The generation gap: Living large | The Economist
AMERICA has its “Gossip Girl”, Brazil has “Mulheres Ricas” (“Rich Women”) and India has its Bollywood confections. Films and television programmes that serve as little more than showcases for the lavish lifestyles of the fabulously wealthy are a global phenomenon. But the furore surrounding a new smash hit set among the fashion houses of Shanghai is uniquely Chinese. The reaction to this movie is laying bare the gaping chasm between a socially conscious older generation and its individualistic, “aspirational” youth.
“Tiny Times”, the film in question, is directed by a popular young author and all-around cultural sensation named Guo Jingming. Mr Guo had already written a best-selling novel under the same title. “Tiny Times” follows the fortunes of four female friends at university. At its centre is Lin Xiao (played by Mini Yang), a Chinese girl who lands her dream job as a personal assistant to the austere, half-Asian, half-European editor of a luxury fashion magazine.
The film is derivative of two American hits, “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Sex and the City” (minus the sex). The girls totter around campus in red-soled Christian Louboutin stilettos and buy Valentino gifts for Christmas (a Western holiday). Lin Xiao’s editor lives in a house built of glass and snoozes under a camel Hermès blanket. The fictional fashion bible’s name is revealing. Called “M.E.”—and touting the catchphrase “Be yourself”—it is unabashed in fetishising the material ambitions of China’s post-’80s and -’90s “me” generation.
So far they have flocked to see the film. In late June “Tiny Times” set a new box-office record for a non-3D release in China, taking $11.9m on its first day alone. In the process it knocked aside an American blockbuster, “Man of Steel”. In its first three weeks, it has taken in $77m. "Tiny Times" has struck a nerve with teenagers of the one-child generation, who have grown up in relative peace and prosperity....