Kaiser and Sinica on This American Life (www.thisamericanlife.org)
posted by trevelyan on June 25, 2012 | 15 comments
Quick heads up for anyone who hasn't heard that Kaiser Kuo and the Sinica show are featured on this week's This American Life, as part of an overall show on Americans in China.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/467/americans-in-china

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华金 on June 26, 2012 | reply
Fascinating listen. It was really interesting hearing Kaiser's story in particular. I think the running theme of wanting desperately to blend seamlessly into Chinese culture, only to encounter a "STOP" sign along the way popping up abrutly, so to speak, really resonated with me. Try as we may, foreigners will always be foreigners. As an Argentine who lived in England from the age of thirteen and speaks with a British accent, has a taste for British music and a British sense of humour, people were often dumbfounded to hear I wasn't British. Though I retained my Argentine-ness as an inextricable part of my identity, I managed simultaneously to blend in seamlessly and be treated the same as anyone.

Yet no mater how well-acquainted I may become with Chinese culture, be it contemporary, traditional, or even ancient, or how fluently I speak the language, or how long I've lived here, or how many Chinese friends I make, I will always be a foreigner to China.

On another note, I think the part that touched me the most was when Kaiser told the story of the lead singer saying "We will no longer be bullied by America" and turning to give him a distinct look as though the statement was meant for him. And just like that, a friendship of over a decade could fade in away in an instant.

I have no idea how close they remained after that, but I've seen that happen between Chinese people who have been not just friends, but comrades if you will, for years. Yet, a single utterance can threaten to shatter a friendship that has been fostered and held tight since their teenage years and which lasted well into adulthood.

Perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree, and maybe my experiences are not representative. But if they are, where do they stem from? Could it be the importance of guanxi, that when the "value" of a frienship is spent, it's deemed no longer necessary? I'd be really interested to know not only what other foreigners think of that, but also what Echo and Amber's thoughts are.

EDIT: About the TV part, I was also interviewed for local TV during the Dragon Boat Festival last year. I spoke in English, and had a translator. I never watched it, but my Chinese friends saw it and said I was portrayed as an American who was giving away free gifts to some orphans - none of which is true. It was a truly bizarre experience!
amber on June 27, 2012 | reply
首先要说一点,kaiser这件事发生的时候,确实是一个特殊的时期。中国国内的媒体,包括美国的一些有影响的人都认为这件事不是意外,而是因为中国支持了“不该支持”的国家。不过不管是意外还是故意,普通的中国人看到的是:所有他们可以接触到的媒体都说这不是意外(90年代末还没有vpn,中国人还看不到cnn的说法)。所以,大多数中国人那个时候情绪很激动我觉得是可以理解的。

当然了,每个国家都有极端的人,中国有十好几亿人,在极端的时期(大使馆被炸)、特别的地方(中国的首都)、特别的地点(游行聚集点),肯定聚集着好多极端的人。在那种时候那种地方想找一个理智思考的人简直是缘木求鱼。

确实,一旦涉及到和别的国家的矛盾,我有时候也觉得和有一些我的同胞没办法沟通,他们根本不听,总觉得外国人要“欺负”中国人。可是大多数的中国人还是讲道理的,没有那么极端,也不会莫名其妙就和朋友翻脸。所以如果你碰到的是不讲道理的中国朋友,那友情破裂就破裂吧,也没什么。但如果是真的朋友,就算有的时候意见不一样,甚至吵上一架,真的友情也不会因为一句话就破裂的。我觉得这不是因为关系没有价值了。

关于电视节目的问题,你说的是事实,现在很多电视节目还是这么干,我也很郁闷。。。

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com
华金 on June 29, 2012 | reply
@Amber,

Great reply! I agree with everything you say, but if after ten years you can't call someone a true friend, when can you?

On another note, I'm still waiting to hear your 古筝的歌曲! :)
amber on June 29, 2012 | reply
@华金,

我也不知道了,这个问题比较困难......

My music is not a 古筝曲, it's a Chinese style song. Do you still want it?
华金 on June 29, 2012 | reply
Yes! I really love traditional Chinese music. If you want I can show you some of my songs, although you probably won't like them, haha!
Echo on June 29, 2012 | reply
@华金,

我想听你的歌 :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
华金 on June 29, 2012 | reply
真的吗?我不好意思。我觉得我歌曲的风格有点儿奇怪,就是一种hiphop歌和老歌的mix. Its difficult for me to say in Chinese: basically I take old songs, cut them into small pieces, then stitch them together in different ways, add drums, effects and make them into hip hop instrumentals. Usually hip hop songs have rappers, but most of mine don't, so to most people they sound a bit repetitive. But if you still want to listen to them, I'll gladly send you a couple! :)
amber on June 29, 2012 | reply
@华金,

放上来听听呗!~

华金 on June 29, 2012 | reply
好吧,我把歌曲放在哪儿呢?
Echo on June 30, 2012 | reply
@华金,

有没有一个link?

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
华金 on June 30, 2012 | reply
I don't have a link. Can I put it on zshare or Dropbox? If not, I can just email them to you! :)
Echo on July 2, 2012 | reply
@华金,

那你发email给Amber吧,amber@popupchinese.com,她会分享给我们大家。期待听到你的歌 :)

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
1527554064 on July 1, 2012 | reply
这期节目不 翻 墙 下不了。
1527554064 on July 1, 2012 | reply
这期节目不 翻 墙 下不了。
amber on July 3, 2012 | reply
@华金

对,发给我吧!:)

--Amber

amber@popupchinese.com