About Erin Thomson

3rd year Animation Student

Family Life



Family Life in China has remained a very important aspect of life throughout the centuries.  Family life has changed in the last few generations due to the country modernising, change in Governments, and religious influences.

Traditionally Family Life was based on the Philosophical views of Confucius, which became known as the Confucianism religion. Confucianism became popular at the time of the Qin Dynasty. Social order and communal behaviour were preached through Confucianism. Relationships within the family and depending on your standing dictated how you would interact with each other. You were expected to know your place, be respectful of elders, and take orders from the head of the family and to be benevolent of the young.  Women were to be subordinate to their father then husband and also to the son if the husband dies. Men were allowed to remarry and have concubines but women were not allowed to remarry after their husband had died. Traditionally Family’s lived together in court yard housing in the hutongs. Court yard housing contained a series of buildings depending on where you were in the family hierarchy decided which wings of the house you lived in. The husband was the head of the family and was responsible for all the decisions made also the bread winner for all. Marriages were often forced and arranged to increase family standing in society and for more wealth.

This is not so different from other countries centuries ago.  Royal families or wealthy families often arranged marriages with other wealthy families. The head of the family was the husband and bread winner.

When the People’s Republic took over in China began to change Family life to what it is today. The People’s Republic wanted to give women more rights. In 1950 the new marriage law was introduced Where forced/arranged marriage is no longer allowed, women were to be seen as equals, divorce was now lawfully allowed, Men had to be 20 to be married and women 18.  In 1983 it became legal to marry foreigners. In 2003 they outlawed married people living in cohabitation to decrease the amount of people having concubines.  Also in 1980 they introduced the one child policy.

The Husband is still considered the head of the house hold but no longer has complete control. Education has played a key role in changing the family dynamics. Woman being seen as equals has allowed them to get proper education and become bread winners themselves. There is now choice in what you can do with your life rather than having it decided for you.

Many families are now being separated because people have to move around to find work. Mainly from the country to the city. It then makes it difficult to visit family as holidays are rare and normally there is a lot of distance between home and the city.

Introducing the one child policy has made families very nuclear. When these kids grow up there not going to have aunties and uncles. Families are going to be very small compared to the past where extended families would live together. Children are now very precious to the Chinese people. Traditionally a son was the preferred to be the heir to the family. This view is still their today and many families have medically chosen what gender they want their child to be because they can only have one. The government is trying to prevent people from doing this. Doing so has created an imbalance in the gender ratio with more men than there are women.

Today there is an increasing number of single parents and a new single parents club has been set up. This shows family life has changed from the rational by quite a bit. This is mainly due to divorce increasing with modern life. Many people are now postponing marriage in order to start their careers, to gain an education and save up money to afford the cost of starting a family and purchasing a home.

In conclusion Family Life has changed over the generations more so in recent times. Traditionally Family life was based on the teachings of Confucianism and how to behave properly. The People’s Republic changed the Family dynamics to what it is today. They introduced new laws which allowed divorce; one child policy outlawed arranged marriage Modern life like moving to find work in cities has also changed families.



Where do your clothes come from?

How aware are people of where there clothes or belonging’s come from? As a group we decided to investigate people’s awareness to where there products came from. We developed t-shirt templates with questions to be answered on them.  We asked them “What was the last thing you bought?”, “Do you know where you products come from?”, “Do you care or does it bother you where your products come from?” and “What are your views on the quality of goods made here in the UK or elsewhere?” I also looked at items of clothing from friends and family to see if they were made in china.


The answer’s we got for the first questioned varied from vintage clothing to bread and Lego men.

When asked if they know where there products came the overall view was that they did not know other than where they bought the product. One interviewer did say that their products probably came from some third world country but could not afford clothes that were made elsewhere. As a consumer we have little say in where companies decide to make their clothes or products. We can only look at where products are made and decide of we want to buy them or not.

The third question we asked was “do you care or does it bother you where your products come from?” the response to this question was more elaborative but there was a few that said they did not care or felt that they should.  The general view was that they cared whether the workers conditions were acceptable.

“It is really nice to know that the people making the product are treated fairly”

Furthermore by reading “factory Girls” and “Badly Made in China” working conditions from a British point of view they are not ideal. There are many points we would disagree with like living and working in the same place, companies keeping the first two months of pay so you can’t leave, hardly any time off and low health and safety policies.

Finally the last question we asked as a group “What are your views on the quality of goods made here in the UK or elsewhere?”  The answers we got here are a lot more comparative. Overall people were happy with the quality, thought they were the same or thought the quality was better in the UK.

“It can be good, I work in River Island and we have some specific lines that are made in the UK. They seem just as good as anywhere”

“All I know per sure is that we produce the best actors. Otherwise I get the impression goods made in Asia are primarily rips of designers.”

“I think the quality of goods in the UK are of a higher standard compared to imported goods from elsewhere”.

Upon investigating people’s clothes I found that the products ranged from all over the world. One dress was 100% silk. Silk was first invented by the Chinese and was a rare and expensive commodity as no one else knew how to make it at the time. Also the material was very delicate it often did not survive the journey down the Silk Road. Marks and Spencer is a popular shop among the older generations and is often more expensive than other shops, looking at labels of these clothes show they are mainly made in Turkey. As a consumer you would not expect more expensive clothes to be made in a country where the workers don’t get paid very much. There were a few pieces of clothing that were made in china e.g.  Trainers and hoodie, which were inexpensive in clothing terms.

Overall our group research has shown that people when buying clothes don’t think about where there clothes come from except when asked and given time to consider. Then they do care about the treatment of the people making the clothes. Others do not care at all.

