The comic-book world was abuzz today when a story-board from an alleged co-marketing project between the Beijing Daily and Pep comics was leaked. In the story board, Betty – of Archie comics fame – is to date Lei Feng, the Chinese Hero of Socialist Labor.
On the surface, the match seems improbable. But many propaganda cognoscenti argue otherwise. Notes China hand Jonathan “Mad Dog” Putzler, “There are very powerful people in the United States and China who believe that the 1950s and early 1960s were something other than awful. In the United States, Republicans celebrate how women were pushed out of the work force and into the kitchen. And in China, the only people who matter – the Central Committee of the Communist Party – think Mao’s governing style during the Great Leap Forward is something to emulate. Betty is an emblem of the Republican world-view and Lei Feng the Chinese Communist one. Put them together and … pow!”
The Apocalypse Review (AR) reached out to the Chinese Department of Truth (Zhōng xuānbù / 中宣部) and was granted an exclusive interview with Huang Kunming (HK), the Politburo member responsible for media relations and (re)education.
AR: Betty is petite bourgeoisie whereas Lei Feng is a proletarian hero. Will that cause friction in this re-imagined Riverdale?
HK: Friction! It nearly killed the project. I can laugh now, but Xi insisted that Lei should date someone more ideologically appropriate than Betty. Perhaps Debby Harry or Selena Gomez. And we all know that those who oppose Xi often wake up in a ice-cube filled bathtub missing … well, never mind that. It all worked out in the end. Hah!”
AR: Why not have Betty date Jughead?
HK: No one from Riverdale! In the pilot we had an East German exchange student named Rosa Luxembourg seduce Jughead, but our funders balked because they thought the story had to be about Betty and Veronica or it wasn’t worth doing.
AR: What about the fact the Lei Feng is real and Betty is fictional? Did that cause issues?
HK: Not really. As an archetype Betty is more real than real, just like Lei Feng. One is the essence of oppressed bourgeois woman-hood. The other is the essence of socialist labor. Or perhaps an engine of consumerism. The messaging from Xi is unclear right now.
AR: What about Archie and Veronica?
HK: Do you need to ask?
AR: [nodding in agreement] If Archie’s going to be a capitalist lapdog, he could do worse than Veronica Lodge’s lap, eh what?
HK: That’s one way of putting it. Remember, this is cultural material for teenagers, so it must strictly adhere to Xi’s guidance (e.g. Xi’s Four Must Does Before Breakfast). Even if Veronica does show some cleavage.
AR: Thanks for …
The usually polite Politburo Member Hong Kunming is whisked away by body guards in tan uniforms before he can say farewell.
Addendum: August 8, 2022
AR Press has received an anonymous copy of the Volume One script, excerpted below:
Betty: Why are you sad, Lei Feng?
Lei show Betty the following poster:
Betty: I can’t read Chinese yet, honey-bunch.
[Lei squeezes her hand, thrilled that she is learning Chinese.]
Betty [insistent]: Please translate it for me. I want to know why you’re sad.
Lei [modestly looking away]: Today is March 5
Betty: So what?
Lei: Its learn from Lei Feng day! I know that it is immodest for me to mention this, but back home I’m a Hero of Socialist Labor.
Betty: [swooning]: Really?
Lei: That’s right. In Changsha last March 5, they carried me around on their shoulders while singing model-revolutionary show tunes. Have you ever really listened to Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy?
[Lei wipes a tear from his eyes]
Lei: That day everyone made quota in my honor.
Disclaimer: This joke is political satire based on the idea that conservative elements in both China and the United States are sentimental about the early 1960s, although for different reasons. Outrageous stories about Lei Feng are still a standard part of (re)education in China and Betty is the perfect foil. We maintain “fair use” for the images above. Please contact us if you disagree. Huang Kunming did not talk to AR Press for this story.