Sat, Aug 25, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Indigenous kitsch?`n' schtick

Dear Johnny,

A few weeks ago I went to Taitung for the Rukai Harvest Festival and in the evening went to an "Austronesian" concert in a park by the ocean.

What a disappointment! Cruel joke, actually. Instead of Austronesian music, we sat through tedious traditional Korean and Japanese fare and loads of Mandarin pop songs -- either of which is all right if one wants to hear them and is expecting them. But to be subjected to them after eagerly anticipating an evening of Austronesian culture? Please!

I missed the first act, which was Maori and which was said to be great, so the only one I saw was one from Fiji, which the MC greeted with whoops of "Yahooo!" -- hardly appropriate once you saw the group perform.

And what's up with the picture of Taitung Mayor Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) on all the posters and free fans? Can't Taiwan leave the pan-blue/green thing alone even for a minute? For crying out loud, what does "Taiwan as the homeland of the Austronesian peoples" have to do with petty Han politics?

You always have a ready retort, what do you think?

Christopher Peck


Johnny replies: A ready retort? You got it. Never trust a government to hold a credible cultural event when the leader of that government divorced her corrupt husband to get elected as mayor -- not out of disgust at her hubby's conduct, but because it was the only way to get around the rules and keep the political power in the family.

Do yourself a favor, Christopher. If you want to avoid outrageous exploitation of Aboriginal culture for political ends, avoid 90 percent of Aboriginal performances here. Governments are largely where the money is, and one must respect one's benefactors.

As for the genuine Aboriginal cultural activists over the past 30 years, one part is in the pay of China, another part receives no money and has little resources, and still another has died off.

Beitou girls under attack

Dear Johnny,

Regarding Steve from Beitou's letter (Johnny Neihu's Mailbag, Aug. 11, page 8), thank God people don't speak on the MRT. We have enough inane conversation back home in the UK on buses and so on without some lunatic sitting next to you asking about the weather.

Mind you, the real reason for this is that Taiwanese people are not really socially minded or outgoing. Would you be after donkeys' years of suppression under martial law? They must be the only people on Earth that do not dance at weddings!

Steve also reflects on the fact that ugly guys get the hot girls. Hot girls in Beitou? Where are they? The mind boggles.

Pete Jones

Wolverhampton, England

Johnny replies: Hey guv'nor, when was the last time you were in Beitou? The last time I was there, the streets were swimming in pheromones. I've been there a lot of times, and the ladies of that district have nothing to be ashamed of.

I dispute that Taiwanese do not dance at weddings. They dance on the inside. If they live in the mountains or on large chunks of the east coast, on the other hand, they dance in very large groups for hours on end.

And I assume that your definition of "outgoing" does not include going out to the KTV, going out to the movies, going out to sweep tombs and going out to political rallies?

Nervous magpies

Dear Johnny,

Instead of castigating poor old Ma "Greased Hair" English-Joe, don't you think he ought to be praised for his honesty and forthrightness in choosing the Taiwan blue magpie as his election mascot?

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