, high technology,
and magnificent scenes lack nothing but sincerity and reality.
It is said sarcastically that Americans like to shoot
sci-fi films because they have no history, while Chinese like to shoot
time-travel dramas to the past because they have no future. The
correctness of this arbitrary conclusion is debatable, but it has raised
a thought-provoking question. Works that are created behind closed doors
and fail to reflect reality or that only focus on the luxury lives of a
few people and ignore ordinary people's desire for ample food and
clothing will not touch people's hearts, be they about traveling to the
past or the future.
A Bite of China shows that a commercial
documentary promoting patriotism can be full of touching details, that
the emotions of ordinary Chinese people should be exhibited even in
publicizing China overseas, and that even a completely commercial
program can achieve both artistic and commercial success.
"We made this documentary with our respect and
love for food," said director Chen Xiaoqing. Being sincere is the most
important thing for artists because they cannot move others unless they
themselves are first moved, and cannot convince others unless they
themselves are first convinced. Sincerity is the "secret" for making
this documentary so popular, and every cultural creator should learn
from its success.