Bai Xing (Ordinary People)
The story follows the struggles and joys of Luye, the female protagonist, and her family in a small village, set by the Yellow River. Throughout the series she struggles against the rigidity of traditional beliefs and customs, setting a positive example for the audience of economic independence and education for women, the advantages of a small family, the challenges of rural development, and the need to overcome the age-old preference for sons in a country where one-child families are the government mandated norm.
Bai Xing III includes HIV/AIDS as a significant dimension of the main storyline. This reflects one of the most serious health threats facing the Chinese people and also demonstrates the Chinese government’s resolve to confront the disease using entertainment education.
Beginning in the early 1990’s, Media Impact launched production of a three-part television drama, Bai Xing (Ordinary People), a one hour, 60 episode serial drama broadcast in Mandarin on CCTV-Channel 8. Working with one of China’s best known directors, recruiting popular actors and filming on-site in a village on the banks of the Yellow River, the first episodes went on the air in June 1999. Bai Xing was an instant hit. It won six awards in China, including the equivalent of the Emmy Award for best serial drama. Broadcast in prime time (immediately following China’s evening news), the series has remained one of China’s most popular television dramas.
Bai Xing‘s third and final season is 59 episodes long and is called, “Live With Love”, dealing with HIV/AIDS in China. Season 3 was broadcast to 20 provincial TV stations in: Anhui, Beijing, Chongq- ing, Fujian, Guangxi, Gueizhou, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Inter-Mongolia, Jiangxi, Jinlin, Shengyan, Nanjing, Shangdong, Shanghai, Tianjing, Shangxi, and Yunnan.
Bai Xing was well liked by many viewers and received the highest viewership rating on CCTV (Chinese Central Television). The show promoted the one child policy, saying that boys and girls were equally valuable.
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By Season 3, Bai Xing was partnered with 20 radio stations, collectively reaching viewing audiences exceeding 700 million people. After surveying audience members, findings show that Bai Xing ‘s narrative, with its twists and turns, raised consciousness among its highly-involved viewers about the importance of (1) debunking the feudal tradition of son-preference, (2) promoting the economic and social independence of women, (3) boosting the rural economy, and (4) stressing the importance of personal education. Viewers’ perceptions about Bai Xing ‘s characters were likely influenced by their own personal backgrounds, past experiences, and contextualized viewpoints.
The China Family Planning Commission and CCTV won high praise for Bai Xing. Bai Xing won the “Feitian” TV drama award, the highest TV award in China. Bai Xing also received a “Jinying” award and a “population” award. Bai Xing brought important knowledge to Chinese peasant audiences and educated many Chinese women. Bai Xing won the Flying Eagle Award (but not first prize).
This series is designed to inform the public, foster interpersonal dialogue, and inspire positive behavioral practices concerning the conservation of the rainforest and freshwater ecosystems of the Sierra Madre mountains and the coastal watersheds in Chiapas. Positive environmental values promoted in the drama “Jacinta” include the protection of endangered species, ecosystem-specific climate change adaptation strategies, and sustainable agricultural practices in the face of harmful behaviors associated with forest fires, illegal logging, irresponsible development projects, growing human settlements, and inaccessibility due to mudslides and heavy rains. The team is now working on the second phase of the program and will be launching a theater production at the world renowned zoo in Chiapas called the Zoomat.