Is Art for revolution sake or for people or for  power or  the own-self…. or for what sake?

Myanmar Spring Chronicle – October 06 Scenes
MoeMaKa, October 07 2022

Is Art for revolution sake or for people or for  power or  the own-self…. or for what sake?

In writer Daw Hla Kyaw Zaw’s “San Phyu Mal” article (, she wrote that the active participation of artists in the revolution is a unique advantage of the Spring Revolution. To quote what she wrote –

“… So the rest of the patriotic politicians must also do their part. This time, during the revolution, there are things that have never been seen. For example, the participation of many artists.

In the past, there were a few participants. But this time, it’s almost a record. It’s encouraging to see that people who have been quiet previously are now active again.

Art can not only increase the human morale to an unimaginable level, but it also possesses a great power that can unite people under a single belief or under a single flag and these influences can be seen in victorious revolutionary processes. …”

Yes. After the military violently suppressed the 88 uprising, many music and film artists bowed down to the military because they did not want to be banned from making art. Among the writers and journalists, there were those who sided with the military. Some of them did not follow the military side, but there were those who kept their mouths shut in order to survive. Among the literary press and artists, there were people who were smart enough to look out only for themselves. The audience themselves are always cheering for the artists that do not disappear from their eyes. So those who make a living from the audience care about not going under the stage because of the dictator.

Among the artists who did not bow down to the military dictator, the actor U Tun Wai can be shown as one of the exemplary artists of the 88 Uprising. U Tun Wai is a filmmaker who never returned to the stage during the military dictatorship. There are many artists like him, but he is revealed as a memorable one.

During the 2007 saffron period, many artists came to the streets again and opposed the junta. Many of these artists retreated when the military brutally suppressed the monks, students, youths and civilians.

At that time, the public supported the position of movie star Kyaw Thu, and they expected a lot from Ko Zargana’s activities. It can be seen that Kyaw Thu and Zargana, who tried to stand up to represent the will of the people despite the continued repression by the military, were encouraged by the public.

Hip-hop musicians’ songs criticizing the military dictatorship became increasingly popular after the 2007 saffron movement. Zayar Thaw was among these brave musicians. Now, Ko Zayar Thaw has fallen as one of the heroic martyrs of the spring revolution due to the hanging by the military council.

After 2007, those who penetrated audience abroad, raised the spirit of Myanmar patriots, and  performed art to maintain the momentum of the anti-dictator struggle were members of “Thee Lay Thee” comedians group led by the comedian, Zarganar, who was in prison at that time. Their activities from 2007-2009 influenced the freedom-hungry domestic and international Myanmar audience.


However, with the invitation of U Thein Sein, the leader of the military junta before the 2010 election, when Myanmar’s activists and organizations from abroad returned to the country, the “Thee Lay Thee” group also returned to the country. There, it could be said that the revolutionary artists also stopped and faded at one point.


After the 2010 election was held one-sidedly without the NLD and under the disciplined democracy set by regime, literature, the press, music, and movies have gained reasonable freedom, but there are still some conditions that have to endure a tightrope between various laws and repressions by the military. There, the revolutionary artistic and literary qualities of the 88 generation and later generations become shining.

Among the prominent writers, 88 generation Min Ko Naing and Jimmy became leaders in the Spring Revolution. Ko Jimmy, along with Ko Zayar Thaw, was hanged by the military council and bravely fell as a martyr.

Since the by-elections in 2012, literary, film, and music artists have been very popular, boasted and flattered under the shade and favor of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as patriots and fans’ favorites. It must be said that as long as the military group and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi were on good terms, these artists will never be stopped or limited to any stages. However, some writers, artists, and journalists who criticized the military-ruled democracy were still being oppressed, arrested, and banned by various laws under any government.

With the emergence of the Spring Revolution, I think it should be assumed that the new generations of literature, film, music, and art have not returned to the shadow of military dictators, and turned their backs forever. It is said that they were able to stand up decisively in the Spring Revolution and convince the audience to march together with them to victory. They are also trying to uproot their stage from the lawn of the military council and establish it in the embrace of the people. On the stage of the Spring Revolution, literary, music, and film journalists are producing their presentations and are trying to triumph.

For example, many independent press organizations are still standing strong. Writers, musicians, and filmmakers are constantly producing and presenting their art online. The audience is still cheering for them. Many of the programs presented on media platforms like PVTV and other platforms are produced and paid for by professionals from Myanmar. At last, the Myanmar fans are cheering overwhelmingly for the short film by the director Ko Pauk. It must be noted that the liberated art region was established in the Spring Revolution and the Myanmar audience supported this, turning their backs on the military group’s power, rights, interests, incentives, privileges and protection.

Daw Hla Kyaw Zaw’s article ends like this.

“… There is a saying that the pen is better than the sword, isn’t it? Therefore, as all the revolutionaries during the Spring Revolution, by following that example, I urge those who can write songs, those who can write poems, those who can make video stories should do what they can to organize, motivate the people and work together in their sectors for the benefits of the revolution. …”

Since the Cold War era, when capitalists and communists were fighting, there has been controversy in the literature and art community as well. Is art for people sake? Or Is art only for art sake? It is now certain that during the Spring Revolution, art was not for Min Aung Hlaing’s military group.