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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Shen Yun Performing Arts Show in SF - Totally Misleading

Shen Yun... you've seen it literally on nearly every Muni bus, shopping mall kiosks, full page ads in newspapers, and they justify that they are a great program by selling tickets for orchestra level at $100 a pop and only being in town for just a week.

The reality is, ain't worth your money and your time.

I saw it today and I feel duped.

Why do I feel duped? When people see the ads for Shen Yun Performing Arts, it seems like the show is all about dancing and showing the cultural history of the Chinese people. It's like the greatest show spectacle around if they can dish out tons of dough on tons of bus ads, signage, promotions, and mall kiosks. Heck, they were even promoting the San Francisco show at the Great Mall in Milpitas with an aisle kiosk.

That's until I got my ticket. My folks paid for the tickets so I got one in my hand at the moment I was to enter the War Memorial Opera House, and it said: "SF Falun Buddha Study Association presents..." and I was intrigued if it was being supported by Falun Gong/Falun Dafa or maybe just some organization that has a name similar to Falun Gong.

I shrugged it off and went to my $100 seat in the orchestra section.

Then the show begins, the first few parts was interesting, showing their dances and cultural history; that was until they started force feeding the audience with politics and religion. Surely enough, the hosts of the show was talking about Falun Gong and people getting persecuted; and even simulations of people clubbing Falun Gong practitioners.

Once it hit that, it started getting awkward to be watching the show. What the hell did I spend my $100 on? Why didn't the advertising tell me that it's just a show to help promote politics and religion? Did I get the bait and switch? Was I duped? I sure was. Then the stories of prosecution and beatings kept going in other acts mixed with acts with nothing mentioning or relating to Falun Gong.

To give you something similar: Ever been in a situation that made you real uncomfortable?

I remember going to a church service for a five year anniversary of my late grandmother's passing away because my parents made me go, I felt almost immediately very uncomfortable and literally stormed out of the building almost in tears. It wasn't because I did not respect the church or its religion, I just didn't feel like I belonged there; I felt like a fool trying to say the verses out of the song book, and being pressured be indoctrinated into a religion I had no interest in. My parents was pissed, and I told them why I didn't want to be there; all I wanted to do was to pay my respects by putting flowers in my grandmother's niche in Colma. My parents respected my reasons and my wishes, and I visit my grandmother's niche every few weeks with a fresh bouquet of flowers.

What Shen Yun did was cram stuff down my throat, and making it worse, I paid them $100 to do it. They were misleading. If you brought your kids to see that show, they would be asking you why the heck are people hitting other people with batons? Is it appropriate for the young ones? No.

I wonder why the show tickets was so expensive and they only stay for a very brief period; once people finds out about being force fed the politics and religion, and being mislead through their advertising; they are long gone (with your money). Newspapers would review the first night's show and likely there would be some negative publicity, and be published the next day; but thousands of tickets was purchased before the show even came to town, and are non-refundable, and the rumor mill of the regular people telling others it ain't worth it is pointless because with such a brief time at each city, they are already on their next stop. If they did shows non-stop for a month in one location, they would barely sell any tickets after just a couple of weeks.

I've got nothing against freedom of speech and religion, but if you don't tell people what you are selling, you are just duping them and you get a lot of people pissed off. At least I know that if I am going to a funeral, some type of religion will be embraced; Shen Yun on the other hand didn't tell me they will be talking about Falun Gong and the Chinese government busting their ass on the stage; I was expecting some wonderful dancing and promotion of the Chinese heritage.

And to take it home, I sat through the whole show, even though it really felt awkward; but the six people sitting on my left, didn't come back to their seats after intermission.

Best one hundred dollars spent... fuck.


Anonymous said...

I don't care about the message but the quality of the entertainment was very poor. Total lack of creativity. Opera singers were most boring, and all dances seemed similar. For 260 bucks for two tickets we could have seen at least seen 10 great movies on lmax. I am amazed that some people actually like this poor quality performance.

Anonymous said...

Agreed 100%. We were duped today. I felt cheated by the advertising.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Oh God damn it. I just agreed to purchase a ticket to go to one of these Shen Yun events in New York! Cannot back out of it now. So based on what yo've wirtten above, Akit, I will have an uncomfortable 2 hour theater event to sit through.

Not only that, but the actual event I went to this evening where they sold me the actual ticket was also very 'bait and switch' like. I was told I was being invited to an event about China's history. The presentation began with ancient history and soon morphed (in a very unsubtle way) into rave reviews about this show.

I was wincing coz I knew the hard-sell was coming at the end. And sho' nuff, there were people practically hovering over us afterwards to say ' What did you think?' and 'Do you think you'd like to go see the show?'

It was like one of those Tony Robbins events or something where there's peer pressure to sign up. Everyone else is buying a ticket, why aren't you? Whats wrong with you??!

Well, what the f##k am I supposed to say?! I didn't want to be rude to my host who had invited me there. At the same time, however, I'm annoyed in the first place that he'd invited me to this bait and switch sort of 'cultural evening'. It kind of damages our relationship a little now that he hadn't just said upfront "Look. Why don't you come along to this thing; they'll be flogging tickets at the end but you don't have to buy one. C'mon, it'll be fun. We'll drink some wine and chat together".

One hundred bloody dollars flushed down the toilet!

PS. I should add: I have nothing against the Falung Gong or people exercising their human rights to follow their faith. But aggressive marketing tactics like this are more damaging for your cause, guys!

LP said...

Totally agree. Saw the performance 2/27/2019 in Tucson. I too, am not affected by the message. The performance was amateurish. Not at all what we expected. All I can say is that Shen Yun has a fantastic Marketing Dept.