Friday, August 08, 2008

On the V sign and photo-taking

I have been annoyed by Chinese male celebrities showing the V sign. Now older actors, the stars of the 70s and 80s, are less likely to show the V sign, but I have seen some of them do that. (Andy Lau. Leon Lai. And also Hacken Lee-see below. I don't think I've caught Tony Leung doing it yet.) Japanese actors seem less likely to do it, but then again I do not follow Japanese entertainment news regularly. I think Korean actors above a certain age also avoid it. But the flash of the V is apparently becoming more common among Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese males, and seems to be catching on elsewhere, like in the United States (as distinguished from the V for peace sign popular in a certain kind of pop culture). I hesitate to use the word men, since I think those who continue to show it after the age of 12 should be considered boys. (The same is true of women, as well. Some would make allowances for women being girly and 'cute'. But I am not in that group. If an Asian woman avoids doing it, I have a higher opinion of her.)

Hacken Lee Sings Praises for 'New Beijing'

Hacken Lee will be turning 41 in December. I would be embarrassed to see a photo of myself with this or a similar pose. It does make one long for a time when photographs were not as common (the late 1800s!), and people took portrait taking seriously, even if they did things that we would consider odd. (Men sitting on each other's laps? We would be surprised or even shocked by the signs of affection and friendship that men were comfortable showing back then, and have been misrepresented by some as indicative of homosexuality. Though displays of camaraderie and closeness and affection are still common in photos taken by East Asians. And American women.)

After seeing Hacken Lee in the music video and reading his comments, I consider him a tool of the current Mainland regime. Of course he probably thinks he is being patriotic and showing Chinese pride. I just can't go along with that.

They may be functional adults--earning a living, renting or owning a flat, having a 'relationship' with a female, but there is something about the maturity level of celebrities and Chinese men in general that makes one think that something has gone wrong with Chinese culture. Ask me if I consider myself Chinese, and I may say no, if this is what being Chinese means.

More complaints about the V sign:
FOBSPOT: What is the Asian V-Sign?
The Lazy Asian: Asians flashing the Peace Sign
Flickr: Discussing Why do people in Japan pose like this?

Precisely -- V for victory over what?

Someone from Soompi is a fan of this photographer at FB. I have to say that I'm not a fan of excessive wedding-portrait-taking. I wonder if this is what annoys CB about having photos taken of him. Asian wedding photographers are especially popular among Asians--I've seen many attractive photo albums. But the growth of the wedding industry is worrisome. If I were negative... I'd say it's too bad people don't take divorce photos--not that I am wishing that these marriages fail, but celebrating love can go too far and such excess may be indicative of a flaw in one's understanding of what marriage is about. No? "We won't get divorced. That happens to other people." Meanwhile, the warning signs are there for any objective observer.

Youth may be an excuse for this sort of excess. But to paraphrase Sgt. Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon, "I'm too old for this."

Has anyone written on how photography has changed our conception of ourselves and how we view the past, present, and the future? Granted, photos are a useful aid to memory. But what other purposes do they serve in our culture?

(This coming from someone who does take a lot of photos of family and friends as mementos.)

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