The Power of Pop Culture

Next we went to Shi Qiao village, center of paper making; we saw how this is done. My class field project is looking at mythic and folklore motifs in ethnic art (I figure I may also get a future Mythcon paper out of this). But, after this second village visit, I decide I will also add an informal second focus to my field journal, on pop culture infusions. All of the houses in Shi Qiao have Lunar New Year banners with appropriate scripts, and prints of one of the Eight Immortals. Inside, alongside portraits of family members and (sometimes) Chairman Mao, there are posters of pop stars. I dub the papermaking community “Nicholas Tse Village” (I also saw Jay Chou and Jimmy Lin, but more Nic). A view from above of any village rooftops includes a collection of satellite dishes, and everywhere we go there are grannies glued to their TVs, watching period dramas.

We drive onwards to Kaili, a small city (with some serious road construction that makes our arrival a bit too exciting) with a surprisingly bustling night life. After dinner several of us who are suffering from email withdrawal head off to find an internet cafe (2 yuan for one hour — that’s about 25 cents). Someone from HK has posted a report on about my bouquet presentation, so at least my friends know that I made it to Shanghai, to the theatre, and onto the stage. I wander back to the hotel, past the night market, noting the huge number of celebrity billboards at the main intersection. At breakfast next day I discover that Terry’s project involves advertising, so the two of us take our cameras to shoot some photos. I point out Tony Leung Ka Fei, the 12 Girls Band, Chen Daoming, Nicky Wu, and Shu Qi, all on that one corner, while Anthony Wong has a smaller ad lurking down in the pedestrian underpass (kinda fitting, I figure).

Nicky Wu

Nicky Wu, Chen Daoming and Shu Qi adorn a major Kaili intersection

Chen Daoming
Shu Qi

Elsewhere during our travels in Guiyang, we visited Datang (aka “Edison Chen Village” as there’s a billboard as well as the obligatory poster on a teenager’s bedroom door in the home we enter), a “short skirt” Maio village where we are given a lot more home brew and join in a dance performance.

Here is a montage of ad billboards, funky signs and other miscellaneous incursions of pop culture into daily life in Guizhou and Yunnan provinces.

Asian Movie Star Ad Invasion

Movie, sports, and pop music stars from Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan make big bucks advertising major international brands in China. However, I never saw a single poster featuring a Hollywood actor... (unlike in Japan, where such ads are evidently rampant).

Edison Chen Village Andy Lau Jet Li
Jay Chou Maggie Cheung

Top: Edison Chen Village billboard, Andy Lau in Guiyang, Jet Li in Old Town Dali.
Bottom: Nicky Wu in Kaili, Maggie Cheung in Zhongdian

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Naxi King of BeerCreative use of Naxi pictographs ... and here’s our favorite dongba in the Zhongdian airport!

The Dongba
Dragon and Phoenix
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