Hey so, I give it 15 years, give or take, before China becomes the gorilla (panda?) sized nation of cool. There's a few reasons for this. 1. America will always be the harbinger, but it lacks an "indigenuous cool." America will never be cool. All the cool Americans are not Americans. Plus, O'Hara Intl airport sucks beer bellies. 2. Russia is so cool it's cold, plus there's not enough folks. 3. There's nobody else left in the world with 1.3 billion minds and way too much competition. Japan can blow up on coolness and it's still just an island. Hong Kong... well, Hong Kong's not a country, and they use traditional characters and have Fad for last names so... ^_~ Erm, sorry, that was slightly uncalled for mainland pride.
Media development in the mainland is staggering though. Even if the dramas suck more and more (I blame this on the art and makeup department, all right, and the script, but not Shu Qi, definitely not Shu Qi...) the documentaries, magazines, and other media outlets (that doesn't include really annoying top models, top singers, top anchors contests shows, but those are annoying anywhere I suppose) with no more than two years on them, are just stunning in how they've grown in just a year. Now this doesn't mean they're brilliant, this doesn't mean there isn't a lot of imitation, but originality and creativity can and do blossom from imitation when appealing to a different market, different set of minds. So I've high hopes for the media here. As for censorship, hmm, that is a chapter of a problem, but in our present concern of arts, music, movies, basically, selective materialism, we should be okay.
Rice (www.riceage.com) magazine, among a couple pretty others caught my eye for two reasons. 1) For its discernible, impeccably East Asian art/design hipster feel. 2) For just how young it is. Working at Theme has taught me that starting a magazine in the States is a matter of stakes, is a huge investment, is something you don't really make money off of, is seeing a lot of money disappearing... and not coming back. So is the case for a lot of these new magazines in China. Rice is started by a couple recent college grads from the ever 前卫 Guangzhou. Now, I'm sure that individually they are all pretty well off, but it baffles me on how they could support the mag, but I suppose what is their weakness is also their greatest strength - youth, ideals, ain't nuttin' to be afraid of. Hee.
On the East Asian feel and sensibilities, I may be biased on this, but I honestly feel like Asians are the most vain folks on the planet, stuck in this mentality of superiority/inferiority complex. Asian fashion breathe both tradition and the loudly modern, and like the streets of Harajuku and Hong Kong, fashion, vanity, to be sure, is not a matter of have you got it, but whether you have it in yellow or red, better yet, the new color is coral, are you caught up. Asian fashion is louder, flashier, and more complicated than its American (simple, loose, comfy) and European (sophisticated, high fashion) counterparts, and I think, this aesthetic bleeds in its art world as well. The prevalence of Manhua/Manga/Japanese anime is existent (slightly annoyingly) in too many art forms. Cuteness is overrated, and dreamy is a mindset, all of this contribute to a certain tone of "naivete." I think that's what Rice reminds me of, an unabashed celebration of youth and "naivete." US magazines tend to have a tilt-your-head professional feel to them, but a lot of the mainland magazines literally scream "written and made by your peers." Who are talented, no doubt, there's never been a lack of talent in China for the last 5000 years (as always, who to follow and what ideal to follow is the problem).
Which was why... I had a semi-anxiety attack yesterday on "what the hell am I doing here?" Not because I don't love it, it is precisely because I love this place, and have consciously made a decision that, that's it, I'm staying here, did the problem arise. The competition here really is fierce. It's a type of fierce that I didn't feel in New York. It's a tangible fierce in which you're not only fighting talent, fighting to stand out, but you're fighting the logistics. You're fighting the fact for everything you can do, there's probably countless number of people who can do it as well, better even. The game here then, is not only do you have to be good, you've got to push, you've got to learn about how human relationships here work, because it's a beautiful and complicate mess, you've got to let yourself stand out. Same in New York, I just never actually worked up to the level of competition, to actually feel the competition, I think. But despite rumours, I do think New York is a benign place. I think China, well, China is colder.
Especially these past few days without heating. 冷的让人发抖, 冷的在家穿手套,冷的想死了算了。Got emails from Lacey and Haley: P.S. That free bread was the shit!!! and definitely one of the best-cant-remember-which-year