Monday, August 04, 2008


I didn't post anything while I was in Shanghai, because I didn't have much downtime, but I feel compelled to describe at least this one outstanding thing that happened to me there, which happened during dinner on Thursday night with two of my Chinese friends. We were eating at an Indian restaurant, all you can eat and drink, it was totally awesome, but that's not the point. We were talking about difficult life experiences, and after telling a story of mine, one of my friends asked me, "Do you know the show Growing Pains?"

Smiling broadly, and doing my best to contain intense gleeful laughter for what was about to transpire, I of course conceded that I do. He then related to my story by describing an episode of Growing Pains where a young Mike Seaver dealt with an experience similar to mine. I could barely contain the wondrous, disbelieving guffaw I felt for his choosing to empathize with me through Growing Pains. All I could think was how Jason Bredle would've shit a solid gold capybara if he could've been there to hear it. And are they still airing this show in China? And I can't believe the world has shrunk so much that this scenario is even taking place!

I mean, when was the last time you even thought about that show? For me it was when I discovered the afore-linked Bredle poem, which was only a couple months ago, but before that I mean really, maybe what, 14 or 15 years? But then my friend made the most astute observations about the show's impact on Chinese society, and I was forced to step back and consider the changes it affected on American society. He noted how shows like it and Family Ties made it OK for the family's patriarch to show emotion, and openly love his family. Shows like that made it clear that family is the most important thing of all, and it's OK to hug your son. Their popularity pushed important social issues into every family's living room, especially issues of social equality and forgiveness.

Of course, they pushed them out in perfectly formed chunks of happy shiny entertainment, easily digestible, devoid of the ugly spurs and splinters that make coping with real life quite a bit more challenging and time consuming, but nonetheless, I had never actually given that show any importance until he forced me to consider it.

I can't upload pictures to this post for some reason. I'll try to put together a stream sometime.

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