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Ever wanted to ask the guy next to you on the bus to shut up?
May 28, 2006 12:18 PM   Subscribe

This is not resolved! When a young man on a double decker bus in Hong Kong asked an older man to lower his voice whilst talking on the phone, the young man invariably became the receiving end of a torrent of half coherent phrase and insults about his mother. Naturally, you can watch it unfolding here since the entire event was captured by another passenger with his cell phone.

This video has become one of the most viewed clips on youtube, spawning remixes, rap, reenactments, new school yard sayings, and yes, t-shirts. And they say youtube is just a site for narcissistic kids and tv show clips. NSFW if you have co-workers who can understand Cantonese. And it's not the subtitle's fault, this guy really does rant off for a bit.
posted by phyrewerx (96 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Invariably? Are you sure that's the word you meant to use?
posted by Karmakaze at 12:42 PM on May 28, 2006


You have pressure? I have pressure! You give me pressure!
posted by caddis at 12:44 PM on May 28, 2006


This is not Fark! This is not Madville!
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:49 PM on May 28, 2006


Wow. I suspect that Bus Uncle is either mentally unstable, or was perhaps intoxicated. The kid was pretty cool about the whole thing -- if some jackass had started to harangue me like that on public transit, I would've given as good as I got.
posted by davidmsc at 12:50 PM on May 28, 2006


Wow, that first "I'm fucking your mother!" really came out of nowhere...
posted by SweetJesus at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2006


the kid was incredibly cool. even when the man's penis was attatched to his mother.

i dont know about you, but thats very near where i draw the line.
posted by tsarfan at 12:52 PM on May 28, 2006


I didn't realize this was so big. T-shirts?
I love how it's almost over until the kid says to leave his mom out of it. That warning just keeps it going.

Brings me right back to my Peter Pan days.
posted by Busithoth at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2006


Yeah, I'm thinking drunk, the dude's all over the place. One second he wants to shake hands, and the next his penis is attached to your mother.

Also, what's offensive about calling someone 'boss'? Is it a condescending, 'Sure thing, Mister Man!'-type snark?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:00 PM on May 28, 2006


Invariably? Are you sure that's the word you meant to use?

Well I meant invariably, predestined, predetermined, unavoidable. It's the pressure!
posted by phyrewerx at 1:00 PM on May 28, 2006


I'm sorry to see that no one jumped in to help the kid. I hate it when people harrangue kids like that.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:06 PM on May 28, 2006


The key phrase I heard in this is from the kid. He knows the older man's number: "you want to save face. I'm sorry."

Tradition dictates that the older gentleman should be able to talk as loud as he wants on the cellphone and everyone around him should respect his wish, unless someone in the room outranks him. This kid clearly doesn't do that. Yet he has the nerve to tap on the man's shoulder and ask him to please lower his voice. This mean's the older man's authority is being questioned, so he has no choice but to defend his authority. Otherwise, next time he might have to acquiesce to more demands from someone perceived his subordinate.

God I hate this kinda thing, but I understand it all too well.

The kid is smart in not saying anything. It's when he opens his mouth that the old man HAS to keep talking, based on an underlying traditional precedent of asian culture. The older gentleman must get the last word. If he doesn't, then he loses face. He loses honor, and either among the community or just in his mind, he loses power and influence.

It's about saving face. The bowing to one another and all that. It's all about choosing to show respect to elders and authority, and the younger man clearly didn't respect the older guy because he invaded the older guy's space, so the older guy's trying to put the kid back in his place, in order to save face. It's a military concept. The superior verbally berates his subordinates until they show him respect.

Chicken pecking order. The problem is, this younger guy has the older guy's number. He knows the routine, so he knows just how to push this guy's buttons. It's very passive aggressive, but effective. A nonviolent way of pushing against this ancient tradition of authority. Pecking back at the chicken pecking order by just doing a ghandi. In that sense, this altercation is endlessly fascinating.

