Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong: A Confession

Great Stone Dragon at Pak Tai temple in Wan Chai, Hong Kong.


As many of my readers know, MsCaroline has two children who are in their mid-to-late teens, which means they were born in the 1990s.  What this means is that MsCaroline shares powerful memories with them of 1990s and early 2000s kid culture, which (in our case) includes(but is not limited to) Barneythe demon the Dinosaur, Pokemon, and the Rug Rats.  In addition to this, Sons#1 and #2 grew up on a steady diet of some of (in my opinion) Disney Studios' most outstanding work, including The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and The Beast, and Toy Story,  although - since MsCaroline has sons - we also became obsessed with quite few less-appreciated productions such Pocohontas (John Smith had a sword), Hercules (sword with battery-powered sound effects), and The Emporer's New Groove (swords and shields, too.)

As  good parents, of course, MsCaroline and MrLogical were forced to watch repeatedly to the point that they memorized them enjoyed sharing these films with their children.

What this means is that MsCaroline was also deeply influenced by these films, and, during her recent trip to Hong Kong, was distressed to realize just to what extent this indoctrination had taken place.

Upon her arrival at the historic Pak Tai Temple in Wan Chai, in Hong Kong, MsCaroline (sadly) did not immediately think, "What a tremendous example of sculpture!" or, "It is truly an honor to be seeing this influential symbol that has influenced thousands of years of dynastic rule!"

No, MsCaroline looked at the carving and artistry above, and immediately thought of Eddie Murphy as the voice of Mushu in the 1998 Disney production of Mulan, and found herself muttering, "Go! Awaken the Great Stone Dragon!"

Sad, isn't it? But then, MsCaroline has never claimed to be the last word in culture.  And she's 99% sure that she is not the only parent who's had this experience.  At least she hopes not.

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18 comments:

Traci Hoeting said...

Oh that made me chuckle!

It's pretty common in our house to hold up the cat ala "The Lion King" style and sing "It's the circle of life!"

I think you'd understand :)

MsCaroline said...

I do understand, because we do it, too! In our case, there's no cat, but we hold up whatever random item is available. We also consistently use, "Wind the frog!" (from Toy Story) when we're getting ready to go somewhere. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one - especially since you have older kids, too. I had no idea the effects would linger so long...

Stacy said...

I can completely relate! So many lines from movies and tv shows have become part of our family lexicon that it is not even funny. Well, actually, it is. You know what I mean!

BavarianSojourn said...

That's sooo funny... We are going to Japan in June. First trip is to see Totoro and Catbus, I feel your pain! :D

nappy valley girl said...

Visiting Angkor Wat about 10 years ago, all we could thing about was Tomb Raider, which my husband and I spent about 3 months playing as 20 somethings (and then never touched the Playstation again).

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

Mulan was a favourite in our house (I have a 15 yo daughter) and so, no doubt, I would have thought exactly the same thing. Feel better? ;)

(and wow! how cool to see!)

Wilma said...

Wow! I guess I am extremely lucky that my son, like me, was never much of a fan of animated movies. Truly that was one of my fears about having children--I really have to struggle to sit through those things. I have seen a few of them and he has seen some of them in school. The references in our house are more from the 1960s Batman, James Bond, and other random movies and comedians. LOL

Trish Burgess said...

Ah you do make me laugh - you culture vulture you!

Rory was never really into Disney films much but he was a Mr Bean nut for a time and howled laughing when he saw the painting Whistler's Mother in Paris, remembering the film where Mr Bean destroyed the original.

We are also terribly common when we visit art galleries - we try and see if portraits look like people we know.

MsCaroline said...

Stacy - Oh, yes, I know exactly what you mean - your kids are about the same age as mine, so we probably have a few lines in common!

Emma - Oh, you poor thing. Those little guys are all over the elementary school here. (rolls eyes.)

NVG - HA! I never played it, but I'm sure that MrL and the boys would have appreciated it. Speaking of video games, there's some shooting game out there with a Russian character, and every time we run across Russians (usually in airports) they start quoting the Russian lines from the game to each other. Do they know what they're saying? No. Someday one of them will probably get punched by an offended Russian tourist.

MsCaroline said...

Michelloui: Yep, Son#2 is 15 and that was one of the few movies that we both enjoyed (and I felt I deserved it, after suffering through 'Inspector Gadget' so many times.) MrL enjoyed it too: nice to have a supportive spouse, especially when it comes to Disney films. The line, "Dishonor! Dishonor on you, dishonor on your family, dishonor on your cow!" is used quite frequently at our house...I'm sure you'll understand. (And yes, it was pretty cool to see!)

MsCaroline said...

Wilma - no complaints here. I hated some of them, but I appreciate a well-made and amusing animated film as well as a 'people' film - and 'Mulan' happens to be a favorite of mine anyway. It's pretty amazing the way pop culture creeps into just about any activity, though. We probably have just as many Monty Python and Lord of the Rings references in our family lexicon.

MsCaroline said...

Trish - yes, it's my natural sophistication that attracts readers to my blog, I know. ; )

Rory in Paris: parenting is a thankless task, isn't it? Try to instill some culture in a child, and he thinks about Mr Bean. (I would have laughed too!)

We do the same thing in art galleries - we're even worse when it comes to sculpture. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I was about to say something witty about popular culture and parenting but was totally distracted by the spam link to weight loss tips for children! Why do they think that you and the readers of your blog have fat children? A still smiling while whistling and dancing along to "the bare necessities"! Fabulous.

MsCaroline said...

Elizabeth - I'm starting to get worried about the Anonymous comments - my spam blocker has always caught them before, but I think the spam-bots have figured out a way to get around it. And I have no idea what (if anything) about Chinese New Year in Hong Kong would lead a spambot to believe that my readers' children (or mine) needed weight loss tips. At least you were provided with a good laugh, right? Oh, and yes - Mowgli was a favorite in our house, too!

Nance said...

Disney is like Cultural Kudzu. It is now so pervasive and so widespread that it has invaded every nook and cranny of our lives.

My students equated everything with a Disney reference, and this was HIGH SCHOOL. It was worrisome, to be honest. Here were 15-16-17 year olds who were still infatuated with Disney stuff.

I wonder if it is uniquely American to commercialize so much of our culture: licensed characters are on everything, and even our history is co-opted by animated characters now.

MsCaroline said...

Nance - to be fair, it's not just Disney. I think the steady diet of TV/Movie animation in general has a lot to answer for. Of course, I suppose you could also argue that it's better for them to have basic familiarity with a plotline - even if all the characters are impossibly articulate moles - than not. I still remember the first time I taught Heine's poem, 'Die Lorelei' (magical Rhine maiden who bewitches sailors and causes them to steer their boats into rocks - Siren-like) and all my high school students assured me they knew the story because they'd seen it on 'Duck Tales.' I guess it saved me a little time and explanation. I suppose it's like everything else - fine in moderation.

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