This New York Times article reports on mainlanders flocking to Hong Kong to watch an un-censored version of Ang Lee's newest film "Lust, Caution". The cut being shown in mainland theaters has had 13 minutes edited from it, mostly of risque sex scenes.
I am a bit skeptical of the article's claim that moviegoers are causing a serious jump in mainland visits to Hong Kong, especially since, as the article notes, an uncut pirated DVD version is readily available in the mainland. But the article does have some interesting quotes about censorship in China.
A graphic designer named Yan Jiawei, is quoted in the piece saying that censorship is probably still necessary because, while city folk are ready for graphic sex scenes, country people are not.
Director Li Yu, whose film "Lost in Beijing" (苹果) is playing alongside "Lust, Caution" in cinemas around Beijing, was disappointed that her film was censored, but said "I feel the environment is becoming more and more relaxed."
The censorship of "Lust, Caution" even spurred a PhD student named Dong Yanbin to sue the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), claiming his rights as a consumer were being violated. Last month Joel Martinsen of Danwei translated an article from the Beijing Times about the case.
Sexy Beijing's own Mia Lee was on the BBC program Free to Speak this morning along with artist and media darling Ai Wei Wei, talking about expression and censorship in China.
Luke @ 18:39 | .(1125) |
I enjoyed this post about seasons and smells on a blog called Heart Crossings.
(This is a blogspot so it may be blocked in China.)
During our recent Ask Smacker shoot, the winter season was marked by the smell of cabbage!
admin @ 16:09 | .(322) |
The Chinese government has cancelled the May Day Holiday, one of the three "Golden Week" holidays in China. Instead, Chinese workers will get three one-day holidays, which will coincide with three traditional festivals in China: Tomb-sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Workers will continue to get one day off for May Day.
The Chinese will continue the sometimes awkward custom of working through weekends in order to lengthen consecutive days off. So if the Dragon Boat Festival falls on a Wednesday, everyone will work the preceding Saturday and Sunday, and then take off Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The shuffling of holidays is in response to the travel congestion that occurs during the "Golden Weeks" when hundreds of millions of Chinese are all travelling at once.
How will this move effect the matching hat tour group industry?
Luke @ 15:51 | .(2659) |
Watching an NBA game on Chinese TV recently, I saw this peculiar advertisement featuring China's 7-foot hooping pretty boy Yi Jianlian (易建联). In the ad Yi is wearing a Boston Celtics jersey. The funny thing is that he plays for a different team, the Milwaukee Bucks. I wonder what the Bucks, the Celtics and the NBA think about this one:
The ad is for Yi Li, (伊利) a major Chinese dairy company. Yi Li seems to be spending heavily on celebrity spokespeople for their milk, including Chinese Olympic hurdling hero Liu Xiang (刘翔). The company has also splashed out to become the official milk of the Beijing Olympics. It all seems to all be an effort to catch up with rival company Meng Niu (蒙牛) who scored the marketing coup of the (young) century by sponsoring the Super Girls singing contest on Hunan TV. The show went on to be a phenomenon, scoring Meng Niu insane amounts of publicity. Check out this old episode of the Hard Hat Show for a look at some of the Super Girls' nutty fans. Although surely not solely because of the Super Girls, Meng Niu has gotten so strong that there was even recent talk of Meng Niu buying out Yi Li, their neighbor up in the Inner Mongolian capital of Hohhot.
Luke @ 17:07 | .(2196) |
Last month we brought you photos of Beijing's own Wekipedia bread.
Now, from the website Evolving Web via Boing Boing, here is Stir Fried Wikipedia:
According to the guy at Evolving Web who found this, this menu is at the South Silk Street restaurant on the Lotus Lane strip in Hou Hai.
Luke @ 10:34 | .(162) |
The New York Times recently stopped charging extra for access to its roster of Op-Ed columnists. I can imagine that it was difficult getting people to pay to read guys like David Brooks.
His most recent column, with a Shanghai dateline, is an imagining of the lifecycle of an elite Chinese communist apparatchik as a way to look at China's "meritocracy." Aside from being written in a weird second-person voice, the article has a variety of other distortions and cliches:
He starts with the old saw of the "little emperor complex".
"Let's say you were born in China. You're an only child. You have two parents and four grandparents doting on you. Sometimes they even call you a spoiled little emperor."
Fair enough, many Children born under the one child policy have been spoiled. However China's elite "corpotacracy" that becomes the focus of the column has zero members of the one child generation, the oldest of whom are just beginning to turn 30. By the time these kids are running China who knows what the country will look like.
