Archive for the 'analysis' Category

21
Jul
10

Kung Fu Panda, Despite the Kung Fu and the Panda, Isn’t the Least Bit Chinese

I know “Kung Fu Panda”(2008) came out two years ago, and I also know that it actually doesn’t have anything to do with China specifically, but it hasn’t stopped Chinese from stopping me in the middle of the street all this time to specifically tell me, “Hey, did you know that ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is a Chinese movie?”  No, I didn’t know that because it isn’t true.

Meanwhile for the past two years I’ve tried to deny its existence because then at last I would have to accept the fact that this is China’s movie.  Well, it isnt’, and now since I’ve finally seen it I can say why.  Furthermore, since I’ve been teaching myself Chinese I can finally say it in Chinese.

Who’s to say if this argument actually penetrates the thick “中国加油!”part of the cerebellum, but I do have an argument.  Also, it’s worth reading because this movie is actually advertising the triump of Western values over Chinese ones.  Yes, this cartoon movie.  Anyways, enjoy.

两年前“熊猫功夫”(2008)的电影登出来了,很多中国人总是向我说,“你知道吗?这是一部中国的电影!”是吗?是中国的?除了成龙说两三句子以外,明星都是美国的。导演,制片人,编剧者,做音乐,差不多全部作电影的人都是美国的。!了钱都是美国的,不是中国的。怎么是“中国”的电影呢?

你可以说,“熊猫是中国的,所以熊猫功夫是中国的!”亲爱的读者,你说到哪儿去了?因为这个电影包括一个中国的因素,这是中国的?是吗?中国人看外国电影,买日本的电子东西,买外国的化妆,外国的红葡萄酒,请老外来叫英语,都是外国的因素,就是说,不多的本来事情是中国的,其实,国外的东西比国内的东西珍贵!最有名的例子是中国人常常说“阿凡达”(2009)的电影是中文的。什么?全部的电影是假的,是电脑数码的技术做出来的。中有蓝色皮肤猫人吗?中国有天空飞的山吗?大家,“阿凡达”不是中国的,还有,“熊猫功夫”不是中国的。别的例子是“木栏”(1998)和成龙的“Rush Hour”电影片。这样说,中国人应该不写关于其它国家的故事因为这是“他们的故事”。哪儿有公平?

我还听到了你说,“熊猫是中国的,所以任何的故事用熊猫用功夫是中国的”。对,“熊猫功夫”是关于中国的事情,是用熊猫的角色还有用功夫的因素。不过,虽然这些事情是关于中国的,这个电影不是中国的。为什么?简单地说,不是个中国做的电影,不是代表中国的观点。我说,“熊猫功夫”的故事不是一个中国的故事。电影的主角色,熊猫叫破,不是一个好汉子。

请让我来再说:“熊猫功夫”的主角色,熊猫破,不是个好汉子。“熊猫功夫”的故事不是一好种类的中文故事。

哪儿是“中国的电影”呢?

再说,“熊猫功夫”的主角色不是个好汉子。他不是一个孝顺的孩子。他是一位很懒很笨的孩子,不听爸爸的话,其实向爸爸说谎言。他不跟爸爸说的话,只想变成功夫英雄。亲爱的读者,你们可以这样做吗?你们可以随便做事,不听父母的话,自由地追求自己的愿望吗?你们不可以,因为你们都是孝顺的孩子,你们不跟那个猪角色一样因为他不是中国人。

哪儿是“中国电影”呢?

别的角色有中国文化的,尤其主角色的爸爸,平先生,和“师傅”的师傅,乌龟。这是自然的。可是我说,有一个角色比主角色更中文化的,是电影的反面人物,太龙。他是很中文的,从小时候太龙听师傅的话,努力地练习,相信师傅告诉他会变成下一个的“大龙士兵”。直到了这时候乌龟拒绝太龙,太龙完全是好汉子,好孝顺的人,只要师傅的表扬。虽然太龙变成坏人,他是本来一个好汉子。

为什么把英雄熊猫破同反面人物太龙比较?因为,亲爱的读者,“熊猫功夫”有一个很清清楚楚的意见:中文化不会成功。为什么?因为英雄熊猫破是西方文化的,对面人物太龙是中国文化的,他们是代表一个意见,一个地方的原理。谁赢了?英雄赢了。英雄有对面人物那么孝顺,那么努力,那么听话吗?没有。英雄在终结成功因为他是一个个别的人,不听爸爸的话做拉面的店,只听自己,只相信自己。“没有秘密的材料”就有什么意思呢?别依靠别人,别依靠家人,别依靠师傅,别依靠你同学,只依靠自己。这是中国文化吗?

