Sunday, 14 November 2010

Maybe we should have dressed up

It's Mardi Gras in Hong Kong!

To my foreigner consciousness, those words, Mardi Gras, roll around my head, bursting with imperative to be mad, bad and dangerous.

Am I alone on that one? Doesn't a carnival mean a little feeling that you turn the world upside down and experience the excess, disorder and abandon your body can visit on earth before you must become penitent and chaste and starve yourself into divine submission?

Maybe I'm wrong, and I'm mixing it up with bulimia. Maybe I'm just being miscued by those inviting, come hither words, Mardi Gras, hoping for naughtiness. In any case, today I find out, at the corporate sponsored event in Victoria Park, that whatever those words Mardi Gras mean over there, they don't mean the same over here, in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, those words might mean a corporate responsibility to reinforce community values; a duty to bring harmony and well-being to the general public through good works.

Which means we do indeed enjoy the sight of giant puppets, rod puppets, dramatic costumes, headdresses and hand-dyed silk flags.

We also are permitted blue face paint, kid arts in the park, craft stalls and many congratulatory speeches from the organisers, participants and CEO, relayed to you via a giant TV screen.

We also enjoy a highly controlled and organised queuing system with the maintenance you can expect from an army of old ladies who sweep the grass to remove the item dropped from your pocket in your thoughtless anti-community moment. Feel reprimanded and humbled, you miserable selfish individual.

And because the event involves children, do not, for one moment, hint at disorder, lack of control, undignified behaviour, wild abandon or danger. Not at any point. Nope. Unless you count the mud patch, which is cordoned off by security tape.

Someone might slip.

Everyone knows mud is dangerous.

I really, really, would like to think they are being ironic.

But of course they are not. This is corporate Mardi Gras, controlled China style. It is corporate China with social conscience: one country, two systems. Making money involves public works, charity, children, working with artists in schools and demonstrating all in public spaces, so it is for the community good. And it provides a useful front for the fact that there are some very wealthy people here, making a lot of money.

Down on the ground, in amongst the crowd, the day whispers of what I miss. Unpredictability, danger, foolhardy unwisdom, the possibility of doing everything your mother said, don't do that.

Anyway, in the interests of our cultural education, we stay for the day. Shark puts up her own display of anti authority behaviour when told to watch the very interesting and lovely dancers.

And for the rest of the time, we just look a bit like this.

1 comment:

sharon said...

That's three less-than-impressed faces. Most unusual pics of the gritlets.