Is this a sign of old traditions not being upheld by younger generations? Or is this a part of the tradition? An example of it in practice? Is the kid (purposefully or inadvertently) choosing to lower this man's rank in society by disrespecting him? Does this in turn increase the younger man's rank in society by that action?

...

Or the older guy coulda just been drunk and the younger guy's just being a jerkwad. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. *wink*
posted by ZachsMind at 1:13 PM on May 28, 2006 [4 favorites]



Also near the end the uncle says something about fucking the guy again... not his mother, the guy. His entire display seemed like misplaced homoerotic frustration to me -- demanding apologies, why did you touch me, obsession with shaking hands, sudden lapse into talk of fucking "I like fucking, you like fucking" -- but homoerotic frustration is the way I see everything.
posted by bukharin at 1:16 PM on May 28, 2006


I'm sorry to see that no one jumped in to help the kid. I hate it when people harrangue kids like that.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:06 PM EST on May 28


No, they were too busy summitting with their phone cam (oh my, now that was a derail).
posted by caddis at 1:17 PM on May 28, 2006


Wow -- it's actually pretty cool reading about fads that are going on in other countries (no sarcasm).
posted by rolypolyman at 1:20 PM on May 28, 2006


or... other cultures, actually.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:21 PM on May 28, 2006


I hope they both fare better than Korean dog poop girl.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:43 PM on May 28, 2006


There must be something lost in the translation, because there seems nothing noteworthy in what the older man said. His diatribe indicates mental disease, and there's nothing funny or profound about that. Maybe (as Zachsmind so insightfully explained it), the fascination is in the youth's passive rejection of authority.

IMO, this flash-in-the-pan "fad" of t-shirts and music remixes is a backlash against this vulgar old man and anyone else who acts this way in a public place. It's a public chastisment and humiliation.
posted by rinkjustice at 1:49 PM on May 28, 2006


ZachsMind makes a very poignant observation that 90% of westerners probably wouldn't notice. A remarkably good point.

The next couple decades are going to be very interesting as cultures collide via YouTube and the like. It's also a reminder to start practicing my Mandarin.
posted by mullingitover at 1:55 PM on May 28, 2006


The problem is, this younger guy has the older guy's number. He knows the routine, so he knows just how to push this guy's buttons.

Totally agreed. The kid's body language, intonation, and languorous capitulation all read "fuck you" and that is exactly what is riling the old man.

The subtitling isn't that great -- it's too literal. E.g. the first couple of "apologies" offered by the kid are in fact not apologies -- "um ho yi si" translates more to a mild "excuse me" rather than "I apologize".

This clip reminds me of the power games in Buffalo Soldiers, where Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) constantly subverts "Top" (Scott Glenn) who, in turn, constantly forces Elwood to submit.

My favourite lines (my translation, not the crap subtitles):
    Old man: don't pat on my shoulder while I'm on the phone! Kid: should I pat on your head instead?
Then, as the old man thinks he's had the last word:
    Kid (in response to all the "I'm gonna fuck your mother" threats previously): So anyway let's not bring fucking my mother into all of this. Old man: If not your mother, who else am I gonna fuck? FUCK YOUR MOTHER, is my cock attached to her cunt or what?
Anyway, to all those that speculate about mental illness on the part of the old man. I disagree, insofar as he doesn't have anything that modern medicine would clinically diagnose. He does have a lot of bottled up, misdirected anger and past-his-prime-alpha-male syndrome. And the "pressure" he keeps talking about is especially prevalent in a huge metropolis like Hong Kong where you at the mercy of society's forces. I'm sure you know what he's talking about.
posted by randomstriker at 1:57 PM on May 28, 2006


It seems to me that the kid knows the oldfucker and didn't want to escale the stuff but he seems like a little coward pussy anyway, SMASH HIS FUCKING FACE FOR GOD SAKE
posted by zouhair at 1:59 PM on May 28, 2006


Seriously, what do you think he means when he says "I have pressure, you have pressure, everybody has pressure..."

???

