Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Taipei Election Posters

Updated with more photos!

I've been collecting photos for this post for awhile, and after being deeply amused by David's roundup of Taizhong posters, I've finally decided to publish them.

Mine are mostly leaflets and other thingoes rather than street posters, but street posters are also represented.

I love the one above, which is hawking a candidate and yet made to look like a piece of traditional-style calligraphy for one's door.

I can't get enough of Wang Zhengde's avatar - a bobblehead cartoon Popeye. If you see the free notepads he's giving out, there's a woman (I don't know who) in the likeness of Olive Oyl. NO JOKE. What strikes me about this is how it would never go over well in the USA. It would be considered downright infantile.

I am ashamed to admit that I don't know who the older woman here is - the one that Wang Xinyi is bowing to like she's the reincarnated Confucius. Anyone?

I've already posted this but because it's THE MOST HILARIOUS THING EVER, I'm posting it again.

Photo by Brendan

Yeh Linzhuan has apparently disavowed his earlier slogan of "Take the love and send it out" (a pun on his name - 把愛傳出來). Apparently being the KMT Hippie wasn't working out for him.

His old posters really were something - not only did he use "Take the love and send it out" as a slogan, but they were generally covered with rainbows, a smiling Yeh looking off into the distance, and occasionally a butterfly or flower or two.

Underneath his poster is Chen Yumei, who is probably KMT considering the blue color of the poster, but it doesn't actually say. The pink and the feminine, demure pose with sweet smile are also things that wouldn't work very well in American politics.

I have to say I admire one thing about Taiwan in particular this election year: in the USA, when women run for prominent offices they get tarred and feathered by every sexist comment one could conceive of (see: Clinton, Hillary and Palin, Sarah - though the latter deserved what she got. Regardless of her gender, she's a dangerous lout). Hillary got called "fat", "ugly" and "a battleaxe", or "riding on the coattails of her husband" (which was, y'know, somewhat true though not so much anymore). She was attacked as a woman, as a candidate and as a mother. Sarah Palin got the MILF and "I'd hit that" jokes.

That doesn't happen here, at least not in any significant way - not in any way that makes it into the newspapers. Nobody cares if a candidate is male or female; people may not like Tsai Ying-wen but those who dislike her do so on the basis of her party and her positions, not her genitalia. There is no question that if a woman ran for president in Taiwan, she may or may not be elected but if she doesn't come up triumphant, it won't be because she's female.

Of course, tell that to the high profile female names in the Taiwanese business world - they get the sexist treatment aplenty (except, notably, in finance, which I plan to cover in a later post).

Li Dahua is running with the Qingmingdang (People First Party) and we received this in the mail from his campaign. We get a lot of election mail - clearly they don't realize or care that we can't vote.

Notable things about this are as follows:

1.) OMG adorable KITTY!
2.) The People First Party still exists? Wow. Does anyone actually vote for them?
3.) That kitty looks like my kitty, except my kitty is more corpulent by several orders of magnitude.
4.) So he's trying to win votes by posing with an adorable kitty. Really. What's funny is that in Taiwan, this may actually work. In the USA not so much.


5.) I'm ashamed to admit it but I kept this flier because the kitty is adorable.

(from XKCD)

Yeah, yeah.

Notable about this green candidate's poster (she's photoshopped here with Su Zhenchang and Tsai Ying-wen, but I am fairly sure she's Taiwan Solidarity Union) is the background of gentle peaches and pinks with peach blossoms. Again, in the USA, no female candidate would run something like this.

A Taiwan Solidarity Union (Tai Lian) paper flag with a giant-headed brown ant screaming about how they want to serve the people. I love how the Japanese children's cartoon (as opposed to Japanese cartoons that are definitely not for children) aesthetic is so prominent in Taiwanese politics, of all places. "Yeah, let's stick an adorable bobble-head ant on it. People will vote for us! We could use an adorable kitty, but Li Dahua's already doing that."

Zhou Ni'an (周倪安), below, is on the other side of this flag. Her slogan is "Zhu Ni An" - which is a pun meaning "Wish You Peace" (祝你安).

I'm sorry, Zhou Ni'an (周倪安), but you look like a character from South Park. Specifically, your expression reminds me of Butters.

