Shen Yun: Amazing Performance & Propaganda!

Shen Yun: Amazing Performance & Propaganda!

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Yesterday Ford and I attended a performance of Shen Yun here in Miami. Okay, this post is only mildly travel related, but culture and travel go hand-in-hand, and I just can’t stop thinking about what I saw. It was super impressive, yet also a total mindf*ck… so I’m curious what everyone else’s take is on this?

Background on Shen Yun, and why we decided to go

Shen Yun is a United States based performing arts and entertainment company that has become massive. Shen Yun’s founder seems to have a 400-acre compound in New York, where the group has its own university of sorts. The term “Shen Yun” translates to “the beauty of heavenly beings dancing,” which seems innocent enough.

Shen Yun was founded in 2006, and has grown massively since, and at this point there are eight groups that are constantly touring, with nearly 500 performers. The company tours worldwide… well, except in China, where it’s banned. The company promises an amazing performance with traditional Chinese dances, and it bills the performance as offering a glimpse into “China before communism.”

I don’t know if it’s the case everywhere, but the amount of advertising that Shen Yun does is unreal. If Shen Yun advertised any more, it would be My Pillow Guy on Fox News during Mike Lindell’s peak

The Shen Yun ads are everywhere. Billboards. Pamphlets. Online. You name it. That advertising finally worked on us. When we saw that they were back in town, we figured it was finally time to see this for ourselves. I mean, I appreciated that they had a 2PM performance on a Saturday, which works perfectly with my sleep schedule (the 7:30PM performance, on the other hand… well, nothing good happens after 7PM!).

I intentionally ignored the Shen Yun controversy

I knew there was some controversy surrounding Shen Yun, though I intentionally didn’t do too much research before the show. Why? Well, I wanted to form my own opinion, without coming in with the bias of what I might have read online.

The one thing I knew was that the Chinese government has banned Shen Yun, and has labeled it as a cult. I mean, without getting too political, I didn’t really view that as a dealbreaker.

I also knew that new religious movement Falun Gong is behind Shen Yun. I was sort of familiar with this, but again, didn’t do too much research, because I wanted to keep an open mind (and honestly, I was probably still more educated on the topic than the average person there, because during the intermission I heard a woman near me say that the show was really making her want to visit Japan…).

The Shen Yun performance was incredible…

The Shen Yun performance lasted for a bit over two hours (including the intermission), and consisted of a bunch of short dancing performances, as well as solo performances (instrumental and singing). The talent of these performers is simply beyond.

Everything was so perfectly choreographed. Every single move from every single performer was perfect, and I was in disbelief. I mean, I can barely walk down the street without tripping over my own feet, yet these people were doing 12 coordinated backflips and making it seem like it was nothing.

I can’t say enough good things about how impressive the talent was, and how visually appealing the whole production was. The costumes, the live music, the performers, it was a feast for the eyes and ears.

…but OMG, the propaganda was wild

The theme throughout the Shen Yun performance varied greatly. Each performance was maybe five minutes long, and then there were these two emcees who would provide commentary on what we were about to see.

The emcees were a Chinese woman, and a (distractingly handsome) Caucasian guy who was presumably just an enthusiast for the language and culture. At times, their banter felt like a comedy routine. It very much felt like they were there to add a human element to the whole thing, and to pass off some pretty controversial opinions as fact.

Most of the individual performances were innocent enough, and wouldn’t make you bat an eyelid. Some were just traditional dances reportedly from thousands of years ago, while there were also some lighthearted performances, like roleplaying that a health inspector was showing up at a Chinese restaurant when all the workers were tired.

But then there were also several scenes where I was just wondering “what the heck am I watching?” For example, this amazing singer came on stage for a solo performance, and then the lyrics were translated and written on a screen. The lyrics included things like “atheism and evolution are deadly ideas,” and “modern trends destroy what makes us human.” That wasn’t just something that was said once, but it was a recurring theme.

What seemed very intentional is that the high points of the singing performance were the parts with the most controversial lyrics, so the whole theater would erupt in clapping after this guy sang “atheism and evolution are deadly ideas.”

There was also a scene where Shanghai was being destroyed by a tsunami, and then the leader of Falun Gong swooped in to save everyone. Or there was a scene where a follower of Falun Gong was having their organs harvested by the CCP.

I’m just so confused about what I saw

As we walked out of the theater I said to Ford “that was amazing, I’m not sure whether I was more impressed by the incredible dancing or the subtle propaganda.”

But the funny thing is that the propaganda isn’t even subtle. You basically get a bunch of unsuspecting people in a room who pay you a bunch of money based on the ads they saw, you tell them evolution and atheism are evil, they clap as if there’s no tomorrow, and they pretend like they didn’t hear it, or somehow find it charming.

Here’s what I’m curious about, and what Ford and I disagree on. I get the sense that this is intended to be propaganda and the goal is to push the religion. Now, do I think this actually works, and any people convert as a result of this? No. But I think part of the goal is to at least normalize this religion, create more awareness of it, and make people not think that there’s anything strange going on here.

