by Robert Cain for China Film Biz
October 25, 2012
As I was writing the 3rd and final installment of my “Korea Conundrum” series, which explores the cultural and institutional impediments that prevent China from achieving global soft power influence, I came across a couple of music videos out of the PRC that explain the problem far better than I can.
While South Korean K-Pop star Psy of “Gangnam Style” fame was enjoying his brief reign as king of the pop culture meme, China was doing its part to say “Hey, we get it, we’re cool too” by producing Gangnam parody videos. Here’s a seemingly popular one that appeared on both Youtube and also on Tudou, China’s Youtube equivalent:
Of all the bad Gangnam Style parodies you’ll find on the web, this is undoubtedly one of the worst. Where the original Psy video has irony, wit, and biting satire, “China Style” is utterly vacuous. Take a look at the opening lyrics:
The creators of this video take a song that satirizes the excesses and emptiness of consumer culture and turn it into… what? An anthem celebrating international broadcast companies? As Beijing Cream noted:
Not only are the creators ignorant about the original song’s meaning, they insult us by trying to explain Gangnam Style’s popularity. Where they lack in originality, they also lack in self-awareness. These are the type who, at a party, stand stone-faced through your jokes and then say, “So what you’re saying is…”
The only thing China Style has on Gangnam Style is more T&A. A lot more. Shockingly so, given China’s censorship strictures. There’s even some weird nipple tweaking at the 2:42 mark.
At least the video did get over 500 ‘likes’ on Youtube. But then, it also got almost 3,300 ‘dislikes,’ six times as many.
Surely there must be someone in China who gets it. Someone cool, detached, a keen observer of Chinese culture who has something meaningful to say. Someone like Ai Weiwei, China’s most famous artist and symbol of dissent…
Alas, here’s Ai Weiwei’s contribution to the cultural conversation:
This is just so wrong, on so many levels. Say it ain’t so, Ai…
Guess I’ll be writing that 3rd installment after all, if for no other reason than to send China a few pointers.
In other news, release dates have now been set for the import films that will grace China’s movie screens in November. Here’s an excerpt from a missive I received this morning from my friend ‘Firedeep’
That’s the report for now. Back to Youtube– I mean research, for me.
Robert Cain is a producer and entertainment industry consultant who has been doing business in China since 1987. He can be reached at email@example.com and at www.pacificbridgepics.com