哪儿是“中国电影”呢?

亲爱读者,这是一个国的电音,没美国人做了,所以有西方的原理,不是跟中国的原理。简单的说,“熊猫功夫”不是一个中国的电影。

因素yin1su4 element
数码shu4ma3 digital
反面人物 fan3mian4ren2wu4 villain (in a play)
原理yuan2li3 principles, theories

Hey China, does this bear belong to you too?

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10
Jul
10

小賈斯丁慘遭網友惡搞 – Internet Turns on Justin Bieber

Have you seen the Chinese Youtube video that illustrates all of Justin Bieber’s rumors come to life, but you didn’t know what they were talking about?  Well, internet friend, you’ve come to the right place because I have translated the entire short video from Taiwanese putonghua into English.

If you actually enjoy real news and objectivity, then this won’t be enjoyable for you.  However, if you are actually interested to find out how skewed a Chinese perspective can be upon popular culture, then this could be interesting.  “News organisation” NMA News answers the question “Do I honestly need to know everything outside the realm of good taste and morals?” with a resounding 百分之百是的! Here’s from their own description of the video:

“The Internet may have made Justin Bieber, but there are millions of people out there who want to knock him down just as quickly as his rise to fame. See Justin survive a car crash, visit an STD clinic, dance with Kim Jong Il and get beaten up by the Jonas Brothers.”

I don’t know of millions of people who want to knock down Justin Bieber, but I do know of a “news organisation” that loves to humiliate and destroy celebrities–you, NMA News.  Oh, and Apple Action News gets a worthy nomination as well.

Sure, the internet and the world at large don’t need to use their collective imaginations anymore to envision what Kim Jong-Il would look like as a back-up dancer (see 1:14) but this is trash; enjoyable trash, but trash nonetheless.  I suppose this is what happens when the free press of Taiwan meets the practical crass Chinese mentality to exploit every situation for material gain.  Myself, I don’t have an opinion on Little Justin as I don’t know him or his music, but it is universally accepted that he looks like an attractive lesbian.

Enjoy the translation.

小賈斯丁慘遭網友惡搞 – Internet Turns on Justin Bieber
Little Justin suffers from the evil meddling of online peers

加拿大金童歌手小賈斯丁
Canada’s golden boy of singing Little Justin
是個貨真價實的網路明星
is an undisputed internet star through and through
他能夠爆紅要多虧他的媽媽
He can attribute his massive fame thanks to his mother
把他早年的影片PO到YOUTUBE上
who had put his video up on Youtube at an early age
小賈斯丁在YOUTUBE上
The fame of Little Justin
名氣越來越大
Grew and grew on Youtube
不久他就被星探發掘
Not long after he was discovered by a talent scout
簽下唱片合約
And signed a recording contract
一般『小賈斯丁熱』
The ubiquitous “Little Justin Fever”
開始風靡世界各地的年輕女孩子
Started to become fashionable all around the world with young girls

但小賈斯丁同時也變成
However, at the same little Justin was becoming
宅男最愛惡搞的對象
The favorite target for evil meddling
今年六月網路上流傳一個謠言
In June of this year a rumor spread on the internet
說小賈斯丁出了車禍死亡
That said that little Justin had died in a traffic accident
粉絲們傷心欲絕
His fans were distraught with their hopes dashed
他趕快現身澄清謠言
But he was quick to appear and clear up this false rumor

一個叫做4chan的惡搞網站
A website that meddles in evilness called 4chan
成員聯合串連惡整賈斯丁
had its members unite together to punish Justin
把『小賈斯丁的梅毒』的字串
And made the phrase “the syphilis of Little Justin”
變成谷歌上最熱門的搜尋
Into Google’s most popular search
又有另外一個謠言說有本男性雜誌
And then there was another rumor that stated a men’s magazine
要小賈斯丁的媽媽五萬美元拍艷照
Offered Little Justin’s mom fifty thousand USD to pose for glamor shots
害他有得去滅火
This rumor hurt him and also had to be extinguished

有反賈斯丁的駭客
Some hackers opposed to Justin
竟然把他的MV連接接到色情網站
Unexpectedly connected [searches for] his music video to receive [search links for ] a pornographic web site

