Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica was great. Shown as part of the Wellington Film Festival, it drew most of the top type talent in the city there: self, Kris Sowersby, David Philpott, Len Cheeseman. Seeing your mates on the big screen was also a joyous experience: Otmar Hœfer’s bow tie was unexpected (we had dealt on email for over a decade so I never knew the man’s dress sense); and, as I expected, even if no one else did, it was our Germanic colleagues (Erik, I am talking about you) who had the best sense of humour about the typeface family. In a liberal town like Wellington, Paula Scher (who has never done a bad piece of work in her life) was pretty popular among the audience.
As for me, I have always been a convert to modernism and to Helvetica itself. I still remember the moment in 1979, at primary school, when I saw Helvetica Medium (the Haas weighting system) in The Lettering Book. The book was $4·95. I never asked my parents for it. Perhaps by not having it, I was more drawn to creating my own typefaces. It is in contrast to Kris, whom I know has a dislike for Helvetica. Me, I went on and did my own Swiss typeface family for Lucire, which I think is more legible—but it plain isn’t Helvetica.
I take my hat off to Mr Hustwit for showing us the notes between Miedinger and Hoffman as Neue-Haas Grotesk took shape in the 1950s and for exploring the issues that led to the family’s ubiquity in the 1960s and 1970s.
My thanks to my former student Susi Lang for arranging my ticket. When she asked where we could see Helvetica used while in the cinema, I asked her to look down at the seat numbers. And there it was. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:36
Of course I can’t post the conﬁdential bits of a team meeting that we had with some of our folks in California, but what was interesting was a discussion on how New Zealand and Helen Clark are perceived there.
If New Zealanders like making fun of “dumb Yanks”, then let us know now that we don’t look too smart to them.
Jon Stewart has (rightly) used the country as comedic fodder in the US now, now that New Zealand has passed some weird rules saying we can’t show MPs in a bad light in Parliament. There were some stringent old rules, too, which were breached regularly, but the new ones are pretty far-reaching for our elected ofﬁcials. As the Press Gazette explained:
… the media often used wider-angled shots or published photographs of MPs napping, reading comics, eating lollies, and in one notable case, giving another MP the ﬁnger.
Occasionally, media organisations were punished for this, but only by the withdrawal, for a set period, of their right to attend the chamber.
The new standing orders make a breach a contempt of Parliament, potentially punishable by imprisonment.
This is a party in power for too long, letting the idea of parliamentary sovereignty get to its head.
Though the government denied it at the time, it is essentially a clamp-down on the freedom of the press. In other words, TV cameras, for example, can’t show a MP ﬂipping the bird, even if it happened, or dozing off.
When I was at law school, we were taught that if a regular Joe Bloggs could see something publicly, then it is probably OK to ﬁlm it, unless it crosses the line of common decency (e.g. inside someone’s house). And since regular people can watch parliamentary debates, then whatever goes on there can be ﬁlmed and shown to us.
I think our government has forgotten that it is here to serve us. That this is a democracy, not some goddamn commie state. (Unless this is some demonstration to Red Chinese politicians that we are taking their orders.)
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, satire is outlawed. (Just like in Red China.)
The fact is, we do have such ill-mannered louts in Parliament. This is the honest-to-God truth. They have passed this law out of their shame. And they should be ashamed for not doing their jobs and representin’. In a company, maybe not one here since ﬁring someone is illegal, but one overseas, they would be sacked.
Hey, morons: if you don’t to be shown in a bad light, then behave yourselves.
Now press freedoms have been curtailed.
And our American readers wonder why some of us are tired of having liberals in ofﬁce.
Even among liberals, there is a lack of support for this move, one that I see as undemocratic. A bit like when this same government passed ex post facto laws (ones that would be illegal under the US Constitution, or, indeed, most fair-minded democracies) about political ﬁnance. Here’s one poll:
The vast majority of people in New Zealand are against a recent rule approved by lawmakers that bans using images captured inside Parliament to satirize, ridicule or denigrate lawmakers on broadcast and print media, according to a poll by TNS released by TV3. 71 per cent of respondents disapprove of this measure.
Someone please tell me why we are even bothering with spending our tax dollars on tourism campaigns to Americans and funding newzealand.com (one of our advertisers) if news of our undemocratic ways is now the stuff of jokes in US television shows. I mean, Americans know more about our weird-ass political follies now than they do about, say, Cuba’s.