Is he saying hey, we're all under stress, don't rock the boat? Or is he saying I'm a big man and so are you so don't fuck around? What??
posted by scarabic at 2:04 PM on May 28, 2006


The usage of the word "boss" in this context doesn't necessarily indicate respect (mockingly or not) -- it's a somewhat informal usage for "hey you" when used among adult males (at least in the non-business ways I've seen it used). In fact, had the younger man used the Chinese word for "mister" in this context, it would've came across as an even more pointed mock-polite jab regarding the age gap.

There's some serious generational tensions between older traditionalists and the younger Internet generation in contemporary Chinese culture. The younger man was being extremely audacious in so explicitly telling the older man that he needed to save face -- that's not something you discuss in any polite public conversation. I'd expect a similar tirade from any male of my father's generation had I said the same thing during a confrontation.

Older Chinese men often expect younger men to see them as "important people" by the simple merit of their age. Whether that's a reasonable expectation or not really depends on one's cultural perspective.
posted by DaShiv at 2:05 PM on May 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


For some reason this is how I envision world leaders behind closed doors doing their "diplomacy." The dichotomy of "shake my hand, but oh by the way, fuck your mother" is hillarious, and really is how a lot of governments deal with each other.
posted by afx114 at 2:05 PM on May 28, 2006


"Gentlemen talk, not fight."

Man, that kid's got years of maturity on that asshole.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:07 PM on May 28, 2006


god help bus uncle if he ever does something like that on an american bus ... he might get away with it ... or he might get his face kicked in
posted by pyramid termite at 2:09 PM on May 28, 2006


Yeah, I'm not exactly an expert on Asian cultures by any stretch of the imagination, but I was cringing inwardly when the kid said he knew the older guy had to save face. That was extremely rude.
posted by Justinian at 2:09 PM on May 28, 2006


yes, the neverending handshake was amazing misplaced homoerotic frustration.

to me this whole thing was an old dude trying to get down a young man's pants, while trying to blame stress for his actions.

get out of the closet uncle!
posted by tsarfan at 2:11 PM on May 28, 2006


Something Positive did a take on this the other day.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:12 PM on May 28, 2006


what do you think he means when he says "I have pressure, you have pressure, everybody has pressure..."

I actually get that part. I used to look with disbelief on some of the near road rage behavior I would see when I commuted regularly by car. But I had the benefit of a nearly stress free life.

I do remember one time, though, when I was stressed and wanted to give everyone the finger. And I was like "so that's what that is all about."
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:20 PM on May 28, 2006


Ben Zimmer of Language Log has provided a couple of the catchphrases in the original Cantonese for anyone who wants to spread the meme. And a No-sword post has a beautiful use of the "Not resolved!" characters ( 未 解 決 ).
posted by languagehat at 2:26 PM on May 28, 2006


ZachsMind, wow, what a brilliant and insightful translation. Thank you. How, the hell'dyou know all that saving face stuff? Though I lived long term in India, which has its own traditional pride issues, I never understood the complexity of the more Far Eastern saving face thing. I watched that video a number of times (my favorite version is the shadow puppet one) and in bewilderment tried to comprehend the power dynamics of it.

As an American I couldn't figure out why the younger guy didn't defend himself better, although when he put his elbow up on the seat I wondered if he were about to conk the yelling guy on the head or do something violent.

Your post prompted me to Google studies on embarassment and shame to try and understand more about this saving face biz. I could find little about it and it's obviously important in so many areas of East-West communication. Any suggested reading?
posted by nickyskye at 2:27 PM on May 28, 2006


It seems to me that the kid knows the oldfucker and didn't want to escale the stuff but he seems like a little coward pussy anyway, SMASH HIS FUCKING FACE FOR GOD SAKE

Seriously? Look at the kids body language? Letting it all hang out, saying "you're not even bothering me". It's a big FU, better then engaging him.
posted by delmoi at 2:38 PM on May 28, 2006


Release "Zig."

