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Everything posted by Azarkon

  1. Here to pimp a foreign film (it's getting a US remake, so this is urgent). The movie is Lat Den Ratte Komma In, or "Let The Right One In" by Swedish director Tomas Alfredson. If you've read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist, then you know what to expect. Otherwise, the best description I can give is "twisted romantic horror set in an 'everyday' setting." If you thought Twilight sucked but liked the premises, you should see this. Google it if you want to be spoiled further.
  2. Since we're on the topic of China and the UK, here's a piece by Tony Blair...
  3. Different sensibilities. The British of today are known for their quirky humor, liberal beliefs, and punk culture. The grandiose of Pax Britannica, which might have produced spectacles similar to that of China's, is long forgotten and would likely even be resented by many elements of British society if it were to return. So, while some Brits (obviously not all Brits agree ) might have appreciated the more relaxed, informal, and quirky display, the Chinese saw it differently - as something not befitting the gravity of this international ritual. Certainly, they treated it a lot more seriously in their own Olympics event. That said, bashing the performance of the next Olympics host right after the handover is pretty rude. I guess it could be retaliation for all the bad press from Western media, but I suspect it's not government directed. The CCP went as far as to rename dishes in order to put forward a civilized image for China. I doubt they'd squander it by encouraging UK-bashing.
  4. And now for something completely related and yet funny, at the same time: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=50890 Russia: Hmm... Nice Humvees. I think I'll take them. US: Hey, those are mine! Give it back! GIVE IT BACK!!!
  5. Part of the problem with quoting sources from the other side is that alot of them are Russian and we all know the credibility of Russian media... But then, what's to say that just because a source is peer reviewed and part of a free press it can't be biased? Neutral commentary is most credible when it comes from a neutral source. Given the amount of half-truths that's been bandied about during the course of this conflict, I'm really not about to trust any one media source. A list of mutually independent sources, in this case, seems more dependable.
  6. I'm not sure interesting is the right word. Political correctness, from what I've seen, took a very different track in China. Essentially, what exists there truly is political correctness - in that it's the government that mandates all the minority representation, multi-ethnic celebration, etc. This being the case, it really is only token representation, since it's not mirrored by the attitudes of the popular media and majority culture. Think of the 56-kids-from-different-ethnicities-event as a thinly disguised (pun intended), patronizing statement from the government saying, "look minorities, we haven't forgotten you~" and you'd have it half-right. The other half, of course, is the same message being sent to international audiences. The reality of the minority situation in China is that they're expected to assimilate and conform when they travel to other areas. Otherwise, they mostly live in their own regions and provinces and practice their traditions amongst themselves. This is the basis of minority autonomy in China, which was modeled after the Soviet Union. Contrast it to the West, where minority culture is integrated into the majority culture and the popular media is the one promoting it. Of course, in some sense it's entirely different circumstances - in the West it's a matter of racial representation, since the minorities actually do look very different and you can't possibly have a white dude representing a black guy (cue Michael Jackson joke) and not look stupid. In China, almost all of the minorities could pass as Chinese or, even if they couldn't, they come pretty close, so it's cultural representation that's important. Well, from the perspective of the Chinese entertainment organizations, anybody can do cultural representation - it's just a matter of studying the traditional clothes, dances, etc. and donning them. This seems crass and shallow to Western sensibilities, but that's because our education system was very much shaped to raise our awareness of such things. I doubt anyone from China gives it too much thought, except for maybe the minorities themselves. And therein lies the problem, if you want to call it that - they're not afraid of being "offensive" to minorities in the same sense that we are, here in the West. Nor do they even think, necessarily, that doing something like this could actually be offensive. "After all, aren't we giving proper representation to minority cultures?" The Chinese politician might say. "Be thankful. If not for the efforts of the government and the academies, China's minority cultures would've disappeared a long time ago during the Cultural Revolution." It's all very patronizing to Western, and likely minority (though they're probably used to it), ears.
  7. More sensationalism, if you don't mind me saying. Like the second article points out, the practice is common in China. The various entertainment organizations do not discriminate between people of different ethnicities in determining whether an individual can play a specific role, and in all likelihood it was them, and not the government, that organized this. From my understanding, it's typical to recruit cultural performing troupes, many of which come from art academy programs dedicated to the various cultures. The equivalent in the US would be an American of German ancestry in a "Les Miserables troupe" playing the part of a Frenchman, which you'd never care or find out about unless the media made a big deal about it. Acting like this is some sort of "faking" or "lying" demonstrates the vast cultural gap between the two societies. Trust me, if the Chinese government felt guilty about this and didn't want you to know, there would be mass denials, fake papers (as in the case of the underage gymnasts), and you would not know. Actually, if they cared that much, they would've had each of the 56 kids come from a different ethnic group to begin with - a very easy task for a government like China's. The fact that they came out, admitted it, and brushed it off shows that they don't see it as an issue. Frankly, I can see why Western media, accustomed to political correctness (which teaches us that minority representation is important), would be outraged, but those sorts of values simply do not exist in China, at least not in the popular culture.
  8. There are ugly kids on Chinese television, too. It means nothing. Directors pick the kid that looks the part, and in this case the part demanded a cute kid with an awesome voice, so they made do with two (which is funny and sad, but not exactly an atrocity). Would it make you feel better if they had looked harder and found a kid who was both cute and could sing?