My Californian colleague continued along these lines: ‘What has Helen Clark done for New Zealand, apart from being really good at getting photo ops and talking about Lord of the Rings, which she probably hasn’t seen? What is her legacy for New Zealand?
‘We just see her taking every opportunity to talk in tourism brochures and TV shows.’
Remember, folks, this is from a foreigner. And all this is the sum of how New Zealand is being seen.
What this tells me is that we need to pick up our game.
I may be wrong, but from what I know, our MSM seems to have ignored Mr Stewart’s programme’s criticisms, although it was networked here. We in the media should stand up, not bend over.
I imagine that with the farting Phil Goff gag that Mr Stewart showed, our networks can always license footage to the Americans and let them broadcast it instead, to get around the contempt charge. That will do wonders for our foreign relations.
In Mr Stewart’s words:
Fear not, for you may not be able to shit on your politicians, but I can be your anus.
I have always said that people can see through hype, especially in the 21st century. If a marketing campaign lacks transparency and integrity, then it becomes a joke. And we now have that joke.
The only problem remains this: I can’t see too many alternatives to this bunch of shame-driven dorks. Because it seems the Leader of the Opposition is as vision-off as the incumbent. He did, after all, support the move—and one National Party member questions why I think leader John Key will lose them the next General Election.
The only party that didn’t was the Greens, voted down 111 to 6 (I believe our Parliament has 120, so three MPs were either napping, ﬂipping someone off, had their hand in the candy jar or absent on a toilet break).
Vision, transparency, accountability. Not too much to ask of someone who should lead a nation. Might I add dignity? Posted by Jack Yan, 12:20
Dan Gordon asked if he could see an earlier iteration of the business card design I blogged about yesterday.
I wrote that the ﬁnal design was created in the single ﬁle and that the earlier versions no longer exist, but I realize as I type this that I was wrong. We did have a version that we used for prooﬁng.
But for starters, I want to post the 2006 design (that has been with us in a similar vein since 1999).
I know, there’s not much wrong with it, and the rationale for the change was explained yesterday.
Here is that earlier draft.
The colour shift in the Lucire logo is probably due to previewing in CMYK versus RGB or just a reduction in colours for the GIF above. As mentioned, this has a layer of type in a lighter colour, giving a “watermark” effect. Each person’s name would be set in JY Fiduci Italic 48 pt. It was agreed this cluttered the card.
For completeness’ sake, the ﬁnal design:
I’ve just ﬁled the bunch away in my card holder and they look pretty good compared to the old ones (not everyone got new ones). It was important they worked alongside the old, too, and I think this design fulﬁls the different parts of the brief well. Not the most original, but clean and elegant.
Oh, and nothing on the back—putting stuff on the back does not work with card holders! I never understood why people did that, unless the type is rather large for the visually impaired. There, offset might work better … Posted by Jack Yan, 07:15
Ironical that I can’t get C4 very clearly here and that I will probably be out, but yours truly will appear next on a TV documentary about the Cadbury Dream Model Search ’07 on Saturday 7 p.m. in New Zealand. And thank goodness it is in line with some of what I do, in this case publishing Lucire.
I already have the ﬁrst pic from the fashion shoot with Elle Gibson, the winner, here—Hannah Richards’ photography and Barry Betham’s styling are beautiful. But before all that happened, there was a lot of deliberation with the judges.
I don’t know how the editing went, but I am betting that Duane Gazi from Trump Model Management, one of the more ﬂuent and authoritative voices in modelling, will and should get a lot of coverage. And I hope to see Caroline Barley of Nova in the programme heaps—without her, there would be no competition.
For those looking for controversy and bitchiness, you might not see much with us. We had very collegial judging sessions and from what the girls tell me, things went very well with the competition itself. But I am certain this will be watchable, especially among those who like reality TV, since it is, well, real. The backstage pressures, the need to deliver a verdict—that’s still there. What we didn’t have were phoney-baloney moments that could be cobbled together to make one person look bad.
What the girls got up to, I don’t know: they were separate from us and chaperoned, and undoubtedly there will be moments there, since they are the real focus and were followed around by two TV crews for days. However, there has been no fallout from contestants moaning on blogs—unlike the many anonymous comments after Miss New Zealand that can be traced back to certain young “ladies”—as I think most of the ﬁnal 12 I met realized that they were already winners, having been selected from 900 nationally.
