Ganji la!

Ganji la!

Anyone who rides the subway regularly or spends time around a television has probably seen, or more likely heard, the advertisement for the Chinese Craigslist-esque website Ganji starring actress and super microblogger Yao Chen, where she yells “Ganji la!” and rides a poorly-animated donkey.

The advert is catchy, maybe too catchy. According to the Darwin Marketing blog, the animated donkey made such an impression that people who wanted to visit the site couldn’t remember the name and instead of typing Ganji (赶集), which means “hurry to the market,” they typed Ganlv (赶驴) which translates to “hurry a donkey.”

Office Politics

Office Politics

The latest episode of NBC’s The Office (Thursdays, 9 PM) entitled “China” uses Michael (Steve Carell) and his newfound fear of China’s economic power as the launching point for its storyline. It’s interesting how this ambivalence towards corporate internationalism seems to be of a piece with another NBC Thursday sitcom, Outsourced. And while that other show appears to be the most egregious example of racial minstrelsy on network television since The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer or perhaps Homeboys in Outer Space, The Office manages to poke fun at American naivety about China while exploring the political and cultural fears permeating the China discussion.

I Hate The Big Bang Theory

I Hate The Big Bang Theory

No, I’m not talking about the actual theory, which is the first joke that people make when I say that; I’m talking about television here. I understand that “hate” may be too strong of a word to deploy against The Big Bang Theory. A more accurate title might be “I Hate Chuck Lorre”, or “I Am Alienated by The Big Bang Theory and Not in the Good Brechtian Way.”

REPOST: Mad Women

In honor of Kathryn Bigelow’s historic achievement in being the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, this is a repost of my article about women in Hollywood, originally posted in August of 2009.

Gossip Girl 3.12 “The Debarted” (aka Patrimony)

Both shows meditate on how grief is a personal and supremely unique torment, impossible to share with others; and yet we do it anyway because we don’t know anything else. Without indulging in normative claims about what a family should be, both shows dramatize that we live in a society that is bereft of fathers and yet that same society will always live in their shadow. And finally, both Friday Night Lights and Gossip Girl tell us in order to heal the wounds and pain caused by the loss of their fathers, the characters must confront their own fears and misgivings about who they are as individuals. Chuck and Matt are men, not their father’s sons.

Gossip Girl 3.11 “The Treasure of Serena Madre” (aka Detournement)

Those that scaped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie.

Gossip Girl 3.10 “The Last Days of Disco Stick” (aka The Gagaesque Modality)

If we acknowledge that the supreme strength of the television medium is the ability to construct longer and more complex narratives than would be possible in a shorter form, then a plotline like this is an almost-criminal misuse of the form.

Gossip Girl 3.09 “They Shoot Humphreys, Don’t They?” (aka Power Transition Theory)

It came as a shock to me — though it really shouldn’t have been — when I found out that the main demographic for Gossip Girl was not teenaged girls (which only make 16% of the viewership) but “18- to 34-year-old women, with a median viewer age of 27 years old.” It doesn’t change my […]

Gossip Girl 3.08 “The Grandfather: Part II” (aka Categorical Imperative)

Dan and Olivia get the thankless “contractually obligated filler plotline” about Olivia telling an embarassing story about Dan to Jimmy Fallon on his talk show, and then trying to keep that secret from Dan. Considering that Dan’s previous girlfriends’ dark secrets have been “I KILLED A MAN,” “I HELPED COVER UP KILLING A MAN,” and “I THINK I’M COMMITTING STATUTORY RAPE RIGHT NOW,” I don’t know how this Mad Libs plotline is supposed to even register, regardless of the cutesy anniversary ending. Honestly, the ups and downs in terms of writing quality this season are especially jarring. If the characters two episodes ago were in Bringing Up Baby, in this episode they’re in Blue’s Clues.

Gossip Girl 3.07 “How to Succeed in Bassness” (aka Mask of Command)

In contemplating which tyrant Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) most closely resembles, there are several choices. Robespierre, who initially spouted platitudes about liberty and equality and liberty yet became as bloody-handed as the monarchs he replaced? Or Stalin, who was born of peasant stock but rose through the ranks via connections, cruelty, and subterfuge? No, if you want to find the most intriguing parallels, you have to turn elsewhere; Jenny Humphrey is Adolf Hitler. I understand such comparisons shouldn’t be made lightly, and I’ve already invoked the H-word before when discussing Gossip Girl characters; but bear with me.