ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Tiny Times and the Dream of a 'Xiaokang Society' in China

The Chinese film Xiao Shidai or Tiny Times is a refl ection of Chinese attitudes and social aspirations in a market-oriented society. Despite being panned by film critics, it grossed a huge amount at the box-office patronised by the post-1990 generation who saw themselves in the four protagonists of the film. It has also set off a lively debate on materialism and consumerism in Chinese society.

The recent Chinese film Xiao Shidai (Tiny Times), a reflection of contemporary Chinese attitudes in a market-oriented society, is also telling in terms of the evolution of Chinese social aspirations over the last 30 years. Tiny Times is also perhaps the worst Chinese film I have ever seen. Other critics, including those writing on social media, are of a similar opinion. The film has been universally ridiculed as “shallow” or something that makes audiences feel “as if they’ve been trapped in a boutique or furniture showroom for two hours” (Lee 2013). Yet, it made 800 million yuan ($133 million) in China. Its sequel, Tiny Times 2.0, grossed over 47 million yuan ($7.8 million) in the first three weeks of screening in August. Alarmingly (at least to some), Tiny Times 3.0 is scheduled for release in 2014. The secret to the success of the Tiny Times franchise, which is based on a novel by 30- something author-director Guo Jingming, has been the young Chinese audience, especially those born after 1990.

Times: ‘Tiny’ and ‘Grand’

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