Ford has a slightly different take, and he thinks that they have their religion, and the performance is just mainly intended as a way to profit off the whole thing and keep it going. If that were the truth, I figured they’d perhaps be a bit less controversial with the content of the show. But I certainly could be wrong.

Now, regardless of which take is true, one thing is for sure — Shen Yun is a massive money maker. They sell millions of tickets annually, so you can only imagine what the revenues are.

Bottom line

I finally caved and bought a My Pillow Guy pillow… I mean, attended a performance of Shen Yun. I intentionally went into it “blind,” and knew it would be a bit controversial. But my gosh, it was a lot more than I was expecting.

On the one hand, the performance was nothing short of incredible, and the talent of the Shen Yun group is impressive. On the other hand, the amount of propaganda in the show is wild. The people behind marketing Shen Yun are geniuses, because I paid a pretty penny to sit through a performance where I was told that science is evil, and modern trends are ruining the world.

What a unique position Shen Yun and Falun Gong are in, being called a cult by the CCP, and claiming to offer a glimpse into China before communism. Yet somehow, I’m not sure Falun Gong comes out of this looking like the reasonable party.

What’s your take on Shen Yun? Has anyone else seen this performance, and if so, what did you think?

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  1. Suzie Guest

    I just saw the show tonight. It was heavy on the China Bashing and was basically propaganda. Half the show was promoting Falun Gong with organ harvesting from CPP, getting dragged off to jail, being saved by the Falun Gong, and the songs that were performed about religion, atheism, and god. I thought this would be a show about the beautiful Chinese culture and not a cult-like show. Waste of money.

  2. Kelly Guest

    It was not an incredible show, far from it. Nice costumes and some stagecraft meshing video screen seeming to transition to live dancers. Costumes nice. Dance was above average but not amazing.

    We left at intermission because the propaganda for their philosophy was so heavy-handed that it ruined what otherwise would have been an average show.

    Go see a real Chinese cultural performance, with some acrobats, some dancing, some Chinese opera singing, you'll enjoy it...

    It was not an incredible show, far from it. Nice costumes and some stagecraft meshing video screen seeming to transition to live dancers. Costumes nice. Dance was above average but not amazing.

    We left at intermission because the propaganda for their philosophy was so heavy-handed that it ruined what otherwise would have been an average show.

    Go see a real Chinese cultural performance, with some acrobats, some dancing, some Chinese opera singing, you'll enjoy it ten times more

  3. Annonymous Guest

    Saw similar performance while on a visit to Communist China….not amazing…just propaganda!

  4. Leo Guest

    It's also propaganda when you market for a specific political group within a blog site intended for travels.

    1. Pam Thickett Guest

      What specific political group would that be?

  5. Shaun Guest

    The CCP is evil and Communism sucks. The oppression of Falun Gong is abhorrent and unjustifiable.

    But they (Falun Gong) are also nuts.

    They're one of the biggest sources of anti-vax propaganda, and all of that Ivermectin craziness. The Epoch Times is a Falun Gong newspaper, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of their religious tenets. Ivermectin was derived from a plant used in ancient TCM remedies, and therefore Falun Gong has fully embraced...

    The CCP is evil and Communism sucks. The oppression of Falun Gong is abhorrent and unjustifiable.

    But they (Falun Gong) are also nuts.

    They're one of the biggest sources of anti-vax propaganda, and all of that Ivermectin craziness. The Epoch Times is a Falun Gong newspaper, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is one of their religious tenets. Ivermectin was derived from a plant used in ancient TCM remedies, and therefore Falun Gong has fully embraced it as a "wonder drug" to treat everything.

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/chinese-herbal-therapy-malaria-wins-part-nobel-prize-medicine

    I think they should be allowed to practice their religion, within the limits of any religious practice, but they are also definitely a cult.

  6. Paul Guest

    Sounds like the propaganda is worse now than before. I heard that when they first started, the propaganda only occurred during the intermission. Now, it's in-you-face middle of the performance.

  7. Matt Guest

    Two of my kids have done dual immersion Chinese for the past decade and we'd always talked about going to this, the price was exorbitantly high so we never did. We suspected something was not right with it because none of the Chinese mainland teachers would even talk about it...

    1. tony xu Guest

      Please leave your kids out of a discussion on this adult travel blog

  8. Shannon Guest

    And yet, you are always on CCP's side claiming Taiwan is China and using the word " like Taipei-based airline EVA". It is just so hypocritical. Never saw you use the same way to describe United as "Newark based UA" or " Atlanta based DL" etc...shame one you!

    1. tony xu Guest

      Taiwan is part of China. This is just a fact. United headquarters are in Chicago, which is why this blog does not describe it as Newark based.

    2. Paul Guest

      No... Taiwan is the legitimate government of mainland China.

    3. tony xu Guest

      ...in the same way Trump is the legitimate president of the United States?

      Paul is an acronym: Patently Absolutely Unhinged Lunacy

  9. Pam Thickett Guest

    Falun Gong/Epoch platforms several anti-LGBT grifters like Jennifer Lahl, Chloe Cole, Jennifer Bilek, and Aaron Kheriaty.