Elle has already had a great start and I am willing to bet that the others are already prospects for the agencies. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:54
I am getting new cards tomorrow—digitally printed. While I prefer offset, the cost is just too unreasonably high compared to digital. And they mark another little step at Lucire as we retire the “eyes” screened image that has been part of the stationery since the 1990s.
The eyes were put on to the stationery to save costs. When the cards were designed, in an age of offset printing and spot colours, we had a plate already made featuring the eyes from the corporate ones (at Jack Yan & Associates). They contributed to the cards and actually lifted the design, plus they gave a clear link back to the parent.
After nearly a decade (the ﬁrst years of Lucire saw us simply use JY&A cards), it was time to abandon the image, given that the reason for their use no longer existed. Digital printing is a very different creature, allowing for endless customization. And most of the team favoured a clean look. I just wish the type was sharper with digital, but the layman will never notice.
We used the traditional Lucire typeface for most of the sans serif details, including the ‘A JY&A Media publication’ endorsement. A second title will follow pretty much this look. The serif typeface is Kris Sowersby’s Slabb, which was launched in Lucire’s print edition just under a year ago.
I was tempted to see a watermark, featuring the cardholder’s name in 48 pt type, slanted at 8 degrees, as the background for the left half of the card, but we removed it after discussion. I think the removal of all screens was the correct decision.
The cards are also multilingual: they are meant to reﬂect the languages spoken by the cardholder and most Swedes will agree I am a long way away from being able to feature their language. It does mean that my degrees no longer feature on mine—I may have to give out my corporate ones if I need something in a more academic context. Having fancy-pants degrees seldom comes up in a fashion magazine discussion.
Bored with this design? This link will alleviate that. The creative business cards there are clever, just not totally practical for our purposes. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:52
As some of you know, I’m not a huge fan of Firefox’s typographic capabilities. But you would have expected the mainstream media here to have fêted Ben Goodger, the lead developer on the browser—or at least the man who took it to launch. Though London-born, Mr Goodger was raised in New Zealand and is a University of Auckland graduate. I am sure Kiwi computer geeks know this, but why I had to learn about it through an American book is beyond me.
Mr Goodger has, essentially, changed the face of mid-decade computing. When Firefox came out, it quickly racked up 10 million downloads. And while I don’t use it as my browser of choice (I prefer Maxthon), its share of the market is signiﬁcant, in providing a challenge to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
He may have gone off to Google these days, working in California, but I was surprised to only be able to dig up 10 articles on the man in the Google News archive, though he has a healthy level of actual Google references. Yes, some of these are from Kiwi newspapers. But the fact is, a man like Mr Goodger should have received a lot more press in New Zealand while he was here—given his contribution, he should be in the public consciousness. Never in Firefox’s three years have I ever heard its proponents here tell me of the domestic connection. Yet New Zealanders are usually quick to point out when foreign-born folks make it big here: Sam Neill, Keisha Castle-Hughes and Anna Paquin come to mind in the acting business. They may not be born here, but they are true-blue (a New Zealandism meaning genuine, not Conservative) Kiwis in the minds of folks here.
Meanwhile, reality TV stars seem to get more press.
Little wonder that late-1990s research on this country’s nation brand showed that New Zealand was weak (in perceptions) in science and technology. We could have ﬁxed it then. Labour has stepped up to the plate with Dr Cullen’s latest budget with some tax breaks, but then it has “only” been in power for eight years to ﬁgure this out. In this tourism-focused, celebrity-worshipping and sport-mad environment, Mr Goodger’s world-changing contribution just wasn’t cool enough for the MSM. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:30
[Cross-posted] I read some disturbing news: Hollywood is thinking of remaking Bullitt, one of my all-time favourite ﬁlms, and putting Brad Pitt into the Steve McQueen role.
I don’t have much against remakes. I am looking forward to Life on Mars set in Los Angeles, unlike a lot of my Brit friends who have not been this aghast since the Germans bought Rolls-Royce. I even went to see 2003’s The Italian Job set in Los Angeles, and told my Brit friends who had not been that aghast since the Germans bought Bentley.
I’ve nothing personal against Brad. I like the social causes the bloke is getting into. But even he must be smart enough to know that there will be a certain proportion of Earth’s male population who think that this is sacrilege. We are talking Holy Grail stuff here. And there are more reasons against this idea.
