Guo Jingming: I’m the Chinese dream of these Times

Looks familiar? The Christmas scene from the movie is filmed at no other than Guo Jingming's condo.

Looks familiar? The Christmas scene from the movie is filmed at no other than Guo Jingming’s condo.

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.

One of Guo Jingming’s alter egos in the film, played by Chen Xuedong.

“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.

Even Rhydian Vaugh’s Alexander McQueen umbrella and set of cups in the film are Guo Jingming’s. In case you were wondering, Guo Jingming does drink different types of water with different cups.

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.

Poor Amber Kuo blocks before a ginormous cloud of text approaching

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.

One of these two makes out with Amber Kuo’s character’s cousin Neil in the book. Can you guess which one it is?

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.

As Tang Wanru would say, “Chairs (Cheers)!”

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.

6 thoughts on “Guo Jingming: I’m the Chinese dream of these Times

  1. I recently watched the movie and read a few excerpts from some of his books and I can’t really say that he’s materialistic it’s just the way he wants to live his life.

    I read a few of his other interviews and I can’t say I agree to all his points but he does make a point and he simply makes it known.

    Everybody falls for a fairytale story, I can’t say I do too, I never got how those stories are happy, he just makes what the public is willing to buy and most people of our YA generation, in any country, wants that fairytale happy ever after.

    He’s smart and he knows how to make use of it. He’s confident and most of the time confidence is mistaken as narcissism by those who lack it, me included.

    I don’t agree with everything he says but I guess I admire his “frankness”?
    I wouldn’t say he’s someone I would commercially sell as a mentor to kids but people my age could learn a thing or two from him…

    Note to Writer:
    I agree, the second movie had more depth but it felt incomplete in some parts. In some parts of the movie I just didn’t get how we got there.
    …and are his novels translated to English?

  2. To be fair in this interview he sounds quite reasonable, but his movie was a load of…um yeah, the social class differences and ideas about materialism are dealt secondarily and the whole thing is very idealistic, I mean when have you ever seen someone who owns a multimillionaire company have a thing for his pay check friendly secretary. They’re two wholly different people who in real life wouldn’t even snort in each others directions. He sounds like a nice person who probably does have a brain hidden away somewhere, but he sounds like he’s lost his roots, he doesn’t sound like he has a grain left over from Sichuan. Everything he says doesn’t really show up in his work.

    • I feel like that’s pretty common (rich vs. poor relationships) in stories? Just think about how many princes fall for some random girl in drama/movies…. I don’t think being unrealistic is really an issue with movies, and I definiely don’t think every film need to deal with social class differences.
      The biggest issue with his movie was that he was trying to do too much. The second movie felt very jumbled and a lot of background explanations were lost. I also feel like the relationships are a bit random without a lot of the things in the book. Like the one with Yang Yang, or even basic Gu Li-Gu Yuan relationships

    • Like idarklight stated, these things are quite common in almost every drama, whether Asian or American. I feel like the whole unrealistic and materialistic thing is blown way out of proportions. Think about shows like Gossip Girl per se, very simliar in the sense that they are all rich and live a materialistic life style. Then you have the girl with absolutely everything falling for the brooklyn boy with absolutely nothing. If people really think about it, the majority of dramas, especially those idols ones, are based off a rich guy falling for the peasant girl.

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