I Am Made of Chinese Shows


I don’t really watch Chinese shows or other Asian TV shows, but when I do watch, they are usually in the category of pugilistic films, or with strong historical extracts.

I am attracted to the elaborated costumes and setups, and the use of proper Mandarin for that era. Imagine it as the Chinese version of Victorian times, the way the sentences were constructed is drastically different from current modern language. I am definitely a non-conformist when it comes to following traditional customs – that includes (countless of) taboos and (ridiculous) restrictions – but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect them. I do, only from the point of historic value which provides rich insights into the cultures and behaviours in different times.

So, I watch quite a lot of Chinese pugilistic films. In recent years, I have also watched the Korean’s, but I only watched them if they came with Mandarin vocal – English vocal is just too weird for me, but I imagine it’s a blessing for non-Mandarin speaking audiences. I really hate giving 100 percent visual attention to match the subtitles and motion. It is not difficult, but the split-second mental translation steals the complete entertainment enjoyment.

The Characters Think Aloud – ALL THE TIME

Not until in recent years that I learnt that most people don’t think like I do. See, I am like Ally McBeal, I have lots of inner thoughts and since I am visual-dominant, I see speech bubbles in my head. I also see animated punctuations such as question marks, exclamation marks etc. I may or may not have weird facial expressions that would make perfect sense if you could see what I was thinking, otherwise, I am just the weird woman who always make faces.


Nature or Nurture?

Now, I thought perhaps it’s just one of my Asperger’s traits, but maybe not! See, one distinct difference between the Asian shows and American shows is the way the characters in the show think.


Asian’s scriptwriters seem to love to make the characters think aloud. I am guessing they were concerned that the audiences may not be able to guess the unspoken thoughts. Gradually, it becomes a habit. Some shows have so many lines that are inner thoughts, these thoughts occupied ¼ or more of the entire show. These inner thoughts are presented in an ‘echoed’ voice.


Emperor: Empress, there is no need for you to pay a visit to the temple this year.
Empress: Yes, my majesty, I shall obey your order. *Yet thinking aloud – Could it be that the Emperor is bringing Concubine Zhang instead, no way this can happen! I have to investigate. Wait, could it be that Concubine Zhang has been seducing the Emperor into forbidding me to go, with the motive to strip my power? What audacity! With her brother as the General, she must be plotting to expand her power in the palace and grow their family’s influence.*
Emperor: In addition, I am spending the night at Concubine Wei’s tonight.
Empress: Yes, my majesty. *Thinking aloud – Concubine Wei? She appeared to be docile and uninterested in power struggle, but I may be wrong. This won’t do, I have to get Eunuch Ma to investigate into this. That sly fox, to think that she came to visit me everyday pretending to be on my side.*

So, you see, when the characters were ‘thinking aloud’, they had the coordinating expressions to match the contents – such as squinting eyes, nodding head etc. I grew up watching Asian shows, and it could be natural that I picked up the behaviours; I mean, I didn’t play with other kids, so I learned from the TV and lacked the opportunities to contrast the behaviours in reality. With this in mind, I am going to say that my weird behaviors in this segment is probably nurtured.

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