I would have patted him on the shoulder again when he sat down to take the call at the end.
posted by fire&wings at 2:45 PM on May 28, 2006


I saw a fair amount of this, having lived a long time in Hong Kong. It's definitely a face issue, as ZachsMind said. Other people did not interfere because, in general, one minds one's own business in Chinese society. This can be taken quite a bit too far - I remember a journalist's account of a soldier who told another soldier not to run to help a car accident victim because it was none of his business.

Also "Diu Le Lo Mo" is the standard no. 1 curse in Cantonese (at least it was in HK when I lived there). Nothing surprising about it coming up. If you're going to curse, that's where you start.
posted by QuietDesperation at 2:48 PM on May 28, 2006


God this is hilarious, thanks. And mefites comments make it better.
posted by uni verse at 2:58 PM on May 28, 2006


QuietDesperation, Thanks for the transcription. There's a decent collection of pretty colorful Cantonese curse words and phrases, which might help in translating that video.
posted by nickyskye at 3:12 PM on May 28, 2006


This thread is a great example of how a good discussion website can turn a relatively unremarkable (and voyeuristic) link into an insightful lesson. Props to phyrewerx and ZachsMind.
posted by cribcage at 3:16 PM on May 28, 2006


"Nevertheless, don't fuck the mom."

That kid is cool.
posted by A dead Quaker at 3:26 PM on May 28, 2006


And they say youtube is just a site for narcissistic kids and tv show clips.

What kind of moron would say that?
posted by slatternus at 3:34 PM on May 28, 2006


ZachsMind is totally right. This is all about saving face. I saw enough of this thing on buses or the subway in Beijing, and it was always a middle aged man blowing up at a random social inferior who provoked his suppressed rage. When you take public transit, this is practically a weekly spectacle. 6 minutes would seem about average to me. Once on the subway there was an incident like this with a middle aged man berating a young girl for about 10 minutes. I forget what it was about, but something trivial. When an older woman asked him to leave the girl alone, he exploded at her, then returned to shouting at the girl. He was shouting at her when I got on, and he was shouting at her when I left about 15 minutes later.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:39 PM on May 28, 2006


I wish the kid had loudly exclaimed "My Mom has Herpes! Don't you fuck my mom!"

Or, perhaps, "You fuck my mom? YOU GAVE HER HERPES!"

But I suppose either one would have done nothing to ameliorate the situation.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:45 PM on May 28, 2006


Shouting at young girls saves face? Huh.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:45 PM on May 28, 2006


She had offended him somehow. I missed the beginning, but generally he was shouting about her lack of respect for him.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:53 PM on May 28, 2006


I should have been more specific, the girl looked to be about 16, or around that. A teenager.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:59 PM on May 28, 2006


five fresh fish, rofl

Sticky Carpet, Your post made me curious to look up the Korean Dog Poop Girl. So many interesting articles about the Internet as a social enforcement tool, cameraphone vigilantes, internet privacy...
posted by nickyskye at 4:16 PM on May 28, 2006


Definite seconding of the appreciation of phyrewerx and ZachsMind's comments (and more-or-less everyone else's - this is a much more interesting thread than I'd expected).

I can't imagine being so wrapped up in social rules that this kind of explosion of pent-up, unspoken frustration could happen, and yet I see it myself now and then - obviously, the structures around the idea of saving face aren't the same in the UK as they are in Hong Kong, but I've seen some impressive and barely-provoked outbursts for what might be broadly comparable reasons from (largely middle-aged and older, now I think about it) people a good few times.
posted by terpsichoria at 4:24 PM on May 28, 2006


I sympathize with the poor young guy just trying to get a little more quiet.

This kind of thing happens regularly on the Long Island Rail Road. There's a kind of unspoken etiquette rule for commutes on the morning train that restricts loud conversations particularly on cell phones. At 7 AM people are sleeping and no one is interested in what anyone did last night, or the continual inane conversations that people can have on cell phones. I mostly believe that people use loud conversations or loud cell phones in such public situations to show off how "cool" they are, even though in action it only proves them an inconsiderate ass. Often when a new person joins the commuting crowd and unknowingly starts up a loud conversation, someone usually says something fairly polite, the very spontaneous SHHH! or uses the common "joining in on the conversation" such as:

Loud cell phone user: Oh! I know, he was so out of his mind about that house.

