Publication Date: Music & Politics 12.1 (Winter 2018)
"In 1942 Mao Zedong presented an influential policy for revolutionary culture in his “Talks at the Yan’an Conference on Literature and Art.” Mao detailed how the arts could act as a “powerful weapon” in uniting and educating the masses, “attacking and annihilating the enemy,” and simultaneously foster solidarity in the struggle (Translated by Bonnie McDougall. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1980). Accordingly, revolutionary music should focus on the three pillars of socialist society: workers, peasants, and soldiers. Many children’s songs were composed and disseminated in attempts to educate the next generation of Chinese socialist society. Songs such as “I Love Beijing’s Tiananmen,” “Tiny Little Screw Cap,” “Grow Up to be a Good Member of the Commune,” and “Lin Biao and Confucius are Both Bad Things” are striking examples where the innocence of children is written into political ideology and revolutionary language while routinely including references to struggle, weapons, and violence. Seemingly opposing forces come together in these children’s songs as music is utilized as a weapon for the revolution. In this article, I examine children’s songs from the New Songs of the Battlefield anthology published between 1972–1976. My analysis will consider how children’s songs are a dangerous and extreme example of the exploitation of music."