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China...do you hate movies and TV?

Popularity 9Viewed 10918 times 2016-4-1 12:00 |Personal category:foreign perspective|System category:Life| especially, function, partner, recently, learning

China..do you hate movies and TV? by Sean Boyce 柏笑恩

labixiaoxin (crayon chin chin)


I watch tv and movies, I wouldn't say a lot but quite a bit. I find it a great tool for language learning especially when you don't even have a partner. Why only this morning watching 蜡笔小新(crayon chin chin) did I learn what 反对党 meant. But recently, since the last month or two, I have noticed a new function added to video sites like tudou, this function is called 弹幕(dan mu)where you can type messages and they will appear on the screen of you and everyone else watching and it brought to light a few questions I wish to ask Chinese people regarding watching tv and movies. 

This is what your screen looks like with 弹幕,how can you watch a tv show like this?


I wish to ask this, why is it so many Chinese people SKIP half of the tv show or movie they are watching? And why are so many people using the 弹幕 on sites like tudou? How can you possibly pay attention to what you are watching if you are reading and replying to random strangers watching the show?  Do you not find it irritating?

Basically, why are you not paying attention to movies and tv shows that you are watching?

I find this ridiculous and yet I see people just skipping half a movie or tv show just to "get past the talking", for me the movie or tv show should be about the build up to the story, the character development, the artistic creation of the sets but it seems instant gratification through actions scenes is whats on call for the younger Chinese generations and I find this hard to take in. For me, I want to appreciate the movie, in the same way as I can appreciate art or music.  I want to watch it all, see what the director left for us to see and I notice this happens a lot in western tv and movies. In fact, after watching anything I always go straight to IMDB (the internet movie database) to find out the trivia facts, see if there was anything the director left in there as a fun bonus.  Below are some of the things I have thought about in regards to Chinese watching tv and movies.

1. How can you not appreciate a good movie or tv show...or even a bad one?

There are many examples of some great bonuses directors hide within their movies yet if you skip the movie, many of these you won't get to see. It detracts from the overall experience of the film.


The shining:
 a phenomenal movie technically speaking (I am surprisingly not that fan of it as a viewer but can appreciate it from an artistic point of view). Stanley Kubrick when filming this movie goes to so many lengths to confuse the viewer, rotating carpets in between shots, creating false walls and removing them, putting red objects in every scene, adding and removing chairs from every scene, changing the colour of the car to annoy Stephen King (The Original author). But skipping past a movie like this so you can see the ending means you don't get the full effect, that feeling of "something isn't right here but I don't know what".


Fight club:
This movie is a work of genius, Directed by David Fincher, all throughout the movie you see the dialogue of the 2 main characters, one thinking the other is insane, them fighting each other, only to realise they are the same person. Without watching through the movie you don't get that feeling at the end of "oh god, how did I not notice that" 


 Anything by Tarantino:
Tarantino movies I find hilarious, mainly as Tarantino tries to create a dialogue with the viewer, breaking the fourth wall in a way. In "Inglorious Basterds" after carving a swastika onto the head of a nazi, The character (Brad Pitt if memory serves me well) goes onto say: "you know, I think this is my best one yet". This is Tarantino's way of praising himself, he is talking about his own film. He also often adds his own films into the background of others films, for example in reservoir dogs, you can see one of his other films playing in the background. On top of this you can appreciate the difficult of filming reservoir dogs as almost 99% of the movie is filmed in one room!!!!

2. Why is it in China that popular movies have little to no story?

I have noticed a recurring trend in China, the movies that make it big there are big for special effect reasons (Fast and the furious 7, Transformers etc...) and yet the more clever and interesting movies have not really been heard of, things like momento, inception, the matrix, in China they had nowhere near the popularity of "Transformers 10; robots killing robots with shia lebouef.“ I find this so hard to fathom. 

3. What happened to peoples attention spans?

It seems in China that many people's attention spans in regards to movies has dropped massively. I remember sitting watching Star wars and half the audience was sitting on their phones. They then all got confused when they find out that Kylo ren is han solo's son, they were like "who is Han solo"

And I am sitting there seething with rage thinking:
"He was literally introduced to the story 5 minutes ago, how can you not get this"

But this is what I initially misunderstood. It's not that many don't get it, they merely don't pay attention. they are spending more times on their phones while in the cinema watching movies. Other issues include watching tv on sites like tudou where they end up engaging more in the conversation with strangers on 弹幕. If you have went to tudou to watch a film, don't waste your time writing and reading strangers messages. I feel like you are wasting your time. There are so many other ways to talk to strangers, but messaging random "hahaha labixiaoxin is so stupid" while watching it seems so unnecessary. We are all watching the same tv show, I do not need a "stating the obvious" commentary to go along with it. Are attention spans so short now that people prefer to just have noise on in the background while writing pointless comments to strangers?

4. I have never spoken to a chinese movie buff.


One thing I meet a lot in the west is a movie buff (就是超级喜欢电影的人的意思). I am a minor movie buff, I am still not into movies in quite the same way as some of my friends yet for all my time in China, I don't think I have ever met a movie buff. The conversation about hobbies always comes up with new people and many tell me their hobbies include movies and tv. I then ask who is their favourite director....and all I get is silence. Talking about favourite actors in China basically boils down to "I like (insert actors name) because he/she is pretty. 
No one cares about their acting ability and in fact, I think this may be one of the reasons I have such a hard time enjoying Chinese movies as so many of the famous actors...ARE VERY BAD ACTORS. It looks so false it is painful, it's like watching a bad nativity play production and yet you just paid 90 yuan for it. I actually do know some great Chinese films complete with great actors, one such example is 钢的琴, (The piano in the factory I think in English?). This was a phenomenal story about the problems being poor in China, how relationships really work and the efforts a parent will go to for their child. However all the actors were "ugly" (They look like real people) and the film completely bombed in China...while getting praise from abroad. I do not understand how this film is not more famous than it is.

