Gas Price Trauma: The Taiwanese Explain It All

I know, it's a weakness: using too many of these NMA Taiwanese animations. But once again I succumb to temptation. This rap-video explanation of the effects of rising oil prices is weirdly charming in several ways, starting with its portrayal of a typical American yokel (center, with mullet, in the two scenes below). The citizens and media of Rising Asia don't always have negative stereotypes of under-deserving, over-entitled Americans. But when they have such a stereotype, it can look like this.


The full video, below, becomes surreal rather than slapstick/campy in the fashion of most NMA videos. Around time 2:15, it starts explaining the principles of Pigovian taxes, with rap-cameos by avatars for Gary Becker and Paul Krugman. 

Place-holder for later serious discussion: Taiwan's population is about 1/60th as large as that of mainland China. It is not even officially a country, in the eyes of the US and much of the world. Yet Taiwan has considerable "soft power" creative and stylistic influence, as recently illustrated by these oddly compelling videos. The challenge for China itself: whether in its currently over-controlled political environment it can foster this kind of subversive-chaotic creative spark.

(And yes, yes, I'm aware of the endless dissertations about "creativity with Chinese characteristics." I'm just struck at the moment by the weird creative genius coming out of Taiwan.) UPDATE: For more on Next Media Animation, which makes the videos, see this very good Wired feature from last year.
Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Global

From This Author

Just In