Frontline World


China, SHANGHAI NIGHTS, June 2004



Read through archived FRONTLINE/World conversations around this story below.

Jonathan Chambers - Shanghai, China
Admittedly I have not seen your broadcast, however, I have lived in Shanghai for 5 years, I can say that I'm a little weary of hearing about Mian Mian and her book. Several years ago, people were more interested in the fact that she was embroiled in a battle with another local writer, and they were both arguing about who came up with the idea first (the 'other' book was "Shanghai Baby.")

Obviously these ideas have novelty value outside of China, but I'm a little disappointed that journalists keep latching onto the same 'celebrated' artists and novelists, who possibly don't have much more to offer in the way of originality.

There are plenty of 'controversial' characters roaming the streets of Shanghai, but are they any different to the 'look at me' breeds that pop up all over the globe? Controversy sells.

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
Mr. Chambers, thank you for your comments. Since you were unable to view the broadcast, we invite you and other Web visitors to view the segment in its entirety on our Web site in streaming video. We look forward to your perspective, particularly from the vantage point of living in Shanghai.

David Lee - Reno, Nevada
I simply have to get in touch with Martin Wong from the Lanterns, because I love their music and I would like to encourage them and support them in any way I can. Music is the voice of the future!

Kelly Hankins - San Antonio, Texas
This is an example of what we all need to hear. The philosophy of this gentleman giving an example of "bubbles" co-relating to 'dreams of young people" hits a heartstring in all of us. We all have lots of bubbles when we are young. They pop as you get older. Inspire us!!!! YES! Peace to "The Lanterns."

Sam Daven - Balt, Maryland
Can we get the music of the lanterns? Do you have a Web site for them? It was unique and not like typical western music.

Ken Lay - Cincinati, Ohio
I was very taken with the song the group "the lanterns" performed on this show. is there any way of contacting them for a cd? Thank you.

Gil Sauceda - Pheonix, Arizona
I just wanted to comment on the band featured in this story "The Lantern[s]." I thought they sounded great. Would love to get a CD or ?

FRONTLINE/World Responds:
A number of you have written in asking for more information about Martin, Dono, Jaco, and Jing, four members of a Shanghai-based rock band called The Lanterns.

The Lanterns formed their band three years ago after meeting each other at a rock concert and named themselves after a well-known Chinese calligraphy poem, Lan Ting Xu (The Orchid Pavilion). Martin Wong, the lead singer, describes their sound as "groovy and meditative with a lot of emotion in it." Most of their songs are about childhood and broken dreams - subjects, Martin says, that his generation feels strongly about. The Lanterns do not yet have an English-language Web site or streaming audio, but they expect to release their first CD next year.

You can hear a bit more of their music and another report by FRONTLINE/World reporter Nguyen Qui Duc on PRI's The World Web site.

To see some photos of the band, visit their Chinese language Web site.

Thanks for your comments.

David Lee - Reno, Nevada
I admire the fact that she [Mian Mian] is putting herself and her views out there for the rest of her country to see. Though she risks ridicule and even imprisonment, it often takes one voice to turn into a million voices, and it's obvious that many agree with her. ...

Anonymous - Portland, Oregon
Way to go Mian Mian. An original flower child of China... Mao kept them down so long, they are where America was in the sixties, I believe they are a strong people. WE THE PEOPLE are in charge, WE elect our government, so many countries do not have that freedom.. Get out and VOTE.... Through writers and music, and the underground... I think the people of China will overcome, they love their country just like we do, we overcame and still are overcoming....An American who loves our planet and all the countries on it, after all we are all human, right? Human rights??? yes???

Anonymous - Boise, Idaho
To tell you the truth, when I read parts of her book I was blown away. Here in the states something like that would be very mild, so when it was said the books had been banned, I was blown away. I really thought that it was going to be....more I guess. I figured i would be shocked by what was written. I guess maybe it is because here in the states we have been "brainwashed" in to thinking that sex and violence is ok. But I do have to say more power to those in China who are wishing to better their lives, better their freedom.

Anonymous - Madisonville, Kentucky
I try to keep up with things but I would've never have guessed the attitudes and underground culture shown in this report. Thanks for teaching me something.

Jonathan Falk - Gresham, Oregon
Dear Frontline World, I recently spent two weeks in Shanghai, and I felt that "Shanghai Nights" implied that Shanghai is ONLY about hedonism and youth. But I saw so much more: The hustle of people of all ages on the streets, some older people still in Maoist garb, fragments of old architecture, Buddhist temples, insane traffic, a plethora of restaurants with foods from all over, spicy, traditional, quiet or noisy settings... Regarding Shanghai's "blinding neon," it is not unique in this regard, many Asian cities have this quality, although the nightlife may be a more recent development in Shanghai... I thought "Shanghai Nights" interesting but a little sensationalized.