  10. hartd8 Member

    Albert, Your comments are right on..Thank You

  11. A318neo Guest

    Lucky, it's great that you went into this open-minded, but it's clear this "show" is a giant traveling circus of cult-based propaganda that a sane person should not have to deal with.

    As fellow commenters have noted, it's originated by the Falun Gong group that sounds like some transcendental/new age type religion, and shrouds itself under the cover of "anti-communism" to appeal to mainstream American/Western European ideals, but it is very much anti-democratic (small d...

    Lucky, it's great that you went into this open-minded, but it's clear this "show" is a giant traveling circus of cult-based propaganda that a sane person should not have to deal with.

    As fellow commenters have noted, it's originated by the Falun Gong group that sounds like some transcendental/new age type religion, and shrouds itself under the cover of "anti-communism" to appeal to mainstream American/Western European ideals, but it is very much anti-democratic (small d democratic). No one needs to support the CCP to also see that this right-wing machine (there's no other way to describe it) is hardly a beacon for free and open thought. It's embedded itself in Chinese American media for a couple decades now, sowing discord among those of Chinese ancestry - they run free, over-the-air channels in major metro areas that mix in propaganda-based "news" along with Mandarin-dubbed Korean dramas (old ones, at that - characters on the shows are seen using flip phones).

    Since 2016, they have made a sharp right into MAGA territory, becoming the biggest online advertiser for the former guy's 2020 campaign. They are anti-vax, anti-science, and very racist for a minority-originated organization (minority in the US context). They now have their own English language media outlets ("Epoch Times" and "Epoch" tv channels) that traffic in every sort of conspiracy out there. In the last couple years, they have published and heavily advertised their own "documentaries" trying to downplay the January 6 insurrection. No feather dancers or opera singing to mask it - just plain disinformation on the level of Fox News and Newsmax. It's terrifying.

    Their whole shtick of being anti-CCP and anti-communist gets weaponized against people who disagree with them, and they go into red-scare, McCarthyism mode about anyone calling them out, as demonstrated already by some of commenters here. They get into a binary accusation that you're a CCP sympathizer, and claim that they are being persecuted. Meanwhile, they pretend to function like a benevolent organization and skate along TAX-FREE on 501(c)3 status. Your ticket purchase went straight into their untaxed coffers, which stood at $200M as of 2021 and almost certainly has grown since then. See their IRS returns here: https://apps.irs.gov/pub/epostcard/cor/208812402_202112_990_2023030921067033.pdf

    Don't be fooled. This is a giant racketeering machine, posing as performing arts while trafficking in right-wing extremism.

  12. Doug Guest

    I believe the show is about religious persecution (main idea) and the evils of communism. Remember communists are atheist and prohibit any religion other than the state. Think of the Uyghurs, Christians and these performers that have been imprisoned and executed for their ideas like believing in a divinity. BTW the CCP does harvest organs after executions. I don’t understand are you supporting the CCP because you are an atheist? If you are willing to...

    I believe the show is about religious persecution (main idea) and the evils of communism. Remember communists are atheist and prohibit any religion other than the state. Think of the Uyghurs, Christians and these performers that have been imprisoned and executed for their ideas like believing in a divinity. BTW the CCP does harvest organs after executions. I don’t understand are you supporting the CCP because you are an atheist? If you are willing to suppress a persons freedom of religion, what about free speech, press, the right to assemble or someone’s right to petition the govt?

  13. Indopithecus Guest

    The show’s main purpose, as in all Falun Gong enterprises, appears to be rightwing propaganda, so the revenue stream is secondary. No thanks. Funny that while the US is paranoid about CCP activities it appears to be giving a free hand to Falun Gong. I would not be surprised if CIA money is supporting this unsubtle anti-China propaganda campaign.

  14. TheTruthIs Guest

    I agree with you 100%. Saw their show in St Pete a few years ago. Show was great. Delusional religious comments and focus on the CCCP far too intrusive. Dancing was wonderful but I'd never go again because of the foolish religious and propaganda.

  15. HD Guest

    Can we learn a little more on this (distractingly handsome) Caucasian guy ??

    1. Mark Jones Guest

      Do post on similar topics. We went to a performance in Cincinnati a couple years ago and had the same experience and reactions.

  16. Jesse Guest

    Falun Gong has been a driving force behind the spread of antivax, Qanon, Big Lie and other propaganda over the past few years. They are really media savvy, and their stuff has been all over the Internet in multiple languages for ages. I remember how their Epoch Times was one of the major sources spreading lies in the Japanese language about how Sydney Powell was going to put Joe Biden on trial at court martial...

    Falun Gong has been a driving force behind the spread of antivax, Qanon, Big Lie and other propaganda over the past few years. They are really media savvy, and their stuff has been all over the Internet in multiple languages for ages. I remember how their Epoch Times was one of the major sources spreading lies in the Japanese language about how Sydney Powell was going to put Joe Biden on trial at court martial because of Dominion at the end of 2020.

    I personally think that the CCP is now totally fine with Falun Gong because they suck up all the attention while other religious minorities are being actively oppressed.

