【英语中国】中国二代“小皇帝”真人秀 Shanghai Notebook-The little emperors’ reality TV check

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-2-8 08:57

小艾摘要: The one-child policy has been blamed for everything from a shortage of brides to an epidemic of childhood obesity – but, to judge from Chinese television, the bigger worry is that it has created a ge ...
Shanghai Notebook-The little emperors’ reality TV check
The one-child policy has been blamed for everything from a shortage of brides to an epidemic of childhood obesity – but, to judge from Chinese television, the bigger worry is that it has created a generation of wimps.

Dad, Where Are We Going? is a reality television show that shot to mainland fame recently because it taps into middle-class angst about whether China is raising its children right. The kids on the show are hardly more than toddlers, and they are sent off with Dad to – among other things – live in a tent in the deserts of central China and forage for food in a peasant village. Is a generation raised on iPads and junk food up to the rigours of the camp stove and the camp potty? And more to the point, is Dad up to it?

Many would argue that the last thing to expect from reality TV is a dose of social reality, but this show seems more authentic than most – perhaps because the main characters are children so young that they do not know enough to hide it when they want to act like spoiled brats. The dads, all of whom are Chinese celebrities and some of whom are television actors in “real” life, are inevitably less candid than their kids. After one little girl whines for nearly an entire show, her Olympic gold medalist father alludes to how he might be tempted to just whack her if they were in the privacy of their own home – but, with the whole country watching, he thinks the wiser course is a quick cuddle.

Like much on Chinese television, this is a copy of a foreign show – a South Korean series about celebrity dads and their offspring. But in China, besides merely testing whether famous dads can boil water and tie shoelaces, it has a deeper resonance. The country is now raising its second generation of “little emperors” – only children, often born to parents who are themselves only children – and everybody wants to know if they are going to end up even more spoiled, immature and selfish than their overindulged parents.

A recent survey by China Youth Daily found that most viewers watch the show for what they can learn about how to raise balanced children – and only a quarter watch it for a peek at celebrity family life. Last month the show even became the subject of an academic seminar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, which urged parents of “little emperors” to give them more independence – and get Dad more involved in child-rearing.

Many western parents follow a simple policy when choosing their parenting style: they just do the opposite of what their own parents did. Dad, Where Are We Going? seems to encourage China’s newest generation of parents to do that, too: launch a counter-revolution in Chinese parenting by refusing to coddle, pamper and overprotect their kids – or, at least, not to the degree that they themselves were coddled, pampered and overprotected.

The tough love starts in episode one, when Dads and tots go off to live in peasant homes with everything from goats in the courtyard to hairy spiders on the bedclothes. The kids have to be peeled away from their iPads and their pops, prompting marathon tantrums from pampered participants. But, by the end of that episode, even the most coddled had gone off on a village-wide scavenger hunt to assemble the fixings for dinner and return bursting with the pride of a job well done – and done by themselves.

Later, they all go off by camel to pitch a tent in the desert, pretending like all good parents everywhere that the children are actually helping pitch the tent rather than merely being annoying. One of the dads has his thumb smashed while pretending to let his son hammer in a tent peg. And another cannot figure out how to light the camp stove but refuses to take advice from his six-year-old, who does in fact know how to do it.

One begins to wonder which generation it is that we are supposed to be worried about. For, apart from one three-year-old – who was probably too young to be subjected to tent torture anyway – the rest of the kids grew up monumentally in the few short weeks between the peasant village and the desert. They ended up seeming no more spoiled than any toddlers anywhere – and less so than my own two teenagers when they were recently called upon to endure a camel ride in a Chinese desert (even without sleeping overnight there).

Maybe China’s children are not in as much peril as the conventional wisdom – and their little emperor parents – would have it. But just wait until they become teenagers.

