In response to my post yesterday promoting Aimee Barnes’ commentary on the upcoming Red Dawn remake for discussion, I got this response on Google Buzz from Thomas Morfew, director of Chinese social media marketing firm Ren Media in London:
It’s just a movie, but maybe China should be happy that they’re so much of an apparent threat that Hollywood is making movies about it.
In fact, I bet that tons of netizens are loving it. Whether this is a good thing for world peace, or not, I can’t say, but talking fantasy, how many Chinese have had an “invading America” fantasy?
I remember when 9/11 happened I was in a Taxi in 武汉 (admittedly not the most enlightened of Chinese cities) and the taxi driver showed me the newspaper with the picture of a smoking world trade center and laughed. :P
The idea that Chinese are (or should be) flattered that Americans see them as a threat is something Aimee quoted from Chinese website ifeng.com in her blog post. It was also mentioned in my previous post about a recent China Daily op-ed. Indeed, a certain subset of Chinese people are somewhat gratified that Americans see them as strong enough to militarily invade the United States. There’s a definitely a certain validation in that. I totally understand it.
However, I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten the “it’d be great to invade America!” vibe from Chinese people. The vibe I consistently get from them is that they’d love emigrating to America if they had the chance, as they sincerely believe things may be better for them and their children there. The American Dream is alive and well amongst the Chinese. If there’s any doubt, don’t forget the sour grapes effect. So, no, I don’t think there’s any significant amount of Chinese people harboring the fantasy of militarily invading America. Taiwan? Maybe. America? No.
As for celebrating America being humbled? Yes. There are plenty of Chinese people who get a kick when America was attacked, is attacked, or otherwise shown to be flawed. Part of it is because they don’t feel much sympathy towards an America they see as not being sympathetic to them. Another part is that everyone likes seeing those at the top stumble and fall. It reminds them that no one is perfect, so it’s okay that they themselves aren’t either. Humans have been comforting and reassuring themselves on the tragedies of others since the beginning of time. It’s human nature. It’s insensitive, but it’s not surprising. Not one bit.
Okay, I lied. I was stunned, appalled even, when a young Chinese girl once told me that her class “cheered” upon hearing news of the Twin Towers attack.
“You guys did what?!”
It bothered me deeply for a long time and it bothered me because I couldn’t dismiss it as simply stupid, ignorant youth. I knew it probably wasn’t an isolated reaction limited to a particular demographic. It also bothered me because I couldn’t recall ever consciously cheering on any attack or tragedy that has happened to China. I don’t think I’ve ever wished ill upon China and the Chinese people. Never had a reason.
But that’s just me.
It wasn’t the first time I realized I can’t persist in thinking about the world from my own perspective, but it was a very powerful reminder.
- Should the Chinese be happy that Hollywood is making movies casting them as a threat to anything?
- Do you think any significant proportion of the Chinese population harbor fantasies of invading America?
- Have you had any experiences involving a Chinese reaction or sentiment that was startling different from your own? How have you, if at all, rationalized it?