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Urban Chinese Family Life in the “Shower” Film

The reason for choosing this article for the research is its consistent arguments, analysis, and conclusions about the peculiarities of urban Chinese families. Furthermore, it has substantial parallels with the movie Shower and can be a good background for its understanding. The author discovers differences between Chinese and Taiwan family life by their comparative analysis within the scope of opposite development paths. The main idea of the article is to distinguish how different state’s approaches may impact traditional family mode and rules and what consequences the changes in Chinese government policy brought into domestic families. Whyte argues that despite PRC chose a socialist way of development, in comparison with Taiwan market-oriented policy, the features of Chinese families in the 1990s seem more modern (31).

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The article provides a considerable amount of empirical data, historical references, and statistics, which makes conclusions of the research conceivable. The most significant point in the article might be the analysis of the influence that two social revolutions of 1949 and after 1978 put on Chinese family mode. Whyte finds a contradiction: despite China did not undertake the “open door policy” but chose the social engineering one, domestic families were more likely to adopt Western families’ principles than Taiwan or Hong Kong (10). Indeed, principles such as parents’ financial independence from children or living in nuclear families are characteristic of modern Western family mode.

Shower has 17 awards and 5 nominations, as well as a plethora of positive reviews and fans around the world (Xi zao). Shower has a lot of direct references to the material described in Whyte’s article. Its plot narrates a story of Master Liu’s family, which might be challenging to understand for the Western viewer without an appropriate background. Liu has two sons – Er Ming, with whom he lives, and Da Ming, who lives separately with his wife and arrives at Liu’s bathhouse in the beginning. Here, the article may provide the audience with the fact that more than 60% of elderly Chinese live separately from all their married children (Whyte 16). One more point is that Chinese parents had earnings of their own, so they did not have to face a total dependency on their child (Whyte 17). However, children could work and usually live in the work-unit complex with their parents due to the absence of work during the Mao era, which became a kind of tradition (Whyte 15). Thus, the above facts might clarify the situation in Liu’s family at the beginning of the plot.

Then, Shower discovers the topic of the influence of modernity on the family. Liu’s traditional principles of family tenderness are opposite to Da Ming’s modern priorities of career and success. Whyte argues that despite parents supported old Chinese values, unlike their children who expressed more individualistic views, in the field of family obligations, there were no considerable generational differences (19–20). The director emphasizes the way that Da Ming goes to the traditional values throughout the movie and modernity aspects (mobile phone, shower, urbanization) that hinder him. In the final, the old kind Chinese traditions win and start to determine Da Ming’s deeds when he decides to take care of his mentally disabled brother. However, the film stresses that modernity threatens Chinese traditions by symbolical deprivation of the bathhouse due to urbanization policy (in his conclusions, Whyte claims the same about modernity threats (32)).

Works Cited

Whyte, Martin King. Continuity and Change in Urban Chinese Family Life. The University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Xi zao (1999). IMDB, Web.

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