So by now the majority of you have had your brain cells burnt out by the mindfuck of a film that was Inception, and most of us should have at least some basic infantile grasp of what the movie was about (dreams and spinning tops, or something like that). The film is now currently doing the rounds in Chinaand, as one of the only 20 foreign films to be shown in the motherland each year, this is a big deal. Furthermore, the film was released three weeks ahead of schedule since it apparently passed through censorship without any cuts. Christopher Nolan was probably buying drinks all round (or should’ve been), as the film soon went on to be the fourth-biggest opening ever for an American movie in China, behind Avatar and the two recent Transformers movies.
Nevertheless, like most movies shown in our proud motherland, Chinese audiences have taken to the film in quite profound ways. In Chinese the name of the film loosely translates to ‘a space for stealing dreams,’ which is a lot more helpful than the English title. But, obliging title or not, this didn’t stop some locals seeing the film over 4 times. The hype was so big that shops even started selling replicas of the signature spinning tops used in the film, and they sold fast, considering they were priced at for $130RMB each. An online buyer claimed he needed the spinning top to distinguish dreams from reality. In another province a special competition was held to find who could design the best 7 layers of a dream, and over inChongqing a man even tried to hire a psychologist to perform inception on his own wife ahead of their wedding.
This is not the first time a foreign film has generated weird reactions in China. Last year a young transformer fan was found to have been drinking gasoline for 5 years, after being inspired by Optimus Prime and his robotic crew. Also there was that other stupidly popular 3D movie about oversized smurfs which sent China into a frenzy when it was first released, with losers camping out and cueing for Avatar tickets from as early as 4am. The fiendish demand for Avatar led China to become the most expensive place in the world to watch the film, with tickets fetching up to $200RMB a pop. Lifeless locals saw it as a kind of status symbol, and our humble counterfeit nation even started printing fake cinema tickets. And let’s not even begin to mention the overly-detailed criticism or the popular tourist spot that was controversially renamed after a place in the film.
While the EU is currently under apparent threat from terrorism and Americais still suffering from economy woes, here in Hong Kongwe are facing a new kind of threat…from big green serial-killing trees. Well, OK, not exactly serial killing but definitely serial-injuring because there have been an uncanny amount of injuries caused by trees over the last few years. In fact, according to a survey released last Friday one in 10 Hong Kong trees is in danger of collapsing – and you’re more likely to be targeted by evil vegetation if you’re a tree-hugging hippy living in an wooded area (or a distracted iPhone addict watching porn whilst walking in the forest).
Based on the findings of the survey the Chinese University of Hong Kong are now calling on authorities to establish a tree-health database – you know, a catalogued database like IMDB, but to determine the floppiness of trees instead of films. But, while we don’t yet have something as advanced or supposedly necessary as a tree-health database set up, a team of 200 volunteers was nevertheless established last month. However, we still won’t be able to sleep safely at night, because these volunteers all happen to be Members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. What, didn’t you know democrats are the best tree experts around? Nope, nether did we.
The reason for all this tree hullabaloo? Well, it all stems from the Hong Kong Government’s fetish for concrete and development (and their ignorance of the natural world). Back in 2005 the incidents started with the luckiest tree in Hong Kong (the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, which is so popular that it has its own expressway exit and is shown on highway signs), which had an entire limb fall off, breaking the leg of a 62-year-old man and scratching the head of a 4-year-old boy. The other big indecent that reignited the paranoia in 2008 was the collapse of a 23-meter tree in Stanley, which killed a super-unfortunate 19-year-old (and caused the loss of thousands of dollars for businesses in the area, an insensible bastard of a shopowner said at the time). More recently, back in June of this year a falling tree hit a taxi driver and a pedestrian in central, and 2 weeks before that another evil tree took the life of a 49 year-old cyclist, who swerved to avoid a falling branch and ended up dieing in hospital where he died from brain injuries.
At the end of the day all this tree anarchy has only resulted in a more paranoid public and a government who now has another excuse to pave over more long-standing parts of Hong Kong and a better reason to remove dangerous municipal ‘hazards’ like greenery and heritage. What’s more is that a similar thing has already happened before, when the ‘more regulation is better regulation’ mentality led the Hong Kong Government to bury all our hillsides under concrete after a few mudslides resulted in fatalities back in the 90’s. So be on the lookout for more concrete and fake plastic trees – coming to a leafy area near you soon.
Originally published in the now defunct The Dark Side Hong Kong, 2010