Author-publisher-director Guo Jingming sits down with Sina‘s Chen Yiyi to discuss his version of the Chinese Dream, what it means to be an idol, the attacks on him and his works, and his visions for his foray into film. Translations of selected parts by me. Random gif’s of unknown origin included.
“I embody a part of their dream.””
Sina: The main audience of 《Tiny Times》 , those born after ’85, these youths, what characterizes them?
Guo Jingming: The biggest focal point is the pursuit of individuality. Our parents seek similarities in lifestyles, the same type of pants, same haircut, same food in the same cafeteria. But today, the lifestyles of the youth are of all types: you might like tattoos, and I like nose rings; you like rock, I like classical music. People are different, everyone’s a unique individual. There isn’t a “generation of people.” I think only under a twisted societal environment would there be the idea of “a generation of people” or “a group of people.”.
Sina: Why do they like you?
Guo Jingming: Because I seek my individuality. I don’t give in to others, and I don’t live my life based on the expectations of others. I think for them, I embody a part of their dream.
Sina: What dream?
Guo : What he can do, I can do, too. That’s the power of idols. It’s because I’m one of the thousands and millions of average Chinese kids. I remember a foreign media once said, the Chinese dream I represent, is not unlike the American dream.
Sina: What’s the core of your Chinese dream?
Guo : The core is to be successful without anything to begin with, and then to fly to the top and stand at the highest point of fortune and success. I’m not an heir or a “princeling.” I come from a small town in Sichuan with no connections. I’m not that handsome, and I’m very short. What do I have? My brain is the only thing I have. So me, being able to be where I am today, can inspire a lot of people.
Sina: What’s the signature of an idol?
Guo: To make other think – I want to be him.
Only those who do have the right to say.
Sina: The world facing the youth is more affluent in terms of material goods. Many elders would say, ‘you don’t know how fortunate you are.’ But do you really think their lives became easier?
Guo: I don’t think so. With increasing differences in fortune, the gap becomes larger, and conflicts are more intense. Actually, it’s when people who live under the same environments when such intense societal struggles would not occur. …. Is it true that when people leave the level of basic needs, they won’t be unhappy? conflicted? No. A society full of material goods will still make people unhappy and conflicted, just conflicted in a different way.
Sina: Then what should they do?
Guo: Stop being conflicted. If there’s a wall of iron in front of you, even if you break your head and die, you still won’t get over it, so don’t worry about it. If it’s a piece of wood, then it’s worth fighting for. For example, want to be the Chairman of the country? Then don’t worry about it, you shouldn’t have such dreams, right? But if today, I want to film a good movie, I want to write a good novel, that’s very difficult, but not impossible, then why not go and try! The worst thing if I fail is I would try again.
You’re so young and full of time, your opportunity cost in time is worth almost zero and very very low, then why not go and do it? So I think the youth should not just complain.Only those who do have the right to say.
Just like how someone on the internet said on a debate about success,”When I’m learning foreign languages, when I’m taking the TOEFL, when I’m becoming a registered accountant, you’re in your dorm eating instant noodles and playing online games, thinking about how to find a girlfriend and have sex outside, then who but I should be successful? You f***ing deserve to fail!”
I think it’s very correct I can also say, “When I’m writing books, I’m filming movies. I’m thinking about marketing schemes. When I’m working hard to ear money, you’re surfing the Internet, you’re on Weibo saying this person is a dumb a** and this person is an idiot, then you deserve to live poor all your life!” If the people who malign others on the internet, who only complain in life, succeed, then this world would be strange indeed.
I don’t pretend to be low-key, because this is the way I live.
Sina: Are you always so positive?
Guo: I don’t know, perhaps it’s in my personality. I’m the type of person who easily gives a positive spin on things.
Sina: Aren’t you mad?
Guo: Not really, if you say something that makes sense, I might feel a bit guilty. I’ll secretly say,” Darn it, he found me out.” And then I’ll secretly change. But there are some pointless accusations, like saying I’m too short. What am I suppose to do? I’m already a grown adult, I can’t grow taller, so what can I do? Am I suppose to be conflicted everyday, unable to sleep, ask myself and the heavens, “Why am I so short?” That’s really not necessary. There are also some where refuting doesn’t work, I just need to do it. Like some people say I plagiarized, I can’t direct, then I’ll go and write, direct.
Sina: Why do you think a lot of people and the media would focus on your “materialism”?
Guo: I think people are uneasy about the idea that “he’s so young, yet he earned so much money, and he doesn’t even hide it! How could he!” But I want people to know that I don’t hide things, I don’t pretend to be low-key, because this is the way I live.
Everyone’s fighting for good stories.
Sina: Why did you want to go into film?
Guo: I think I can make a company with the entire product chain, and not just have it stop at the novel, or even the film. I want to break the way for a chain from book to movie to distribution.
Sina: What do you think films need now?
Guo: Good stories. There’s no lack of good cinematographers or directors. Everyone’s fighting for good stories. My company’s advantage is that every year, I publish so many books with many many good stories inside them. That’s why many Hollywood film companies buy publishing books. Once I connect the two industries, it’ll change the fact that I used to only earn the upstream money, and I’ll be able to gain from the entire production chain.
Sina: You like to earn money.
Guo: I like doing things. Once you succeed in doing things, you can earn money.