  17. FoodBarn Guest

    I heard a woman near me say that the show was really making her want to visit Japan…

  18. UncleRonnie Gold

    I hear DL are going to have this show available on the In-Flight Entertainment on their premium A350k metal soon.

  19. Bodhisattva Smith Guest

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Falun_Gong

  20. Grzegorz Guest

    I mean - any propaganda against the CCP or communists in general is good propaganda. We could deal without the rest.

  21. henare Diamond

    When I lived in SF the Shen Yun ads were as plentiful as they ever were, but never had the subtitle "China before Communism." Now I live somewhere else and the ads do feature the subtitle. I wonder if they pick and choose this sort of. change on a per-market basis.

  22. Howard Guest

    Your website was previously accessible in China without the use of VPN to bypass the great firewall.

    Following this post, I am not sure if this is still the case.

  23. Malc Diamond

    Two relevant articles: https://www.abc.net.au/religion/the-abc-is-right-that-falun-gong-teachings-are-dangerous/12538058 and https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/stepping-into-the-uncanny-unsettling-world-of-shen-yun

  24. PM1 Guest

    Thanks for covering this Ben! I have seen their ads everywhere for years and was curious. Now I know. :)

  25. Albert Guest

    I saw Shen Yun but I didn’t observe any message against science. The fact that they have patented digital backdrops suggests that they embrace modern technology. There’s certainly a direct message against atheism and the theory of evolution, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that China was known even up until the mid 19th century as the Celestial Empire, and Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism have been imbued in Chinese culture for thousands of years.

    What gets...

    I saw Shen Yun but I didn’t observe any message against science. The fact that they have patented digital backdrops suggests that they embrace modern technology. There’s certainly a direct message against atheism and the theory of evolution, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that China was known even up until the mid 19th century as the Celestial Empire, and Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism have been imbued in Chinese culture for thousands of years.

    What gets me is that many people appear to gloss over the forced, live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners happening for the past 20-plus years in China by the Chinese Communist Party. How can anybody suggest that Falun Gong or Shen Yun are being unreasonable when they present their beliefs and expose organ harvesting? That’s one of the most heinous crimes of the 21st century.

    The CCP precisely wants people to be apathetic towards the suffering of Falun Gong. That’s why they vilify it and call it a cult. It’s to justify the persecution.

    A cult should be defined by the conduct of its members rather than their beliefs. Claiming its a cult by asserting that they have “rabid anti-gay” views doesn’t make sense to me. Are they referring to the two sentences in Falun Gong’s main teachings that suggest that homosexuality is immoral? That’s hardly “rabidly” anti-gay. Futhermore, Falun Gong welcomes anybody regardless of their sexual orientation, and they’ve never been against gay rights.

    Also, when I hear people refer to The Epoch Times as a rag, I’ve found that they are just parroting others who strongly dislike conservative media and that they’ve never read the newspaper.

    There is a clear scholarly consensus that Falun Gong is not a cult. Ian Johnson, a former journalist for the NY Times and WSJ who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Falun Gong, wrote in his book "Wild Grass": "The group [Falun Gong] didn’t meet many common definitions of a cult: its members marry outside the group, have outside friends, hold normal jobs, do not live isolated from society, do not believe that the world’s end is imminent and do not give significant amounts of money to the organization. Most importantly, suicide is not accepted, nor is physical violence….[Falun Gong] is at heart an apolitical, inward-oriented discipline, one aimed at cleansing oneself spiritually and improving one's health.”

    A 2017 Freedom House report (p.112) notes that three months after the persecution of Falun Gong started, the Chinese regime applied the “cult” label retroactively to justify a violent campaign that was provoking international and domestic criticism. David Ownby, a scholar on Chinese religions, notes:

    "The entire issue of the supposed cultic nature of Falun Gong was a red herring from the beginning, cleverly exploited by the Chinese state to blunt the appeal of Falun Gong and the effectiveness of the group’s activities outside China."

    U.S. Congress has passed five bi-partisan resolutions in support of Falun Gong. H.Res.605 reads: "Chinese authorities have devoted extensive time and resources over the past decade worldwide to distributing false propaganda claiming that Falun Gong is a suicidal and militant ‘evil cult’ rather than a spiritual movement which draws upon traditional Chinese concepts of meditation and exercise.”

    I think if more people understood the nature of the Chinese Communist Party, they would have much less trouble discerning the noble actions of Shen Yun.

    1. BenjaminKohl Diamond

      Found the Shen Yun bot

  26. dt Guest

    There are actually numerous similar dance troupes in China, doing similar performances. Shen Yun has done very well (or been well-funded) in promoting it to the general public in the US. But these are pretty much what a (very good) tour company could get you on any tour around the Mainland as well. Except perhaps with a dose of the opposite propaganda.

  27. Jojo Guest

    Ben if you brushed up on your communist history you will know that 1) hundreds of millions of people die. 2) everyone else suffers 3) all religions are banned and replaced with the religion of government.

