Trends and Buzz
Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Saturday, February 18, 2006 at 4:19 PM
Hung Huang and her mother Zhang Hanzhi, who was once Mao's English teacher
Film director Chen Kaige's (陈凯歌) awful but awfully expensive movie The Promise (无极) has been widely panned by Chinese moviegoes and critics alike. A man named Hu Ge (胡戈) made a twenty minute spoof of the film called The Bloody Case That Started From A Steam Bun (一个馒头引发的血案), which was copied on many different websites and Internet forums.
Chen Kaige was enraged, and has started proceedings to sue the author of the spoof, earning the famous director even more ridicule. (There are links to the spoof and commentary at the bottom of this post.)
Now his ex-wife, Hung Huang (or Hong Huang) has stepped into the fray, on her new blog on Sina.com.
Your correspondent used to work for her at her media company CIMG. After I left the company I was roundly cursed by her, for various reasons, in a book she wrote. She was nice enough not to name me, although it was clear to anyone who knew me that I was the target. Some of the curses were justified, some not, but like many other people, I have learned that Hung is not someone you want angry at you if you cannot deal with highly barbed but very funny mockery. (I can deal.)
This is a rough translation of what she had to say about Chen Kaige and the Steamed Bun debacle:
My ex-husband and the steam bunby Hung Huang
Because of this business with my ex-husband and a steamed bun, for a week now all my friends have been making fun of me, teasing and mocking me and criticizing my judgement and taste in men. Yesterday evening was the climax: a table of eight people, originally all quite restrained, exploded with mockery. This morning I looked at some blogs and found many comments about me. It seems women should be very careful about selecting a husband. Well in this life it's already too late for me, I'll pay more attention to it in the next life.
This affair makes me feel that I have been treated very unjustly: Why do people have to connect me to a person I haven't seen in more than ten years, to whom I haven't said a word. We haven't even bumped into each other. This is really unfair. The police often say to comrades who have committed offences: if you correct the mistake everything will be OK. Even if you have a previous conviction, people shouldn't continue to talk about it all the time, that completely lacks a spirit of generosity.
I always try to be or pretend to be a decent person, with a magnanimous attitude, with some reluctance to speak [and judge others]. But this affair is just too hilarious, I am nearly going crazy not speaking about it. And also, no matter how hard I try, nobody is ever going to mistake me for a lady, so I might as well just say a few words about this.
We Chinese have a saying: you can navigate a boat in the stomach of a prime minister [i.e. a great leader should be able to deal with all kinds of problems and annoyances]. If a steamed bun can't even go in his stomach, then it's obvious that he has become a chicken with a small stomach [i.e. very narrow-minded].
Moreover, making a steamed bun is obviously not a good decision, for coarse food grain is turned into high quality flour. If it was me, I would see what stale food I had at home and immediately take it out and get a talented person to turn it into wheat-flour and rice, which might bring both fame and fortune.
Self-mockery is a weapon of all intelligent people. Especially when they meet difficulties, self-mockery can instruct, and help them out of a predicament. Being ridiculed by other people is a painful thing, but people like Lu Xun who are merciless with bad people even when they are down are rare, most people will fogive a wrongdoer a way out and laugh the problem away.
This post is the end of a vow of silence. So now our LE magazine editors have no mercy on me, not about this: they have already urged me to write a 'Steamed Bun Q&A' for the March issue of the magazine. I ask everyone to read the March issue of the magazine. If you feel that we are coarse grain, you are welcome to trample us into a steamed buns.
Lastly, I must apologize to the parties concerned, but if I restrained myself from talking I think I'd get cancer from the effort.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.