TV Series Review: The Republican Primaries 10/20

Well, at least it’s better than some crappy harem anime (that’s plural) I watched ages ago.

Some of you have probably heard the hit series, The U.S. Presidential Elections, currently in its 57th season. If you haven’t, you can still catch up on new episodes of its currently running first part, called the The Republican Primaries. So far, I’ve been watching a few episodes of The Republican Primaries, and I have to say, I’m actually kind of fascinated by all the drama and plot twists and so forth.

Even though this is the 57th season, the producers and writers did not really attempt to do anything too new, probably in an effort to keep the show’s fanbase – not that I mind. Thus, the story is still the same as it had been for the previous seasons, concerning a big fight between two factions, the Democrats and the Republicans. Basically, a bunch of misfits compete within both factions against each other in a contest of wits, strength, and charisma called the “Primaries,” and the Democrat and Republican champion then goes on to claim the glorious title of President.

Anyways, I’ll rate this season using the same rating method I use for all works of fiction. So far I’ve used this method mostly on anime, but it can work for any medium. In this method, I judge a piece of fiction based on four criteria: character (how well-written are the characters and their dynamics), structure (the plot and internal consistency), atmosphere (ability to invoke emotion/inspiration), and guts (a gut rating of the series). A series can get a maximum of five points for each criterion, with five representing the highest standards in storytelling technique, and zero representing absolute abomination.

Character – 3/5

The 8 heroes of The Republican Primaries are believable and deep characters for the most part. Unfortunately, most of the season seems to be focusing on two of these heroes, Romney (a recurring character from the previous season) and Perry. The dynamic between the two is admittedly interesting, with methodical and “I AM A POLITICIAN” Romney going against fiery cowboy Perry. Still, I would appreciate that the other Republican characters get more screen time other than the once-in-a-way “spotlight character of the episode” episode. We have fiery Bachmann (who surprisingly isn’t considered to be much of a token female), crazy old guy Ron Paul, normal and reasonable (i.e., boring and unassertive) Huntsman, pizza dude Cain, other crazy old guy Gingrinch, and angry-face Santorum. Why is the screenwriter not bringing them out more? And furthermore, what about Obama? Why does he seem to be more of a background character? I don’t even know if he’s a villain, anti-hero, or (in a plot twist) the true hero. Is he planning something?

Ultimately, the characters are good. But there needs to be more interesting interaction other than the Romney vs. Perry dynamic, and the other characters need to be given more screentime. I love good character dynamics and characterization, and while this season has been doing a good job so far, there’s still room for improvement.

Structure – 2/5

I usually don’t care about plot as much as I should. Still, The Republican Primaries doesn’t seem to be heading anywhere much in terms of plot. Sure, as I said above, we have our Romney vs. Perry dynamic, but even that is starting to fade out a bit with the last couple of episodes. There isn’t really much clear conflict – who’s on whose side, who’s against who, and so forth. In some stories it’s good to have lots of uncertainty and confusion, but this isn’t one of them, especially since The U.S. Presidential Elections has always been a series defined by reasonably clear divisions and sides to support and love. However, the plot isn’t terrible, so I’ll just say it does its job, but it could do a lot more. At least everything stays consistent, right?

Atmosphere – 3/5

Atmosphere concerns the general, well, atmosphere of the story – whether it can invoke emotion, or inspiration, or imagination, and so forth. With the possible threat of the 2012 Apocalypse, an Islamo-Socialist America, and worst of all, the downfall of freedom and democracy and American power around the universe, The Republican Primaries has been precisely doing that. But perhaps the real genius of the series is that the audience doesn’t exactly know where the threat is coming from – is it from the inside, or the outside? The many twists also irk the interest of most who’ve seen this, and I can’t disagree. However, I don’t exactly love the atmosphere of Patriotism (and/or lack/manipulation thereof), so I can only say the series does an adequate, even good, job here, but not necessarily a great one.

