“Blogs and the Internet are great inventions for our time because they give regular people an opportunity to change public opinion.” –Ai WeiWei
While watching the engrossing documentary “Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry” on Chinese artist and government activist Ai WeiWei, I was reminded how blessed to be able to live in America and express my opinion on a blog. With every post, this is a First Amendment right us bloggers take for granted. We are reminded that in some countries, rights must be fought. A talented artist such as Ai WeiWei could have lived a very comfortable life and successful career if he just accepted complacency. He couldn’t accept the reality of human rights abuses in China and needed to speak out. This important documentary reveals a new perspective on art, social justice, and Chinese culture rarely expressed in film.
Winner of the Special Jury prize for Spirit of Defiance at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry” chronicles the life, philosophy, and strife of the popular activist. Ai got in trouble with the government for investigating the death of school children in a devastating Chinese earthquake of 2008. He posted on his site the actual number of causalities on his site, which the government covered up to protect them from criticism. Also, he is a vocal critic of the governments rolls in Tiananmen Square (he photographed his middle finger in front of the notorious spot) and inspired a campaign slogan “F— You, Motherland.” Keeping a dictatorship accountable allows society to function healthy and the government pulls all the stops on Ai WeiWei to prevent this truth from becoming known.
Activist Ai WeiWei embraces the power of social media such as Twitter. Ai WeiWei tweets numerous times to update his followers and keep his government accountable. A unique technique in this films re-tells events re-creating those actual tweets. Watching Ai WeiWei fight the communist party of China was inspiring. Keeping the Internet uncensored allows the freedom of information and ideas to flow. We should be reminded never to take our rights for granted and to support those fighting for theirs. I was humbled to remember that I will not be jailed for expressing my opinion online. Other individuals in countries aren’t as fortunate. And even though Ai WeiWei faced a career set back as witnessed toward the end of the documentary, I look forward hearing about Ai WeiWei’s next activist expression soon enough.