    1. digital_notmad Diamond

      I do not think Ben disputes these facts

  28. b s Guest

    Congratulations by choosing to not actually do research you just supported their crazy views.

  29. Motion to Dismiss Gold

    They advertise like crazy in NYC too. I’ve always wondered what the show was like, so this is good to know!

  30. D3kingg Guest

    I know Tony XU from Rowland Heights.

  31. hbilbao Guest

    And this is one more reason to stay loyal to @Ben! I cannot help but love Ben's genuinely curious approach to some of the thorniest issues of our time. I myself was about to buy a ticket to attend one of their shows in Toronto, because I watched an ad and everything looked truly amazing. Then, I read about the propaganda (religious, and otherwise) and changed my mind (esp. because of the religious stuff). But...

    And this is one more reason to stay loyal to @Ben! I cannot help but love Ben's genuinely curious approach to some of the thorniest issues of our time. I myself was about to buy a ticket to attend one of their shows in Toronto, because I watched an ad and everything looked truly amazing. Then, I read about the propaganda (religious, and otherwise) and changed my mind (esp. because of the religious stuff). But now I might consider attending because I love art. What would be of art without controversy?

  32. Eskimo Guest

    Now I see Tim Dunn's career path.

    Can't wait to see him save Atlanta after a tsunami or sing to fluffy lyrics about what is "premium", financial statements, earnings call, DOT stats, and something about living rent free.

  33. CultyMcCulty Guest

    two things can be f'ed up at the same time. the CCP is pretty bad. If Falun Gong ran China, it's not going to be some liberal utopia either. They run this show to make money and the propaganda part.. well, these people grew up in the times of heavy propaganda. This is what they know.

    1. Jason Guest

      Well, FLG did run in China for a while. During 90s mass layoff, CCP grouped up with FLG for "alternative medical practices" to alleviate its pressure on social security. Unfortunately, they had a sour breakup and CCP declared FLG as a cult. Then the story of FLG outside of China starts.
      FLG learned many propaganda practices from CCP, this includes performances like Shen Yun - just think how many performance groups CCP feeds, like...

      Well, FLG did run in China for a while. During 90s mass layoff, CCP grouped up with FLG for "alternative medical practices" to alleviate its pressure on social security. Unfortunately, they had a sour breakup and CCP declared FLG as a cult. Then the story of FLG outside of China starts.
      FLG learned many propaganda practices from CCP, this includes performances like Shen Yun - just think how many performance groups CCP feeds, like right now. You gotta watch propaganda anyway, why not CCP's? It is cheaper in price and better performance-wise.

  34. Jason Guest

    “and Falun Gong was embraced by the government as an effective means of lowering health care costs, promoting Chinese culture, and improving public morality. In December 1992, for instance, Li and several Falun Gong students participated in the Asian Health Expo in Beijing, where he reportedly "received the most praise [of any qigong school] at the fair, and achieved very good therapeutic results", according to the fair's organizer.”
    Comparing to being anti-CCP in its...

    “and Falun Gong was embraced by the government as an effective means of lowering health care costs, promoting Chinese culture, and improving public morality. In December 1992, for instance, Li and several Falun Gong students participated in the Asian Health Expo in Beijing, where he reportedly "received the most praise [of any qigong school] at the fair, and achieved very good therapeutic results", according to the fair's organizer.”
    Comparing to being anti-CCP in its value, FLG is more kinda extreme business failed under an extremist regime then turned against it, I guess?

  35. D3kingg Guest

    I see billboards all the time in Houston. I heard it’s a ripoff just students from a local college not world renowned performers but I would like to see it. Reminds me of the Chinese guy from Oceans 11 that could fit into little places.

  36. Steve Guest

    I live in an outer suburb of a major US city. The group leaves door hangers when the show is in town. I've never been curious, but at least I know more about it.

  37. tony xu Guest

    testing comment if i am banned

    1. tony xu Guest

      ok i am not banned but my comment reply to stupid David (a moron) below was insta-deleted.

    2. digital_notmad Diamond

      Hopefully tony steps on the wrong gov official's toes one of these days, it will be the funniest thing the Chinese govt has ever done.

  38. Ethan Guest

    I'm glad you posted this because I've always been curious! They advertise like crazy where I live and I didn't know much about it.

  39. David Diamond

    This isn't travel related at all, but I don't really have an issue with it. I think at least some of us readers are interested in the person behind the blog just as much as the travel content itself. I didn't see the same people complain about Lucky talking about buying a new home, or having Miles etc. when those are hardly travel related either.

    Also always good to see for yourself and make up...

    This isn't travel related at all, but I don't really have an issue with it. I think at least some of us readers are interested in the person behind the blog just as much as the travel content itself. I didn't see the same people complain about Lucky talking about buying a new home, or having Miles etc. when those are hardly travel related either.

    Also always good to see for yourself and make up your own mind. Too many people want to convince you one way or another of different things these days, when they're extremely biased. That said, Shen Yun is indeed propaganda by a cult. CPC sucks big time, but that doesn't mean Falung Gung isn't also a cult.

    Also, to the tony xu, who's basically trying to be racist while pretending he's not, from one ethnic Chinese to another: you're an idiot, don't give the rest of us a bad name.

