We're all bad apples to the core

By Wang Xiaofeng (China Daily)
2007-02-16 09:55
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When I went to see the movie Getting Home, I just missed the part where comedian Guo Degang plays a highway robber. He riled many people in Central China's Henan Province because his character has a Henan accent. Does that sully the image of Henanese?

We're all bad apples to the coreI think so. Well, maybe he should have taken on the Northeastern tone, but people there will protest. Fujianese? I bet the majority of Chinese cannot understand the musical dialect. And people in Fujian won't stand it, either. Maybe the Shanghai sotto voce, but have you ever seen such a soft-spoken robber?

If the robber had used English, everyone would feel at ease and we could live in harmony.

China has 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. Every place has its own uniqueness. I come from the Northeast and have the right to be judgmental about it. I believe that we Northeasterners can only see our inadequacies when we leave that place.

Case in point: When I criticized Northeasterners, some would say: "If you have guts, come back to the Northeast and look me up." This is a typical Northeastern way of throwing down the gauntlet. But the dauntlessness stays verbal. Once you get serious, he'll yield at the first chance.

Northeasterners have weaknesses such as all talk and no action, male chauvinism and bragging. If we use the Yellow River as the line of demarcation, we'll see that people in the North share a lot of these traits, which has something to do with its economic sluggishness.

As a matter of fact, people from most places have been stereotyped. When you mention someone from Guangdong, then he must be a ruthless businessman; a Shanghainese is penny wise; a Northeasterner is a big talker; people from Tianjin tend to be conservative and stingy; Beijingers can talk till you drop; Mongolians are heavy drinkers; Fujianese are good at high-tech crime; Hunan have corrupt officials; Hubei people are cunning and crafty; Sichuanese are hot-tempered

Nobody is better than anyone else. But we simply notice others' vulnerabilities while conveniently ignore our own.

If I had not left my hometown, I wouldn't know that our virtue could also be our failing, or vice versa. We Northeasterners have a lot of local idioms, one of which, huyou (big talk), has made it into the national lexicon. Nobody blamed comedian Zhao Benshan, who comes from the Northeast, for making it known to outsiders. It's what makes us who we are.

We should not put on a facade of humiliation. I don't want to say: "There are good people and bad people everywhere", because it's such a cliche. So lets us say we are all bad people, and leave it at that.

(China Daily 02/16/2007 page20)