10. Most straight men (and let’s face it, most gay men) would prefer Daniel Craig in the role.
9. The bad guys will not look as menacing in a 2008 Dodge Charger.
8. You cannot re-create the scene where Jacqueline Bisset drives Steve McQueen back into the City on 101 because they would be stuck in gridlock.
7. Because of his personal interests, Brad would spend too much time ﬁlming the architects’ ofﬁce scene.
6. The crew would be distracted when Angelina comes to visit on set.
5. Bullitt and Delgetti would be arrested as terror suspects at San Francisco Airport for leaving their car and running inside.
4. That annoying creaking sound heard on the soundtrack (it’s the noise of Steve McQueen turning in his grave).
3. ‘Hotel Daniels’ on Embarcadero is now the site of the HQ for the Gap, and it would be seriously bad publicity to kill the witness there.
2. The serious risk that Robert Vaughn’s character will be played by Tom Cruise as a Scientologist seeking respectability.
1. No dude who has worn a skirt (Troy) can replace Steve McQueen. Posted by Jack Yan, 12:16
Finally, the links for Lucire on Zinio are up. You can now purchase Lucire’s print editions online, in a digital replica, without the paper and postage (which, I must say, is a real killer from New Zealand—and I do not mean just environmentally). Since Zinio is an overseas company, those outside New Zealand can purchase copies without the 12·5 per cent sales tax, so each issue is a measly NZ$8·80 (around US$7 due to the falling dollar there).
Linked from the web edition’s cover:
• Click here to subscribe to digital copies via Zinio
• Click here for single copies via Zinio
My thanks to the Australian (especially Peter Grimshaw) and New Zealand outposts of Zinio, who sorted stuff out when the US head ofﬁce could not. Posted by Jack Yan, 10:17
An item of conversation from last week at drinkies for one of the team: an acquaintance is wondering about the media, and asked me how I would handle any attacks. Given that the media have generally been very nice to me since I started making the news in the mid-1990s, it’s hard to say, but examining my friend Jen Siebel’s case that I wrote about in Lucire a few months ago, it’s not hard to summarize the motives of the negative as an extension of John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory. Some of the gossip press can be grouped into this bunch and as the blogosphere grows, we can expect to ﬁnd more opinion masquerading as fact across the board.
Here, then, are their motives.
1. They believe that they should have the right to free speech, but you do not, or that their right is superior to yours.
2. They pretend that they are an authoritative voice on the subject, even if that doesn’t gel with why they avoided approaching you for a comment. They fail to understand basic journalism.
3. They so believe in their authority that even if you are an eyewitness who was there at the event or involved in the situation, your testimony is less credible than theirs. For some reason, it’s more comforting to the fantasy world they built in their heads to believe the lie because the truth brings it all crashing down.
4. They generally have some sort of insecurity or an absence of a real life that they have to become ﬁxated on yours, usually as a form of transferring their own shortcomings on to another target. (Where else, after all, do they come up with the adjectives they use? Answer: their own subconscious.)
It is a mental health issue. Don’t ponder it: leave it to the experts and just continue to do what you are good at.
I was also asked why, if I spout off about politics all the time, do I not get involved formally (beyond the now-defunct 99 MP Party, which would have been more fun to set up after blogs became mainstream). I answered that Darwinists are always seeking the missing link between the ape and the civilized being. Their answer is Parliament. And I am not prepared to muck in. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:49
I must have seen a dozen tenth-generation Toyota Corollas and Aurises since their launch in New Zealand last month. Good on Toyota for getting the marketing right and as much as I dislike Toyotas, I have to admit that these folks deliver what the public wants. First rule of marketing.
By the same token, I have seen a grand total of two Daewoo Toscas (Holden Epica), if you do not count the car yards, in the last two months. One in Wellington, one in Auckland. Hang on, one of them was in a car yard.
Will Holden New Zealand learn, as it did with the JB Camira? After a year, General Motors New Zealand Ltd. switched from Australia to Japan for the 1984 Camira, bringing in Isuzu Florian Aska kits and rebadging them with a more Aussie-sounding brand.
With the CD345 Ford Mondeo due to arrive and trounce the Tosca, Holden’s only option in the New Zealand market, where mid-sized sedans and wagons are still beloved, will be the Opel Vectra D. Opel Vectra C Caravans were never sold here, and Holden handed that market on to a platter to Ford’s CD132 Mondeo and the Toyota Avensis.
