Books and Films by Andrew Field

798 Arts District Academia alumni Amy Chua apocatropolis Art Art Deco Astronomy Australia Ba Jin Bad Girl Fiction Beijing Beijing Olympics blues Blues and Jazz Bob Dylan Book Review Book Reviews Buddhism bund Cchinese culture CChinese Indie Rock Chairman Mao Changsha Chen Liangyu China China Bounder China Journalism Chinese Cinema chinese culture Chinese Folk Music chinese history Chinese Indie Rock Chinese Intellectuals Chinese Literature Chinese Minorities Chinese Mothers Chinese New Year Chinglish Christine Choi CIEE Coco Zhao Columbia University Comet McNaught Contemporary Chinese Art Courtesans Cui Jian D22 dancing Darfur dartmouth college David Spindler Democracy Digital Media City Documentary Film Dongtan drama Driving in China earthquake ECNU Campus Eco-City Ed Lanfranco Education ehwa university Environment Ethnicity Family food Frederic Wakeman French Concession French Concession Tour Genocide Global Warming Globalization Great Wall Greg Girard H-ASIA Helen Feng Hollywood Hostesses Hunan Hutongs Interview Iraq James Farrer jazz Jia Zhangke John Cusack Kaiser Kuo Korea Literature on China Live Music long bar Lu Xun Lynn Pan Mao Livehouse Mao Years Mao Zedong MCLC Media and Censorship moganshan lu mountain climbing Mu Shiying Multimedia Muse Music night nightlife NYU NYU Shanghai Old Beijing Old Shanghai Olympics Pamela Crossley Paramount Ballroom park Parks and Gardens Peace Hotel Peter Hessler Phebe 3D Piano plays poetry Policing Shanghai Politics Preservation Propaganda public manners Putuoshan Railways Red Collector rock concert Seoul Sex Sex in China shanghai Shanghai Bund Shanghai Fox-trot Shanghai Literary Festival Shanghai Photography Shanghai's Dancing World shaoxing sichuan Snapline Songdo sports Spring Steve Sweeting students Study Abroad Programs SUBS summer program Sustainability Suzhou Sydney tess johnston Thomas Dolby Tianzifang Tibet traffic Transportation travel TwoCities Gallery Ullens Center Uluru UNSW Victor Mair Video Wei Hui Whitey Smith William T. de Bary World Expo xintiandi Xu Jilin Yangzi River Yonsei University zhabei Zhabei Park Zhang Ailing Zhoushan Islands Ziyo

« Full Tilt: An Online Journal of East Asian Literature and Poetry in Translation | Main | Project Dementia Week 3: A Tsunami@2K, Jamming@Sugar Jar, Acoustic Glam@D22, and the usual Excess@PPG »

Shanghai Baby Redux

I don't get many comments on my blog, but once in a while somebody posts one that deserves extra attention.  This is one such case.  Thanks, Mikkitaro, for sharing your thoughts : )  I'm giving it special prominence by making it a blog entry.  Mikkitaro's comment follows here:

My reaction to Shanghai Baby is ambivalent because I cannot claim to understand all the societal pressures the Chinese people live with on a daily basis, but my initial response was unequivocally "What a SLUT!" I am surprised that you thought the sex scenes in Shanghai Baby were over the top because most of the scenes, if I remember correctly, were rather succinct and trite. They seem very contrived and self-serving. Given the virility of the highly stereotyped character Mark, I find it incredulous that Mark never demanded fellatio from Coco. Come on! A virgin could have had more imagination with those scenes. Coco's self-pity alone is a huge turn-off. Ugh! Don't get me started on all the other things that irked me about this book. But I have to give Wei Hui credit for being open about human sexuality. She wasn't the first woman who did it, but she did it nonetheless. If anything, it proves that women can be just as physical and sexual as men. So much for decorum and Jane Austen's sense and sensibility!

[SJ:  I agree that her sex scenes weren't the most original.  By over the top I meant that they lacked, for want of a better word, subtlety.  Then again, in the age of Net porn and South Park, anything goes.]

About the juxtaposition you mentioned, I wonder how Chinese male readers/critics responded to the portrayal of an impotent Chinese man in the book. Such depiction seems to be a jab in the balls for Chinese manhood. I'm surprised Viagra wasn't mentioned in the book. Guess that would just make life too easy. Okay, I guess Viagra hasn't been tested in the case of Oedipus complex, especially those cases where the mother and son are linked by the purse string, but there's no harm in trying, right?

[SJ:  yes, totally agree here, but then again Chinese male impotence is a well-trodden theme in modern Chinese literature, as my colleagues could substantiate.  It has to do with China's emasculation in modern world history, beginning I suppose with the Opium Wars and culminating with the Japanese invasion of the 1930s...]

In the end, I don't think women from Shanghai are all that different from women elsewhere in the world, and the same goes for all the men. Sex that fails to caress the cerebrum doesn't last very long, and we all know how short orgasms can be. If Coco was on the quest of self-discovery, she will never find it through sex alone. Several book reviews I read depict Coco as a liberated woman, but I see quite the opposite. The man who stood in front of the military tanks during the Tianmen protest had more freedom in his pinky than Coco could ever understand. No amount of fornication or money can buy real freedom.

[SJ:  tankdude was one badass mofo]

Interesting quote by Lem. But everyone is equally endowed with either (or both for some) a phallus or pudendum, so it's hardly a selling point. Whatever happened to originality and creativity in the arts?

[SJ:  Lem was being sardonic, as usual--I think what he meant was that sex is a cheap way to sell literature and arts]

Thanks for instigating the discussion. Cool website.

[SJ:  you're welcome, and thanks for being such a great reader : ) ]

Reader Comments (1)

My reaction was that the book was an attempt by the author to be "cool." All she really did was copy Western novel styles. I found the book tedious, but did read to the end before putting it in goodwill. I would rather read “Harry Potter and the Showdown,” by Li Jingsheng. (Anyone know the web address?)

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.