Elena Struzhkova, expert of the Center of systemic initiative, Master of agriculture, docent (report at the 5th International Scientific Conference “China and Russia”: state development strategies, May, 28th 2018, St.-Petersburg)
Cinematography in conditions of algorithmic war
A distinctive feature of modern conditions is the presence of a completely new, previously absent environment – a cyber environment, a virtual reality. Specialists in the conduct of information and psychological operations of various countries have learned to use this environment for full-scale impact on the masses. In the end, their activities result in the emergence of a new format for conducting an algorithmic war, or, as it is also called, a silent war. The scope and resources of conducting operations in this war threaten not only the economies and political system of individual states, but also lead to the loss of control on the whole.
In a silent war, we can conditionally identify two patrs – a national one and a transnational one. The first includes the states, i.e. systems that are linked to a certain territory, the second – corporations – that do not have a binding to the territory, that fight for resources on it. The essence of algorithmic wars boils down to the fact that transnational corporations (TNCs) saturate the information space of the occupied countries with a certain content, and they influence the masses and individual users. This is done through the introduction of mental viruses that program a human behavior.
As a result, at the national level, there is a loss of management. And consequently we see mass riots, sabotage in strategic locations, quiet coups d’état, property redistribution.
At the moment in Russia this threat is poorly descried by the population and government agencies, therefore they are largely hostages of the circumstances, and any actions of individual leaders work in fact for the convenience of the enemy.
Despite some successes, in general, our country loses significantly in the field of information operations. The most vivid failures are, the discrediting of Russia after the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, elective companies in Europe, the deliberate decrease in the importance of the BRICS countries, sanctions lists against Russian citizens and companies, accusing Russia of poisoning the former Colonel of Main Intelligence Directorate Sergey Skripal in the UK. The uniqueness of information-psychological operations lies in the fact that they are openly conducted in the information space. For example, the story of Skripal coincides exactly with the plot of the British TV series “Response”, released in the autumn of 2017 and prepared the audience.
The film industry has turned from a tool into a field of fierce fighting. Each film, every bit of information is comparable to a weapon, the sale of which, brings income to its owners. In its significance the profit of the film industry is comparable to the largest branches of production activity. So, the total profit of Hollywood on the sale of manufactured products, exported outside the US, is comparable in volume with the profits received by the countries – the largest oil exporters.
The penetration of the Hollywood standards into China and Russia
In China alone, American movies collected about 1.5 billion dollars in 2011, and according to the forecast for 2017 – 8.3 billion dollars. However, the cinema itself is the tip of the iceberg, a considerably larger profit brings the lagged effect from the impact of cinema on the population. For example, advertising tobacco in the movie is paid for, and then brings a huge profit, which is not embarrassed by Hollywood screenwriter Joe Esterhaz. Only one tobacco company spends about $ 3 million a year for advertising in cinema.
Picture from the film “Thank you for smoking”, 2005, demonstrating the transition of the United States to the priority of information weapons on the physical one:
Herein, we are not talking about a single movie, but about the industry as a whole. It can be said that a modern person with his lifestyle, habits, preferences, thinking is “born” in the psychophysical laboratories of Hollywood. The main goal of Hollywood cinema is the unification of cultures, bringing everyone under one pattern. This is done through the positive image-building of the United States and the negative image of other countries, the imposition of behavioral and sexual distortions, open propaganda of individualism and antisocial lifestyle, falsification of history.
The seizure of the information space and the planting of Western values is proceeding in stages. Massive casting of Hollywood films, furthermore, control of the cinema-networks and rental, the imposition of formats, then the creation, according to their calendars of a kind of “domestic cinema”.
In Russia, the first two stages have already been completed. The film dealers are represented by six branches of Western film distributors. The cinema-networks are controlled by ten operators. The audience of cinema in Russia is 55 million people, it is twice as many as five years ago. Until the end of 2018 it is planned to open 800 more cinemas in various cities of Russia. According to the company “Nevafilm Reseach” in February 2017 there were 4407 cinemas in Russia.
As for “Russian cinema”, the most famous films of recent years are the films “Leviathan” by Alexander Zvyagintsev and “Stalingrad” by Fyodor Bondarchuk. They are known obviously not because of the sincere love of the audience to the films and appreciation to the creators, but thanks to the marketing policy of Western professionals. Films entered Russia through the West, “outside – inside”. “Stalingrad” is the first film released in Russia in the IMAX format, which could not but attract a young audience. As a result, the largest group in the audience of the film is youth from 16 to 25 years (43%). Pr-companies eliminated skillfully the older generation, who is still able to think critically, and worked for the young.
Even more dangerous are the “Russian films”, which are positively perceived by the Russian viewer in view of their “Soviet package”: “Space walker”, “Move Up”, “Salute 7″ (Chinese version of the title – “Salvation of the Space”), etc. In fact, they demonstrate the Soviet era in a destructive manner, form the view of the USSR as a soulless machine. Allocate an individual hero who, despite everything, fights the system and wins, but motivates them nothing more than fear, pain, personal tragedy. But this has nothing to do with the values of the Soviet Union.
What films does China buy? In Russia these are the sensational “Russian” pictures, which also moved to Russia from the west. In Europe – for example, the movie “Young Karl Marx”, directed by Raul Peck. The critic’s reviews are disappointing.
