The Asian Challenge to Jon Stewart's Dominance

By James Fallows
Yes, of course, I'm scare-mongering. As with many other "imminent threats" from the unstoppable Chinese and their East Asian neighbors, the idea that Comedy Central will soon lose its #1 rank in politics-based humor is an exaggeration.

And yet....!! You can't minimize what the NMA ("Next Media Animation") group in Taiwan could be capable of. They've made an art form out of campy but compulsively watchable CGI reenactments of events in the news, with a rich helping of the tabloidesque. The first one that was widely noticed in the US was their dramatization of the Tiger-v-Elin Woods tussle last year.

Two election-related features from NMA to get on the record now, as the world watches  America going to the polls. First, their distillation of Christine O'Donnell's campaign themes, including her warning about China's "carefully thought out and strategic plan to take over the United States." Here is a screen shot showing what she is worried about.
 
BattlePandas.png

The full clip is here and in embed below.
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On the same China-menace theme, NMA has also done a remix of the famous/ infamous "Chinese Professor" ad. Perhaps it is one degree more obvious and less deft than the O'Donnell, Woods, or Sarah Palin items but it is still effective in its own way. (It's worth noting the rococo element to the satire here. In America, the "Chinese Professor" ad might evoke fears of Asians in general or ethnic Chinese as a group, which would certainly affect people in Taiwan -- but also specific fears of the government in Beijing, which at times is the object of fear-mongering in Taiwan too.)  In any case worth seeing as a complement to the original ad, (whose audience full of "Chinese students" is actually the result of a casting call in the DC area) and for the surprising star turn by the surly panda at the end.

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By email, I asked NMA's creators in Taiwan what they were trying to do with their political satire. Answers after the jump.
Angelica Oung of NMA explains the group's background and goals:
>>NMA is the brainchild of HK tycoon Jimmy Lai. His vision was to animate news events that hasn't been caught on camera. Indeed, I would say that 85 percent of NMA's output is serious news and our ultimate goal is still to one day sell our animations to Reuters and AP and media outlets all over the world. But like any old newspaper, we also have our entertainment news and satirical cartoons etc. Something like the O'Donnell piece is like dozens of editorial cartoons crammed into 90 seconds. Thanks to the internet, we get our information where you get your information. The distance is no impediment. In fact, it helps us break things down and stay fresh. In the case of the panda piece, Ziggy from our NY Sales and market research office sent us a link (to your blog post, actually). We thought the ad was ripe for lampooning and got to work!

Most of our output is still Taiwanese and regional news. But NMA does have global ambitions and we've really been trying to grow our overseas client base. To that end we've produced high-visibility pieces aimed at not just the US but all over the world -- Australia, Malaysia, the UK, the Philippines, and Italy, among others. Be on the lookout for 'our' animation popping up in unexpected places in the future.<<
Competition keeps us all on our toes. Comedy Central, stay sharp!

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