News magazines: Sister Hibiscus gets her head shrunk and New Weekly turns 10


New Century Weekly: The cover feature is on children of the 1980s, but the big draw is inside - the magazine interviewed Sister Hibiscus and invited a psychologist to draw up an analysis. His verdict:

Many people have said that Sister Hibiscus is psychologically abnormal, but from a professional perspective she has no psychological illness. It's just that her personality characteristics are different from normal people; using the most colloquial of language to describe it, she "lacks perspective."

The analyst goes on to talk about stress, the pressures of being in the public eye, and an unwillingness to face reality. So that solves the problem on Sister Hibiscus' end, I guess. Who's going to psychoanalyze the public that's kept her in in the national media for over fourteen months now?


New Weekly: The end-of-August edition of New Weekly is its tenth anniversary issue (it comes with a free T-shirt!) so much of the magazine is turned over to retrospective articles: profiles of this decade's movers and shakers, a look at China's transformation, a list of the most iconic commercial products, and a look back at the growth of New Weekly itself as well as other media companies that have gotten big over the past ten years. Two highlights:

Quotes and slogans: A list of the most widely-repeated phrases this decade. These include:

  • Book titles: "China can say no!" (中国可以说不, 1996), "Could be beautiful" (看上去很美, 1999), "Who moved my cheese?" (谁动了我的奶酪? 2002);
  • Political slogans: "What is good for Hong Kong is good for China and what is good for China is very good for Hong Kong" (香港好,国家好;国家好,香港更好, Tung Chee Hwa, 1996), "Whoever has the best airport will become the best city in the world" (谁的机场最好,谁将成为世界上最好的城市, Guangzhou city secretary Lin Shusen, 2004); "Let us cut hair according to the socialist way of life" (让我们按照社会主义的生活方式来理发, North Korea, 2005);
  • Advertising slogans: "Nothing's too big a deal" (没什么大不了, bust cream, 1996), "A little wild" (有点野哦, San Miguel, 2001), "I can!" (我能! China Mobile, 2004);
  • Movie quotes: "Keep cool" (有话好好说, Zhang Yimou, 1997), "Once I had true love in front of me..." (曾经有一份真诚的爱情放在我面前, Stephen Chow, 1997), "You jump, I jump" (你跳,我也跳, Titanic, 1998), "Wanna die? This time you're dead for sure" (想死……这回你死定了, My Sassy Girlfriend, 2002), "People should be decent" (做人要厚道, Cell Phone, 2004) "The consequences will be serious" (后果很严重, World Without Thieves, 2005);
  • Conventional wisdom: "Online, everyone knows Sina; offline, everyone knows Sohu" (上网的都知道新浪,不上网的都知道搜狐, 1998);
  • Quotes from Han Han: Despite only coming on the scene in 2001, the author is quoted four times, once from his breakout novel The Third Way, once on the Super Girls, once on The Promise ("I was wrong about Zhang Yimou."), and once from his pissing match with Bai Ye.

Things cast aside: The changes in Chinese society over the last decade have made many things obsolete. Here's a selection from the New Weekly's somewhat tongue-in-cheek list:

The work unit (1990s); poets (1990s); bus ticket sellers (1990s, except Beijing); Chongqing, Sichuan (14 March 1997); State Planning Commission (March 1998); Beijing's micro-van taxis (23 December, 1998); modems (post-2000); letters (late 90s); WPS (post-2000); fen (post-2000); telephoned Spring Festival greetings (post-2002); pre-marriage checkup (1 October 2003); agricultural tax (1 January 2006); blue skies (1990s); breakfast (recently); manly men (recently); cousins (recently); virgin brides (recently).

A "creative lifestyle top 10" for 2006 was published in an insert sponsored by Motorola; New Weekly apparently doesn't expect much out of the rest of the year.

