Zachary Franklin of DeluxZilla shakes his finger at Shanghaiist for doing “everything short of link every time [Adam] Minter has to hit the bathroom” and springs to the defense of the US pavilion.
In a lengthy blogpost, Franklin says he finally woke up from the Kool-Aid that he says Minter’s been feeding us when he witnessed a “full crowd of Chinese enjoying the pavilion” who “do not care how the U.S. pavilion was built, where the money went or who got what in the process”. Compared to the Saudi Arabia pavilion which cost $160 million and the Chinese pavilion which cost $220 million, says Franklin, the US pavilion is not the most expensive.
He writes on:
Inside the pavilion, the opening movie features a range of Americans — including Kobe Bryant, Tony Hawk, Magic Johnson and Michelle Kwan — attempting to talk to visitors in Chinese. Kwan doesn’t need any help with her Mandarin, though her biography lists her as growing up using both Cantonese and English, but you can’t say the same for any of the other Americans in the video. That’s the point. Chinese laugh. They love it. They’re getting to see Americans screw up their language in a tasteful and humorous way.
Visitors are led to see a second film featuring the likes of U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The third film features a story, and the pavilion utilizes rattling seats for thunder and a sprinkling of water for rain when those parts come up in the narrative.
There are several points to take away from the movies and Chinese visitors’ reactions to everything happening around them.
First, the American university student volunteers represent one of the largest pavilion staffs at this Expo. In addition to hearing some excellent Mandarin, the staff is very clever with how they use the language. They tell jokes. They make the audience laugh. They improvise and interact with visitors. So when Su Su introduces the first act by saying her parents were from Sichuan, asks how many people in the audience are from that region, and then drops a line in Sichuan dialect just to get the point across, the Chinese perk up. They smile.
It might sound meaningless to some reading, but that kind of audience recognition is absent at every other pavilion at this Expo. Personnel are suppose to be there in a support capacity. They tell people where to go, how to get through the exhibit, and how to leave. The American staff talk with the Chinese. Because if you’re standing in line for such a long time — sometimes three hours — you’re not only going to want to sit down once you get in the pavilion, which is perfect for an American pavilion with two of the three movies having seats for visitors, but it’s a personal touch only the American pavilion can say it is doing. [Read more]
Read all about the Shanghai Expo here.