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《纸牌屋》美国政治缩影

2014-02-24    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

TV drama rattles notions about US politics

同时在中国和美国首映的第二季《纸牌屋》引发了大家对美国政治的纷纷议论。独家热播平台搜狐视频称点击率已高达900万,目前搜狐正在紧锣密鼓地进行推广活动。

Season 2 of House of Cards, which debuted simultaneously in China and its home country, is creating waves in the form of discussions about US politics, among other things. The Chinese streaming platform Sohu.com, which claims to have garnered 9 million viewers for the show, is racketing up its promotional campaign.

But compared with domestic or South Korean soap operas, this melodrama of American-style deceit and dense plotting is perceived as a niche product on the high-end of viewership, thus bringing in an audience of quality rather than quantity.

(Full disclosure: I was invited by Charles Zhang, CEO of Sohu, to participate in the Feb 18 press conference as a special guest offering my interpretation on the show.)

The popularity of House of Cards in China is rooted in the Chinese penchant for backroom political maneuvering. Palace drama has long been a favorite for both couch potatoes and conspiracy theorists.

Sure, The West Wing has some of that, too, but the Aaron Sorkin drama was too gentlemanly whereas this Kevin Spacey series dovetails perfectly with China's own Zhenhuan, a lengthy costume drama and one of the highest-rated and acclaimed shows in recent years, which was later edited down to six episodes for HBO.

As a matter of fact, it has been nicknamed "America's Zhenhuan" by some TV pundits.

For good or bad, it has been serving as a kind of primer for US politics - at least in the minds of a significant share of the Chinese audience. Herein lies another secret for its success on this side of the Pacific.

People across the ideological spectrum are able to find something to support their own beliefs: Those who hate the United States can have a field day, saying democracy, American style, is a sham fraught with wheeling and dealing no less dirty than China's feudal system; those who love the US will counter that the limited power of every politician, no matter how high his or her position, works well in preventing the evil side of human nature from totally corrupting the system.

If you flip the coin, however, it can also be argued that the show busts preconceptions for all those whose rigid views of the US are mostly derived from abstract theories. The game in Washington DC is far from the idealist's paradise of everybody working for the people. But the biggest revelation could be: The US government does not function as a single brain when dealing with a variety of issues. Even when the voice is unified, what is presented to the world is often the shifting results of wheeling and dealing among several political forces.


Season 2 holds special allure because the plot deals with China. When the US president, the secretary of state and other politicians float their proposals for China policy, we see the decision-making process as a deliberation of pros and cons and the trading of various interests, rather than a single person plucking the light bulb of a great idea from his head. This could be taken for granted by Americans, but here it could be startling and revealing.

The learning curve seems to be going both ways. China, as a narrative element of newsworthiness, is also no longer one big enterprise of mystery. There are different interests competing for favors and projects. (Spoiler: The person who claims to represent the Chinese government turns out to be one with his own agenda, possibly a sign of US television showmen's growing knowledge of the complexity of Chinese politics.)

For those who rely solely on highly dramatized accounts, such as House of Cards, for political insight, the perception and understanding indisputably will be warped. Still, it will be less ludicrous than basing every opinion of a vast and complex political structure on some outdated doctrine.(ChinaDaily)

相关内容

比起国内或者韩国肥皂剧,这部阴暗腹黑的美剧被称专门为高端观众群体定制,因此吸引了高端的受众群,重质不重量。

(透露:我有幸受到搜狐总裁张朝阳的邀请,参加了2月18日的新闻发布会,并为该剧提供翻译。)

《纸牌屋》之所以在中国大热,根源在于符合中国人乐于窥探政治内幕的心理。宫廷剧一直是电视迷和阴谋论者的至爱。

当然,《白宫群英》也有一些类似剧情,但是艾伦·索金创作的剧太有绅士派头了,而凯文·斯派西出演的这部系列剧和中国的古装剧《甄嬛传》十分吻合,《甄嬛传》是近几年在中国最受欢迎的电视剧之一,被剪辑成6集迷你剧在美国主流媒体HBO播出。

事实上,有些电视权威人士还称《纸牌屋》为“美国版甄嬛传”。

无论是好是坏,《纸牌屋》被认为是美国政治的缩影,至少大部分中国观众是这样认为的。而该剧在太平洋西岸取得如此的成功还有另一个秘密。

无论持有哪种意识形态的人们都能够找到论据:那些讨厌美国的人会比较痛快,认为所谓的美式民主是一个用来耍手段的谎言,与中国的封建制度不相上下。那些爱美国的人则认为,无论政客的官职大小,靠着他们仅有的权力能够阻止人性中的黑暗面腐蚀整个系统。

然而,从另一个角度,你也可以认为这部剧为那些仅通过抽象理论了解美国的人洗脑了,洗掉了他们对美国的刻板印象。白宫政治与为人民服务的理想天堂相差甚远,但可能最大的启示是:美国政府在应对各类事件时,并不是单靠某个人。即便意见一致,呈现给众人的往往是几大政治势力不择手段后,摇摆不定的结果。

《纸牌屋2》因有中国元素而更具吸引力。当美国总统、国务卿和其他政客在实行他们的对华政策时,我们可以看到一个决策是经过正反两面的深思熟虑以及各种利益交换之后生成的,而不是某个人拍脑袋拍出来的。美国人也许认为这样的决策流程理所当然,但在国内这也许令人惊讶并有启迪作用。

学习曲线似乎往两方面走。作为有新闻价值的叙事元素,中国已不再神秘。不同的利益方在争夺支援和项目。(剧透:那个声称代表中国政府的人其实早有自己的盘算,也许这意味着美国电视人越来越了解中国政治的复杂。)

对于那些仅仅通过《纸牌屋》这样被高度戏剧化的电视剧来了解政治的人,他们的感知与理解毫无疑问会被扭曲。不过,这比起用过时的教条主义来钻研复杂的政治体系好多了。


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