小賈斯丁問粉絲
Little Justin asked his fans
想他下一站到哪裡演唱的網路問卷
in an online questionnaire where they would like him to appear next to perform
也被灌票
Where he was pranked again (made to drink a coupon)
竟有五十萬人叫他去北韓演唱
When five hundred thousand people asked him to go to North Korea to perform

雖然小賈斯丁屢次被惡搞
Although Little Justin has repeatedly been targeted with evil meddling
他還是個很有自信的年輕男孩
He is still a confident young man
最近竟然還向喬納斯兄弟三人組嗆聲
Just recently he unexpectedly taunted the three Jonas brothers
說他一人可以打垮他們三個
And said that he alone can completely defeat the three of them

惡e3(噁心) nauseated
e4 evil, ferocious
wu4 to loathe
貨真價實huo4zhen1jia4shi2 high quality at a decent price; through and through
多虧(多亏)duo1kui1 thanks to, owing to, fortunately, luckily
星探xing1tan4 talent scout
發掘fa1jue2 to be unearthed, to be found
合約he2yue1 contract
一般yi4ban1 same, ordinary
風靡(风靡)feng1mi3 to be fashionable
宅zhai2 residence
對象(对象)dui4xiang4 target, object, boyfriend, girlfriend
車禍che1huo4 traffic accident
欲yu4 desire, to want
澄清cheng2qing1 to clear up, clarify, make clear
成員cheng2yuan2 member
聯合lian2he2 unite
字串zi4chuan2 character string
熱門re4men2 popular, hot, in vogue
搜尋sou1xun2 to look for, seach, hunt
艷(艳)yan4 gorgeous, romantic, envy
滅火(灭火)mie4huo3 to extinguish
駭客hai4ke4 “hacker”
駭hai4 astonish, startle
連接lian2jie1 to link, to connect
接到jie1dao4 to receive
問卷wen4juan3 questionnaire
灌guan4 to irrigate, to force to drink
屢次(屡次)lv3ci4 repeatedly, frequently, time and time again113
喬納斯qiao2na4si1 “Jonas”
嗆聲
嗆(呛)qiang4qiang1 to peck; stupid foolish; to cough because of choking
打垮da3kua3 completely defeat, to rout

What is PO?  P.O.? Po?  The po-po?  It isn’t in the dictionary.

29
Jun
10

喜羊羊教坏小儿童

Because I’m so proud of it, here’s my essay of “喜羊羊: Of Children and Cruelty” but written in Chinese.  Because it’s directed at a Chinese audience, I changed the focus on 喜羊羊 and not on 灰太狼, since the former is what appeals to a Chinese audience and they do not sympathize with the latter.

I wrote this for another blog so I refer to myself with that blog’s handle, terroir, which is pretty kick-ass especially if you don’t speak Francais.  Enjoy.

人人都认识喜羊羊,也可以说大家喜欢喜羊羊。意思已经很明确了:喜羊羊和他羊朋友都很可爱,很好笑,让人们很高兴愉快。看了喜羊羊动画儿童节目有意思,让人们放松,跟小孩一样欣赏开心的世界。我学习普通话的时候看过这个短视频,可是每次看了都不喜欢。

尊重读者,你可以快快地大声叫:“你看!到底揭露了证据清楚地明确terroir哥不是人!他不喜欢小儿童的东西!只是无意义无感情的人不会喜欢那么可爱的东西!terroir哥,你是无心的怪物!”

我放了一个大叹气。我的看法没有受到大大的欢迎,我知道这样对中国的老米鼠批评人们不会喜欢,不会接受。可是,我要表达我的意见说出来因为我常常看了这个节目都想想:其他人有没有发现这个动画片喜羊羊与灰太狼是教坏儿童?

那,如果你是一位成熟的人,恭喜了,你是一位负责的人,应该可以负责自己欣赏的文化。不想看就不看,不想听就不听。可是,小儿童不是这样。小儿童是天真的,不能区分什么当好什么当坏。我们父母得教好儿子,领导他们做好事,跟上好的道德,给小儿童好的影响让他们长大做好人。我告诉你,喜羊羊不当一个好的影响。怎么不好呢?我说:喜羊羊节目没有一分的哀怜。

对呀,我再说吧:喜羊羊一分的哀怜没有。我知道,喜羊羊这么可爱,他不是有多慈悲吗?我说,因为人的外表是好看的,我们应该不算他里面的感情和道理都算良好的。所以我说,虽然喜羊羊看出来的外表是非常可爱的,他们做事真不好,一分良心没有。