计划生育政策历来饱受指责,从婚龄女性不足到儿童肥胖症流行,件件都可以怪到计划生育头上。但如果从中国的一档电视节目判断,这项政策更大的隐患在于创造了懦弱的一代人。

真人秀节目《爸爸去哪儿》近来在中国内地一炮而红,因为这档节目触及了中产阶级的焦虑——中国人的育儿方法到底正不正确。节目里的几个小朋友刚过蹒跚学步的年龄,就跟爸爸一起被送到中国西部沙漠住帐篷,或是在农村寻找食物,以及完成若干其他任务。玩着iPad、吃着垃圾食品长大的这一代,能适应野营炉具和厕所的艰苦吗?更重要的一点是,爸爸们能适应吗?

很多人认为真人秀节目仅剩的值得期待之处,就是来点社会现实,但这档节目似乎比绝大多数真人秀节目都真实得多——或许因为主角是孩子们,他们还太小,还不懂得在想要发脾气时伪装自己。这些爸爸们全部是中国的名人,有几位在“真实”生活里还是影视演员,他们当然不会像自己的小孩那样率直。有一集节目里,一个小姑娘几乎从头哭到尾,她的奥运冠军父亲暗示如果他们是在自己家里,他可能会忍不住凶她,但在全国观众面前,他觉得更明智的做法是赶紧抱抱孩子。

如同中国的许多节目一样,《爸爸去哪儿》也是复制的外国节目——韩国的一档对准名人爸爸的亲子系列节目。但是中国版的《爸爸去哪儿》并不仅仅是考验名人爸爸能不能烧开水或是系鞋带,它还引起了更深层次的共鸣。这个国家现在正在养育第二代“小皇帝”(独生子女,他们的父母通常也是独生子女),人人都想知道这批孩子长大以后,会不会比他们那帮在溺爱中成长的父母更加骄纵、幼稚、自私。

《中国青年报》(China Youth Daily)最近一项调查发现,多数观众是抱着了解“育儿之道”的想法收看这档节目的,只有 25.9%的人是冲着“明星家庭的隐私”去观看的。上海社科院甚至在2013年12月针对该节目举办了一次专题论坛,鼓励“小皇帝”的父母更多培养孩子独立,而且爸爸更多地参与育儿。

许多西方父母在选择养育方式时都遵循着一条简单的方针:只要跟他们自己父母的养育方式反着来就对了。《爸爸去哪儿》似乎在鼓励中国新一代父母们也这么干:对中国传统养育方式发起一场革命,拒绝溺爱、娇惯、过度保护孩子,起码比自己当初被溺爱、娇惯、过度保护的程度弱些。

从第一集节目起,严厉的爱就展开了。爸爸和孩子们住进农民家,院子里有山羊,床单上还爬着毛茸茸的蜘蛛。孩子们被夺走了iPad,还要离开自己的老爸,个别格外骄纵的小家伙被刺激得没完没了地大发脾气。但是到这一集末尾时,即使最娇惯的小孩都已出发参加寻宝任务,在整座村庄里收集晚饭需要的用具和食材,然后带着完成任务——而且是由他们独立完成——的自豪感而归。

在之后的一集节目中,所有人骑着骆驼去沙漠里搭帐篷。像所有优秀家长一样,爸爸们假装孩子们真的在帮忙搭帐篷,虽然他们不过是添乱而已。其中一位老爸假装让儿子砸帐篷桩,结果被砸到了大拇指。另一位老爸不知道怎么点燃野营炉子,却拒绝接受自己6岁孩子的建议,而他的孩子确实知道怎么点炉子。

我们不禁开始怀疑到底该担心哪辈人。在农村之旅到沙漠之旅的短短数周内,除了一个3岁的孩子(这么点年龄或许不该受这番折腾),其他孩子都获得了惊人的成长。这群孩子到最后看起来一点儿也不比其他地方的小孩娇惯——我的两个孩子已经十几岁了,最近受邀去中国沙漠骑一次骆驼,他们的忍耐力还不如那几个小孩,而且他们还不用在沙漠里过夜。

或许中国孩子并不像传统观点以及他们的小皇帝父母所认为的那样叫人担忧。不过还是等他们变成青少年时再下结论吧。

译者/曲雯雯

刚表态过的朋友 (1 人)

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