At Mr. Lousy’s behest, I finally watched the Weijun Chen documentary Please Vote for Me, which chronicles the campaigns of three eight-year-old children running for Class Monitor in the first democratic election at their middle-class school in Wuhan, China.
It’s one of the more compelling and revealing political films of the decade, with so much about kids, political persuasion, political personality, children’s motivations, adult ambitions, boys and girls in competition, China, Chinese children, Chinese parents, transitioning to democracy, raw democracy in action, and how much gritty effort and how little actual thought it takes to win.
The kids? Could Xiaofei’s face have possibly been any more transparently, painfully expressive? Cheng Cheng, the portly, magnetic, manipulative, verbose, bullying, underwear-lounging, brilliant bon vivant – who manages to be sympathetic even when he’s at his worst, and is heartbreaking at his defeat? And the seemingly upright Lu Lei – who shows us in the end that the more things change, the more they really can stay the same?
One might ask for better candidates, but not better characters.