Young and Restless in China

this blogpost is a response to another blogpost.

Young and Restless in China

Young and Restless in China

Young and Restless in China is a documentary film, a part of the Frontline series that profiles the lives of several young Chinese people. Entrepreneurs, hip-hop rappers, and lawyers, the film portrays the unique scenarios and lives that these people have led that symbolize a changing, “new,” China. Frontline is supported by PBS. The following are some responses pertaining to this film, showing examples of few of the figures that appear in this production.

Ben Wu is an entrepreneur who launched his own internet café in China as portrayed in the movie, bringing about an innovative market in a developing country. Although the internet is not well established throughout China, Ben Wu’s internet café is an effort to begin a “new Starbucks,” he says, bringing about a large scale commercial establishment of internet cafés. I think he represents the “new” China in the very fact that he is bringing about a modern establishment, the internet, into China from the experiences he had outside of China. Among the many “returning turtles,” Ben Wu returned with formal education from America, applying the entrepreneurship common outside of China, aspiring to develop something like Starbucks—an American success. With the globalization spreading its influence through the media such as the internet, the “new” China is characterized by the influx of foreign culture, education and business; and Ben Wu’s entrepreneurship is no exception.

Ben Wu

Ben Wu

The Chinese generation profiled in the clip consists of mainly two generations. One of recent college graduates with degrees pursuing careers in their late twenties and early thirties, and that of students who have not yet graduated college but working in China. Nevertheless, the figures that appear in the film are relatively young, and differ from the traditional earlier generations of China. Historically, this young generation lived in a very active country in a global scale with its economy growing at the fastest rate and events such as the Beijing Olympics attracted worldwide attention. Socially, this young generation is more prone to the foreign cultures through the worldwide media, namely the internet. Economically, China now has more opportunities for entrepreneurship and capitalism, although limited than before. These three characteristics allow the young generation referred to in this film to flourish; the rapper Wang Xiaolei expresses his feelings through western hip-hop music in Chinese and entrepreneurs such as Ben Wu apply western enterprises in China for innovation. The younger generation seems to have a more global mindset compared to the older ancestries who were more limited in their connections to the foreign world. But it is inevitable that both generations are inherently Chinese, and maintain some Chinese traditional values that hinder them from living full western-style lives. To conclude, I think the primary difference in the two generations is well shown in this quote that describes the new generation: “get rich fast and enjoy it while you’re young.”

Wang Xiaolei

Wang Xiaolei is a relatively young Chinese profiled in this film who indulges himself in hip-hop music, mixing the western teenage culture with Chinese values and perspectives. Although the music with its characteristic beat and style are primarily western, Wang Xiaolei sings in Chinese, expressing his point of view as a Chinese citizen in a Chinese society. Through his songs he describes the inherent traditions and values in the society. His struggles as an artist were primarily economic. Being involved in the music industry is always a costly career in any society mainly due to the variety of efforts that must be taken to synthesize a song. Then a song must be purchased and commercially successful in the markets in order for an artist to primarily succeed. With the internet causing copyright problems along with numerous other factors, economic strain is typical of any artist’s life worldwide. I think that Wang Xiaolei’s economic struggles are not unique as a rapper. But as a Chinese citizen, I think his struggles in pursuing a career as a hip-hop artist is unique. Hip-hop is not yet an accepted culture in China and most probably comprises a small portion in the music industry, yet Wang Xiolei passionately pursues a career that may someday lead a culture revolution.


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