Commuter: Just like you're driving me out of my mind with how loud you're talking?

In the three years I've been taking in the morning train, I've only twice politely asked someone to quiet - the last time because it was 7:40 AM in the morning and this mid-40-something guy three rows behind me was literally yelling _and_ (I kid you not) simulating carpet bombing noises to his girlfriend (who was clearly not amused). All I said was, "Excuse me, it's very early. Would you mind please keeping it down?" and he instantly started yelling about what a cunt I was, how he had paid his $75 bucks for the weekly train (while the rest of us paid $300 for our monthlies), the country was free, how I didn't own the train and how I was a cunt this, cunt that, cunt, cunt, cunt getting even louder for a asinine diatribe for the next twenty minutes until we reached Penn Station. The guy was clearly off his rocker so the boyfriend and I tried to stifle our snickers, but tons of people were shooting this guy looks to kill and there was a big guy in front of us who was ready to deck him into next week. But he was obviously out of his mind so people just let him patter it out. When leaving the train I gave him a big smile and a saucy wink because he was trying to stare knives into me. We saw him walking a few minutes later in the station and he was only about 4 foot 11 with a bright yellow backpack (like from the short bus), and he was very lucky my 6 foot boyfriend found him more hilarious than a threat. Of course, I think he must have heard us laughing at him loudly then.

(*Shrug) Ultimately there are assholes everywhere.
posted by eatdonuts at 4:43 PM on May 28, 2006


There is a scene in the beginning of "Hard Day's Night" where The Beatles have to share a compartment on the train with an older City-type, and they (invariably) get into an argument.

The older man says, "I fought the war for your sort."

Ringo says, "I bet you wish you'd lost."
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:10 PM on May 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, dude should try that tirade on a Greyhound Bus halfway to El Paso comin' outta Albuquerque.

Fucker would get tossed out on his ear by one seriously surly old roadmaster of a bus driver. Greyhound drivers don't take any shit. Judge, jury, and motherfucking executioner, those guys.
posted by loquacious at 5:57 PM on May 28, 2006


phyrewerx, ZachsMind, dashiv, and others - thanks for filling me in on the cultural context. On viewing, I thought this video was kinda "meh," but it becomes far more interesting in light of the (possibly changing) Chinese social mores.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:08 PM on May 28, 2006


I find it rather interesting that so many people here seem to think this is some sort of cultural phenomenon, specific to the Chinese. If you take away the Chinese-society-is-all-about-saving-face angle that ZachsMind brought up, all you have here is an obnoxious jerk berating a stranger for bruising his ego by calling him out in public. This sort of thing can happen in any culture. Frankly, if this video had starred two white people instead, I'd bet mefites would call it as it is: a jerk making an ass of himself in public.
posted by reformedjerk at 6:22 PM on May 28, 2006


Case in point: what eatdonuts said. There are jerks everywhere.
posted by reformedjerk at 6:24 PM on May 28, 2006


Afro: Yeah, the whole crux of the disagreement is when the younger guy says "You want to save face. I'm sorry."

Which really illustrates the whole problem with unquestioning obedience and deference in general.

If the HK bus driver tried to ask the guy to simmer down, y'know, so he could concentrate on driving, it'd be an even worse scrap.

But hey, he's just some peon, y'know. Driving a bus full of people in traffic at high speeds. Pay him no mind.

Hell, you try that stuff on some city buses and you'll get forcibly removed. By the cops, if necessary. While all the pissed off now-late commuters sit around and glare daggers at you or worse.
posted by loquacious at 6:24 PM on May 28, 2006


未解決 (this is not resolved!) seems to be, in Cantonese, mei6 gaai2 kyut3. The 't' is silentish and turns into more of a stop at the end, so if you think of it as "mei gai kyu-" it seems to be accurate, ish.

