Tuesday, June 05, 2007
A Slice of American Pie

First there was humble pie. Then came its cousin, hypocritical pie. But what's the one we all know and love? American pie, baby. Don McLean, red-white-and-blue, Old Glory-style American pie. I know my audience gets a whole lot of China through this American's [gorgeous and all-seeing] eyes, but rarely on this blog do you - the viewers - get the flip side: the Chinese perspective on America.

I decided to ask a couple questions to get opinions on the current state of American pop culture and I swear to you, it turned into an episode of Jay-walking. Or I guess in this case, Rachel-walking. Nope. Doesn't sound as good. Don't worry - I'll think of something.

In the meanwhile, my "interviews" (which were conducted in Chinese, by the way - go me!) went something like this:

(the names have been abbreviated to protect the innocent)

Rachel: So what do you all think about Paris Hilton going to jail?
J: Who's Paris Hilton?
A: I think she's stupid. How do you not know that when your license is suspended, you're not supposed to drive? I barely speak any English and even I know that!
C: I think she's pretty but that she doesn't treat herself right. I'm sure parties are fun, and I know she's rich, but what about self-respect?
Rachel: Good question. I have no good answer.
C: She should come to China. I could teach her.
Rachel: Teach her what exactly?
C: How to be normal and nice to people and be part of a community.
Rachel: Do you think it's too late for that now?
C: Maybe. I mean she made that sex video and the DUI and that music CD she made.
Rachel: I like how you put her music in with her public image problems. Moving along, have any of you heard of Scientology?
All: No.
Rachel: It's a religion that's talked about a lot in the magazines. Tom Cruise and John Travolta are both in it. Here I'll try to explain it...

Insert: I spent about twenty-five minutes trying to explain all about Xenu and the falling to Earth and the e-meters, but I think somewhere along the way the explanation turned into a seventh installment of Star Wars in which Luke Skywalker joins a cult to subconciously lash out at the father who abandoned him and seeks to drain the universe of its financial solvency to support his new choice of "spiritual outlet."

Rachel: ...and so you see, Tom Cruise went all crazy and married Katie Holmes after interviewing her for a "movie role," and then some weird stuff happened. This led to an [hilarious] episode of the show South Park that further emphasized the public's view that Scientology followers are part of a crazy religion that only wants to grub money off its loyal worshippers, that are often celebrities.
C: That seems stupid.

Insert: I couldn't have said it better myself.

Rachel: Okay, next question. Have any of you seen stories about the Rosie O'Donnell-Donald Trump feud?
A: I read about that. Honestly, Donald Trump is ugly, so he shouldn't be so arrogant just because he can buy other people's love.
J: Isn't that the guy whose hair is falling off?
Rachel: Yep, that's the one.
J: He is ugly. But I like The Apprentice a lot. His daughter's hot.
C: Who's his daughter?
Rachel: Ivanka Trump.
J: Trust me, she's hot.
Rachel: Do any of you know about the fighting between him and Rosie O'Donnell? She's a comedienne who was on a show called The View where she made fun of him. Then they just started fighting in the news.
C: Was any of what they said true?
Rachel: I'm sure some of it was.
C: And they fought in public?
Rachel: Yep.
C: They need to find a hobby.
Rachel: You should tell THEM that. You'd be doing all of America a great service. Finally, what do you think of American music right now?
A: I like punk music. I like Blink-182 and Linkin Park.
J: I've been listening to that also. I love Blink-182. And Silverchair.
C: I like some of it, but I mostly listen to Chinese music. I don't understand English well enough.

Rachel plays Maroon 5's new single "Makes Me Wonder" and Lily Allen's "Ldn" for them.

C: I like the tunes, but I don't understand the song.
J: I like punk! The first one was okay, but the second one was too slow.
A: Yeah, it's too slow. Play punk rock!

Good thing I didn't break out the Dylan. If they dissed Bob Dylan for singing "too slow" I might've had to get physical.

So, there you have it. I like some of their responses quite a bit. Especially the one about Donald Trump's hair. Perhaps there's something to be said for being an objective observer. I sorta feel that way now. Whatever news I do read is from too far a distance to feel real. So this is "pop culture" at its finest, huh? Maybe I'll make this "Chinese man-on-the-street intervew" a regular installment. I mean, it's not like American pop culture will find itself in a stupidity shortage anytime soon.
posted by Rachel @ 1:33 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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