Saturday, July 6, 2013

So, do I have a Taiwan State of Mind, or am I the weirdo here?

This seems to be making it big across the blogz and Facebook.

I'll admit, I liked it. Especially the first half. It was cute, well-done, fun, didn't take itself too seriously, and didn't shy away from political truths.

"You should know I bleed green, but I ain't that D-double-P though...Chinese Taipei? Fuck that, you got it all wrong. Taiwan Independence, yo, I'm from Taichung!"

Down with it!

But they lost me at the second half, which was basically a verse and a chorus all about Taiwanese women. 

I'm down with appreciating Taiwanese women. Nothing wrong with liking them. Nothing wrong with including them in a song. But did it have to be half the song? Half a verse would have been better. And of that, all of it was about their appearance (long legs, "city of skin", fake eyelashes). The parts that weren't were about them shopping and using smartphones out in public (I liked the part about the betelnut girls - they're such a part of the culture here that I don't have it in me to get a stick up my butt about them). Seems to me there's more to Taiwanese women than their appearance.

And anyway, what about Taiwanese men? I appreciate them in an "I'm married, so even though they can be good looking I'm not interested" way (I blog about 'em a lot because they don't seem to get enough positive press). You couldn't have half a verse about them?

And finally, they couldn't find anything else to say about Taiwan that could have taken up a bit more song space, so you had to devote half the song to Taiwanese women, their looks and their phones?

I guess, as a woman whose Taiwanese female friends are mostly very smart, independent, fun women whose whole selves total far more than their looks, and who didn't come here for the women (I'm straight), devoting half the song to dating Taiwanese girls (and how good Taiwanese girls look) just lost me. I don't relate. The first half of the verse was fun, but by the end I felt it was a bit objectifying. And I do feel at times the (mostly male) expat community tends to objectify Taiwanese women. Not everyone does this, and certainly not every expat man with a Taiwanese girlfriend or wife does it (I'd never imply that), but it happens enough that this made me a bit uncomfortable.

In some ways I guess my Taiwan experience hasn't mirrored the typical bullet list - if you asked me to write a song about it, first I'd laugh at you, but once I stopped laughing it would include little shout outs to festivals, more about food, Hakka culture, men's Japanese hairdos, weird-ass t-shirts, aboriginal culture and hanging out in mountain towns like Lishan with old people. This is a country in which some people get possessed by deities and beat themselves with spiked clubs, and they couldn't find anything else to rap about for the second half of the song?

It's not totally related to the topic, but close enough that I'll say it here: I do feel like a bit of an outlier in the "international" scene in Taiwan (I don't just mean expats, plenty of locals are in it too, for a variety of reasons). It does feel like it's kind of city-centric and party-centric - hopping between the major west coast points and occasionally visiting the touristy rural areas, without venturing far into the non-touristy ones. Where the main events in life are Ladies' Night, Friday nights out, partying in Kending in the summer, a couple of well-known bars, dating Taiwanese women, restaurants and clubs aaaand...that's about it. It's all "yeah, tonight it's On Tap, maybe I'll see you tomorrow. Girlfriend wants to go to Barcode, maybe before that we can grab some tai-pis at 7-11...naw bro, next week I'm in Taichung, you know how it is, then it's Kending, that'll be awesome, my girlfriend's calling, talk to you later bro". In the interest of not sounding like a total loser, I won't dwell on how "I'm not anti-party! I go out too!" and stick with "...that's fun to a point, but it doesn't do it for me as a lifestyle". And the video, while fun and well-done, did sort of portray Taiwan through "international culture" rather than local eyes.

So maybe that's why I was all in toward the first half of the video and toward the second half my  usual feeling of not fitting in with that culture came back.

Dunno. Maybe I'm just boring.

1 comment:

K said...

I'll join you in being a weirdo. I too enjoyed the first half of the video, and then kind of hated it by the end of the second half.