In 2014, 1015 multiplexes were opened in China, that means 5397 new screens. In total there were more than 45,000 units in China in 2017. Western corporations capture the market of film production and film distribution, and hence it influences on the masses. The Chinese market is controlled by local Internet media distributors Sohu, Youku, v.qq, iQiyi. In 2014, these Internet giants sold ads for 3 billion dollars. The market of such volume is of great interest for American film and television producers. China spent 100 million dollars in 2014 to purchase Western content, primarily from the United States and Britain. And no one is embarrassed, for example, that the audience of the second season of the series “House of Cards” was 24.5 million people, mostly Pekingans, and, judging by IP addresses, mostly civil servants.
April 28, 2018 in the Gulf of Linshan in the new economic zone of the West coast of Qingdao, the construction of the film and television industry base “Dongfangindu” is completed. According to the deputy director of the Lingshan Bay Film and Television Directorate, Yuan Meilin, the American fiction film “Pacific Frontier 2″ was shot just here. But what does it actually mean?
In addition to the fact, that China provides the conditions for Hollywood companies’ filming , it also invests in the American film industry, which by our calculations already should get rid of itself. Large investors are Alibaba Group, China’s Hunan TV. The latter has already invested $ 375 million to produce films of the American media company Lionsgate. American filmmakers are very happy they get both money and access to a huge viewers’ market.
We would even suggest that this is the deliberate work of the Chinese business to undermine China’s internal information field and to support the geopolitical adversary, but we assume that the situation is even worse – the Chinese businessmen, guided by a greed for profit, simply do not appreciate the consequences of their actions.
Chinese cinema has achieved some success in the world film business due to the policy of cooperation with Hollywood. However, according to the head of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television Zhang Pei-Ming, success in the world market becomes a serious obstacle to the promotion of national films in his own country. Most of the films, that are on the Chinese cinemas, are either shot abroad, or are the result of international cooperation: the distribution volume of Chinese films is negligible.
Furthemore, the Chinese viewer loses interest in the historical and propaganda cinema. Young Chinese audience prefers genre movies – melodrama and comedy. It is positioned that one of the most successful projects of Chinese industry series “Lost in Thailand”. The criterion of success is called the gross collection from the hire. Indeed, a low-budget comedy worth $ 4 million earned in the Chinese box office 192 million dollars and at times bypassed a large-scale patriotic film about the heroic resistance of the Chinese people to the Japanese invaders “Recalling 1942″, which collected only 35 million dollars. Really in China, the criterion for evaluating cinema was box office fees, not public significance?
Another interesting example, a huge success in China was the Korean series “My Love from a distant star.” It’s no wonder that South Korean Hyundai Motor, which was the last one entered the Chinese automotive market , entered the top three lightning fast after the Beijing Motor Show, where visitors were greeted by Kim Soo Hyun, a young South Korean actor who played the main role in this series. That indeed, thousands of Chinese fans came to greet the film-star.
Who is the agent of managing the cinema?
Transnational corporations enter the market of our countries, gaining victory in an algorithmic quiet war. This brings up an appropriate question- don’t officials, businessmen in our countries understand what is happening, or do they understand, but find excuses and work for the interests of TNCs?
Cinema as an instrument can be a basic element in the system of ensuring state security. However, in Russia recently, it is actively promoted that the cinema should not be controlled by the state. In fact, the solution of the issue is hidden behind who is the subject of management and sets criteria, what ideas the film promotes.
The total volume of state financial support for cinematography by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Cinema Foundation in 2015 was $ 6.2 billion. The total turnover of Hollywood in 2011 was $ 464 billion.
At the same time, it should be borne in mind that it is not enough just now to produce films. It is necessary to form an interest in it. We (our states) should look at the cinema not just from a different angle, but from a fundamentally different position, the position of the managing agent. Perceiving cinema as a part of culture, national heritage, we must fight for it, create anew. “Cinema is the greatest medium of mass agitation. The task is to take this matter into our own hands “- I.V. Stalin.
The movie function is much deeper than it might seem at first glance. Despite the fact that our great economist, Comrade V.V. Leontyev was given a Nobel Prize in economics, few people know in our country that it was V.V. Leontiev mathematically proved that strategic planning and development in general at the state and regional level is possible only when taking into account the factors of the aggregate labor potential. It, in turn, is determined not so much by the presence of only individuals, factories, technologies, but also by the ability of people to use technology, material and technological resources, and the ability of people to modernize technological chains, to maintain a coherent whole technological process. In the film industry, people’s ability to use the technologies of cinema making should be considered as an important strategic task.
To do this, it is necessary to form an acting and directing school aimed at creating domestic films for the domestic viewer, and not aimed at getting another western film prize.
For the development of the domestic film industry, it is necessary to formulate criteria for the cinema. In conditions of a silent war, it is first of all necessary to work with the population. The system should be built on the principle of organizing the people’s army, in which each person will be able to stand up for the defense of his territory, the interests of his country. First of all, for this it is necessary to pursue an active intellectual policy, through the formation of an information field, to form creative values and perception of the world around us. It is necessary to teach the population to be full-fledged creators of information content. Especially significant, from the point of view of security and prospects for state building, is the explanatory work with the youth. The main emphasis in the work should be placed on the mass communication of images and the formation of concepts. Including with the help of the film industry.
That is why media projects are now more relevant than ever before, on the one hand, that will make it possible to form value guidelines and thereby overcome the transitional period, and on the other hand, that will allow the population to join the creation of an information field.
Translated by Rogalyova Alexandra