    1. tony xu Guest

      You are "ethnic Chinese" but you can't spell Falun Gong? What you wrote is not even lexicographically valid hanyu pinyin. You may as well claim to be American and say the President is Jow Byedan.

      I built a $50b market cap company, how about you, idiot?

    2. DenB Diamond

      Low-quality snark, Xu. I think you know (or you should) that there is no "edit" function in this platform, no "delete". So, for those of us who are excellent spellers, but who typically edit after writing a draft, this platform is tricky. I've posted spelling errors herein numerous times, to my embarrassment. And while, to my shame, my company isn't worth even a tenth of the "market cap" of yours, I thought I'd better include...

      Low-quality snark, Xu. I think you know (or you should) that there is no "edit" function in this platform, no "delete". So, for those of us who are excellent spellers, but who typically edit after writing a draft, this platform is tricky. I've posted spelling errors herein numerous times, to my embarrassment. And while, to my shame, my company isn't worth even a tenth of the "market cap" of yours, I thought I'd better include a reference to it, in case you thought it relevant.

    3. David Diamond

      You understand ethnic Chinese doesn’t imply everyone uses the pinyin system right? Despite what mainlanders think, they are not the only members of the Chinese community. To start you off with your continued education, members of the Hong Kong and Taiwanese community use a completely different system.

      Also your internet (and unverifiable) flex is both hilarious and typically mainlander, as if (claimed) financial success is the only metric, and that somehow precludes you from being...

      You understand ethnic Chinese doesn’t imply everyone uses the pinyin system right? Despite what mainlanders think, they are not the only members of the Chinese community. To start you off with your continued education, members of the Hong Kong and Taiwanese community use a completely different system.

      Also your internet (and unverifiable) flex is both hilarious and typically mainlander, as if (claimed) financial success is the only metric, and that somehow precludes you from being an idiot. :)

    4. Icarus Guest

      lol. Hilarious. $50 billion company As if anyone believes that c—p. If so, kindly elaborate with all the details.

      When it comes to typos, there’s no edit function and some people are dyslexic.

    5. Paul Guest

      You're proof that people don't have to be smart to get rich. Just lucky. (Drumpf)

  40. InLA Guest

    This setup is nothing new. I remember attending the Rockettes’ Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall and being shocked, SHOCKED!, that there was an overtly religious segment about the birth of Jesus. The entire audience applauded and then went out for cocktails followed by shopping for trinkets at Tiffany’s. Jesus wept.

    1. fizz master Guest

      christmas is about Jesus you should not have been shocked.

    2. Shannon Guest

      you are comparing apples to testicles

  41. Laurel Guest

    I seem to recall reading that Shen Yun is break even at best....although you pay a lot for the tickets they spend nearly all their revenue on operating expenses and (extremely high) advertising costs, which they hope will result in more people watching the show. So I think you are right this time and Ford is wrong.

    1. BigG Guest

      It also finances the Epoc Times , another Falun Gong outlet.

  42. Liz Guest

    I saw this show years ago before there was much information as to who they were. I HATED the show. I walked out of there thinking that is 2 hours of my life I can't get back.

    It was confusing and just a mess - perhaps it has changed since then - don't know and don't care. Now that I know more as to who/what they are - I DETEST that I spent money on this.

    I tell people that they shouldn't waste their money.

  43. lars Guest

    Good art, especially live performance art, is increasingly hard to come by.

    So if they want to throw their ideology in, that’s cool with me. I agave the choice to agree or not with lyrics.

    I also appreciate the openness of it vs the steady stream of more subtle, and therefore probably more dangerous, propaganda that we get bombarded with in western media and popular culture.

  44. HelloDave2 Guest

    Read the headline and immediately knew that it came from One Mile at a Time LOL

  45. NoNameToday Member

    They advertise constantly here in Charlotte NC. I don't know anyone who has ever been to the shows but they come back at least once a year so I guess there must be an audience. I hope the performers are treated well at least.

  46. T. Davis Guest

    It's essentially a show put on by a cult. The cult/performers train at a place on Long Island. I went many years ago before realizing the content. They try extremely hard to be sure any negative press or information about the troupe is removed from media. I have read most newspapers will not print anything negative about the show because of the massive ad review Shen Yun provides. Never again.

  47. JB Guest

    @Ben - So, would you say that the price for the ticket was worth it?

  48. CKitsap Guest

    If you heard something is controversial ahead of time, I think it's a good idea to do a little research ahead of time to find out why. Personally, I'd be upset if I was in Ben's shoes and attended a show where you paid for your own brainwashing.

    Likewise, I would never buy a pillow from MyPillowGuy, even if the product was superior. Or visit a country where they don't want "my type".

    To...

    If you heard something is controversial ahead of time, I think it's a good idea to do a little research ahead of time to find out why. Personally, I'd be upset if I was in Ben's shoes and attended a show where you paid for your own brainwashing.

    Likewise, I would never buy a pillow from MyPillowGuy, even if the product was superior. Or visit a country where they don't want "my type".

