The LA Times has recently had some great articles on China. Usually when people report on China it is political and government based things or environmental articles. But maybe in a testament to China’s growing power in the world, articles are now shifting to be more human interest in nature. And I don’t mean personal stories of people in tragedies like earthquakes and stuff, just more like the funny fluff pieces we have in America.
Here’s a great one about Jackie Chan and how much endorsements he does (and how they don’t always work out). From the moment we stepped off the plane we have seen Jackie’s smiling face peering out from billboard’s, food packages and yes, even the shampoo that he is now in trouble for. It’s amazing how many products this guy sells and Ryan and I always crack up when we see another new Jackie Chan package of something. So seeing that he has a reputation for picking duds or poor companies doesn’t surprise me because he sells so many things.
Another thing Ryan and I laughed at this summer was the habit of guys half pulling up their shirts to expose their bellies. I had no idea it was actually a controversial topic though! I will admit that when the mercury’s pushing 100 lifting up your shirt is kind of logical. But yes, it looks very, very trashy. In northern China it seems much more common then down where we live (even though it is hotter here). But there are plenty of shirtless guys pretty much everywhere.
My favorite was watching the cooks in a restaurant one night. We were sitting in one alley, across from another restaurants kitchen which had big windows so we could look in. It was a hot, hot night and I can’t imagine what the temperature in the kitchen was, and all the cooks (mostly young guys) had their shirts off. The window stopped just about waist height and you couldn’t see below the waist. So basically it looked like a bunch of nekid guys cooking in the kitchen. We were joking that they needed to be in the Men on Lin’an calendar.
There is one article that really pissed me off. It’s an article that asks (and answers) if the China portrayed in the new Karate Kid movie is the real China. I already know the answer, which is no, but I wanted to see what the article would say. Instead of really addressing the question at all, the writer gets upset that the Disney kid movie didn’t show sad, underfed people, government censorship, or natural catastrophes. Here’s a quote from the article.
Although there is a plot wrinkle involving a pack of teenage bullies who prey on Jaden’s character, the rest of the populace is portrayed as happy, contented and well-fed, without any complaints, even about the unbearable air and the hideous traffic. The parks are full of people exercising and playing sports, the schools are full of well-mannered, upwardly-mobile kids. Jaden’s romance with a local Chinese girl is as chaste as anything you’d see on the Disney Channel.
I mean, c’mon. First off it shows that the author really didn’t spend much time in China, which invalidated the whole article. Because if he had he would have seen parks filled to the brim with people exercising and playing sports, schools full of insanely well mannered kids and chaste, chaste romances. Of course there are the odd relationships, but for the most part kids don’t have their first kiss until college. (Well into college if my students are any indication of the country as a whole.)
It’s just ignorant remarks. The longer I live here, the more I realize how western media has hyped up China and blown it out of proportion. (Like the whole Google thing. Don’t get me started on how poorly that was handled in the west.) and it just makes me angry that articles like these continue to play on these senseless fears. Karate Kid is a kid’s movie. American kid’s movies don’t show starving beggars on the streets, or natural disasters that are happening elsewhere in the country. Why is it okay for an American kid’s movie to skip out the drug problem we have, or the poverty issues and not okay for a Chinese/American movie? What does this guy expect?
Anyway, I could go on, but I’ll stop myself here. (For the record the errors are simpler then he points out. For example at one point they go to a festival and Jackie Chan says it is Chinese Valentines Day. Well, the day is called “Double Sevens Day” and it is held on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month which is usually July or August. Those are the hottest months in Beijing, sweltering hot, and in the movie the Karate Kid is wearing and using a jacket which would never happen. But again, Hollywood movie for an American audience, whose gonna know and if they do, who cares?)
So even if they make me angry I’m glad more is being written about China in a (mostly) different tone. This semester I’ll be teaching newspaper reading again and I hope to come across more of these types of articles. If I come across anything interesting, I’ll share them here.