My wife writes about China's contemporary history, and I see myself as a journalist who writes primarily about Chinese business.
The other night, she was stoped midway through writing something and came to me: "I seriously suggest you (Why? Did I forget to pay last month's telephone bills?) to see McDull."
That, in full, would be McDull Kungfu Ding Dong Ding - an animation film made in Hong Kong. A box office hit in all Chinese cities, McDull has reportedly been so successful that it had raked in more than 40 million yuan in its first five days to become the top Chinese flick this summer.
But I didn't even bother to see Kungfu Panda, I said. "But this little pig (McDull, that is) is different," she said. "It's not just kids' stuff designed for a vacation. It'll be loved even by adults."
It turns out that the little pig (designed by two Hong Kong artists) moves to the Chinese mainland with his mother. He joins a martial art school to learn kungfu, and his mother, like many Hongkongers do when they move to the mainland, starts a catering business.
McDull represents his school in a martial art competition. But unlike Kungfu Panda, the typical American product who must be the winner, little McDull, not made for quick action, fails. So does his mother's business venture.
But so what? Hongkongers have seen enough of the world - the roller-coaster stock market ride, the Asian financial turmoil, crash of housing prices, bursting of the dotcom bubble and the global economic crisis.
Not everyone becomes Warren Buffet or Li Ka-shing, after all. The mother and the son accept their fate and the fact that they tried but were not quite successful, and return to Hong Kong beaming happily.
This is just how McDull is (Ding Dong Ding, incidentally, is the fourth in the McDull series). He is an ordinary achiever, and now and then is disappointed in this highly competitive world.
But he is always inspired by his dreams and, in fact, quite tough never allowing disappointments too cow him down.
There is a difference and a shade of Zen-like culture in McDull's story. It is different from the kind of culture that Chinese urban dwellers have been bombarded by of late.
In what, according to the mass media, was a purely revolutionary society not long ago, a wealthy Beijing household spends 87 million yuan a year, and women pray to Confucius for success in TV beauty contests in Hunan, Chairman Mao's home province.
Indeed, there is a distasteful frenzy for anything that is labeled success - and as a result, an increasing number of twisted individualities.
But this kind of blind worship to success -irrespective of whether it is measured by money or hierarchy - is never going to contribute to a harmonious society, which is the Chinese leadership's goal. It can only be divisive and create more pressure, anxiety and strife among people, and between the haves and the have-nots.
A society can never expect to see a unified and growing middle class unless it makes life easy for most of the people, not just for the few materially successful.
But more importantly, society has to make life easy for all those who tried but were not and perhaps will never be successful - it should ensure a life that never forces people to walk the road of endless achievements and doesn't punish them harshly for dreaming new dreams, which include many that are just ordinary.
One gets from an animation film such as McDull, which on the surface arouses hearty laughter, a message of social criticism.
Having spent so much time and energy in its largely one-dimensional pursuit of economic development, this society now yearns for just anything that even slightly meets its psychological and spiritual need.
(China Daily 08/04/2009 page9)