Archive | August 2006

Some Chinese Flava’

I saw the MV for Jay Chou’s new single 千里之外. You can check it out below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F_e4BandqM

It’s a weird mix of different periods of Chinese history. The MV is that old Shanghai style from the early 1900s during the emergence of modern China through the revolutions. The guy who is singing on stage is 费玉清 a popular singer from the seventies.

If you go to this blog and play the song off it’s embedded player, Jay will come out and say that it’s important for him to include a song with some Chinese flava’ in every album. To me, it was always implied that his music was already infused with some flava’ because of his personal background. What’s interesting is all the newer Chinese pop artists will have their token Chinese flava’ song loaded with all the traditional instruments and occasional screeching from Beijing opera.

My first inclination is to blame it on the globalization of music – how people in all parts of the world are listening to the same annoying crap from the US and pretentious white crunk from the UK. Artists (and music lovers) in Taiwan may be feeling a little overwhelmed and lost when they ask themselves: where do you fit in the global music scene?

One artist – American born Wang Leehom – reinvented his already solid career to address this issue by rebranding his music as chinked out. Hear him explain it in his own words here (he speaks English). As you listen to him talk about his music and his logic for why he does what he does, it becomes very apparent that he’s much more methodical about spicing up his music with some flava’ and it shows in his music and MVs. Check out this MV for 花田错:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruCXTls3IlQ

If you go and pull all of Jay and Leehom’s flava’ infused MVs, you’ll notice a pattern where Jay’s stuff is really using Chinese culture as a backdrop to tell a story where as with Leehom’s stuff it looks like an expository or a showcase. I think the difference is in how comfortable each guy is with Chinese culture. Obviously, Leehom is the one grasping for his roots in his situation.

Now admittedly, there are a lot of factors that go into Leehom’s popularity so I can’t say that people are only listening because they are embracing this chinked out thing. But, like I said earlier, in the face of globalization and cultural mashups everywhere, you can’t say that these sudden changes are not creating a need for some people to explore the past and make sure they have safe footing before charging ahead. It looks like everyone is grapsing for their roots.

3D Urban Street Art

 This is cool. Find more at Urban Installation.

The Christian Marketing Program

I went out to go look for some stuff for a project. On my way back, I was going through an alley when a guy stopped to ask me: “Are you Korean?”

I was surprised that it took a week for someone to ask me that. But, our conversation was amicable until it drifted towards Christianity. Here the guy started getting a little more aggressive and poignant with his questions and was clearly in attack mode (convert that heathen!). Soon enough I just asked him: “Are you recruiting or something?” in which he backed down and left me alone.

Now I understand that not every Christian sees me as a potential convert. I have friends who are Christian and some of them haven’t even bothered trying. But what does astound me is how fast this religion is growing and how sophisticated they are in converting people. I think they’ve got it right: it’s all about being opportunistic.

A while ago, I met a guy who was preparing to go on a mission to Africa where he would dig wells and teach the basics of first aid to people in the area. He says he’s also going to hang around with this Bible to lure the curious in as well, but the idea and execution itself is pretty sweet.

It is behavioral targeting at its best. They are going into areas and situations where things are terrible and offering hope. In parts of Africa where years of civil war and drought have created hell on earth, all you need is a pulse to understand the desperation of the people. If Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is still a hip thing to refer to, these people are on the bottom rung, with self actualization far away from their minds. But as the services help guide them up the ladder, they do so with Christianity as a crutch- both as a metaphorical and literal reminder.

This is preditory. These people are in no position to think critically about what they are getting themselves into. And once they are in, they can never get out because they’ve been conditioned into thinking Christianity saved them and not the goodwill of their fellow man.

Now, I’m not saying that Christians have no right to be doing the things they’re doing. In fact, I’m more upset with the Jihadists for not being right there with the Christians trying to win the hearts and minds of the masses. How great would that be? A war of who digs the best wells and the farms the best corn.

Tips from Alumni of the Adcenter #10

I hope a planner can do a lot of background research and just give me simple insights back. Also I like to have planners in brainstroming but you gotta let the creatives feel like they have the last say. I don’t like planners who overpower the group with their jargon. Hm… try not to think of yourself as a planner but as a creative who plans. Who you? You can do all your stuff but when you are with the creatives just provide all you’ve learned through simple communication. Also stay from start to finish.

The Macro Psychology of China

Last night I had the opportunity to have a long rambling conversation with two of the second year planners. As usual, the topics meandered but one of them mentioned that the rate at which third world countries become first world countries has been halved for each new comer. The new kid on the block is China and he mentioned that the country’s new found wealth will affect its own culture and society (and perhaps the world) in unpredictable ways because of the intensity of its growth. 

It was a very cool observation, but as soon as I agreed, red flags went up in my head. Sorry man.

I don’t think the future of China, accounting for it’s influx of wealth, is as mysterious as we think it is. The big thing being that we know what China has done with incredible wealth in the past (the good old dynasty days) and we also know what the US has done with its incredible growth as well. Using their histories we can analyze their current states and make a very reasonable guess at what’s going to happen in the future.  

An old colleague introduced me to the Object Relations theory which can help me explain this better. Basically what it says is:  

Object relations theory is a modern adaptation of psychoanalytic theory that places less emphasis on the drives of aggression and sexuality as motivational forces and more emphasis on human relationships as the primary motivational force in life. Object relations theorists believe that we are relationship seeking rather than pleasure seeking as Freud suggested. The importance of relationships in the theory translates to relationships as the main focus of psychotherapy, especially the relationship with the therapist.

Additionally, if we think of China as a person with its own personality, consider this: 

This blueprint of a self-structure is formed early in life out of our relationships with the objects (significant others, and parts of significant others) around us. Once formed, the blueprint can be modified, but our basic tendency is to seek out others (friends, spouses) who will reaffirm these early self-object relationships. (bold added my me) It is as if in early childhood we create a script for a drama and then spent the rest of our lives seeking out others to play the parts. This does not mean the script cannot be changed. However, the more traumatic our early self-object relations, the more rigid and resistant to change we become.

Whether China’s history was traumatic or not is debatable because of the way the government handles those sensitive subjects. But in a way, we’re seeing that when they are denying some of those “more traumatic …early self-object relations” they are setting themselves up to be more fluid and open to change. But by denying it, they are in a sense acknowledging it as well. And the last lines from the paragraph chunk above would say that we can still make a pretty good guess at it.

Three Thoughts to Guide Me Through School

Now that I just finished my last day at work, I can spare some brain power to look ahead:

  1. Every agency (advertising and PR) in Seattle has told me to go away and leave them alone. Hopefully after VCU Adcenter, I can get through the front door before they tell me to go away and leave them alone.
  2. Someone told me that people like me need to be two times better than my peers to get a job and four times better than them to keep it.
  3. If I knew anything about advertising I wouldn’t be here, I would already be working.  

Tips From Alumni of the Adcenter #9

And that’s what you’re going to find about this business, everyone has different opinions and experiences and things that work best for them. Just go, have a blast, try to do some killer work, and know that in the end you’ll emerge very very employable.