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Please Vote for Me (2007)
Please Vote For Me: The "Reality" of Democracy
As I was watching Please Vote for Me, a documentary by Weijun Chen, I thought for a few moments that I was watching a modern American reality television show. I was also quite shocked by the actions of the parents of the children in the film.
Please Vote for Me is the story of a third-grade class in China getting their first taste of democracy. Three candidates are selected to run for "class monitor," and they all run campaigns to try and win. The duties of the class monitor are never very well specified, but it's evident that they get to boss around the other kids and keep them in line. There were three candidates: Luo Lei, Cheng Cheng and Xu Xiaofei. Luo Lei had an automatic advantage because he had been class monitor before, which is probably why he won in the end. Cheng Cheng was extremely bossy, and Xu Xiaofei was very sensitive and the only girl in the race. The thing that shocked me the most in this film was what the parents did to help their children win. It was similar to a modern election, full of scandal and bribery. It was just a bit less discreet. The kids were taken on a trip, given gifts, and promised a lot of things. Truthfully, the race seemed more like a pageant to me. There was a talent portion and a speech and then a debate, which was the one thing that really made it a political race. In the speeches, it was less about telling what they were going to do, it was more about the flaws of the other person. The candidates even asked their classmates for flaws of their opponents. It was really shocking how mean kids are to each other. I liked how it was shot though, very relaxed, very real. It made me feel like I was actually taking part in the action. I also liked that the cameras went home with the kids (even though it wasn't that great how Cheng Cheng was in his underwear all the time), it really gave a feel for how much the parents were involved. They wrote the speeches, told them exactly was to do, and provided bribes for the kids to use. It was wrong, but it made it much more interesting. This film was captivating and well made. I enjoyed it a lot, but it seemed like the translators didn't subtitle as much as they could. I don't know if this is true, but It could have definitely been changed.