当然我主要是说他们态度对待他们的敌人,灰太狼。我先说明,喜羊羊的节目是关于羊和狼的战争,狼想杀死羊,羊得保守自己。(我说,那么暴力的节目不合适给小儿童看看,可是算了吧)因为他们是奋斗生活中,他们都要打架,出力克服敌人。好的,这样当然了。可是,我的问题是,每次喜羊羊胜利了(他们一直赢了),他每次都需要给灰太狼丢人吗?当然要给他丢人,这是动画节目的重点:节目让喜羊羊赢那天的奋斗了所以他可以给灰太狼丢人。就这样,你可以看看很暴力地处罚,常常处罚的方法很笑,让小儿童哈哈笑起来。

好吧。羊需要保守自己在战争中,所以赢了时候给狼惩罚就是给他羞辱,是吗?我说,那些羊一分哀没有。因为他们没有,小儿童看了这节目跟他们一样没有,被他们坏的影响。

你可以说, “terroir帅哥,慈悲有什么用?狼是他们的敌人。面对敌人就不可以跟他们同情,不可能!一定要克服敌人,一定不给敌人同情。”

有的人认为慈悲是软弱人的性格。我不同意。慈悲是表达强力。是表达良心,是高道德。为人原谅,尤其为敌人原谅是难,不是容易。为什么原谅人,为什么原谅敌人呢?因为他们是人,跟你一样,你应该给他机会做好事。其实,敌人也应该跟你原谅一样做,可是你不可以当别人做事,你得先做。这叫“做人道理”,哀怜和原谅是好的事情,不算差的事情。

也许你想:“敌人是敌人,为他们克服就是杀死敌人。战争没有规矩!”对呀,几百年之前,世界上是这样。杀人就杀,够胆够强就做到。可是,现在是二十一世纪,我们社会文化有规矩,法律。还有,会打战的国家都有规矩,英文名字是Geneva Convention。许多国家都参加过这个合同,它的意思是保护战俘的权利。要不,恐怖战争的情又会发生,比如,世界第二大战在Malmedy,德国士兵捕捉了美国士兵,一共一百战俘。虽然美国战俘捉好了,岁然他们没有抢,美国战俘被德国的士兵都杀死了。Geneva convention是世界上的国家都表达哀怜是个好理想,既使在战争的时候是重要。

对于喜羊羊的节目有什么关系?哀怜和原谅是难作为的事情,是不是?你长越大越难得到哀怜。人越老越受痛苦悲心。或者你是好运气的人没有这样,可是真可以这样说:小儿童没有受到大人的痛苦那么多。所以,我们应该从早时候已经教小儿童对人有哀怜是做好事。

你也可以说:“灰太狼的性格是邪恶的!因为灰太狼不算一位好人,人人不该对他有好心同情!”我听你说了,可是我反对你回答:灰太狼是那个节目最好的人。

我没有说错了。如果我对那个节目一个角色有同情,就是灰太狼。为什么?狼不是邪恶吗?“看着他的样子,灰太狼是黑色的,他脸子有痕,他想吃很可爱的白白的羊,哪儿不是邪恶?”网友,因为人穿黑色的衣服或黑色的毛你不该当他是邪恶,他脸子有痕都一样。吃羊的人是邪恶吗?你吃过涮羊肉吗?吃过烤羊串吗?你是邪恶吗?世界上的动物会吃别的动物,是自然的事情。看过狮子王吗?“Circle of life”这句话你明白吗?

喜羊羊他们都选择不对灰太狼没有哀怜。灰太狼也有做了一个选择:虽然红太狼不支持她的老公和常常打他,灰太狼挑拣跟他妻子在一起。为什么?被人打好好玩儿吗?因为他怕他“上海 ”的妻子吗?我说,灰太狼爱他的妻子,想供养他家。如果灰太狼想杀死喜羊羊,是因为灰太狼想把羊肉回家去。灰太狼他们俩非常饿了,吃好晚饭哪儿当邪恶呢?

我说,灰太狼是那个节目最好的人因为他相信供养家,他爱老婆,他想做好人保护家人。喜羊羊他们呢?整天不做事,不学习,只有好好可爱的样子。这当是好人吗?你说:谁当艰苦朴素,谁当懒懒浪费?谁没有道德,谁没把理想放弃,天天努力打工?虽然灰太狼一直不赢,他一直试一试。他干嘛?他想供养家人。哪儿是邪恶?

