January 24, 2009
I saw a very sweet and moving documentary last night called Please Vote for Me. It takes place in Wuhan in central China where a third grade class is being allowed to vote for their hall monitor for the first time -- Previously the teachers chose them. There are three candidates, the incumbent Luo Lei (appointed by the teacher for the past two years), the confident and well-coached Cheng Cheng (at left below), and the dark horse Xaiofei (in the center below). Luo Lei's parents are both police officers. Cheng Cheng is raised by his mother and stepfather, while Xiaofei's single mother, an employee of the school, struggles to offer her daughter the coaching and encouragement the boys are receiving. All are of course only children. It's very moving to see these kids, all around 8 years old, deal with the brutal realities of what is essentially a popularity contest. It's hard not to be reminded of our own elections, where the candidate with more money has the advantage, and even Rumsfeld's (paraphrased) maxim, "Democracy is messy -- you can do whatever you want."
It's very beautiful and will definitely make you cry, if you go in for that sort of catharsis, and is less than an hour long and well worth your time.