The Problem with Me
I got calls from a few media outlets today. The general idea was that Sanlian Life Weekly did a feature on Wang Shuo, and then they tried to use some of his views to incite an incident. It’s a shame I’m a fan of both Wang Shuo and Sanlian Life Weekly. How will they cause an incident now?
The journalists were rookies. “Wang Shuo said the post-’80s generation is a bunch of so-and-sos. What do you think?” they asked.
“I wholeheartedly agree,” I replied. “I think so, too.”
There are some very neurotic people in China who have no sense of self-mockery. As soon as something negative is said about their city or their group, they immediately go crazy. I once made some remarks about girls from the Shanghai International Studies University, and all at once a bunch of people went insane. Did they have scholarships from that university, or was it something else? Didn’t they all get there by testing in, and would have ended up elsewhere if they screwed up? Normally, you can say however many negative comments you like in private about your own school or city, but if someone else makes those same comments, for some reason you’ve got to defend your little pile. That’s not honor. That’s stupidity.
If someone makes a negative comment about Chinese car racing, I’d be overjoyed. An outsider says something that we
can’t say ourselves very easily. If you’re thinking clearly, you ought to realize how fortunate you are.
Wang Shuo is a writer I really admire. He’s a rare Chinese writer who has actually written decent work. He’s said he’s uneducated, but that’s because he wants to lower himself to the ground floor so he can criticize the people upstairs, and then when there’s an emergency and everyone has to jump out of the building, he’ll be hurt the least. The key thing is that some people don’t get this and think he’s really uneducated. Wang Shuo has made the biggest contribution of any individual to Chinese film and television series. In the Heat of the Sun is the best film—not one of the best, the best—ever made in China. No justification is necessary for the television series. The Chinese are very particular about modesty, but can’t you tell when someone is being overly modest?
When Wang Shuo debates, he almost never mentions his work but argues with his opinions rather than using his novels to shut people up. But so many fucking idiots lay out the line that he’s just making a play for money or groupies. The truth of it is that Wang Shuo expresses his opinions extremely modestly, yet many people come out with all sorts of crazy things. When Wang Shuo says he isn’t educated, he’s already insulting you, but he’s keeping it deeply hidden. Like if Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang said he couldn’t run very fast, he’d really be calling everyone else turtles. Wang Shuo has produced classics—lots of them. In China, someone with awesome work who hasn’t been dubbed a master has got to be good, and regardless of how his next novels turn out, he’s done enough already.
Yet even some “post-’80s” writers think he should “set a literary example, and not act recklessly.” Is this something that a fucking twenty-something writer should be saying? If
you didn’t know better, you’d think they were in a government work meeting. For a real writer, recklessness is very important. When you’re so young you should have courage, since, for the time being, society has not yet forced conflict or hardship upon you—but all you’ve learned to write are weak essays on your knees. When the wind rises, you won’t be able to stand straight, and if it keeps blowing, you’ll be reduced to cannon fodder. When I saw those opinions, it was too late for me to pretend I didn’t know the people saying them. Should I help you out just because I was born roughly around the same time as you? Do we have to join the same club? I’ve only heard of people joining the same Party if they happen to have the same aspirations and interests, but I haven’t heard that people born around the same time have to join the same gang. If I’d known that much, I’d have sunk low enough to enroll in college long ago.
So here’s some advice for media outlets with a conscience: Unless Wang Shuo somehow hurts my family or takes my woman, the scene you’re waiting for will never happen. Especially since by that point only a fucking idiot would have time to write an essay.