Now it has a chance to get it right—maybe even sell the Vectra as a premium mid-sized car, just as it does with the Daewoo Lacetti and the Opel Astra in the compact sector, both with Holden badges presently. It might work, because I still believe the Daewoo Tosca to be, relative to its higher-tech and older rivals, a danger to the New Zealand public.
We aren’t as price-sensitive as Holden thought over here, especially when it comes to such an important purchase. Brand and product quality rate more than selling Holdens at dirt-cheap Korean prices.
Remember, in the remake of the French ﬁlm Taxi, Queen Latifah refused to get in to a Daewoo until her driver opened the door for her, because she didn’t want to touch the brand. Regardless of the VE Commodore’s excellence (and there are a lot of them in New Zealand), the Daewoo touch is a dangerous one to have in an age of accessible luxury. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:52
From last week’s news: Prince gave away his latest album, Planet Earth, with the Mail on Sunday tabloid in the UK, making it available to anyone who wanted to shell out £1·40. Record companies and retailers are outraged, calling him traitorous or worse.
From Prince’s point of view, it reinforces his brand as a maverick, got him heaps of press, makes him appealing to those liking an antiestablishment nature, and even hints at him being a trail-blazer in an age where the income gap is a major social concern. While the album is reportedly not as good as Purple Rain or some of his 1980s stuff, it suddenly makes him relevant and newsworthy. Fuelled by the capitalist motive, the companies that are criticizing him now will be the ﬁrst to go back on their criticisms if there’s sufﬁcient hype on his next album—which there could be after a stunt like this. Posted by Jack Yan, 05:48
More “refugee” stories from 2006 that didn’t get pursued due to various internal problems. Amber Peebles, Miss World New Zealand 2003–4 and now an MTV New Zealand host, is a bit of a fashion designer in her own right. She made the lace top at left which John F. Cooper photographed her in for Lucire last year, and I remember a red dress which she wore to a L’Oréal Professionnel hair show a few years back as well. They aren’t the only ones: long before her Lucire cover story, Amber had been inspired by old Lucire photo shoots and created images for her own clothing, which were featured in the mainstream media during the year.
I wanted to showcase these along with paintings by international New Zealand-based artist Amanda Tomasoa that were also inspired by Lucire shoots and covers. I was thrilled to see these and they are examples of how brands are owned by the people whom they contact. While legally the brands belong to one of my companies, in practice brands and their perceptions are steered by audiences. Two of the three images Amber sent me are below—and it was nice to be able to return the favour so many months later by featuring a reader and fan on our cover.
Posted by Jack Yan, 05:06
The following is a release our company issued on behalf of some friends of mine.
We’ve been helping Seekom for many years and we even put their original logo together back in 2002. The idea is very clever and obvious: a lot of online booking systems for hotels and rental cars are based on probability algorithms. Seekom’s system is real-time, based on actual, conﬁrmed bookings.
Back in 2002 this was revolutionary, though others are muscling in to this patch these days. Still, Seekom has some big clients and partnership deals, and the below is its latest. I think the world of this system and obviously, it had to come out of New Zealand.
I know some of this gets into nerd-speak later, but the idea is still an amazingly sound one. If any blog readers here are in the hospitality industry where bookings are important, then I can recommend this system. Additionally, Seekom doesn’t want to compete and offer bookings itself: it is quite happy to be the technology powering others’ sites.
Seekom and Callista launch revolutionary automatic internet booking facility for Callista Hospitality
Wellington, July 10 (JY&A Media) Booking and distribution system developer Seekom Ltd. and the Callista Group, have joined forces to add a sophisticated and revolutionary automatic internet-booking facility and sales channel distribution system to Callista’s Hospitality system, it was announced today.
Callista’s customers can now use the Seekom iBex (Internet Booking Exchange) module which directly interfaces with Callista Hospitality, a front-desk reservation system, on a set-and-forget basis.
Innovatively and uniquely, Seekom’s and Callista’s systems can exchange available inventory and bookings in real time. Any bookings received via iBex are automatically and seamlessly entered into Callista’s system without the need for any user intervention at all.
This allows Callista customers to not only sell directly from their website but they now can provide a direct interface to an unlimited number of sales channels who can access this inventory on a ﬁrst come, ﬁrst served basis.
