NO: 100801817 Date: 2010.11.21
Similarities & Differences between Chinese & American Culture
In the movie "Gua Sha" I observed several similarities and several differences between Chinese and American culture. They are given in the form of a list.
Culture is defined as the symbols, values, material artifacts, and rules of behavior that a society or group collectively creates and uses. This movie was about a Chinese family that was falsely accused of child abuse in America. A Chinese film shot completely on location in St. Louis, this is an off-beat hybrid that never quite works, even though it has a worthy and intriguing central premise. A young, successful Chinese immigrant couple (Tony Leung Ka Fai and Jiang Wenli) give their 5-year-old son (Dennis Zhu) a painless, ancient Chinese treatment called Gua Sha, which leaves marks on the boy's back. This alerts the authorities, who take the child away and charge the parents with abuse and neglect. Numerous court hearings ensue, followed by lots of overwrought melodrama, which will probably please Eastern audiences much more than Western ones. The acting is uneven (the Asian cast is superb; most of the Americans are, frankly, awful), as are the production values (very slick camera work sits at odds with a cheesy musical score). First-time director Zheng Xiaolong will probably find success back home with this cautionary tale of life in the Promised Land. But few Americans or Europeans will take its TV movie-of-the-week sensibilities very seriously.
The Gua Sha Treatment is designed to discuss the culture differences. We can know that from Datong, the name of the leading man. Datong is a classical Chinese term. It refers to a utopian vision of the world in which everyone and everything is at peace. While life always plays jokes on people, Datong’s peaceful life didn’t last long. He was accused of abusing his son because of the bruises from Gua Sha.
Actually, Datong was not the person who gave the little boy Gua Sha treatment. It’s her father.
But Datong decided to be a scapegoat. This was a culture difference. In Chinese traditional culture, law is not important than affection. Though we also praise those people who put righteousness above family loyalty, nobody wants that happen to themselves. Chinese think that being a scapegoat for family members especially for father or mother is a responsibility.
The biggest culture difference the film showed us was that Chinese culture was based on experience while western based on specific evidences.
Gua Sha has been used as a treatment for thousands years, and many people advocate it for their own experience. Just like many Ancient Chinese technique, we just know it is useful but we can’t explain it clearly. So to persuade westerner to believe it seems impossible. Then cultures conflict happens.
But we can’t directly blame westerner in this case. Not only Gua Sha, but also laugh therapy
and so on are not accepted by westerner as normal treatments. It’s a responsible attitude for life. Because we know little about these treatments, we cannot make sure what is going to happen.
Some of the similarities that I noticed in this movie are:
Both children enjoy playing video games
Families share similar family morals
Read to children at bed time
Bed time stories have a lesson to be learned in them
Care for their children with their "all"
Father & mother's love for their children
Parents only want the best for their children and all of their dreams to come true
Parents work together for the well being of their children
Parents will risk their life for their children
Parents will lie to their children to protect them
All of these similarities can be seen in families from different cultures. Just because a family is from a different culture doesn't mean they don't share some cultural similarities.
Some of the differences that I noticed in this movie are:
Different forms of child discipline
The Chinese smoke while eating their meal
People from the Chinese culture eat their meals with chopsticks
People from the Chinese culture place their food in the middle of the table and they all share from the same dish and put it in their own dish.
Chinese culture has different forms of medication and treatments for illnesses
People from the Chinese culture are extremely protective of their families
The Chinese culture believes in “honor” and incorporates it into everything they do
People from the Chinese culture express their emotions much differently (they hide and control their emotions)
Everything in the Chinese culture involves respect (of people, objects, language, and beliefs)
Chinese people feel they will be treated unfairly in America because of the cultural
And how we should deal with it? Ancient Chinese have given us the answer: While in Rome, do as Rome dose. But we should not abandon our own culture, just like Gua Sha, a treatment that helps blood circulate better. So keep on Gua Sha and communication. May be someday there will be a Datong World.