I suggest using it whenever possible in your future Cantonese conversations. Or on Metafilter.
posted by blacklite at 6:35 PM on May 28, 2006


(For bonus points, the response the kid gave is 解決, gaai2 kyut3, "it's resolved.")
(It's a lot like "and then?" "no and then!")
posted by blacklite at 6:38 PM on May 28, 2006


What I took the most away from the video was the insistence on shaking hands as a means to settle an issue. I saw it as one of those small run of the mill examples of how Western culture has permeated another culture. So many years ago, I doubt it would have ever even been part of the equation.
posted by Atreides at 6:54 PM on May 28, 2006


I think in this case, the bus driver is out of the equation. They're on the top of a double decker bus, the driver was probably oblivious to what was going on.
posted by phyrewerx at 7:03 PM on May 28, 2006


I believe the main subtext was all about a low-level thug down on his luck, having a mid-life crisis after a few beers; but, who isn't about to let the younger smart kid with a future correct his manners. The Goodfellas act was very proud itself.
posted by Brian B. at 7:34 PM on May 28, 2006


Can I just say I am so glad that Dog Poop Girl didn't end up being something. . . Else.

Excellent Post.
posted by untuckedshirts at 8:29 PM on May 28, 2006



Although clearly in the grip of his amygdala, Bus Driver makes a few pathetic attempts to extricate himself from his anger without losing face. With the whole "I have pressure, you have pressure" he's trying to shift the blame for his outbuurst to society. But "Alvin" (the kid's web nickname) doesn't pick up on it. Ditto for "I talk on the phone, you talk on the phone" and even for "'Fuck your mother' is just ordinary cursing, it's the way we Chinese people curse" (i.e., I'm not really bringing your mother into this.) If Alvin had picked up on any of those cues Bus Uncle would have settled down.

Still, B. U. was looking for a fight, Alvin wasn't cooperating, and it drove Bus Uncle batshit. For a while there he thought he finally had his fight when Alvin muttered "I warn you" but a bit later his phone rang. Alvin's best line? "Answer your phone."
posted by mono blanco at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2006


It's about saving face. The bowing to one another and all that. It's all about choosing to show respect to elders and authority

I suspect revolution on the horizon.
posted by j-urb at 8:33 PM on May 28, 2006


It's about saving face. The bowing to one another and all that. It's all about choosing to show respect to elders and authority...

Is this a sign of old traditions not being upheld by younger generations? Or is this a part of the tradition? An example of it in practice? Is the kid (purposefully or inadvertently) choosing to lower this man's rank in society by disrespecting him? Does this in turn increase the younger man's rank in society by that action?


People love to capitalize on the arbitrary authority that Confucian hierarchy allows. In theory one's obligation to be humane to one's inferiors, to reciprocate their respect, and to obey the ideal of the "perfect gentleman" are equally important. In practice, of course, they are conveniently ignored.

Resistance to abusive superiors is well supported in Chinese philosophy, in Confucius and Mencius, and in Lao Tzu where dichotomies and categorizations are eliminated completely.

Here are some links: Filial piety, reciprocity, perfect gentleman
posted by halonine at 8:38 PM on May 28, 2006


,
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:43 PM on May 28, 2006


Wow, a belligerent drunk picking a fight on mass transit. What did I ever do before this amazing internet. This is probably the sort of thing you can order on that phone service they've been advertising, you know where like you can tell a bum on a bus to eat chewed gum because that's like the power of your phone. I hate everyone and I wish I had the button right here that would destroy the world.
posted by nanojath at 9:03 PM on May 28, 2006


Holy bus rage. We don't need snakes on a plane - just raging uncles to get off the bus...