‘We chose Seekom not only because they had the most sophisticated web booking system on the market but they they are a technology company who do not sell in competition with our customers’ sales channels,’ says Roger Ansin, Callista’s Managing Director. Unlike other providers, Seekom gives us the ability to create and provide a fully automated interface. Now internet booking for our customers can be completely automatic, and completely transparent, says Mr Ansin.
‘Callista’s customers no longer need to rely on an allotment-based supply of inventory, effectively increasing the amount of inventory they can sell. For Callista customers, it minimizes the problem of having unsold rooms and eliminates the need to log into their resellers’ systems to manually update rates and inventory,’ says Simon Casey, Managing Director of Seekom. ‘In addition, Callista customers and channel members won’t know Seekom is there: to them, it will be seamless,’ says Mr Casey.
Seekom’s ability to cope with scale is particularly appealing to Callista. Callista has over 600 accommodation operators using its system in New Zealand, and has customers in 17 other countries including Australia and the UK. Since it released a major upgrade to its Callista Hospitality system in December 2006, properties with a combined total of 13,000 rooms, have so far moved to the latest version of the system, paving the way for easy access to the SeekomCallista internet booking interface.
Behind the technology
Mr Casey says that Seekom’s advantage is its ability to connect tourism suppliers and sales channels in real time using XML interfacing. When a booking is made by a customer or sales agent, the hospitality property knows about it instantly. A pop-up appears in Callista Hospitality advising that a new booking has been receivedinstantly and automaticallyand they will see the booking and details already loaded. Similarly, if a booking is entered directly into Callista Hospitality, Seekom’s iBex is instantly and automatically updated with these changes.
In addition, Seekom’s iBex can provide instant inventory conﬁrmations to various sales channels in one go. It also minimizes the problem of having unsold inventory. In traditional “ﬁxed allocation” systems, even on the internet, hospitality properties must deal with agents and customers separately which means they don’t have an instant understanding about what has been booked.
Fixed allocation systems also cause massive dilemmas for tourism suppliers which usually mean they have to guess how many rooms or inventory to make available to their resellers leaving these rooms ring-fenced and unavailable for sale by any other means. This situation also means that hospitality properties are constantly uncertain about which of their rooms they can even sell themselves. Moreover, they also need to manually log in to a reseller’s website to check on progress or to provide updates.
The CallistaSeekom interface eliminates all of this uncertainty and confusion by allowing hospitality properties to make all of their rooms available all of the time across the widest possible platform including their own websiteand the whole process is automatic.
The technical aspects
Seekom’s booking system, iBex (Internet Booking Exchange), uses
industry-standard XML technology to interconnect with other computer booking systems. A wholesaler or agent can read a hospitality property’s rates and availability in real time and the hospitality property’s booking system or property management system can be immediately updated with bookings from sales channels. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:33
This following week, we should be advertising Zinio subscriptions again at the Lucire website. Due to internal staff problems, which I have hinted at occasionally on this blog, we even dropped off Zinio, the digital magazine delivery service. Yet, given Lucire’s popularity, orders were still being taken.
Thanks to the Australian and New Zealand outposts of the service, we are back, and American readers can get the New Zealand edition without paying the excruciatingly high postage. They even get off paying sales’ tax, so each Lucire retails for a measly NZ$8·80 and you save a few trees in the process.
Those folks who ordered and never got issues during our troublesome period in 2006 will get their subscriptions extended.
I’ll post the link in the week ahead, since there is still a tiny thing to change with the copyright notice, which is being ﬁxed up on Monday. Posted by Jack Yan, 03:52
There’s only a month to go before the Bananas NZ Going Global conference (August 18–19) at the University of Auckland Business School, 12 Grafton Road. I’ve been asked to speak on Sunday, August 19, at 4 p.m., on the topic ‘The New Mainstream: Chinese on the World Stage’.
It was Alistair Kwun and his professionalism that got me convinced in being involved. The word, banana, as used in a derogative sense of a Chinese person who has yellow skin but white thinking, was a turn-off. It was only when Al explained the aim of the conference, about the integration of majority and minority cultures in New Zealand, that I became interested and accepted his kind invitation to speak.
I have always questioned being part of things that separated my culture from others’: I originally had to think twice about appearing on Suzanne Schokmann’s radio show on National Radio in 2004 because I feared it was Asian-only. Ditto with guesting on Asia Down Under on TV. If I did not see a connection bridging cultures—something I have spent a long time doing, saying that I am allowed to be as proud of mine as any member of the majority—I was not going to be participating in marginalizing mine.