各位读者,结果只有一个:喜羊羊没有哀怜对灰太狼,一位好人。小孩子看这个节目会被它影响,一位喜羊羊是好人和灰太狼是坏人。因此,我说:喜羊羊教坏小儿童。

Now, here are the words I don’t know:

哀怜ai1lian2 compassion, pity
同情tong2qing2
慈悲ci2bei1

遗憾yi2han4 to be a pity
可惜ke3xi1 to pity, “what a pity”

羞辱xiu1ru3 humiliate

处罚chu3fa2 to punish
惩罚cheng2fa2 punishment

战俘zhan4fu2 prisoners (of war)

供养gong1yang3 to look after, to support

29
Jun
10

喜羊羊与灰太狼:Of Children and Cruelty


喜洋洋与灰太狼 is a children’s cartoon that originates from mainland China and was first aired in 2005. Since then, it has become immensely popular with audiences and boasts a total of around 500 total episodes produced as well as two feature length motion pictures as well as numerous licensed merchandise for sale. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that 喜羊羊 is more or less the Mickey Mouse of China.

But after watching a few episodes and understanding the conceit and formula of the show, it becomes very clear that 喜羊羊与灰太狼 is not celebration of love or friendship or happiness; instead, this is a show that celebrates cruelty.

The first thing I should say is that yes, I am still learning Chinese and yes, I can’t fully understand the culture from being an outsider. As such, some may say my opinions about anything Chinese should be not validated and disregarded. I will say that I’m learning Chinese as best as I can and am always trying to keep an open mind. However, my opinions are my opinions and I want to express them with the hope that it will foster greater understanding of the Chinese culture. And besides, any anthropologist will tell you that an outsider to a culture is more suited to critique a culture since they haven’t been influenced and colored by the same forces the anthropologist is trying to isolate and understand.

At any rate this is just a blog about learning Chinese from watching Youtube videos, today’s being a cartoon, so let’s keep it in focus.

As I was saying, 喜羊羊与灰太狼 is a celebration of cruelty. The undeniably catchy theme song and cute cartoon characters don’t offset the show’s main messages of “might makes right” and “mercy is for the weak”. This show is all about a mob-mentality of bullying the weak and not showing mercy or compassion.

Let me explain. Without getting into the ridiculous back story about the war between lambs and wolves (which is important to the show), 喜羊羊 lives in a fortified compound with his cute companions under the guardianship and tutelage of the village elder. They are constant attack by 灰太狼, a wolf who wants to eat them. Each episode has 灰太狼 invent a wacky device or come up with a crazy scheme in which he can defeat and eat the lambs; likewise, the lambs (through the village elder) invent their own crazy inventions and armed with these as well as non-logical schemes of their own, always manage to best the wolf each episode. Having been defeated, the lambs humiliate the wolf is some violent method (ie. dynamite, tied to a rocket ship, etc) to which the wolf always screams revenge.

So far, this is your usual WB saturday morning cartoon. As Mel Brooks said, cutting a finger is tragedy, but walking into a open manhole and dying is comedy. Indeed, cartoon violence actually improves with each escalation; dropping a safe on someone’s head is only an unfunny act when compared to smuggling nuclear warheads in bassinets. Cartoon violence isn’t real violence, it’s comedy.

However, cartoon violence only works with cartoon characters who are usually two-dimensional in appearance and one-dimensional in character depth. Cartoon villans like Wile E. Coyote and Elmer Fudd are exceptional at receiving pain and punishment because they deserve it; they are just shallow characters designed to bear humiliation as well as our laughs.

With 灰太狼, this is arguably not the case for he appears to be the show’s most sympathetic character. Yes, in other words the evil guy just happens to be the nicest guy. What appears to be a self-contradiction can be easily explained.

Look. As the show has stated many times, wolves are evil because it is their very nature to be evil; in other words, 灰太狼 has no other way to act because he can’t help himself. He was born to eat lambs and has not learned any other way to act. While one can draw a quick paralell between 灰太狼 and a serial killer who preys on his victims, this turns out to be a bad comparison as a serial killer grew up in a society that (ideally) encouraged good ideals and morals, while a wolf is born into a food chain in which he plays a role in the circle of life (a phrase taken from some other cartoon about animals). In this light, while we do see that eating lambs is his nature, wolves are only evil from the perspective of lambs who are being eaten (as such, people who eat lambs and other animals could be called evil from this perspective). Basically, in this argument of “wolves are evil because it is their very nature” you are condemning a wolf for being a wolf and for no other reason.