Moving on to the poster below of Tsai Ying-wen:

This is another one I've already posted, with pink and hearts and a cutesey slogan and all that, which I rather respect about Taiwanese politics. They can come up with posters like this, which look like they got vomited on by an elementary school Valentine's Day card exchange, and still get elected.

Another poster for her in Xizhi shows a re-imagined map of the MRT Blue Line, with the last stop being Xizhi (in big letters), reiterating a campaign promise to extend the MRT to Xizhi. Which is not a bad idea, really.

And finally, another culprit in the Attack of the Bobbleheads. Hou Jingsheng is a DPP candidate (clearly) who has been giving out these nifty key fobs with pictures of his Bobblehead avatar that are powerful magnets, so you can stick your keys on your fridge, metal door or desk. I have one. It's pretty cool. A much more imaginative gimmick than a pad or pack of tissues (I never understood the tissues - so you can think of the candidate as you symbolically wipe your butt or blow gunk out of your nose?)

I don't have any photos yet, but Lee Denghui has been posing on posters for this guy as well as candidates in both the DPP and Taiwan Solidarity Union.

His headband says "Hot Blood" on it - even folks who lean blue will often readily admit that the DPP has cornered the market on passionate displays of political vitriol, and Hou is definitely playing up that side of his party's reputation.

Hee hee! He totally looks like he'd slap a few blue legislators in the Legislative Yuan.

So now we've seen some of the key features of Taiwanese election campaigning: 1.) Little cartoon avatars with impossibly large heads; 2.) fist pumping galore (don't have a strong platform? Make a fist and look determined!); 3.) clunky-cute puns on candidate's names and 4.) When none of that works, go for adorable animals and odd movie references.

Here are a few more bits and bobs I've come across recently:

Photo by Brendan

We keep seeing these tanks rolling around Taipei; I actually don't know what party they're from but I'd guess KMT. Err, given the KMT's history of military oppression, is this really the best symbol, the gimmick that says "elect me! I won't kidnap you in the night and shoot you down by Machangding and not tell your family what happened to you for decades, if ever!"? Really?

Gimmicks! This one, from a DPP candidate, says "We listen to what's in Taipei's heart" and indicates that he's campaigning in Da'an and Wenshan districts. It's a children's school folder - yet another useful gewgaw for me (KMT gewgaws are much less imaginative, and anyway I don't like the KMT). There's a flier for the candidate inside.

See? Now you can give your kid one of these and Little Johnny can take it to school and show his friends, who will go home and tell their parents to vote for this guy. Smart!

Keeping in the "cute animals" theme: Zhang Honglin is campaigning in the Green Party - 綠黨 - not to be confused with the "Green" faction led by the DPP and usually consisting of other small parties with similar ideologies, like Tai Lian. (The Green Party, like the Qingmingdang - the Green Party still exists? Wow).

It seems all the underdog parties have been employing adorable animals to try to get votes. Since Li Dahua got the ADORABLE KITTY, Ah-Hong clearly gets the OMG HAO KE AI FLUFFY DOG! The dog's name is Apple, and Apple says, basically, "Hi, I'm Apple. Cast a ballot for me!"

I wonder if Taiwan would be much different if we elected a Fluffy Dog to a representative office?

And finally, this grainy iPod Touch photo (sorry, the camera quality really is crap) of an awesome procession of drummers, reminiscent of Taiwan temple fairs...actually, I am pretty sure that's exactly where they got the drummers - by calling up one of the organizations that trains drummers for temple festivals and hiring them out for political work.

If you saw the Taipei Times photo of a ba jia jiang (the guys at temple fairs in face paint and costume who do martial arts demonstrations as symbolic guardians of the gods) selling goods at Carrefour a few years ago, you'd know that this is totally fine and cool.


Marcus said...

there was a guy over in the 101 area who had posters where he was decked out in kung fu gear. i thought, "this is the stupidest thing I've ever seen" until the woman got disqualified and he was front and center because of his kung fu. funny how things work out like that

Άλισον said...

On the 2nd photo, the candidate knelt down to her grandma, as the text below the photo explained : her 96 year-old grandma worried about her grand daughter 's campaign / election outcome etc.

Άλισον said...

Sorry, my mistake the 3rd photo I meant instead of the 2nd photo.