    To be fair, I don't research EVERY product/country/company before I buy it but, if I do hear something controversial, I will spend the time to find out the scoop so I don't feel abused later.

  49. hanchicago Guest

    “I heard a woman near me say that the show was really making her want to visit Japan” made me laugh aloud in my hotel room in Istanbul.

    Shen Yun is to that woman as your ANA and JAL reviews are to me.

    More seriously, thanks for the heads-up on the content. Had no idea this show (which I see ads for all the time as well) was affiliated with and funded by that group.

    It’s refreshing to hear your take on a topic that’s more tangentially related to your core topics.

  50. gsd101 Member

    @ben, thanks for sharing this insight. Admittedly, I didn't know much about this topic and I haven't been exposed to any of the advertising (or maybe just haven't notice it). Nevertheless, this was eye opening.

    And please don't be bothered by the trolls. It continues to concern me that there is a growing use of "You're white" as something for which you should feel shame or embarrassment about. And I don't believe that you...

    @ben, thanks for sharing this insight. Admittedly, I didn't know much about this topic and I haven't been exposed to any of the advertising (or maybe just haven't notice it). Nevertheless, this was eye opening.

    And please don't be bothered by the trolls. It continues to concern me that there is a growing use of "You're white" as something for which you should feel shame or embarrassment about. And I don't believe that you ever suggested that you understood Chinese culture, just that you were more aware of the Shen Yun/Falun Gong movement and its leader than many people (clearly more than I am).

    To be fair, the vast majority of media/entertain today has an agenda, so maybe Shen Yun isn't that different. I wonder if it only feels excessive when it doesn't align with our own leanings. Regardless, thank you for saving me the money and time of having to go see this show. I certainly would be bothered by the propaganda and it would impact my ability to enjoy the quality of the dancing/singing/music.

  51. Maryland Guest

    Good heads up on avoiding this show! Total brainwashing! Put up something visually lovely while whispering manipulative thoughts in your ear. No thank you.

  52. John Lee Guest

    Thanks Ben for sharing your views and thoughts of ShenYun. No matter what the Propaganda tells, the success of ShenYun performance shows that people around the world enjoy the performance.

    1. DC Yukon Guest

      If they have a lot of repeat attendees, that would mean the show is successful. If they don’t, it only means their marketing campaign and relentless commercials are successful. I highly doubt they make public any details of repeat attendees or even how much, if any, profit they make after the expensive commercials and rent of expensive, high profile theaters, including the Kennedy Center in DC every year.

  53. brianna hoffner Diamond

    Their ads are everywhere -- including on your favorite points blog :) i kid, i kid... oh, btw there's now an amazing sheNYun yankees hat that i allllmost bought just for the irony...

  54. Julia Guest

    "this post is only mildly travel related"

    I'd say it isn't travel related at all, but to each their own.

    1. Ivan Guest

      Who cares? The title was clear on what it was, if you didn’t want to read it, don’t. You act like Ben owes you something because you read his blog (exclusively to your own benefit) and probably with an adblocker on.

    2. Julia Guest

      Lol Triggered much? Actually the title wasn't clear, since it could have been something he saw while he was on one of his trips. And if people don't want to have comments that disagree with them, maybe they shouldn't have a comments section? Plus, our views and comments do provide some of the $$$ he earns off of the site, so opinions will be given. But if you are triggered that much, maybe you're the one who needs to avoid the comments section? ;)

  55. mjw703 Member

    The founder and leader of Falun Gong teaches that mixed race people and homosexuality are bad, so I'm surprised that you supported them by attending a performance. There's a pretty extensive article from the Australian Broadcast Corporation that's worth reading if you want to explore more.

    1. GBOAC Diamond

      Ben said very clearly that he chose not to do any research into the Shen Yun or Falun Gong. He's and many of his readers are doing that right now.

  56. derek Guest

    I think Shen Yun is weird but never looked into it much.

    I know that the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a democratically elected government and that they are not separatists, like the People's Republic of China claims. The People's Republic of China, which is the Beijing based government, is the real separatists. In 1949, they separated from the pre-existing Republic of China government by force. They were not able to land separatists forces in Taiwan, though.

    1. Digit Guest

      Umm, separatists mean to split away. That’s exactly what Taiwan is trying to do. The PRC are revolutionists or rebels depending on which side you’re on. They overthrown the original government but they do not promote two countries from one nation. This is what Taiwan is trying to accomplish after realizing they have no hope of retaking back the mainland from the PRC.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      @derek

      You're funny.
      It's just like claiming the USA is Great Britian and UK right now are separatists.

      And just because Mao didn't land in Taiwan doesn't mean he couldn't.

      I'd bet that if Mao knew that Taiwan would become a Western buffer (puppet) for so long he would have finished off KMT.

  57. GBOAC Diamond

    Ben is way too young to have ever heard of "Up with People":-)

  58. KV Guest

    At the risk of agreeing with the CCP, Falun Gong pretty much IS a cult. And they run the Epoch Times, a notoriously right-wing rag that promotes anti-vax and other Q-Anon type conspiracies. Not to mention their rabid anti-gay and anti-feminism positions.

