Watched a great program tonight. Well the whole night is great! Had pot sticker with left over stuffing from last Saturday, and dumpling wraps I got from Chinatown at lunch. Watched another program on China’s environmental issues before BoB, not great, but still excellently produced with balanced and multi-angle perspectives, just what you expect from PBS (when can China has a TV channel like that?). After BoB, got a glimpse of the last 1.5 innings of Yankees-Red Sox in HD on INHD, during which Mariano gave up two base hits but still managed to get the job done. And I’m writing this blog now. Life is good.
Back to the program. The schedule says it’s about “six Chinese Americans share their experiences of what living in Beijing has been like during the past 20 years.” Now what experiences they are! The only somewhat famous person among the six is Kaiser Kuo, one of 唐朝’s founding members. The two other men presented both work in IT (one entrepreneur, one programmer). The three ladies all work with arts to some degree, one in movie business (she overdubbed for 关之琳 in 大腕 for both Mandarin and English, since apparently 关大美人 is good at neither), another a media artist, another a photographer/journalist.
The one natural thing that they all talk about is their identity issue. Are they/do they think of themselves as/do people perceive them as American or Chinese? Kaiser was crystal clear that he’s American even though he’s the most content with his life in China with wife and kid and work and doesn’t want to change anything (I wouldn’t either, if I had a loving family and like my well-paid job and play rock’n’roll for fun!). The other guys/gals aren’t so sure. A couple of them say they feel they’re somewhere inbetween, or sometimes here and sometimes there. This is the thing that strikes me the most, about which I’ll talk more later.
The programmer is quiet and calm but actually very funny, somewhat like Initech’s Michael Bolton. He went to work in Beijing for Levono from Silicon Valley after losing his job in the dot com bust. He said the first weird thing is 广播体操 twice a day (which I think is a good think for computer workers). Then one time there’s a company-wide broadcast about some “anti-corruption meeting”, and no one is supposed to do anything but sit in his/her cubical and listen to the radio broadcast, of which a “little people” was going through the whole office to make sure, who first told him to stop working to listen to the “very important broadcast”, and stopped him again when he was “just munching on some cookies”, where he “almost lost it”.
They didn’t mention 6-4, but they did talk about the anti-American movements due to the bombing of Chinese embassy in Belgrade and mid air collision, and the celebration after the 2008 Olympics was granted to Beijing. One girl said that her Chinese boyfriend said “I want to go protest at the US embassy, but then I realize I can just stay home and protest you” (I kind of remember seeing this somewhere before). Irrationally exuberant nationalism has led to the most horrific atrocities in human history. Do Chinese have any memory? (Well they really can’t when the “great, glorious, and correct” CCP doesn’t allow any one to say anything about the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution!) It reminded me of the heated discussion in my college class’ email list after 9-11. I never claim to be always impartial and rational and logic. I had my moments of crazy nationalism in college after the Chinese men’s ping pong team won the world championship, when I set a broom on fire and paraded around the courtyard outside our dorm, oblivious to my hair and back catching some flame. But cheering for the death of thousands of innocent people with many Chinese among them? That’s some serious water damage in the brain.
Back to the identity issue. Some of them say it’d be nice to be half time here and half time there, and some do. To me, they’re truly Americans. Just the way they talk with freedom and confidence. Of course they’re good Americans, not the stereotypical fat stupid self-centered kind, like whom else but the president. I can never talk like that. And if they’re struggling with their identities, what am I supposed to be? Sure I’m a hell lot more Chinese than they are, spending only the last 1/4 of my life in America. But just like some of them, I have no idea what future is like, where I’ll be, or where I want to be. I can swear (at least for now) that I’ll never get US citizenship, because that officially means you’re no longer Chinese, and you’ll never really be American no matter how bad you want to and how hard you try. Maybe your kids can get close, like those people in the program.
One definitely positive thing I got from the program, though, is that life in China is moving forward, no matter how painfully for some people and for the environment. The previous program poses the dilemma for Chinese government to keep economic growth strong to ease/hide social unrest and yet deal with environmental and all other issues that come with industrial development. I think I read somewhere (maybe in my head) that China is dealing with almost all problems all societies have faced in the last 500 years combined. Human survive, and learn, albeit at huge costs some times. The CCP isn’t strong enough to stop the wheel of fortune–no one ever is; and it’s not stupid enough to think it can.
And again it boils down to the tiny me: what am I supposed to do?