Gut – 2/5

The Republican Primaries is definitely a well-crafted story, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t really get that heavy of a reaction out of me. My guts simply tell me it could do better.

Conclusion: 10/20

The Republican Primaries, so far, gets a 10/20 in my book. While that looks like an atrocious score, it’s not. 10/20 is somewhat equivalent to “decent” or “average” in my book, so sort of like a C grade. I mean, at least it did better than some other anime abominations. Still, on the other hand, it isn’t evoking the same kind of reactions as, say, stuff like Azumanga Daioh or Samurai Jack did. The story is solid, of course, even great, but it simply doesn’t have the *punch* to it.

I’m still waiting to see what twists the next few episodes will bring, and I wonder what the fans will think. Just as long as there isn’t Romney x Perry yaoi fanfic.

Where's Rick Perry?

Someone's missing, can you figure out who?

I’d Vote for Rick Perry if Teddy Roosevelt was his Vice-President and if He Learned Respect for Diverse Peoples and Cultures Like China

Teddy Roosevelt: Awesomest American ever.

I find Rick Perry problematic, much like how I find soggy French fries, inefficient bureaucracy, and Asian chicks who dye their hair ridiculous colors and act cutesy problematic. But that aside, I want to praise glorious People’s Republic of China at Perry’s expense.

In a recent interview with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Perry made the following side comment about China:

You know, China disregarded the world for a millennium… and they lived in their own little world. [America] can’t afford to do that.

I don’t know if the average Chinese person would be offended, but I would be if I were Chinese. This attitude about historical China – that it was a reactionary, isolationist civilization that refused to change – is one that even some historians believe.

Even a quick glance at Chinese history within the last “millennium,” as Perry puts it, would easily undermine any such claim that China “disregarded” everyone else and “lived in their own little world.” Some examples:

  • China was one of the if not the largest economies in the world up until the 1700s and 1800s. Chinese products such as silk, ceramics, coins, and so forth, have been found as far as places like Italy, Arabia, Persia, India, Indonesia, Russia, Kenya, Mozambique, and maybe even Zimbabwe. Why the heck do you think all those crazy white dudes like Columbus wanted to sail to China? To be brainwashed by Chinese propaganda?
  • The Imperial Chinese government allowed for various ethnic, religious, and political groups to settle in China, not counting those that were already in China. During the past millennium, people such as Muslims, Nestorian Christians, Central Asians, Southeast Asians, Persians, and other white people all moved to China, particularly because of the lucrative economic opportunities.
  • China was very much involved in the political affairs of everyone around them. Up until the 1800s or so, nearby countries were forced/persuaded to pay tribute. These included states in modern-day countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, and all those Stans in Central Asia. You don’t go around asking for tribute if you, well, “disregard the world.” Additionally, China did get involved in international affairs in other states. For instance, China assisted Korea in defending against a Japanese invasion in the late 1500s, of which had important historical ramifications for the three countries and even Mongolia. China also invaded Vietnam a few times, but they all failed because Vietnamese housewives beat their husbands.

    Chinese ships helping their Korean comrades by blowing up Samurai.

  • Chinese ships helping their Korean comrades. The Samurai don’t stand a chance. Notice the rockets. So much for a backwards military.
  •  Perhaps one of the clearest shows of Chinese power and domination during the Imperial era were the voyages of Zheng He, which lasted from 1405 to 1433. Long story, a Muslim eunuch named Zheng He (he was Muslim, but the Chinese emperor didn’t really care about that, now did he?) was appointed admiral and sailed in this huge fleet to a bunch of places, including but not limited to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, India, Persia, the Middle East, and Africa. The ships sailed by Zheng He were possibly some of the largest ships in the world until the 1800s, reaching hundreds of feet in length and holding hundreds of sailors and other personnel. Regardless, Zheng He made a good point convincing most countries he met why pleasing China was a good idea (or at least that China meant $$$ and a good business opportunities).

