Mar 25, 2024 - Technology

"3 Body Problem" opening scene evokes strong audience reaction

still from the show '3 Body Problem' on Netflix which depicts a man on stage being humiliated in front of a crowd

Still from opening scene of the show "3 Body Problem." Credit: Netflix

The opening scene in the first episode of Netflix's newest series "3 Body Problem" is being shared widely on X.

Why it matters: It's based on actual events that took place during China's Cultural Revolution nearly 60 years ago.

  • The five-minute sequence, in which a prominent scientist is publicly shamed and beaten to death in front of a crowd for being an intellectual, marks one of the first times that a mainstream media platform has depicted some of the violence of that chaotic period.

What they're saying: "This is what happened to my family," Sarah Guo, a startup investor, wrote in a post, referring back to a viral tweet from another user who recalled their family's history in more detail.

  • Others responded saying that they could relate: "I'm Cuban. I felt this," said one user. "I feel you, I was born in the USSR," said another.

Zoom out: "3 Body Problem" is based on the Chinese science fiction novel by Liu Cixin.

  • The series is reportedly Netflix's most expensive scripted show ever, costing around $20 million per episode.
  • And even though Netflix is not officially available in China, virtual private networks allow people who live there to access the platform, and the scene is dividing audiences.

My thought bubble: Initially, when I saw the clip trending, I nearly wanted to avoid it altogether. But after seeing some of the posts shared by others online, I wanted to understand how their stories matched the Hollywood depiction.

  • Many platforms have started putting trigger warnings at the start of certain shows or films with graphic or disturbing content. There's a case to be made that one was needed before the start of this episode, at least for me, because I found it difficult to watch.
  • My own memories of what my parents told me about that time are nowhere close to what's in that scene. In retrospect, they likely sanitized history for my and their sake.
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