The Chinese government needs to respond, at least partly, to what people want, even if that means allowing movies that deal with uncomfortable themes or don't fall into line with the values that the Party wants to promote.
I recently caught up with Ian Johnson, an old friend and sometimes co-author, and asked him some of the sorts of questions I thought he might get when he is part of an upcoming Asia Society panel on contemporary China.
Our instincts are to cheer on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and use this case to dramatize the flagrant human rights abuses that occur in modern China. However, we must not sensationalize this affair.
Prior to the scandal, Bo Xilai was the closest thing the Chinese Communist Party had to a Western media darling. But if Bo looks familiar to Western eyes it is because he embodied much of the worst of Western politicians.
Bo Xilai, the populist former Chongqing chief recently purged from China's Politburo, was a dangerous, recidivistic force in Chinese politics. His fate should be cheered. Yes, his ouster reveals the dark side of the country's cloak-and-dagger leadership.
In and of itself, a high-ranking official being dismissed in backroom party machinations is hardly a sign of improvement. Yet the event inspires hope that the more authoritarian Chongqing model is losing ground.
The cracks that are beginning to appear in the opaque machinations of the Chinese Communist Party are yielding some new clues that clarify the forces at work behind the purge of Chongqing's populist leader Bo Xilai.