Today (24 September 2018) is the ACTUAL day for Mid-Autumn festival. and the day after the performance at Esplanade.
I am aware that not everyone might have seen this special edition 4 beauties advert that Sharon and I did as part of the performance, just for fun. Or if they did, if they actually understood what they meant.
As Mark Twain famously said, “Explaining humour is a lot like dissecting a frog, you learn a lot in the process, but in the end you kill it.”
If I explain the symbolism and meaning behind it, you would probably go like “orhhhh…… ok.” But I guess I tried my luck at first try with those who got it (I have had China friend telling me she couldn’t stop laughing at some of the posters which another friend told me she couldn’t understand). And that’s great! I think it’s wonderful that my posters reached out to very different people in the population!
But because we should never take for granted the importance of education, I will explain them slightly a bit more behind each concept because also, I think if someone doesn’t explain his/her intention, people can read too much or too little into it. I used to study literature in school and I often wondered, why can’t the writer just call a spade a spade, or write more about his/her intentions, because it did seem like we could always fluff things up and sound brilliant by overanalysing things. And I hated fluff. So I figured, to MINIMISE the chances of misinterpretation/over-interpretation (whichever’s the larger evil), I’m going to explain a little bit more of why I wanted to use those captions and the references/inspirations.
So I was talking to my bestie at work Jermaine about this project, and she mentioned that she would love to have something that brings a local flavour to it in this whole mix of the 4 beauties. Then we thought of what might work, and initially, we wanted to do it at the void decks of our HDBs, but you know, I don’t really do outdoor stuff so I swapped it for the indoor shoot. Simply because I don’t want to do too much laundry, and pay for too much taxi fare (I’m on a shoe-string budget). So that’s how this entire series started.
If you came for the show, you would know that Xishi’s known for her signature frown. The one that Dongshi tried to emulate to her own detriment of course.
I realise that most of the 90s kids would not get this joke, because this is referencing a 90s Guinness beer commercial ad by George Lam. It was so random, so frequently played that it was deeply engraved in many people’s minds.
So it was the Before and After “plastic surgery” comparison for Durian. From the stinky fruit that Xishi would frown upon, to a processed mooncake which she smells with a smile. Also the word for Durian in Chinese was also kind of alluding to matters of the heart and the solution where she kind of confronts it bravely, is kind of empowering.
There are several layers of this.
Then there’s is Zhaojun, poor thing, who arrived from living for decades in the cold weather north of China. So I thought, well maybe she could do well with a fan or something from the southern region? Maybe something made from reed? I remember growing up with similar types of fans, and my grandmom would use them to fan us to sleep when it got too hot.
When I went to Kong Chow Wui Koon (a local clan house) a while ago, I was told that such plants and the items that are made from this plant is an important part of their cultural heritage as they often used many of materials made from such plants. I might be mistaken about the plant because I’m very bad at animal and plant names, but they look really similar.
So what better way to fight heat than to have some Snow Skin mooncakes this mid-autumn! My favourite, though they can get a tad too sweet! Definitely not good for the fight against Diabetes!!
There’s also this poster of Zhaojun holding a snow skin mooncake and captioned “freeze your husband’s age” or “half it”. This is in reference to Zhaojun being married to the Xiongnu king, and after the king passed away a few years later, she married his son. We kind of wanted to make it look like a bit advert-ish, cos it’s just fun to laugh at some of the nonsensical adverts I have to endure while watching things.
I kind of make a mental note of which brand disrupts my show/video, so I will not buy from them cos SCREEN TIME IS PRECIOUS!
Yes, the crowd favourite. Before my shoot I’ve been told by many that their favourite beauty is Diaochan because they felt that she’s the most seductive and gorgeous one. And Diaochan certainly didnt’ disappoint!
I got her to “star” in a spoof of “bareskinproject” because Yes, I kept getting these videos that seem a little OTT, trying to go down the female empowerment track. But really, the best bareskinproject is when you remove your masked appearance.
I grew up with the paper lanterns and cellophane lanterns were often seen as a luxury. I never had them. As a migrant, my parents were really frugal and I would always look at the other kids playing with the cellophane ones and tell myself, it’s ok, it’s plastic so when the candles accidentally burn them, it’s more harmful to health. That’s how I cope with disappointments and convince myself the other side of things as a kid.
And then there’s the story of how Diaochan’s so beautiful that when she was praying to the moon, the moon was so amazed by her beauty that it hid itself behind the clouds in shame. So when there’s no moon, you can always count on the lanterns. Kind of alluding to the saying as well “when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”.
This is a Chinese reference to Dongzhuo–one of the two men that Diaochan’s supposed to seduce. So Diaochan (yes this is the dancer Diaochan) was sent to seduce Dongzhuo cos he was well-protected by his godson who was the formidable Lü Bu. And she’s essentially saying that no matter what armour of protection you have around, I’ve got you.
My China Chinese friend said she couldn’t stop laughing at this, but I realised that my other Chinese friend didn’t quite get it, so thought of just explaining a little of the context.
LADY YANG GUIFEI
Then there’s Lady Yang, who was known for her plus size. She’s definitely the best person to advocate body confidence! 😛
And if you have come for the show, you would know that Guifei was closely associated to the Mooncake and its name. She was said to love all kinds of pastries (sweet tooth probably!) and one day during the mid-autumn festival, she was having all kinds of pastries before her. She picked up one and liked it, so she called it Moon Biscuit.
So here’s wishing everyone a happy reunion at this Mid-Autumn festival with your loved ones. Because wherever your loved ones might be, and whichever era you shared a fond memory with them, just remember that we’re all gazing at the same moon, past, present, future, East or West.