  9. Everybody. Oh, they're not very blunt about it, here in the West. They just don't pick the ugly ones in the first place at time of audition. And instead of calling them ugly, they say, "you did well... But it just wasn't what we were looking for, sorry." It's an euphemism for the same thing. The situation here, as I understand it after reading a bit deeper, is that it was a process of elimination. The staff had several candidates that they were trying to pick from, including Lin Miaoke, Yang Peiyin, some 10-year old, and maybe others, as well. Lin had the perfect look and stage presence, but her voice wasn't up to par. Yang had the perfect voice, but her stage presence and appearance wasn't what they wanted. Upon screening the board, which included both senior Politburo members and various directors (ie the people the planning committee answered to), it was decided that Yang simply did not have the right looks but that her voice was what they wanted. So, a compromise was struck and both girls got to perform. A bit shady, perhaps, but it's show business, where voice dubbing an actor/actress for the right effect is common. The only real issue here is a matter of difference in perception: to Western audiences, the Olympics ceremony was apparently supposed to represent some sort of genuine performance, where everything they saw was "real." To the Chinese, it was a show, and they treated it as such.
  10. I blame video games. ... What?
  11. We never did make a distinction between the oppressive aspects of the Chinese regime and its handling of the Olympics. That's the problem. Nobody listens to a whiner, and we're being pretty damn whiny condemning everything the Chinese government does, regardless of severity. You can't expect to be taken seriously when a little bit of CG during the televised ceremony (that the crew actually admitted to a few days later) has you up in arms about how the Chinese government deceived the world. Being an objective critic requires tact, and at the moment we're not seeing alot of it from Western media.
  12. I agree, but it's also a good opportunity to bash China, as you might have noticed. IMO, the British media is especially hard on the ceremony... Could it be that they're lowering the bar for the London 2012?
  13. Hmm, looks like the one posted earlier... Or is that a fake?
  14. I heard the fireworks were real, but some of the footage shown to TV viewers was not - ie there were actually giant footprints in the air at Beijing, but they used CGI in certain parts of the broadcast due to visibility issues or w/e (at least, that's what's claimed). EDIT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbZrI8onelg Proof?
  15. I think with this, the Russians have pretty much admitted that their goal in Georgia is "regime change": http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/10...rgia/index.html
  16. So, according to Georgian reports, Russia is launching an invasion of Georgia proper. How long before the Russians call it quits. More importantly, how long before NATO intervenes? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/11/world/eu...amp;oref=slogin
  17. So the UN is helpless, as usual: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/08/10/...uth-Ossetia.php From what I can see, Russia really wants to teach Georgia a lesson, if not destroy its military outright. The message seems to be, "this war will be over when the Georgians relinquish all control over South Ossetia, and not sooner." If Russia gets its way, the result will likely be an annexation or a puppet state in South Ossetia. I wonder how the West will respond.
  18. Remember what happened in Kosovo, where a powerless Russia was forced to accept the terms dictated to its fellow Slavs by NATO. My impression is that the Russians have quite a bit of pent-up rage and that they've been preparing for this for a while. It is like picking up a stick and saying, to the West and all separatist movements, "this is where we draw the line. We Russians may have accepted the break-up of Serbia and the encroachment of NATO elsewhere, but Georgia is where we draw the line." From the Russian perspective, the latest series of Georgian provocations (this has been building all the while) have gone too far, and this is their show of force. The alarmist may draw eerie comparisons with Hitler's aggression against Poland during WW II (which also started over a piece of land occupied mostly by Germans, but which existed in another country that wasn't willing to let it go), but in this case the Georgians did move their troops into South Ossetia first. It was a risky gamble, no doubt performed under the shadow of the Olympics for political reasons (ie the world is not watching, Putin is in Beijing, etc.). But the Russians called their bluff. As always in a war, it's the innocents caught in the middle who suffer the most.
  19. It's the declaration of martial law that makes me think that it's an escalation. It means that this is no longer a territorial skirmish (it was that a few days ago), but a full-blown war.
  20. And it escalates... http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L8218534.htm Will no one step in?
  21. Maybe, maybe not. The 1980s was a relatively open period of Chinese politics, so much so that dissent was springing up all across the country, particularly in the Chinese intelligentsia - Tiananmen, obviously, changed all that. Could another crackdown happen in the aftermath of the Olympics? Probably not - dissent is not strong enough, today, to justify such repression. But rather than say that the conservative old guard lost permanently to the reformists, I think you should account for the possibility that all the reformists did was struck a compromise. After all, the CCP supposedly purged the truly liberal, pro-reform apparatus of the party (ie people like Zhao Ziyang) when it cracked down during 6/4, but the reforms never stopped, so the reformers must not have been completely suppressed. The same maybe true of the conservative old guard, or else we'd not see such heavy-handed police state measures during the Olympics.
  22. I'm surprised no one's posted this one yet. http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/08/08...etia/index.html
  23. Not so, if reports of 80,000+ protests lodged and wide-spread corruption are to be believed. The CCP is a huge organization - most people don't understand how huge. It's got some 70+ million members. There are bound to be internal conflicts, cliques, and the like. The Hu/Wen team is also not going to be in control forever. He is expected to retire around 2012, if I'm not mistaken. Not to mention, you make it sound as though internal conflict within the CCP is necessarily a bad thing. A stable, long-lasting government is one that can deal with dissent, and dissent is what China, right now, desperately needs amidst its multitudes of failures (in areas such as the environment, official corruption, demographic change, and of course, human rights).
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