By Qu Chang

7 December 2020

“In the winter of 1991, the airing of the indoor TV drama Ke Wang swept the entire country of China. It was an early collective obsessions in China created by mass media, operating at full speed with the economic reforms that followed the 1989 protests. Among the then-limited number of TV shows mostly reminiscent of the emancipatory revolutions, Ke Wang was one of the first melodramas that told the story of ordinary people’s desire for genuine love, happiness, and family life – heralding another revolution where personal dreams and the value of everyday life were warmly embraced by an emerging market and its new consumers. The title Ke Wang was translated by a 1991 New York Times article as Aspirations, pointing perhaps to the “aspirational” western influence that created structural change in Chinese society. Anthropologist Lisa Rofel, on the other hand, in her 2007 book Desiring China, gave the title a painfully itchy twist: Yearning. I prefer the lighter yet more perpetual sentiment of the word “longing”, which speaks softly and humbly to an insurmountable distance and a never-ending wait.”

– The full text appears in Spike #66 . You can buy it in our online shop