  1. Creative class takes off: The slogan "Improve capability for self-innovation, build an innovative country" has become the country's mission for the next 5 years. We are surrounded by bloggers, mobile ringtone singers, scribble fashion designer, and spoofing video directors. The new creative class have come to represent the the representatives of the elite and are the new idols of the Chinese people.
  2. Web 2.0 living: Blogging is a lifestyle, Wiki is written into a free encyclopedia, and RSS coordinates our lives. Web 2.0 repositions information sharing methods. The roles of writer and reader are ambiguous.
  3. Me generation: Few Chinese may acknowledge that they believe in individualism, but we cannot deny the awake of individualism in China.
  4. Spoofing video and everything after: Video spoofs, once limited to a subculture, came into the main stage after Hu Ge's creations. And now they have begun to challenge mainstream culture as this year's hottest cultural phenomenon.
  5. Superficial reading: Not just mass-market books, but a whole societal trend toward superficiality of perception. Depth has no commercial market, so soap operas, sculpture, news, design, and education are essentially utilitarian. Superficial reading has its advantages: it is fast, pleasing, and disposable, making it a good solution to the pressures of modern life.
  6. Pure travel groups: Traveling without shopping. Organized through agents, it is cheaper than individual travel but retains the same freedoms. Most importantly, travel culture can finally escape the moronic "park photograph have a quick glance write I was here" style of traveling.
  7. Live cell phone broadcasting: The application of streaming media to cell phones demonstrates a human-oriented trend in media, and it has begun to supplement TV and the Internet.
  8. "Liberate the house-slaves" campaign: 31.8% of housing loan holders in China have become "house slaves." To fight this situation, some people have chosen to build their own homes, become real estate developers, live in rentals forever.
  9. Gadgets: Gadgets unmistakably have become an interactive necessity when personal communications get difficult and complicated.
  10. Crossover: The world is flat. The barriers between industries are disappearing and crossover has become a fresh lifestyle and aesthetic.

Oriental Outlook: The cover story is on Wu Guanzhong, one of the leading 20th-century Chinese painters. There's also a major feature on Mengmu Tang, the traditional school that has come under fire from China's education department.

Here's the daily schedule:

  6:40-7:20 morning run
  7:25-7:40 breakfast
 8:00-10:00 Chinese classics reading
10:00-10:30 break
10:30-11:30 Chinese reading
11:30-12:00 lunch (etiquette)
 12:00-1:30 siesta (lying quietly to rest eyes and spirit)
  1:30-2:30 Chinese classics reading
  2:30-2:45 break
  2:45-4:45 English classics reading
  4:45-7:30 activities, dinner, bathing
  7:30-8:00 journaling and reflection
  8:00-9:00 Chinese classics reading
  9:00-9:30 English classics reading
  9:30-6:30 nighttime rest

This week's Southern Weekly also has a big spread on the traditional school movement.

He can't return to his old habit, but he can't keep doing this, either

Sanlian Life Week: Last week's issue went in-depth on the final proof of the Poincare Conjecture that was discovered by two Chinese mathematicians. This makes for a more favorable portrayal in the Chinese press of Shing-Tung Yau, the editor of the Asian Journal of Mathematics who has been embroiled in a recent controversy over accusations he made that Peking University faked its overseas hires (see this earlier Danwei post). And as is customary in most articles about major scientific advances in Chinese popular media, the magazine ran an article giving an overview of China's own contributions to the cause of mathematics over the last 2500 years.

But what has been most interesting in Sanlian the past few weeks is Zhu Deyong's comic strip "Everyone's Crazy." It's typically quite amusing - observations about the lives of young men and women in an urban setting, but it has been rather risque the last several issues (compared to most comics in the mainstream media, that is). Here, a hit-man has realized that his customary habit of resting his hand on his gun inside his jacket is no longer working, since everyone recognizes that posture as belonging to a hit-man. Searching for an alternative, he draws the wrong kind of attention.

The New Weekly section of this piece was prepared with the help of Bill Zhang.
Links and Sources
There are currently 3 Comments for News magazines: Sister Hibiscus gets her head shrunk and New Weekly turns 10.

Comments on News magazines: Sister Hibiscus gets her head shrunk and New Weekly turns 10

Foreigners in China are lucky to have Danwei as a resource. I used to think that ALL Chinese media were predictable, ideological and boring; thanks to posts like Joel's today, I see this is not the case.

cooool reading round up...! many thanks, gonna run out to my newstand...

"Could be beautiful" -- is that "Kan shangqu hen mei", the Wang Shuo story?

and is "Keep cool" from "you hua hao hao shuo", the Zhang Yimou film?

Right on both counts, ada - translations drawn from the web, in most cases. I probably should have included the original quotations for reference - that's been remedied now. The magazine gives background for each quote and illustrates how people used many of them as catchphrases.

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives