Went to the annual Chinese New Year parade last night.... Id been told it was the biggest Chinese New Year parade in the world, outside of Taiwan/China. Id seen one in Bangkok's Chinatown last year, so I was looking forward to dragon dances, firecrackers, Chinese music & dance, etc.
These things were present, but they were overwhelmed by a massive assault of corporate marketing. I had flashbacks from last week's super bowl. It seemed every other group was carrying corporate logos. Ford had a huge and incredibly tacky display... maybe a hundred Chinese people carrying white flags with the Ford logo. They also had a very nice float that looked like a traditional Chinese theater... which would have been beautiful except for the gigantic Ford logo on its front.. which was lit up.
Then there was the worst of all... the McDonalds float. It looked like it had been thrown together by a group of High School kids and was the most sickening example of racial pandering Ive seen in a long time. I can imagine a McDonalds executive committee somewhere, "We need a float for Chinese New Year.... why don't we stick Ronald Mcdonald on a trailer with a bunch of Chinese kids... and some huge blow up pics of cute Chinese kids too... we'll show em that Asians love McDonalds".
Cingular cell phones had a float... and it too was tacky and ugly... a lame copy of their logo with chinese lion heads on top. There was also an obnoxious display by UPS... their big brown trucks pulling smaller floats. Bank of America had one.
But the big sponsor was Southwest Airlines (I didnt realize they flew to China.. :) In fact they co-opted the name. Its increasingly difficult in America to have any kind of public event without it being stolen by a corporation. And so this was the "Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade". In keeping with corporate tradition, they had a hideous float.. with their dorky employees wearing hats shaped like airplanes.
And so, overall, the parade felt as "Chinese" as I am. Beyond that, it was simply a tacky and ugly display. In America, beauty or elegance for its own sake is despised. Only things which generate money are honored. Every festival, every big sports game, every parade, every public holiday is seized upon by corporations and turned into a marketing event.
We are a crude and ugly nation.