Great commentary in this thread. The memes seem to be taking off at breakneck speed - that this has all happenned in a span of less than a month - less than that, if it was posted May 11th on YouTube - is mindboggling...
posted by rmm at 9:12 PM on May 28, 2006


I love the subversion of thousands of years of asian culture. It's about fucking time.
posted by shoepal at 9:37 PM on May 28, 2006


That was by far, one of the stupidest things I've ever wasted my time on... umm... where's the payoff? Just one chink yelling at another? BORING!!!! (oh.. and I'm Asian... so I can say that word, btw)
posted by Debaser626 at 10:27 PM on May 28, 2006


"I have pressure!" = "I drive a Dodge Stratus!"
posted by sharksandwich at 10:28 PM on May 28, 2006


This reminds me of similar exchanges you hear in buses or trains in India, where people quarrel and yell at each other for long periods of time without any physical violence. (People do come to blows sometimes too, but that is much rarer.)

The US is very different. People usually either walk away or come to blows very early on, and you don't generally have long, purely verbal exchanges.
posted by splitpeasoup at 10:34 PM on May 28, 2006


PSA: My penis is not your mother.
posted by moonbird at 10:43 PM on May 28, 2006


You haven't ridden the F train much then split.. I 've seen plenty of these exchanges on the NYC subways ( at least 5 or 6 stops, which is about 10-15 minutes on a slow night)... usually one of the people are drunk.. the other one who is usually sober and can totally kick the other person's ass but decides not to as he (or she) would have to spend an hour talking to the cops as to why their shoeprints were on the offenders face.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:47 PM on May 28, 2006


The US had a rough cultural analog for blind deference and respect for elders. It existed in the 1950s (and before) that included Jim Crow.

I don't care what the cultural context is, seniority should not give you license to disrespect those around you nor grant you the privilege to demean and humiliate others.

Since we didn't see the initial incident that sparked this, I'm willing to give the older guy the benefit of the doubt to the point where he was telling the kid off for touching him and telling him to be quiet.

But clearly the older guy clearly went over the top. He went well beyond merely saving face when he started in on the kid's mother. His belligerent, misogynist, self-righteous tirade showed that he was a bully and an @sshole. He thoroughly deserved to be dragged off the bus kicking, screaming, and begging for mercy then beaten in the gutter in front of all of the passengers until he apologized for the "f*ck your mother" comments.

I can't tell you how thoroughly disappointed I am that this video didn't include a smackdown of the older guy.

As Chris Rock says, there's a reason to kick an old man down a flight of stairs... just don't do it. In this guy's case, an exception should have been made.
posted by Davenhill at 10:55 PM on May 28, 2006


I can't tell you how thoroughly disappointed I am that this video didn't include a smackdown of the older guy.

Which is better?:

- physically attack the drunken older guy, who might actually be bigger, deal with police, etc.

- sit cooly by, somewhat mockingly, get video of the drunken guy posted on the internet so that the entire world sees what an ass he made of himself.
posted by caddis at 11:16 PM on May 28, 2006


This meme has it all: Budding catch-phrases, absurd dialog, witty zingers, a sense of "being there" through the video capture, and an air of drama. It's no wonder that it turned out to be a big hit — even without speaking the language, I can't wait to start quoting it in public to share a few knowing laughs.
posted by Down10 at 12:28 AM on May 29, 2006


This post tells us as much about the north/west as it does about the south/east.
posted by asok at 4:12 AM on May 29, 2006


I find it rather interesting that so many people here seem to think this is some sort of cultural phenomenon, specific to the Chinese. If you take away the Chinese-society-is-all-about-saving-face angle [blah blah blah]...

Yeah, if you take away whatever makes something culturally specific, it's just like everything else! If you squint hard enough, there really is no such thing as culture, everybody's just like everybody else! That's what I come to MeFi for: brilliant analysis like that.

This post tells us as much about the north/west as it does about the south/east.

