So... Look who's on the cover? They call her Ziyi Zhang (--which is a whole issue unto itself. And just sounds wrong, I have to say). But they've chosen her as the face of modern China.
Zhang was also selected by Time Magazine last year as one of the world's 100 most influential people. Which strikes me as odd --sure, she's pretty, and she's crossed over. But I see no new ground broken and feel no influence. Please clue me if I'm missing something because i think they just wanted an Asian in their list and why not choose a young, hot one?
"Does the Future Belong to China?" the headlines ask. "In three years, [Starbucks will] probably have more cafes in China than in the United States," the article notes. Interesting measure of domination and progress.
I haven't read the whole 21 page China package, so I can only talk about the Zhang Ziyi stuff. "Zhang and her fellow Chinese filmmakers have added their own artistic accent to American movies, and have helped turn them into China's most powerful cultural export."
Okay, just a minute. ZZ is an actor, not a filmmaker. Am i just quibbling here? The article goes on to say that without Chinese cinema, there would be no Matrix, Jackie Chan, Tarantino, Bruce Lee or Jet Lee, no Face/Off, none of the "most thrilling martial-arts films ever made". Basically that's saying that without Chinese film, there would be no Chinese film or people (Matrix, Tarantino) who copy the most violent of Chinese film. Maybe that's why I love Newsweek. Never goes too deep.
So what it's basically celebrating with ZZ is the same old, same old. But wait! There's more! "Chinese cinema...is moving away from the traditional Hong Kong chop-sockey movies. All those wire-work acrobatics have become a bit passe'...." Wow! A white guy, Sean Smith, noticed!
Mr. Smith quotes Michael Barker (prez of Sony Pictures Classics) who predicts that ZZ will attain the kind of international stardom once enjoyed by Sophia Loren or Marcell Mastroianni. And he might very well be right. She's gorgeous, has some talent, and according to my inside sources, is a bitchy diva --all the ingredients for success. (I admit, I hate her because she's beautiful, but am totally fascinated, too.)
But of course mitigating my love-to-hatedness of ZZ is the celebration that ANY Asian woman is on the cover of a multi-millionly-distributed mainstream magazine. That ANY Asian woman was noticed as being influential. (Though it makes more sense to me to mention someone like the president of Avon, Andrea Jung, or even Sandra Oh. But that's just me.)
Of course, the undercurrent of the Newsweek stuff, just from reading the headlines, is one of fear. "How America Should Handle Unprecedented New Challenges, Threats -and Opportunities" reads the subhead. "What America Needs To Do... How to Handle China?" reads another. It describes the Chinese military threat, the hugeness of the country, the projection that Chinese will suprpass English on the internet by 2007.
What's it going to be like for America not to be the dominant cultural force in the world? Will all kids be required to study Chinese? Will the white people in this country totally freak outlike they already are in some radio stations? Will blue jeans be replaced with shapeless cotton clothing and pink florals paired with red plaid? Will we become the victims of even more hate crimes, Exclusion Acts, internments, and acts of "national security"?
Interesting questions those headlines and pull quotes raise. I'll get back to you after I've read the articles.