Let-downs; inspirational women
There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you’ve let someone down. Whether you were involved in an M Night Shyamalan movie, forgot to put the Cyalis on the nightstand, or should have held the rope tighter at the climbing wall, the sense of shame and self-disappointment can be punishment in itself. So we sympathize with Liu Xiang, the sprinter who in 2004 won the world record for “face plastered on most objects in China.” Nike, Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonalds, Tsingtao, and plenty of others had millions of dollars on him to win, and fans of all ages expected a Hollywood-like rebound from his drop-out at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As one Nike ad put it, “1.3 billion are watching closely.” No pressure or anything. When Liu did trip over the first hurdle in the heats, CCTV 5’s always classy news anchors cried harder than DPRK broadcasters on news of Dear Leader’s death. Many called for introspection; Global Times relayed conspiracy theories that it was a set-up. To which we say: Get a grip.
A few thousand kilometers away in Anhui province, prosecutors were also trying to get a grip on Gu Kailai, the woman whom CNN calls “China’s Jackie Kennedy.” She is clearly not that, but we would agree she is the most inspirational non-Caucasian female role model to fall from grace since Asma al-Assad. You know it’s going to be an uphill battle in Chinese courts when state media says in advance of the trial that your “crimes are clear” and that “the evidence is irrefutable.” Pro-tip for parachute reporters covering the case: This may indicate a guilty verdict.
Like a [pet] rock
Sometimes as journalists, we like to look on the bright side. No, not really, but we do strive to give credit where it’s due. And currently the car industry should be recognized as single-handedly generating almost all of the good news in China (Almost: China Daily, way to look on the bright side). General Motors, Honda and SAIC, the largest Chinese carmaker by sales, all posted strong growth in China for the month of July, while Ford announced an acquisition plan. What is driving this growth, you ask? Is it the desire to feel the wind in the hair, the thrill of the open road, the satisfaction of destroying a large swathe of Cuba with a Hummer a la Bad Boys II (in which Megan Fox shines as a “bikini kid”)? Actually, no – it’s the need to ride around with your boys in a minivan. One of the most successful foreign models in China is the Wuling Sunshine, a US$5000 loveable little bread box on wheels that gets 40 miles to the gallon (proving once again that economics is the key to environmental protection) and is clearly indestructible. Though not exactly exuding the machismo of some other models (it’s clearly not manly unless you need steps to get in the driver seat), the Wuling is an excellent ride in which to carry around boxes of fruit and dangle out of the window yelling “Hello!” at people. The story of Wuling’s rise to glory is simple economics: China had 47 cars per 1,000 people in 2009, compared with more than 800 in the US. Clearly there will need to be carpooling.