Say hello to the face of Taiwan’s fearsome fighters. Aren’t they cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute? 好可愛噢噢噢!!!
The navy boy in the middle kind of reminds me of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I suppose this is Taiwan’s version of the G.I. Joe dolls?
You can find them in the window out front the National Army Recruitment Center next to the Liuzhangli 六張梨 MRT Station.
After a little googling, I also came across this…
This was a former Taiwanese army recruitment poster from only a couple years ago. Since service is compulsory here, I think the point was to show that army life can be fun and (targeting Taiwanese parents) that the men will be well taken care of. However, to most foreigners (including me) this looks more like a gay pride parade of bare-chested men frolicking on a beach. I really do not mean to sound so cynical, but to all those young men out there: would you really be tempted to join the army based on this advert? Is romping around building human pyramids with your half-naked bunk-mates your idea of military service?
Are these images what Taiwan really wants to be projecting to the rest of the world?
Well, maybe. It all extends to this ideal of ‘cuteness’ that permeates culture in East Asia. The cult of cute, or what in China and Taiwan is known as “ke’ai” (可愛), or in Japan as “kawaii” (可愛い) where it is probably even more acute. Apparent in everything from handwriting to behavior to women’s fashion to anime to television shows to language itself–being “cute” (ie: adorable, innocent, precious, lovable, shy, embarrassed, vulnerable) is nowadays an integral part of national identity.
There have been full research studies conducted on this idea of the power of cuteness.
However, the point of contention I see is when this aspect of culture interacts with Western concepts of “cute”. “Cute” is something reserved for babies–it is something infantile, immature. In the West, a thirty year old man or woman does not want to be thought of as “cute”. Thus, for most Western expats in the Orient, I think this national obsession with cuteness is more irritating than anything else. As one Western friend here once put it: “Why can’t they just grow up?” It is also a large part of the reason why you won’t see too many Western women dating Taiwanese guys. And as hard as I try to practice cultural relativity, the ability to put yourself in someone else’s cultural ‘shoes’ (Hi, Dr. Weaver!), this is one aspect I myself simply cannot understand. I *hate* Hello Kitty. I would never speak in such a high-pitched nasal tone of voice in an attempt to be attractive. Wearing lacy bows and multi-colored scrunchies in my hair is what I did when I was five years old. Not now. And if I ever tried to sajiao 撒嬌 with my boyfriend (who, mind you, is Taiwanese by heritage), not only would I feel like a spoiled brat, but he would most likely run away as soon as he could.
Ok, ok…I should qualify my rant at least a little bit… This is a more recent recruitment advertisement from Taiwan from last year:
It’s certainly more macho, but yet…it still misses the point, don’t you think? Since when did Taiwan’s military have Transformer capabilities? If they did, China would have backed down a long time ago.