Why Do the Chinese Copy So Much?

The IHT Rendezvous blog has a post about a fake Austrian town somewhere in the outskirts of Guangdong province:

Why Do the Chinese Copy So Much? – NYTimes.com.

Perhaps the language is a reason why: you cannot learn Chinese unless you spend years memorizing thousands of characters needed to achieve literacy, unless you copy, single-mindedly, unquestioningly. Some linguists and cultural historians believe so much mental energy and brain space is taken up by rote learning of the language, that little is left over for innovative thinking.

I think this theory has some currency. Creativity needs to be nurtured and cultivated and practiced. It’s a muscle that can’t be neglected. And in a country of 1.4 billion, it’s exponentially harder than elsewhere for truly innovative ideas to bubble up to the top and gain and audience of influencers.

However, I think that’s only part of the story. The more appropriate question should be, “Why do the Chinese copy Europeans so much?” If the Chinese were a people of rote imitators and copiers, why don’t we see fake cities based off of Mumbai, Sao Paolo, or Lagos? As far as I know, Western European cultures have long been considered refined, luxurious, high-class. They represent an ideal for the status-seeking Chinese, who are clearly the target of these ballsy property developers. They copy because they want to be lathered in “European-ness.”

Ultimately, the copiers of this fake Austrian town aren’t copying because they lack creativity. They’re doing it because they ARE creative. Who else would think to send a group of incognito architects to scope out a mountainous Austrian town for the sole purpose of re-creating it thousands of miles away in a foreign land? That’s pretty innovative to me, and shows that some of these brains still do have some room to think outside of the box.

Ed Rendell Speaks the Truth about Chinese

Among US politicians, Ed Rendell is one of my favorites. The grizzled and and grumpy governor of Pennsylvania likes to talk shit, and isn’t afraid to back down from it. Here he is, complaining about the the NFL postponing a game due to snow:

Rendell viewed the NFL’s decision as a referendum on the toughness, or lack thereof, of the United States.

“My biggest beef is that this is part of what’s happened in this country,” Rendell said. “I think we’ve become wussies.”

“We’ve become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything,” Rendell added. “If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”

The calculus crack is funny.

I Like: Funny Chinese Mentos ad

This Mentos ad cracked me up. It starts off wearing the cloak of melodrama shared by millions of other Asia-Pacific TVCs and music videos, then uses a cartoonish gag that keeps Mentos propped up as a fun and brand for young and sophisticated Chinese consumers. Just the demographic that star agency BBH aims to win over. Nice job to BBH’s Johnny Tan and his creative team.