    1. Miguel Guest

      Is China wrong to oppress Falun Gong? Yes. Is Falun Gong a creepy cult, essentially Chinese Scientology? Also yes. It’s not just the belief system that’s parallel, it’s the fact that both groups rely on a large network of *ahem* “volunteers” to sustain them and enrich their leaders at the very top. Shen Yun is just a very visible arm of their propaganda.

    2. Pam Thickett Guest

      Falun Gong also has a history of abusing young women and girls.

  59. Up Up & Away Gold

    The cult's founder is an avowed racist and homophobe and, in a nod to L Ron Hubbard, believes that aliens are trying to control us.

    As much as I love a good show, I just cannot in good conscience spend money on this group.

    1. Timothée DunDunDunDunnnn Guest

      Because United is historically stronger to Asia (but Delta is soon closing the gap with their KE JV that funnels all traffic to ICN), all of the Falun Gong converts that come out of Shen Yun performances that are then banned from traveling to China have a disproportionate impact on United’s Asia business

    2. Chad Guest

      "The cult's founder is an avowed racist and homophobe"

      Where do I sign up?

  60. tony xu Guest

    Hey Ben let me just say this. You're white. You will never really know China or Chinese culture.

    I'm disappointed you published this post Gary Leff-style clearly to bait low-quality engagement from your stalwart commenters like "Mantis" or that guy who had a failed business in Brazil and now lives in Hong Kong.

    Your blog does not allow comments written in Chinese characters (believe me I have tried, they all get insta banned and don't even make it to moderation).

    1. Warren Guest

      this is bs, you don't need to be Chinese to understand CCP/Falun Gong
      what's more, he's not claiming to be an expert in this either.
      his blog not allowing chinese characters is irrelevant

      pls dont make the rest of us chinese folks look bad by pulling of this sht

    2. tony xu Guest

      First, it is CPC. The Communist Party of China. "CCP" is a giveaway that you're dealing with a LARPer.

      Second, you actually do need to be Chinese, as in born and raised to ethnically Chinese parents in China. The reasons are food and language. As a real Chinese person you will develop a palate that accepts a completely different range of tastes that western people will find extremely off putting. As a real Chinese person...

      First, it is CPC. The Communist Party of China. "CCP" is a giveaway that you're dealing with a LARPer.

      Second, you actually do need to be Chinese, as in born and raised to ethnically Chinese parents in China. The reasons are food and language. As a real Chinese person you will develop a palate that accepts a completely different range of tastes that western people will find extremely off putting. As a real Chinese person you speak and understand Chinese languages (Mandarin plus your regional dialect) using phonemes that do not exist in other languages, and can only be learned in early childhood. It is biologically impossible to become fluent as a non-native speaker for the phoneme reason. Food and language are big components of culture so not having the taste/fluency in it precludes you from an in depth (or, in some cases, even a superficially accurate) understanding of China.

    3. Alan Smithee Guest

      Someone matching the criteria you’ve laid out would just come out as crazy and brainwashed as you are. The only way to understand China and Chinese culture, that is to say, to understand that it’s terrible, is to not be born in China.

    4. Kevin Guest

      I've worked in China, speak Chinese, and have dealt with high-level Chinese govt. counterparties. "CCP" is literally the original English name of the party, and is universally used in English except by Chinese govt. sources. Honestly, when I see CPC online otherwise, I just assume I'm talking to a wumao.

    5. David S Guest

      These comments are not worthy or appropriate for a c level executive of a publicly traded company. I'd suggest given your corporate leadership role, making comments on a public blog that can be construed by some as racist is not in the best interest of yourself or your company. I am sure you don't want to alienate potential customers or have this become a controversy picked up by the mainstream media like the WSJ.

    6. S. O. Guest

      The Falun Gong are the same extremists that publish the Epoch Times, an alt-right pro-Trump, conspiracy laden paper and website.

    7. Julia Guest

      "that guy who had a failed business in Brazil and now lives in Hong Kong."

      Who?

    8. DenB Diamond

      Let's have a vote on which Chinese Character should be insta-banned on this blog.

  61. Mr Deez Guest

    Good luck ever getting a visa to go to China. You are on the list now.

    1. digital_notmad Diamond

      not much of a loss since like anyone he can do better in TPE anyway

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Warren Guest

this is bs, you don't need to be Chinese to understand CCP/Falun Gong what's more, he's not claiming to be an expert in this either. his blog not allowing chinese characters is irrelevant pls dont make the rest of us chinese folks look bad by pulling of this sht

10
Up Up & Away Gold

The cult's founder is an avowed racist and homophobe and, in a nod to L Ron Hubbard, believes that aliens are trying to control us. As much as I love a good show, I just cannot in good conscience spend money on this group.

8
KV Guest

At the risk of agreeing with the CCP, Falun Gong pretty much IS a cult. And they run the Epoch Times, a notoriously right-wing rag that promotes anti-vax and other Q-Anon type conspiracies. Not to mention their rabid anti-gay and anti-feminism positions.

7
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