Gas Price Trauma: The Taiwanese Explain It All

By James Fallows

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.

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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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/gas-price-trauma-the-taiwanese-explain-it-all/239189/