Hopefully now we can stop talking about (and picturing) Ai Weiwei dancing Gangnam Style. He’s gone heavy metal, apparently.
There has been a lot of talk of China’s soft-power muscle-flexing, with a Confucius Institute for every college, city and town in the world (and let us take a moment to marvel at the CI English website address: english.chinese.cn – and spanish.chinese.cn, or russian.chinese.cn). Even a quick look at the offerings of these Institutes reveals a China that barely resembles that which exists now: Acrobatics, the traditional comedic stylings of ‘cross-talk,’ kung-fu, ancient scroll paintings, traditional opera. I can sympathize, to a point: After all, it’s what people assume China has to offer. I’ll never forget that one jackass French viewer who, during industrial-rock act Tongue’s first French set, in Rennes back in 2004 (go 86/33 Link!), shouted, inexplicably, “Jackie Chan!” I was also asked, during one of Subs’ Nordic tours, if the band hung out much with the 5, 6, 7, 8’s, the Japanese band then in vogue, thanks to Quentin Tarantino and a guy named Bill.
But hard rock is starting to find its way into soft power. While Beijing-based Mongolian folk act Hanggai – who, I am ecstatic to once again announce, are coming not just to my hometown, Toronto, but to my danwei, or work unit, Harbourfront Centre, for our Planet IndigenUS festival in early August – have received governmental support for tours to North and South America.
The biggest governmental headbang thus far in yaogun’s history sees the Ministry of Culture sending three Chinese heavy metal bands to metal’s biggest event, the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. The China Daily, for one, was happy about this latest trend.