Huang Zheng’s “Sell” Music Video

You have probably seen this elsewhere, but if you haven’t already, you should:

http://player.youku.com/player.php/sid/XMTgxMDk1Nzky/v.swf

(If the embedded video doesn’t work, try this link).

ChinaHush has an in depth explanation of the music video’s story, and Danwei has translated the lyrics, so go there for the in-depth scoop, but here’s the short version: both the song (implicitly) and the music video (explicitly) are a rather depressing take on China’s housing prices. (The video features different people in society imagining how long it would take them to buy the same house; answers range from 5 days for a rich businessman to over 500 years for a migrant worker).

I am not an avid follower of Chinese pop music or music videos, but this one has been getting quite a bit of attention, attracting millions of views within a few days time. As compared to most Chinese pop music (that I’m familiar with) it’s quite political, and the video is rather bleak. It is, if nothing else, another indication of just how deep the frustration with the housing market runs here. And as far as music goes, it’s rare for something this political to get this popular.

With apologies to Danwei, here’s my own translation of the lyrics, which I think is more thorough than theirs:

Trying to live like a human being,
I was forced to hollow out my heart,
Feeling their dreams are too far off,
Some people have sold off their wings,
Feeling a pain others can’t understand,
I lift my head and stay silent,
Having desires [at all] is so arrogant,
Who would be willing to flaunt them [on top of it]?

I would rather bleed than cry,
I would rather see myself suffer,
Selling out my own dreams ((The original here means “crazy”, not dreams; I’m interpreting it as more like “craze” here.)), why bother hiding it?
I would rather bleed than cry,
I would rather laugh as I suffer,
Selling out my own beliefs, how ridiculous

I don’t care, don’t care about all the scars,
Whatever, who cares if I’m changed beyond recognition,

I would rather bleed than cry,
I would rather see myself suffer,
Selling out my own dream, why bother hiding it?
I would rather bleed than cry,
I would rather laugh as I suffer,
Selling out my own beliefs, how ridiculous

Feeling a pain others can’t understand,
I lift my head and stay silent,
You have your heaven, and I have my wings.

Here are some comments netizens have left on Youku about the video and the song:

“Buying a house…[in the video] they spray blood, [but] I [would] spray brains…”

“Strongly ding ((Similar to “up” or “bump” in English BBS forum slang, indicates pushing something to the top of a webpage, now has also been coopted as a general way of expressing approval)), do not let this song drop”

“We can only kill or be killed, it’s better to go out like a hero than to be crushed to death by the system. Remember to choose who you kill wisely, kill [government] officials.”

[In response to the above comment:] “Well said.”

“I cried at the end.”

“Being a person is hard…being an honest and upright person is even harder!!!”

“Being a “house slave” for a generation is horrible, being a house slave your how life is even worse…fuck, housing prices…”

“These days, domestic pop music is all about discussing love, songs related to [real] life are fewer than few. I support this song by Huang Zheng. Songs that reflect life are the longest lasting ((The word he actually uses here means “vitality” but I think this is really what he means)).”

“Regardless of whatever the officials say, in the eyes of the people, this is a great work of art!”

“If you don’t ding this, you’re simply inhuman. So much better than CCAV [joke name for CCTV]”

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0 thoughts on “Huang Zheng’s “Sell” Music Video”

  1. This is why China needs democracy. In 2,500 years of democracy since Classical Athens, there has never been a housing bubble. In my opinion this is because in 2,500 years of democratic history no democracy has ever waged a war.

    In fact it’s impossible for asset prices to ever rise in democracies, the last time food or gas or housing prices have ever increased in a democracy is in year 487 BC.

    One way to solve this even though China is not a democracy is to float the yuan and completely “globalize” China’s markets, to encourage corruption and destroy all home grown Chinese companies. Chinese people will suddenly become extremely rich once foreigners are allowed to buy up entire cities with their overvalued currencies and neo-colonial profits.

    In this perfect libertarian free market system true competitors to Microsoft, AT&T, Apple and others will emerge; after all it’s incredibly easy to compete with multibillion dollar megacorporations.

    After China has democratized and liberalized, they can spend 90% of their income being parasitized by corrupt officials and bad businessmen who in turn spend 100% of their money on Louis Vuitton, Ferraris and other essentials for national development.

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  2. The thing with house prices… are houses relatively much more expensive than they are in, say, Britain? Almost everybody there would need to take out a long-term mortgage (ie become a ‘house slave’) to buy a house. I know house prices have risen rapidly, but aren’t they just falling in line with more developed economy norms? For me the biggest difference is one that Chinese people never seem to mention- that, as the law stands, they only get to keep the houses they ‘bought’ for 70 years.

    ‘After China has democratized and liberalized, they can spend 90% of their income being parasitized by corrupt officials and bad businessmen who in turn spend 100% of their money on Louis Vuitton, Ferraris and other essentials for national development.’

    Sounds like China now… although Ferraris would be a step up from Audis, I grant you.

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  3. “I know house prices have risen rapidly, but aren’t they just falling in line with more developed economy norms? For me the biggest difference is one that Chinese people never seem to mention- that, as the law stands, they only get to keep the houses they ‘bought’ for 70 years.”

    I thought they changed that law? Anyway this like when Chinese people complain about wealth inequality- they are comparing to Communist standards.

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  4. A generation of angry young men with no girlfriend, wife or career. This does not sound like the recipe for a stable and prosperous society.

    Like

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