However, what is more interesting is not what 灰太狼 can’t help himself from doing, but what he chooses to do. 灰太狼 has a wife, 红太狼, who berates him and commits all sorts of domestic abuse with a frying pan in the name of comedy. 灰太狼 appears to be the victim from a stereotypical relationship with a Shanghainese woman, a typecast known all throughout China as being domineering and bossy, and in the case of this cartoon, abusive.

While wolves can’t help being wolves and wanting to eat sheep because it is their nature, wolves don’t fall in love and get married, which is the relationship between 灰太狼 and 红太狼. They do love each other, and it is a choice that they have made to be with each other.

Look at the facts: 红太狼 is married to a loser who perpetually can not provide for her as a good husband should. She should not be with him. Likewise, 灰太狼 is married to an abusive wife who berates him both verbally and physically. She never supports him and is never satisfied with him. The truth is, this relationship is bad for both of them. They should both go find other mates who would be better suited for them.

However, 灰太狼 persists in this relationship. He attempts to catch lambs, fails and is humiliated, and then returns home where is humiliated some more. Why does he do it? It could be fear, it could be habit, but what comes across most in his explanations to his wife on how the most current scheme could never fail and “this time for sure!” is his undeniable love for his wife. He wants to please her, he wants her adoration and praise.

灰太狼 upholds the value and tradition of marriage in the family. By catching a lamb and bringing it back to his wife (and committing evil according to a lamb), he is supporting his wife and his marriage. We can all sympathize with this character because he is the working man that all of us are: he has a tough job, he loves his wife, he just wants to provide for his familiy. 灰太狼 is you or me; he is a good guy in a bad situation.

On the other side of the walled compound is 喜羊羊 and his friends who basically live a life of priviledge. They live in a fortified camp that was made for them 500 Sheep years ago, and when not fending off the attacks of 灰太狼, are simply living an easy life of looking cute and acting cute. From a superficial perspective, the life of 喜羊羊 and his friends seem to mirror that of an average Chinese child, one where he is the center of attention and has everything decided and provided for him, and lives in a protective shell of the family/country.

Sure, 喜羊羊 and his friends are cute, but why are they good in comparison to the wolf? Are they good because they are cute, or because they are fighting against the wolf, who is “evil”?

The answer is not so clear because the lambs are not inherently good. Let’s explain:

The wolf has been describes as “evil” because it is his nature. As well, the backdrop of this children’s show is that the conflict between the lambs and wolves is that of an age-old war between the two factions. In that sense, the lambs are fighting for their lives anytime they confront the wolf they could lose their lives. (I know, a kids show!)

So, this is war. This is life or death. This is win or lose. This is serious. (a kids show! I’m trying to remind myself!) However, in the case of war, we need to ask: is this a “take no prisoners” war? Is there any room for compassion in this war? As 喜羊羊 and his friends would have you believe, no, there is no room for compassion. Any time the lambs win (which is every show) they are sure to humiliate 灰太狼 in the most humiliating and most violent method possible. While this is makes for a great cartoon sight gag to enjoy, this act of comedy is really an act of single-minded ruthlessness: show your enemy no mercy. And so, these cute lambs are in fact the cruelest lambs without mercy you’ll ever meet.

Should we teach our children compassion, even to our enemies? Jesus said “love thy enemy” and “turn the other cheek” just as I’m sure many respected Chinese have over the centuries, but this message does not belong to the show 喜羊羊与灰太狼. Instead, it seems the show would approve of horrific acts of violence like the massacre of Malmedy in WWII in which Axis forces shot dead 84 Allied unarmed POW’s in an open field.

Wartime is a different time with different rules, and I have been blessed to have lived a life without having been directly affected by it. One can argue that letting these prisoners free would just be giving your enemy another chance a kill you on another day, or that escorting such a large number of POWs is dangerous and risky, or that “there are no rules in war” (see Geneva convention). All the same, the message of the show is the same as what happened in Malmedy: no mercy or compassion is to be given.

And while we always like to see the bad guy receive his comeuppance, is 灰太狼 such a bad guy? All he wants is to provide his starving family with food. 灰太狼 hardly has the ambitions of world domination as other cartoon bad guys such as Cobra Commander, Megatron or even Gargamel and whatever he wanted to do.