    Zheng He, epitome of what Rick Perry considers to be a civilization that "lives in its own little world."

  •  Even after China stopped these voyages and put restrictions on merchants and other travelers on where they could go, that did not mean that China suddenly “lived in their own little world” and turned into a backwards reactionary state in two seconds. During the Ming Dynasty, for instance, when these restrictions were first imposed en masse, the Chinese were still willing to trade with Europe; in particular, China stockpiled on a lot of silver coming from Spanish colonies in the America (the collapse of Spain’s gold and silver markets in the early 1600s might have been one of the causes of the collapse of the Ming Dynasty). Again, this doesn’t show “disregard for the world” if you go stocking up on stuff that is mined half a world away by Amerindian and Black slaves.

So given all these blatant counterexamples to Perry’s claim that China “disregarded the world” and “lived in [it’s] own little world” for the last “millennium”, why do a lot of people like Perry – and even some academics – continue to claim that China was a stagnant, self-interested, reactionary civilization in the previous millennium, and particularly the last few centuries?

It’s quite simple, I think, and it all rests on the fact that the Chinese (and other powerful non-Western civilizations such as India, Persia, Indonesia, Arabia, and West Africa) weren’t (and aren’t) white Europeans. China didn’t go around exploring vast territories, killing most of the natives, colonizing now empty lands, and reaping in the resources. But Europe did. Since Chinese people aren’t like Europeans, the Europeans logically concluded that they must have been inferior. Respect for diverse peoples and cultures at its finest.

Though China didn’t go on mass murdering colonization rampages (that’s not to say they didn’t do very mean things themselves), they did progress in different ways. For instance, China developed a number of innovations during this time, including but not limited to gunpowder, barreled gunpowder weapons, paper currency, movable type printing, archaeology, grenades, land mines, naval mines, forensics, rockets, multi-stage rockets, bureaucratic red tape, and political corruption.

Technically this is a Korean weapon, but it is similar to a number of Chinese rocket weapons during the same era. In short, rockets beat samurai.

Economically speaking, China had no reason to go on crazy adventures like the Europeans. It was not necessarily because they had all the resources they needed back home; rather, it was because places like the Americas and the African coasts were too far away, and merchants were already moving back and forth between other parts of Asia and the Middle East already making good profits, so why bother waste funds sending Chinese men on risky expeditions to the middle of nowhere?

Perry’s claim that China “lived in their own world” is perhaps fueled by a Western misconception of China’s own perception of its place in the world. For a very long time, China considered itself the center of the civilized world, hence its modern name “Zhōngguó,” which means “Middle Kingdom” or “Middle Nation”. It had good reason to be, though, given all its achievements and how big it was compared to most of the states around it. Thus, when Europeans first came to China, the Chinese scoffed at them, particularly when the Europeans refused to pay respects to the Chinese officials in the Chinese way (kowtowing) for instance. So much for respect for diverse peoples and cultures. Europeans and Americans have since misinterpreted this attitude as an arrogant, self-interested one, since, of course, anybody who wasn’t going around colonizing and killing was either stupid and uncivilized or self-interested and backwards.

In fact, the Chinese were just as self-righteous, prejudiced, and conceited as the Europeans were. They just expressed their bastardom in different ways.

And that, I think, is what respect for diverse peoples and cultures boils down to: learning how and why other peoples and cultures are just the same bastards as you are.

I don’t blame Perry for his comments, though; as stated earlier, most people – and even a number of historians – still hold the same, outdated misconceptions of China, and these misconceptions won’t go away for a while. I just hope that everybody learns to respect diverse peoples and cultures. Seriously. It would make international relations a lot easier.

Anyhow, still, when it comes to Republicans, I think I’d rather trust Jon Huntsman over Perry when it comes to China. Actually, just make Teddy Roosevelt the Republican nominee again, seriously. I’d totally willingly vote Obama out of office if that happened.