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Chinese Workers' Day 1997

October first is a Chinese National holiday called "worker's day". It begins a five day weekend. Actually, because of the fact that October First falls on a Wednesday, and workers are only allowed to have a maximum of four days off, they all have to go back to work on Sunday.

I asked my host what workers do on "Workers Day".

"They rest." He answered. File that under "duh." :)

Of course, I found that to be wholly untrue. Those who have salaried office jobs rest, those who own their own business or are paid by the hour, continue to work on what I can only assume is China's equivalent of the USA's Labor Day. Construction all around our house continued, even though we were looking forward to a break in the racket.

A  picture of two singers on t.v..

The night before, there was a star-studded gala television extravaganza taped along the banks of the Yellow river.

This program felt like a cross between a Bob Hope USO special and the Academy Awards. And it was all for the workers of the Yellow River. The program sought to romanticize the work and the workers of the river in much the same way as USA's programs seek to deify entertainment personalities.

Behind the set were a few huge trucks used for pushing dirt around the banks of the sand bar.

At first, I thought this program was kind of stupid. Just as silly to me as all the entertainment awards programs that we live with in the USA, and the entertainment industry that many of us can't ignore in Southern California. Everybody in the audience there on the Yellow River knew that their work was not at all glamorous. And here were these singers, dancers, comedians, all sent to add glory to an otherwise filthy job. How could anybody buy this, I wondered?

But then, I compared it to what we, in the USA romanticize, the entertainment industry. These positions have become the most coveted and worshiped of all social positions.

I'm glad that the Chinese government, or whoever was behind this program, set out to romanticize the river workers. Perhaps it is wrong to romanticize anything, but if you're going to have a gala television extravaganza with big stars in shimmering gowns, then let it be all be for the men and women in the trenches. Let them know how special their contribution to the greater society really is.

I liked the idea after I compared it to the things that we worship in our culture. It reminded me of a song by Alabama called "40 hour week". Listen to it sometime, if you get the chance.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 1, 1997 9:17 AM.

The previous post in this blog was One Night in Bangkok.

The next post in this blog is Welcome to the Holy Land.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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