"You learn that it takes phenomenal feats of memorization to learn the Chinese characters. You become shaped by China's intense human capital policies."
Learning Chinese characters is certainly difficult, but it is just a matter of time and practice. If it took "phenomenal feats" to read Chinese, I don't see how over 1 billion people have done it without a problem, especially since hundreds of millions of them grew up in households with incomes of not much more than a dollar a day. As far as "intense human capital policies", this phrase is so open to interpretation, that I'm not sure how he is relating it to Chinese elementary school.
"The Chinese ruling elite recruits talent the way the N.B.A. does, rigorously, ruthless, in a completely elitist manner."
Anyone at all familiar with the cronyism rife in Chinese society realizes that if N.B.A. personnel matters were handled in the Chinese manner, there would be more than a couple drunken midgets warming benches in the league.
"Roughly nine million students take the tests each year. The top 1 percent will go to the elite universities. Some of the others will go to second-tier schools, at best. These unfortunates will find that, while their career prospects aren't permanently foreclosed, the odds of great success are diminished. Suicide rates at these schools are high, as students come to feel they have failed their parents."
There is no society in the world where getting into an elite University does not greatly enhance one's prospects for "great success". But failing to test into Tsinghua or Peking University hardly chokes off your chance to have a decent life or even get rich in China. Of course, it is difficult to get rich in China, and most of the population is still poor with very difficult lives. However, in the current climate of free-for-all capitalism in China, possibilities exist for a wide range of people, and I would be very surprised if most of China's huge class of nouveau riche attended elite Universities. I will stress again though, that the majority of Chinese are still struggling just to make ends meet.
"But you succeed. You ace the exams and get into Peking University. You treat your professors like gods and know that if you earn good grades you can join the Communist Party."
From what I have heard of Chinese Universities, professors are often treated poorly by kids who believe they have made it by merely testing into University. I have also heard many stories of trading gifts for good grades and large-scale cheating with authorities looking the other way. Chinese university life is hardly a cog in a ruthlessly efficient meritocracy. Also here, Brooks makes it sound like everyone is striving to join the party. Most university students and upwardly mobile twenty-somethings I know have no intention of or interest in joining the party.
"Westerners think the Communist Party still has something to do with political ideology. You know there is no political philosophy in China except prosperity. "
Brooks gets this right, though it is hardly a new insight.
"In one sense, your choice doesn't matter. Whether you are in business or government, you will be members of the same corpocracy. In the West, there are tensions between government and business elites. In China, these elites are part of the same social web, cooperating for mutual enrichment."
In this regard China does not strike me as so different from America where government and business elites certainly cooperate for mutual enrichment, where Democrats like Robert Rubin and Republicans like Dick Cheney slide from the corporate boardroom to being cabinet officials with ease.
"In the back of your mind you wonder: Perhaps it's simply impossible for a top-down memorization-based elite to organize a flexible, innovative information economy, no matter how brilliant its members are. That's a thought you don't like to dwell on in the middle of the night."
Despite the awkward way he poses this question in this strained second-person voice, this last paragraph has some validity to it, though, again, he is hardly bringing anything new to the table here. In an alternate reality Brooks might have a) led off with China's difficulty in becoming an "innovative information economy", then b) analyzed the many ways in which the one-child-policy generation's coming of age process is totally different from that of the current leadership generation and finally c) made an analysis of how these changes might effect leadership, politics and business in China's future. But I guess that would be expecting Brooks to have something new or interesting to say about China after a three-day whirlwind tour of Beijing and Shanghai.
As it is, all I see here is a series of interesting, valid, and much chewed over, issues, and a lineup of the same old cliches trotted out to illuminate them.
Luke @ 17:13 | .(4252) |
Zhang Zilin (张梓琳) was crowned the first Chinese Miss World on Sunday night at the finale of the pageant held in China's own Hainan island. The six foot tall beauty hails from the city of Shijiazhuang (known for its pollution) in Hebei province, and now works as a secretary in Beijing.
In this interview, taken from the Chongqing Evening News, Zhang says that she has nice legs and hands, but she thinks her face is nothing special and she won't leave the house without makeup. She also says she likes to wear bikinis, even when she goes to Bei Dai He, the grubby seaside resort a couple hours outside of Beijing.
The Times of London notes that beauty pageants were forbidden in China until three years ago, "frowned upon for their bourgeois decadence."
For more deep thoughts, and pictures, check out Zhang's blog.
Luke @ 16:15 | .(770) |
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