My issue with the term banana is that I do not associate purely with any white thinking. I may like aspects of white culture, but then, I like aspects of black culture, Polynesian culture, Asian cultures—we are citoyens du monde and no one can claim, even in so-called isolated tribes, to be a monocultural thinker. But I speak my mother tongue, I run a company that I regard as Confucian, even if some tried to attack that once upon a time, and I have found success without selling out.
I am to talk about ‘What will Chinese communities look like in 10–20 years?’ and Wong Liu Shueng, Li Tao, Paul Spooney and I are to play futurist for an hour. Liu Shueng will chair.
It’s an interesting question that deserves some ﬂeshing out on this blog. The macroeconomist will point to the forces of outsourcing, of Red China taking over 90 per cent of global textile production, and of Chinese culture perhaps becoming more prevalent. We already have seen the Hong Kong ﬁlm makers come to the fore in the last decade, often (rich) refugees from the 1997 handover, escaping their homeland, just as so many ﬂed Nazi Europe in the 1930s. That was the second impact, when being Chinese became cool after actors such as Bruce Lee trail-blazed for us in the west in the 1960s and 1970s. (Interestingly, Richard Roundtree was my hero as a kid, and I even had a Shaft pencil case.)
That might have brought awareness, and now the business world is bringing a second one, tinged with concern. But with many taking up Mandarin these days—just as so many took Japanese when I was a child in the 1970s—our culture is being mainstreamed. But those who studied Japanese in the 1970s, just as those studying Mandarin in the 2000s, perhaps still view it as a foreign culture, discarded when economic forces change.
The idea of Red China being a production house for the planet—it even exports a lot of food to the US, for instance—is largely an inhuman one, looking at workers as cheap production units. It is easy for Red China to do this, with its workforce, causing potential resentment among blue-collar workers in other parts of the world. And as Red China gains expertise building western goods, the inevitable will take place next: designs that are inherently Chinese, without any trace of their western (or even eastern, for even Japan outsources to Red China) roots, will surface. Brands will emerge without western roots: beyond Haier, IBM and MG. That is the third cultural wave—after Bruce; after John Woo, Ringo Lam and Chow Yuen-Fat: the creation of products that visually represent Chinese culture in homes around the world. Services may well appear with a Chinese idea of customer relations: watch out for the notion of face being incorporated into the Swedish concepts of relationship marketing.
Al forwarded me a link which I immediately posted to my Facebook page, from Fast Company, on ‘The Next Cultural Wave’. This article puts the Beijing Olympics as the great marketer of Chinese values and art—and I agree. The talent is there and, as the article points out, the examples are there. Japan is shown as a nation that has its culture intact despite modernization; I would add to that, Korea, where you can just sense as you come in on the bus to Seoul from Incheon Airport.
This will impact on the new mainstream in a strong way in the next 12 to 24 months and the world, later this decade, will be an interesting place to live in. The principal danger is political, as I see it: if all this is applauded and accepted without our questioning Red China’s human rights’ and political record, then we will be fuelling a monster. The din will not go away.
However, I think this to be a subsidiary issue if the powers encouraging exchange are so strong. I believe President Bush, for example, when he says that liberty is a natural desire of human beings. Red China, with its diaspora, may turn more a shade of pink after 2008: if there is one lesson in history, it is that you cannot legislate against a behaviour that the majority seeks to practise. Overseas Chinese care about the homeland, speaking from the sidelines as we are going to do next month, and 2008 will bring renewed contact on so many levels.
While this may be a counter-revolutionary idea, as the Reds so willingly put it, it is something that it needs to be aware of. Self-determination is written into the UN Charter for a reason. The Beijing Olympics and the Three Gorges Dam have created massive environmental and social costs, including the displacement of people. This new “leap forward” has come at a price and it will be these issues that will go alongside the heightened contact with the mainland.
To answer the conference session’s question, I believe we will look more homogeneous in the next two decades. The idea of the exclusively Chinese home—something that exists only in theory anyway—is going to be dismantled. Individual cultures will be championed in the home, as optional identities to pursue. No culture will die per se; but they will be remixed. And in such a world, Red China will ﬁnd it has more to lose if it does not get with the programme, to preserve face as it tries to protect its economic engine and, in the next few years, protect the more positive side of traditional Chinese culture that it chooses to reveal to the world. Posted by Jack Yan, 02:59
[Cross-posted] I’ve had terrible trouble ﬁnding this via Vox, but it is on YouTube: my comments on al-Jazeera English’s Listening Post programme about Tony Blair’s legacy. Sorry for the sound quality. I think I live in a magnetic ﬁeld, à la Bermuda Triangle. I assume this is the correct video.
