The Great Gatsby finally arrived on the Chinese big screen. Jason and I went to see it on Wednesday afternoon. Having not read the novel, I could still surmise some of the thematic elements reminiscent of Fitzgerald. Certainly the most mesmerizing notions of the film had to be how the culture of 1920s New York resembles emerging middle and upper class China. Let me elaborate.
The cinematic version exposes the wealth, materialism, and decadence that permeated New York at the time. Gatsby accumulated the wealth that he did through dubious means. He did it for the mere bemusement of Daisy, and to win her back. This theme, I hope, resonates with Chinese audiences. Why? Mostly because the frivolous luxury of Gatsby’s parties along with the clothes and extramarital affairs occurs throughout the upper classes of Chinese societies. For example, it’s not uncommon for wealthy Chinese, particularly men, to have an ernai, or mistress. It’s also equally common for them to shower both their mistress and wife with lavish gifts. Lavish gifts often includes luxury goods, vehicles etc. They generally should be items that can be easily seen by others, as a result of face.
Although there may not be such decadent parties as displayed in The Great Gatsby, there is certainly a correlation in materialism and an over-the-top display of decadence (Note: In China, this is due to face) between the rising wealthy classes in China and the film’s characters. It’s something I noticed and therefore thought coincidentally would be interesting to note in the blog.