While it is easy to slander 灰太狼 as being evil since it’s in his nature, making such a statement makes the show even more morally complex. For while 灰太狼 is incapable of changing his behavior, what excuse do 喜羊羊 and his friends have for persistantly never offering 灰太狼 any mercy? Is it in their nature not to provide mercy? I hope not, because then you are dealing with an evil individual. Instead, offering mercy is a choice that we as individuals can give. It is a tough choice, it is not easy to forgive; but offering compassion and understanding and mercy can be the most enlightening choice you make in your life.

In a way, the choices have already been made for 喜羊羊 and his friends. When a group of people always act in a group and operate together as one, a mob-mentality can easily overtake the will of the individual. I know this is just a cartoon about a bunch of cute lambs who have adventures and hijinx, but I find it telling that the lambs operate as a group and the wolf as an individual. This happened in the Smurfs too, but then those little blue guys with the one blue chick had more conversations than these guys. As a transcript will show you (coming right up), these lambs really don’t do anything but look cute and destroy their enemies.

This isn’t to say that Chinese don’t know mercy and compassion, but this show designed for children is not getting this message across. Yes, there is some great culture in China and this blog will eventually find it, but this is not one of those great examples. 喜羊羊与灰太狼 basically teaches children to be cruel.

I don’t have a transcript of an episode ready yet, but here’s a transcript in both English and Chinese of the catchy main theme, with a glossary at the end. A few conclusions can already be gleaned from the lyrics, I find.

Enjoy.

喜羊羊,美羊羊,懒羊羊,沸羊羊,慢羊羊,软绵绵,红太狼,灰太狼。
Happy Lambie, Beautiful Lambie, Lazy Lambie, Stewie Lambie, Slow Lambie, Puffball,
Scarlet Wolfhound, Grey Wolfhound

别看我只是一只羊
Don’t treat me as just a lamb
绿草因为我变得更香
It is because of me the green grass is so fresh
天空因为我变得更蓝
It is because of me the sky is so blue
白云因为我变得柔软。
It is because of me the clouds are so soft

别看我只是一只羊,
Don’t treat me as just a lamb
羊儿的聪明难以想象,
The craftiness of lambs is hard to predict
天再高心情一样奔放,
Like the sky our mood can be bold and unrestrained
每天都追赶太阳。
Everyday we pursue the sun

有什么难题去牵绊我都不会去心伤,
Whatever difficult problem will impede me I will not get down
有什么危险在我面前都不会去慌乱,
Whatever danger confronts me I will not get rattled
就算有狼群把我追捕,
Even if I were to be the prey chased by a pack of wolves,
也当作游戏一场。
I would treat it as a game.

在什么时间都爱开心,笑容都会飞翔,
No matter the time I love being happy, smiles will soar
就算会摔倒站得起来,永远不会沮丧,
Even if I fall down I will get back up, forever will I never be dejected
在所有天气,拥有叫人大笑的力量,
In every type of weather, I will have the strength to greet people with a hearty laugh
虽然我只是羊.
Although I am just a lamb.

I thought so before and the lyrics confirm it, 喜洋洋 and his friends are all psychopaths.

沸 fei4 – Adj boiling
懒 lan3 – lazy, lethargic
柔软 rou2ruan3 – soft
难以 nan2yi3 – hard (to predict, imagine)
奔放 ban1fang4 – bold and unrestrained
追赶 zhui1gan3 – to pursue, to chase after
难题 nan2ti2 – difficult problem
牵绊 qian1ban – to impede
慌乱 huang1luan4 – frenetic, hurried, flustered
追捕 zhui1bu3 – to hunt and capture
摔倒 shuai1dao3 – to fall down and slip
沮丧 ju3sang4 – dispirited, dejected, dismayed
力量 li4liang – power, force, strength

29
Jun
10

“非诚勿扰”, The Best Show on Mainland TV: Analysis


马诺哭泣了

I’ll be very blunt: part of the whole inspiration for this blog comes from this Mainland TV show and my unbridled love for it. My years of frustration failing to enjoy Chinese culture have come to an end as I have found China’s most watchable TV show.

“非诚勿扰” is simply put, a trashy guilty pleasure that proves to illuminate the dark corners of unspoken Chinese culture by voicing aloud that which was previously off limits. One of the dozen global franchises of the 2008 Australian dating show “Taken Out”, this Jiangsu TV quasi-reality show is often confused with the 2008 Feng Xiaogang film starring Ge You and Shu Qi of the same Chinese name and as such is sometimes referred to the same English title, “If You Are The One”.

