Adultery Is a Capital Offense

Contemporary Chinese Thought 30 (3):57-60 (1999)

Before The Bridges of Madison County was released, several editor friends of mine wanted me to go and see it, and to write a short article about it when I had. The movie has finished showing now, and I never did go to see it. This was not because I was being deliberately snooty about it, but chiefly because there was a debate around the movie that I found very irritating; and as a result, I did not have the slightest desire to go and see it. Some people said the novel advocated extramarital affairs and should be criticized. Others said that it was completely opposed to extramarital affairs and, therefore, should not be criticized. Thus, The Bridges of Madison County came to be welded together with "extramarital affairs." If I had seen the movie, I also would have had to make an evaluation of extramarital affairs, and that is something I hate doing. My basic judgment of The Bridges of Madison County is as follows: Firstly, the story is made up, not true. Secondly, even if it were true, it is about Americans, and has nothing to do with us. Some comrades may say that, whether or not it has anything to do with us, we have seen the movie and so we must have a moral judgment of it. This reminds me of something that happened almost twenty years ago. It was when the Paris Opera came to Beijing and performed La Dame aux Camélias, and some of the audience said, "The lady of the camellias is a prostitute! And the male lead is no good either: Put Marguerite and Armand together and all you've got is a whore and ha client!" If Dumas fils were alive, I'm sure he would be enraged to hear such an assessment. If the French singers had been aware of such comments, they too would have said, "It was stupid of us to come and perform here. Performing opera is very tiring, and what do they see while we're singing our hearts out? A whore and her client! "That was over ten years ago, and I do feel that Chinese audiences should have made some progress by now—one would never have expected that that is not the case
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DOI 10.2753/CSP1097-1467300357
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