My bit is about seven minutes in. Triangle TV has aired it in Wellington and Auckland, I believe. Posted by Jack Yan, 00:33
Im munching on a Cadbury Dream chocolate bar which the major sponsor of the Cadbury Dream Model Search has supplied. (I have been spreading the love by giving away some of the chocolate to friends while I am here.) It was a good night, with Elle Gibson from Whangarei winning the competition, which includes a photo shoot with Lucire on Monday that Hannah Richards is helming. Barry Betham is styling, with Vada doing the hair and Phœnix Cosmetics the make-up. Then shes off to Sydney for a shoot there. She gets modelling contracts, cash, and more.
The judging process is conﬁdential though there will be glimpses of it on C4 later this month in a documentary–reality TV show. I am told that this is July 28 at 7 p.m.
The girls who didnt get prizes should not fret. Last year, nine of twelve ﬁnalists wound up with modelling contracts. The 12 ﬁnalists this year, by all accounts, were even better. I think the same thing will happen with their contracts.
Choosing a model was very different to choosing Miss Universe New Zealand, which I had to do earlier in 2007. There, it was choosing a beautiful, independent and conﬁdent young woman. Here, the criteria, as far as being a member of the media was concerned, differed. Youll have to watch the show on C4 later this month to learn what they are: I have sworn silence on the judging process.
Elle is 14, and the issue of a models youth is dealt with in the next print issue of Lucire in New Zealand. I met Elles Mum and stressed the importance of family in helping her career develop and ﬂourish.
Chloé Hamer (Lower Hutt) and Kathleen Cooney (Napier) were the ﬁrst and second runners-up. Shavaugn Ruakere was a fabulous compère and the show was over in around an hour, a good length for 2007s short attention spans.
No disrespect meant to the other competitions I have judged at, but this was the best organized I have ever participated in. Caroline Barley and Jo Bell deserve massive applause for their organization and their accommodation of sponsors requirements. The Rendezvous Hotel has been fantastic as well, from the moment I walked in the door. As to the Aston Martin DB9 from Independent Prestige: well, what can I say?
Its time to send out call sheets for the shoot. Posted by Jack Yan, 11:54
It appears that Tamsin Cooper and Trelise Cooper have settled their lawsuit and trade mark dispute as of 45 minutes ago.
The release reads:
As this issue has evolved, and with the signiﬁcant amount of media attention it has attracted, both feel that customers now have a better understanding between the respective brands.
Both Trelise Cooper and Tamsin Cooper have agreed that to continue with the case is neither productive nor beneﬁcial and energies are better focused on building individual brands and their future success.
Tamsin Cooper will continue to trade under her name in her current form without restriction and all legal proceedings will be withdrawn by Trelise Cooper.
You heard it here ﬁrst. I might check with the parties if I can comment more, since I was a witness. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:43
For six years, I have been telling people how fab Stefan Engeseth’s Detective Marketing is. Now, here’s your chance to get the fourth edition for free and judge for yourself.
Three hundred thousand people have already made this book a real success for Stefan (and most had to pay!), and if the fourth goes well, he promises a ﬁfth. I personally cannot wait.
The genius of the book is that you can ﬂip open to any page, and if you allow your imagination free reign, you can get truly inspired. Stefan has made it very easy to absorb. I remember reading the whole 176 pp. in one sitting when he marketed the second edition back in the early 2000s and have returned to it and the third edition frequently to get inspired for marketing and management. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:52
Lucire editor Laura Ming-Wong has given birth, seven weeks early, to a healthy baby boy, Ryder. Mother and baby are doing well. Congratulations to Laura and Adrian!
The funny thing was Laura was talking about feeling contractions at a team meeting last Friday and we all (including Laura) dismissed it. And I always had a gut feeling that my July trip to Auckland would be slightly ill-timed.
But I think this is actually a wonderful time for Ryder’s arrival with numerous things happening in August, not least my chairing a conference. So: thank you, Ryder, for being considerate with everyone’s work schedules!
I haven’t met this kid and already I like him. Posted by Jack Yan, 09:24
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