LewLight Entertainment Technology

It's Chinese

August 08, 2014

Evil forces are astir on the Interwebs and I have seen the results of their doing in the darkest corners of Facebook.

Chinese gear ads

The past year I've had the privilege of consuming the postings published in the Facebook groups Lighting Designers and Everything Stage Lighting. While I have enjoyed most of it, there's a few exceptions that have sickened me more than anything else recently.

It's not uncommon for Chinese gear ads to appear in these groups - in fact it's not uncommon for ads in general to appear in these groups. Generally speaking, announcements of newly launched products are more widely excepted than common marketing material, but sometimes even an unsolicited product mention can be bad enough. How do we know this? It's called "Netiquette" and is part of our culture. Our culture. But who's included in that culture?

The Chinese businessman

The Chinese businessman is, by his own accounts, an honest, dedicated, hard working and successful person. He has created a company the manufactures lighting gear and he's doing well, so he does what most businessmen would do - he looks to the horizon and tries to expand. Why not sell to the rest of the world?

Now there are at least two scenarios; our businessman could either settle for manufacturing equipment for an international brand under their name or he could try to promote his own brand. Being a proud man hungry for profit, a true capitalist of the modern age, he chooses the more lucrative path. Not having any proper contacts out there he starts with the simplest thing he could think of - a Facebook post promoting his new "Sharpie G-Spot".

The feedback is immediate and without mercy.

"- Don't buy knock-offs!"

This is a valid point. The complex discussion behind it aside, there is a wide international consensus against knock-offs. Unfortunately not so much in China, which is the issue at hand. But since we're dealing with a cultural issue, the only way forward is through discussion and mutual understanding. You can't change a persons behavior unless he has understood your point of view, and this requires discussion.

"- Chinese crap!"

And this is where it breaks down. Can you remember the last time you had a painless disagreement with your significant other, where any of you started off the conversation with "all men/women are so stupid" or "there's no point listening to you"? Not? Oh.

This kind of categoric generalization has a name - prejudice, and it has no place in our time. One must be tolerant with everything, except intolerance.

Not to mention that it sounds pretty racist.

"- It will burn your house down!"

And now the conversation is topped up with some accusations as well! All in good "you probably couldn't assemble even the simplest piece of IKEA furniture!" style.

Yes, there is a perfectly valid point in educating people in only purchasing electronic equipment listed as safe in their country, but the correct course of action then is to ask which electronic safety listings the product boasts.

The Internet is neither American, European nor Chinese

What's more, some people tend to consume the Internet as if it was a phenomenon of their own country only. There's people from all countries on the Internet and this renders all generalized comments based on assumptions of geographical location quite moot.

Imagine a Facebook group about cars where somebody posts an image of a car driven on the left hand side and a British person replying "What a useless piece of dirt - it drives on the wrong side!". My point here is that a Chinese product announcement is equally relevant to Chinese readers as a US product announcement is to US readers.

A way forward

Our industry is currently scrambling to educate people on the dangers of knock-offs. Clay Paky and Avolites are two companies currently active in this field, and now it seems that PLASA is stepping things up. This is important, but it is of equal or even greater importance that it doesn't happen at the expense of our manners.

I hope everyone watches Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry really knew a thing or two about the world.. Famous Austrian abductee credits Star Trek for outlook.


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