A Personal Anecdote Assessing Propaganda

Ethan Chun, Editor In Chief

On January 12, 2023, artist Jackson “Magic Man” Wang gave a speech that neared eight minutes long while on tour in London. Wang’s speech stirred controversy and caused “netizens” to debate over Wang’s mention of “fing media”

Jackson Wang was a previous member of the now-disbanded K-Pop group GOT7. Now, he makes music independently under his personal label, Team Wang. Since he began making music independently, Wang has gathered quite the following and even released an album named “MAGIC MAN.” 

As an amateur music connoisseur, I have dabbled in Jackson Wang’s music and have found a few songs of his to be of liking. Before discussing the dead controversy regarding Jackson Wang, I am saying, although not a die-hard, I am a fan of his music. 

In this nearly eight-minute-long dialogue, Jackson Wang is extremely emotional. The first two minutes mention the media industry being anti-China, while the rest is an emotionally packed speech about what he believes an entertainer is about. The latter part of his speech is disregarded in this drama. 

Within the first minute of the speech given, Jackson Wang says, “This is Jackson Wang from China. I don’t give a f about everything else. This is my home, this is my country. There are so much fing media talking about bulls, it’s not like China. Media, fing media, propaganda bulls. If you travel to China one time, you’ll feel like, ‘Damn, this is a dope place.’ I guarantee… I don’t know that game they’re trying to play. I don’t fing know. Hey, I’m just an artist, I’m an entertainer. I’m a citizen, I’m a person. I don’t know that s, I don’t give a f. I just want to say that there is a lot of filters about all these media things.” This speech comes from a video recording of Jackson Wang’s speech during his tour posted on YouTube from bilibili, a Southeast Asian video-sharing website based in Shanghai. 

It is those lines from Jackson Wang’s speech that became clipped and spread around social media. People began to cancel Wang for defending Chinese propaganda and claiming western media was not covering the truth. On top of Wang’s previous controversy of canceling their collaboration with Adidas, because Adidas stated they would stop using cotton from Chinese sweatshops, Wang was not in a good position from the western media’s viewpoint. 

While witnessing this controversy, I first sided with the cancelation of Jackson Wang. The clips and TikToks I saw caused me to believe that Wang was being outwardly Islamophobic saying Chinese concentration camps for the Islamics wasn’t real. I was being misled. Each TikTok at the time was a five-second clip from the first two minutes of this eight-minute-long speech and primarily consisted of TikTokers interpreting Wang’s words differently. After watching the whole speech, I developed my interpretation and opinion. This all happened within days of the initial controversy, a bit less than two months from the time I write now. 

This initial controversy bugged me. First, social media did influence my initial opinion. Second, Jackson Wang continued to defend China. Third, the video from bilibili posted on YouTube appeared on my recommended tab. The initial video of the speech I watched was on TikTok and consisted of just Jackson Wang preaching to the choir with the audience yelling supportively. This bilibili video I watched consisted of Jackson Wang preaching to the choir with harmonic piano chords playing in the background, almost like it attempted to sway me into feeling sympathetic for Wang during the controversy. This bugged me. 

I found it ironic that the video about media filtering content is what caused this entire controversy. To start, TikTok used clips out of context and exaggerated Wang’s speech into making him seem Islamophobic. Roughly two months later, bilibili, which originates in China, has a video seemingly putting Jackson Wang as heroic. Now, the added chords could’ve been for the other six-ish minutes that truly were emotional but I find the filtering of content prevalent in both instances. It’s bilibili and Jackson Wang’s connection to China that has me finding this meant to sympathize with the Chinese audience that Wang is out there defending their country. 

Jackson Wang addresses propaganda in his speech, propaganda in the form of the media’s influence of filtering content. The TikTok clips canceling Wang unfairly clipped this speech and exaggerated Wang’s meaning. The bilibili video added music in an attempt to sway the audience. I may even be jumping to conclusions with this bilibili video adding music. Although Jackson Wang did not say anything directly about Chinese propaganda, his previous behavior relating to other immoral acts by China doesn’t fully excuse him. My personal opinion on all of this is that the media sucks. Media created different versions of the speech and influenced whatever the new content was. This altered content makes a neutral video nearly impossible. It is the media that unintentionally creates this “propaganda bulls.”