History of Chinese Animation

China played a fundamental role in early forms of animation. The most distinctive Chinese features in animation would have to be the zoetrope, shadow puppets and the Wan brothers.

The zoetrope was invented by Ting Huran around 180 AD. As the zoetrope moves the viewer looks through the holes to see the static images on the inside move and see one of the earliest forms of animation.

Today the zoetrope is still in use but has changed form. In America the subways now have a series of images outside on the tunnel walls and as the train moves past the viewer sees a moving advertisement. The zoetrope was the birth of animation and if it was not invented animation may not be as advanced as it is today.

Another early form of silhouette animation originated from the Han Dynasty, which was called shadow puppets. It is one of the most ancient forms of storytelling in china. The art of puppetry became a profession and the puppeteers travelled all over china spreading the news of the land and stories from afar. Shadow puppets were created after one of Emperor Wu’s wives died. The emperor Wu got his court officials to invent a way so he could feel like she was still there. Shadow puppets were then invented; light would cast the shadow of the puppet and would move when the puppet moved. The Mongols conquered and shadow puppets spread to other countries and to Europe.

Shadow puppets today are on the decline in china but there are still some institutes in china that teach shadow play. In animation it has now been modernised to silhouette animation which is just the outline of an object moving but is very difficult to capture expressions. The Expressions of a character in animation is key to its success. Silhouette animation can be 2d or 3d and tends to be black and white.

The Wan brothers; Wan Laiming, Wan Guchan, Wan chaochen and Wan Dihuan were the pioneers of Chinese animation. The wan brothers were what Walt Disney was for American animation but for China. The wan brothers operated in the 20th century from Nanjing China. They started creating animations after seeing some of the American animations like “out of the inkwell”. Together they created many first in the field of animation for their country. They made the first animated advertisement, film shorts, cartoon shorts, animation with sound and animated film. Their most known works are “Havoc in heaven” and “Princess Iron Fan”

The wan brothers lived through many recent turbulent times in china. One of which is the second Sino-Japanese war where Japan captured Nanjing. Then the Second World War shortly followed.

Furthermore the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966. The Cultural Revolution proved to be a difficult time for the arts. Many pieces of work were destroyed and many artists were no longer allowed to produce work.  This was because the government did not approve of the messages being sent out through art. Any art produced at this time had to be acceptable by the government. Living through these era’s would have impacted the wan brothers work finically, what they were allowed to produce and being able to progress in their field.

Chinese animation today is starting to flourish. The most recent and known Chinese animation would be the Beijing 2008 Olympics, which was shown all over the world. However it is often overshadowed by Japanese animation today.

Overall china has played an important role in animation. They created some of the earliest forms of animation shadow puppets and the Zoetrope. The animation world may not be what it is today if it was not for these inventions. The Wan brothers lead the way into animation for their country but were hindered in what they were able to do and achieve due to the times they lived in. It is only now that Chinese animation is on the rise.

How china is sold to tourists through film

Through popular culture like movies which are worldwide provides a great outlet to sell china to potential tourists. The most popular Chinese movies in the western world would have to be “Hero”, “house of Flying Daggers”, “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and “Mulan”. These films all share very similar images, stereotypes and places of china. All these films are set in the past, characters wear traditional clothes  and live in courtyard houses. Furthermore these films are all kung Fu martial art films with beautiful scenery of china. The film “Mulan” features the Great Wall of China. These films do not match up with modern china which is about city life. The cities are full of pollution and don’t have amazing scenery and open space. The traditional courtyard housing is being demolished to make way for modern skyscrapers to accommodate the population. Furthermore the tradional clothing is only worn for tourists, shows and special occasions in today’s society. These films depict Chinese as being happy and give a positive view of china as a place to visit.

However there are films out here that give a negative view of china like “Kudan”, “red Corner” and “Several Years in Tibet”. These films contain recent Chinese history like the cold war and the Dali Lama. The Chinese government have expressed their displeasure in these films as they contain actions the Chinese are not proud of. These films have been banned in china, as the images shown in  these movies is not what china wants to show their citizens or to be depicted as to the outside world.

China want to be shown as a country that can do no wrong and are happy for the past to represent china as there are heroic deeds in their past  which portrays china in a positive light. There are no heroic deeds in recent history so they do not want their recent actions to represent them.

Since China want to be portrayed in a positive way the relationship between the film industry and china is difficult.

“ Hollywood has learned the hard way that besmirching china can have long running implications for the many arms of a modern media conglomerate” (Ben fritz and John Horn, Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2011)

Film companies don’t want to make the mistake of making films like “Kudan”, “Red corner” and risk upsetting a country.  Therefore companies making films don’t want to portray china in a way that they will dislike as it will affect business and business with china. China is now playing a bigger role in funding and creation of films. Also DVDs are probably produced and packaged in china cheaply to be sold around the world.  Marketing and selling in china is also on the rise. Therefor companies want to portray china the way they want to continue doing business with china.  China only allows 20 foreign films a year to be shown as they want to reduce the amount the outside world can influence the Chinese people in the way that they behave.  The films that are chosen to be viewed are heavily censored, for example the films are not to have any religion, sex or violence. Many aspects of what makes a good story are removed from the film due to censoring.  The World Trade organisation is trying to get china to change their policy on 20 foreign films a year to be removed.

Overall china is sold to potential tourists as being a place stuck in the past with stereotype images and places, like traditional clothing, historical landmarks, and country side living with martial arts. This is how china wants to be portrayed as it shows positive china where everyone is happy. However this does not match up with the countries desire to be modern country where they are building modern cities, advancing technologies, building the worlds products and becoming a super power.