08 September 2008

the suck

one of the most profound moments yet of my trip came at a music store in one of hong kong's biggest malls, festival walk.  as i've said --- the mall is nearly exactly the same.  the same brands, the same superficiality, just the same garbage we eat up in america.  the only difference is that malls here build up, not out. 

i listened to some of the current music on sale at this music store.  above is what is, clearly, absolutely, unabashedly, japanese britney spears.  color that background pink, dress her a little more southern, and you're there.  and that's just the album cover.  the music is the same formula, as is the video, which i happened to catch on tv late the other night.  the music is bright, crisp, happy, dance-friendly, but really, most people like the visuals more than the listen.

it got worse.  i moved on and met korean backstreet boys --- same glossy production, same harmonies, same image --- and chinese evanescence.   evanescence!  what is this world coming to that we have to clone evanescence!  i was chilled.  

i did not expect that going to hong kong would be a journey to another planet.  i understand that people are people, the world over, and we all share very similar hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes.  but i really expected some regional difference.  is that so much to ask?  i doubt they listen much to spoon down in alabama, same as i have little patience for the toby keiths of the world.  so why doesn't hong kong have it's own, local, fresh music?  why must our crap be so slavishly copied and consumed?

granted, the music selection was not all faux american teeny boppers.  hong kong seems to have some patience for crooners, and a thing for sugary-sweet canto pop as well.  but you go out to the club, and the dj spins applebottom jeans.  you walk down the street, you see abercrombie shirts.  i knew we loved our cultural shit, but i didn't know that other countries loved it as much as we do.  it's a disease, and i fear it's spreading, and there's little we can do to stop it.  

everyone speaks english.  everyone.  i've met friends, not just from china, but from sweden, the netherlands, germany, austria, finland, denmark, spain, and the language we all have in common, that we all use to communicate, is english.  that's no new observation, clearly, but the visceral impact, first hand, is really powerful.  i really hope that a global language does not portend a global culture, a world without region difference, without place, without variety,  a world where nearly everyone fetishizes the same brands, eats the same junk, listens to, lives, loves, the same. exact. crap.  

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