The first decade of our second millennia is coming to a close in 6 days, and it seems a little anti-climactic. But to highlight this landmark event, we here at TheBananaTimes are going to countdown to 2010 with a series of posts called “Decading Bananas: Hong Kong”. As I am now in Hong Kong and will be dissolving into the new year here as well, I will comment and enlighten some cultural, historical and social topics in the past 10 years, mostly relating to the my own experiences and more importantly, the big picture – The Banana.
PART I – THE COMMERCIAL HARBOUR
Being an international student growing up in Hong Kong, the pop culture we absorbed was mainly from the television (Note: International students in HK attended schools where English was the primary language being taught, local students were taught in Cantonese). Those of my generation experienced their childhood and adolescence in a Hong Kong still under British rule with the looming and inevitable handover on the horizon. This meant that the media that we were surrounded by were not necessarily national, and as our schools implied, but were mixed in Eastern and Western cultures.
Post-handover and into the 2000s, Hong Kong TV still retained its bilingual tendencies and its international reputation even increased. Due to the dip in the economy after the 1997 handover from British rule, tourism was a financial savior, and thus the international, consumerist and packaged Hong Kong was more apparent than ever. Spawning from this tourist dependency was a flurry of intricate, touching, narratively rich television commercials and advertisements.
My first day back in town, I had the privilege to check out a Cathay Pacific commercial shoot. I got to Cathay City, the main headquarters of the corporate airliner. They had a half a floor filled with interior sets of airplanes, from models of the 80s up until the latest “fishbone” model today. Walking around the sets was nostalgic and almost dreamlike.
The director was an Englishman, Laurence Dunmore (directed The Libertine), whose fast-pace efficient style controlled the flow of the set intricately. His direction was voiced in a firm and demanding tone but was not intended to be forceful or even rude, just efficient. This attitude suits Hong Kong’s work ethic perfectly, where unnecessary work and roundabout methods are frowned upon. Any thing or time that is wasted is a hindrance to success. It is a dream for any Hong Kong artist in charge of a multilingual set to operate like this.
Another CX commercial directed by Laurance Dunmore
Other than the director and 4 or 5 other people, the rest of the crew were Cantonese speakers. Even with the majority of the cast and crew being Chinese, Dunmore’s fast-pace efficiency still held out. This goes to show the potential of international collaboration in a place like Hong Kong. After realizing this, I discovered where my inter-disciplinary mindset and attraction to cross-cultural creativity originates. This way of thinking was how The Banana Times came about.
The commercials that I have been drawn to, and that have inspired me in the last decade was a clear foundation behind The Banana Times and what we aim to do here. I only hope that even after 12 years after the handover from British rule that this collaborative and unified ideology will not fade, and that Hong Kong is not the only post-colonial region that has adopted this creative practice.
One of my favourite CX commercials
I shall conclude Part I of Decading Bananas here, and ask why not encourage cross-cultural understanding and integration under the common goal of creativity and art? Even if it is for commercial purposes. Until Part II, I bid you all a very happy Christmas!