Yesterday was the seventh day after the Wenzhou railway crash that claimed dozens of lives and rocked the Weibo micro-blogging universe. The seventh day after a death in China is called touqi (头七) and is an important milestone of mourning. All across China, instead of paying respects to the lives lost on July 23, netizens were venting their fury at a system hellbent on burying all the facts under a mountain of oppression and obfuscation.
Speaking of good science fiction, Attack the Block envisions the marginalized urban periphery as a literal war zone where authorities are content to let both their homegrown poor and intruding illegal alien invaders eat themselves alive in a bloody struggle for survival — until a Respectable Attractive White Girl is put in danger, of course. [...]
Editor’s Note: This essay first appeared, in edited form, in the August edition of NewsChina.
Mixed-race romances are always vulnerable to culture clashes. Both parties were raised differently and consequently have very different ideas of what a marriage should be. But, two years after moving in with my Chinese boyfriend, I really thought we’d come to grips with anything that our diverse cultures could throw in the way of contented, marital bliss. After all, we’d got the OK from his parents—no mean feat for a mixed-race gay couple in family-focused China. I was over the moon that I’d been informally welcomed into the fold, though I was careful to remind myself that we’d need to sweeten the deal with grandkids somewhere down the line. But, all in all, things were perfectly idyllic, and I consequently adored my boyfriend’s parents.
Then they came to stay with us. Again and again and again.
My reaction? Yawn. Although some might object to the crass manner in which Mr. Sedaris points out certain facts about China, none of them are blatantly untrue. He has cherry-picked some of the more disgusting facts about China, but many of them are the very things that the Chinese deplore about their own society. I can’t recall off-hand any Chinese person who explicitly encourages blowing snot on the street—however widely it might be accepted.
Before I went to China, I made sure to know nothing about it. No books, no movies, not even the lottery numbers inside fortune cookies. The only thing I knew about China was that my rosewood end table and Zen-chic Roman shades were manufactured there. It was a conscious decision, because I wanted to hate the country and the people as much as possible, and I was afraid that if I weren’t completely ignorant going in, I might accidentally gain perspective and unwittingly feel empathy, which, let me tell you, isn’t very funny. So it was for humor that I endeavored to be as prejudiced and anal retentive as possible during my trip, to see how much of a spoiled dandy I could be if I really worked hard at it.
Like its contemporaries Tree of Life and Melancholia, Another Earth (written and directed by Mike Cahill) deploys astronomical imagery in order to provoke what the Catholic Church used to call the “fear of the Lord” but which now goes by the slightly more mundane “wonder and awe”: the sense that the celestial body which dominates [...]
At first, I was tempted to rise above this all-too-obvious jibe at one of the world’s great cuisines, borne of one of the world’s once-great cultures. More than anything, I was bemused that anyone would be interested in David Sedaris’ views on food. It’s kind of like asking for Hemingway’s views on leather galoshes. Interesting? Maybe. Irrelevant? Most definitely.
The Stateside debut of Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive (adapted by Hossein Amini from the James Sallis novel) is obsessed with the directionality of time. In a city like Los Angeles that’s built more for automobiles than for people, a slick driver with a fast car is an aspirational avatar that provides the promise of freedom, [...]
In daily life in China I am constantly reminded that, no matter how long I’ve lived here or how diligently I study the language, I am in China’s house, and the house always wins. I’m also reminded of this in my interactions with the locals. By far the most frustrating and masochistic relationship I endure in China is that with my landlord.
When Ai Weiwei walked out of a Beijing prison last month after 81 days of imprisonment, there was one question on everyone’s mind: had the most consistently vocal dissident in China finally been silenced? On the night of his release, the artist could only manage a terse response when reached on the phone: ”I’m released, I’m home, I’m fine…. In legal terms, I’m—how do you say?—on bail. So I cannot give any interviews. But I’m fine.”
But two days ago, news outlets reported that Ai has accepted a guest professorship at the Berlin University of the Arts. Ai also broke media silence when he described some details of his semi-house arrest.