Sat, Jul 19, 2008 - Page 8 News List

Johnny Neihu's Mailbag

Johnny’s blind countrymen

Dear Johnny,

I have been amused on many occasions by the sheer irony that you present on cross-strait matters. Your article “Hey babe, wanna see my identity?” (June 14, page 8) conveys exactly the labyrinth of complications that exist between Taiwan and China, which unfortunately not many people seem to realize, or else choose to put aside.

Metaphors like “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” should be made known to everyone, and I strongly suggest that you translate this article and distribute it among the Taiwanese population, because at times it seems that Taiwanese don’t seem to know what is happening to them.

Alice

Johnny replies: Ah, Alice, it’s a universal truth that the older you get, the less people are inclined to listen to you. This is no less true in Taiwan, despite our alleged heritage of venerating the elderly (exceptions are made for choice of spouse, but even on this matter I was not consulted).

The fact is that in writing for a foreign audience I have to change my style so much that the jokes — or so I am told — are too difficult to translate. What about a rejigged Chinese version of the column, I asked? But no, there were no takers.

One time I was contacted by a local financial magazine for an interview. I said: “I’ve got grandkids to mind. Let’s do it by e-mail.” They said: “In person or not at all.” I said: “Later, dude.”

I may appear grumpy to foreign readers, but to locals it’s much worse: Sarcasm is pretty much taboo, unless you’re a legislative thug on the talkshow circuit. It’s a shame, really: Sarcasm was one of the most valuable things I took away from my jaunt across Europe in the 1970s.

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