Is it possible that bad Chinese films are the reason no one really cares nor is interested in films in China?


So please, to the Chinese on here I wish to ask what are your feelings on what I wrote? Please don't be offended, I am in fact very curious. Maybe I am misunderstanding or maybe it's a big cultural difference, I don't know. But I wish to hear your thoughts. 


Please feel free to join in the debate and leave comments below. If you wish to share this article please quote my name. 
请你们在下面写你们的想法。文明发表言论,转发注明出处


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-4-2 04:56
I find China a cultural waste-land when it comes to and tv.
There are so many brilliant films with, as you say, great plots, characters, twists, revelations, and cinema is over 100 years old.
Yet the most popular ones in China are basically chewing-gum for the brain: bland pretty people being drama-queens (male and female), dull stories that are all gazing out windows or looking at flowers or being self-obsessed, explosions tacked on one after the other, stories that would not hold up to any serious examination or 'offend feelings'.

Some of the most powerful films are years old - just re-watched 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
And then to have a night out in a cinema ruined by 'juvenile' adults who can not sit still or remain quiet.
Why would you bother go to the cinema if you are going to chat on your phone?

TV in China is no better.
just variations on meaningless drama's of one sort or another.
Thankfully I stocked up on Nordic Noir.

Sean
check out 'Borgen', 'The Killing' and 'Trapped' (amongst others) if you can.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-2 12:40
BlondeAmber: I find China a cultural waste-land when it comes to and tv.
There are so many brilliant films with, as you say, great plots, characters, twists, revel ...
I agree completely and I also find this a hindrance to language learning. If I am interested in a languages films and tv, I pick the language up a lot quicker (spanish done it for me) yet I struggled to find something, anything I could relate to in Chinese film and tv.

Chewing gum for the brain is a pretty apt description, I will need to remember that haha

And yes, the one time I nearly got into a fight in china was at a cinema where this man child kept kicking my chair after I asked him politely not to do so five times. I lost my temper with him in the middle of the cinema and it almost escalated.

As for nordic noir I have never seen it before but I shall definitely be having a look at your recommendations.
Reply Report voice_cd 2016-4-4 10:54
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it in our blog homepage!
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-4 16:08
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted it in our blog homepage!
Thanking you!
Reply Report SEARU 2016-4-4 16:10
Yes, I hate TV! As a science teacher, I know how the TV-set could offer you wonderful pictures and I never allow my son and myself to spend too much time on dramas since that would be a waste of time!
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-4 16:12
SEARU: Yes, I hate TV! As a science teacher, I know how the TV-set could offer you wonderful pictures and I never allow my son and myself to spend too much t ...
I think though, some tv can be very educational.

You should try watching human planet (中文叫人类的世界), it is a documentary about humans living in strange places by the BBC, One of my favourite documentaries of all time and very educational
Reply Report SEARU 2016-4-4 16:22
seanboyce88: I think though, some tv can be very educational.

You should try watching human planet (中文叫人类的世界), it is a documentary about humans living in ...
Of course,few of them are worth watching!  Thanks for recommending!
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-4-4 18:03
seanboyce88: I agree completely and I also find this a hindrance to language learning. If I am interested in a languages films and tv, I pick the language up a lot ...
it makes me laugh when people mistake what they see on TV or in films as reality - especially about people from other countries.
or they use tv as a basis for how to behave.

Korean and Chinese dramas have a lot to answer for when it comes to the emotionally juvenile behaviour I encounter with Uni. students.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-4 19:40
BlondeAmber: it makes me laugh when people mistake what they see on TV or in films as reality - especially about people from other countries.
or they use tv as a b ...
It makes me laugh but at the same time I find it frightening that people believe so easily...

And yes, these dramas are the worst, I have no idea how people can stand them and yet they are so surprisingly successful.
Reply Report Min1989 2016-4-5 17:33
In my opinion, I think it is because to many Chinese people especially Chinese young people, they regard watching movies as a way of entertainment. Therefore they do not really like movies which may upset them or need serious thinking. They kind of want to have a moment detached from reality.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-5 20:27
Min1989: In my opinion, I think it is because to many Chinese people especially Chinese young people, they regard watching movies as a way of entertainment. Th ...
Nice point!
Reply Report BlondeAmber 2016-4-5 22:09
seanboyce88: Nice point!
this would tie in with a comment directed at me quite often:

'you think too much'

lack of introspection and reflection, along with being uncritical creates a very passive, superficial society that sticks it's head in the ground when it comes to solving problems.
Reply Report AndrewCraven 2016-4-7 10:46
I would introduce Mr. Six and 1942 to you, as being directed by Mr. Feng Xiaogang I think they represent China's best films in recent years.
Chinese people are more fascinated by comic movies , I just don't why.
Reply Report seanboyce88 2016-4-7 15:54
AndrewCraven: I would introduce Mr. Six and 1942 to you, as being directed by Mr. Feng Xiaogang I think they represent China's best films in recent years.
Chinese  ...
thanks for the recommendations, I will definitely give them a look!
Reply Report animalfarmer 2016-5-22 22:00
people go to movies for different reasons, some for the special effects, some for the actors or directors, but I can assure you that there r people for criticising the bad special effects, bad acting or bad stories.
Reply Report Donald_Trump 2016-5-23 23:37
I will not have my family mindlessly sitting around the telephone watching tv all day!    <---man, none of these emoticons look like me, so please pardon the weird expression on my face. I could never do that naturally lol

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