Monday, September 25, 2006
"Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot..."

I was sitting last night, eating my dinner in the hotel dining area and reading the book I bring with me to help me ignore the inavertible stares of my fellow Chinese diners when, for the first time, I noticed that the dining room had music piped in from their overhead speakers. I paused up from my reading (A History Of Warfare by John Keegan - highly recommended if you haven't read it, it's my second time around), wondering if it was some new contemporary Chinese pop, or perhaps traditional gudai Chinese music which is often played in nicer restaurants (the Chinese answer to American elevator music, except much more interesting to listen to). But as I squinted and listened more closely, I realized it was neither of those things. I was listening to Auld Lang Syne. For those of you unfamiliar with the title (but probably familiar with the song itself), it is a song commonly sung at New Years' celebrations after the clock has struck midnight. Next came, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. And I wondered for a bit. This is not the first time I've come across the Chinese phenomenon of playing seasonal music from the States or Europe at the wrong time of year or playing music inappropriate for a given venue (i.e. playing rap music with explicit lyrics in a mall with kids running around). What could be the explanation for these musical choices? Two ideas popped into my head: 1) They have no clue what the songs that they're playing are and just assume that Western music is Western music; 2) They know exactly what kind of music they're playing, but so badly want to be playing Western music that they're somehow okay with playing whatever they've got, figuring that no Chinese person would recognize the song anyway. I sincerely hope it's neither and that some third explanation emerges from the woodwork. The first makes them seem ignorant, the second desperate and I know the Chinese to be neither, especially with regards to international pop culture. And yet the phenomenon exists.
I wonder if it ties into the cultural habit of mingling with and borrowing from Western culture without research (and yes, I am aware that this is a mass generalization - but if you had seen the amount of distorted Western cultural references and mistaken uses of Western terminology, figures, and ideas that I've seen, you'd say the same).

*Just as a note, I know that the post below is from the 23rd not the 25th, but I had to cut and paste it into the new website today as I have changed the address from the old site and would like to have one condensed blog instead of two.
posted by Rachel @ 3:07 PM  
THE WILD WILD EAST: Everything you never knew you didn't know about life on the other side.
In China, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Chinese, who call this land "home," and the expats who migrate here. My name is Rachel. I am an expat. These are my stories.
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This is a satirical site intended for the entertainment of an online audience. None of the features on this site are real (except in my own distorted view of reality), nor are they intended to harm the subjects mentioned. This site uses fictional names in all its stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized or when I choose to use this site as a platform for someone's public humiliation (usually my own). Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental (or purposeful, but with good reason).

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