“非诚勿扰” translated into English, loosely, can be called “don’t be honest and you won’t cause any trouble”; this is a reference to the show’s female contestants who are uncontrolably honest about their ideal of a husband-to-be as well as their their tactless and brutally honest rejections of the male contestants on the show.

“非诚勿扰” can be compared to trashy shows of the west like “The Jerry Springer Show” and “Desparate Housewives” in which people indulge in their weaknesses and vices; we as the spectactors revel in their ability to cheat, lie and manipulate each other and thrill vicariously through behavior that we as proper upstanding members of society would not simulate. However, “非诚勿扰” is not a western show; they people on this show follow different rules and customs.

Some background: western society is a guilt-based culture. If you do something bad like tell a lie or murder someone, because the emphasis of society lies upon the individual and his/her responsibilities and powers, this bad act will trouble your conscience and ultimately end with the individual accepting their actions as well as the ramifications (well, ideally). Eastern society is not guilt-based, but a shame-based culture. Losing respect amongst your peers is a powerful societal device, but it only works if you are caught doing something wrong.

Since results are more important than the method, and preserving “face” and maintaining respect is such an integral part of Chinese culture, it has become culturally acceptable to make bald-faced lies. When at the check-in at the airport in China, you are more liable to hear “Oh, the flight will be arriving very soon, maybe ten minutes from now” rather than ever be told the uncomfortable truth that your flight has been canceled outright. The most infamous example of this with regards to religion is the Taiyuan Massacre of the Boxer Rebellion, when Yu-Hsien, the Governor of Shanxi, promised safe passage to a group of hiding missionaries; once they emerged from hiding the Governor decreed the group, which included women and children, to be all beheaded.

I am not saying all Chinese people lie; this is untrue. However, I am saying that telling lies in public is perfectly acceptable. Not everyone does this, and this behavior only works if you are too gullible to accept it. As well, I should say this is not a condemnation of eastern or Chinese culture; western culture has its failings as well. It seems odd but routinely do we witness that an individual who has committed great failures or crimes can be completely redeemed and forgiven by the public at large if they come out and admit it. And so we have people like Hugh Grant and Marion Barry who persist in being famous or continuing to do the same things despite having shown to be “bad people”.

This is a bit of armchair philosophizing, but this is what I love about “非诚勿扰”: this trashy show give ordinary Chinese people an opportunity to “act honestly“. While that may or may not being the most glaring and enormous contradiction you’ll read today, if you know anything about China you will recognize that China is a land of contradictions. Getting the chance to act honestly for once is their lives is as entertaining to an audience as a bunch of shirtless, overgrown men talking in hyperboles and hugging each other on a canvas floor. Sorry to say, but “非诚无扰” is as fake as wrestling and just as entertaining; under the guise of a dating show, they can provide a platform to talk just about any societal topic.

China is a poor country, and despite its meteoric rise in recent years it still hasn’t shaken off the status of a third world country. Women in China have long been touted as the equals of men in the workforce (“办边天”, or “holding up half the sky”), but feminism and the power and influence of women have still yet to be seen. In entertainment women are still just used as flower vases (“花瓶”); a woman without a man for a husband isn’t taken seriously, and so women routinely give up careers for family.

Say what you will, but Chinese women still pine for a “strong, financially established taller man who can provide a sense of security”. This and the popular Chinese saying “the man is able and the woman is beautiful – the ideal couple” (男才女貌) just shows state of current gender politics. That is, until 非诚勿扰。

Previously, women are permitted to only pout and lout cute and not say what is on their minds; now with a show like 非诚勿扰, the teapot has overturned and the truth is pouring out.

But, what is the truth? In this well edited and well scripted show, what is the truth? These women say they want a rich husband and aren’t shy about saying it. Do they reflect society? Do they represent a majority of women who aren’t willing to make such public statements that reflect upon them?

The infamous statement made by 马诺 (Horse Promise) on the show goes something like:”I’d rather cry in a BMW than to be with you (on the back of your bicycle)”.

Tactless? Yes. Scathing? Yes. Revealing of a culture plagued with poverty and obsessed with money? An illuminating yes.

非诚勿扰is just like professional wrestling; no one gets hurt and everyone is entertained, and eventually someone goes home with the big belt made of solid (TV) gold.