I have no idea what this means.
*goes off to look at a map of Hong Kong and find out which direction the bus was heading*
posted by languagehat at 5:49 AM on May 29, 2006


Without getting into specifics .... the eastern tendency and/or social conditoning to respect or kowtow to your elders has "they" reckon caused fatal indecision in some Asian based airline disasters.That 22yo First Officer doesn't know how to tell that 50yo Captain he's fucked up.
posted by johnny7 at 6:20 AM on May 29, 2006


I'm amazed that more people here don't know about the importance of saving face in Asian cultures. Didn't you guys read Rising Sun?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:50 AM on May 29, 2006


Yeah, if you take away whatever makes something culturally specific, it's just like everything else! If you squint hard enough, there really is no such thing as culture, everybody's just like everybody else! That's what I come to MeFi for: brilliant analysis like that.

Languagehat, you have no way of knowing this is culturally specific. All I'm saying is that people are adding the Chinese-society-is-all-about-saving-face angle to this video simply because the participants were Chinese. If you want to see everything through Euro-centric lenses, that's fine by me. But try to tone down the snark, okay? You might even discover that you're not as brilliant as you think you are.
posted by reformedjerk at 8:38 AM on May 29, 2006


"reformed?"
posted by Fofer at 9:54 AM on May 29, 2006


That was by far, one of the stupidest things I've ever wasted my time on... umm... where's the payoff? Just one chink yelling at another? BORING!!!! (oh.. and I'm Asian... so I can say that word, btw)
posted by Debaser626 at 10:27 PM PST on May 28


Wow great I look forward to a new era of racial slurs with a lot of anonymous internet people claiming that they "can say that word, btw."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:54 AM on May 29, 2006


Yeah, if you take away whatever makes something culturally specific, it's just like everything else! If you squint hard enough, there really is no such thing as culture, everybody's just like everybody else! That's what I come to MeFi for: brilliant analysis like that.

I agree with this, however ironic the poster's intent. Squint harder and the culture is what everyone expects from others. The saving face component is not age specific and it was a semi-polite insult from the kid that the man was obsolete instead of drunk, because saving face is not a positive reference in the old clan hierarchy where no personal dignity is assumed. In old cultures that are stratified and menial, one's perceived status must be defended the same way as a matter of survival. It's a code any gangmember enforces in a ghetto.

The cultural importance of the video is apparent. The kid was dignified, stayed calm and agreeable, even offering his own witty insults to the exchange, demonstrating that video technology plays are role in keeping people non-violent. The kid made his point by referring to him as the bus "manager" in the first minute using the familiar tone (boss is a translation) and the rest was retaliation.
posted by Brian B. at 10:30 AM on May 29, 2006


I'm practically a CBC (Canadian-Born Chinese) from Hong Kong and I often find myself living between both Western and Chinese culture. This thread is somehow utterly fascinating though, because of how much you guys have read into the culture. Suffice to say, MeFites rule.

On a side note, I'm looking forward to showing this to my dad tonight. He worked as a double-decker bus driver for a bit before immigrating to Canada in '76. I'm pretty sure that he's gonna scoff at the video and go into another one of his usual "Chinese culture is an exercise in half-baked modernization" rants :P.
posted by freakystyley at 11:34 AM on May 29, 2006


I love threads involving Chinese culture being analyzed by Westerners. Some of the insights are clever, educated and quite accurate, while some others just reinforce the "stupid, crude Westerner" stereotype.

It's all good popcorn material.
posted by illiad at 11:48 AM on May 29, 2006


Yes, let us laugh at the funny round eyes!
posted by Justinian at 2:46 PM on May 29, 2006


The kid had a chance to defuse this several times...he is our intelligent left hero. When he says I Warn You...he is only re-igniting the situation. The past-his-prime had sat down. And what would you do if someone patted you on the shoulder to pipe down, los Americanos?
posted by wallstreet1929 at 4:45 PM on May 29, 2006


From the May 30th South China Morning Post:

The young man being scolded by "Bus Uncle" in a video clip that has become a surprise hit on the internet will try to go home earlier to avoid another meeting with the grumpy bus rider, now infamous for his explosive character and profanity-laced tirade.

Speaking to reporters at his family's property company in Mongkok yesterday, Elvis "Alvin" Ho, the hero of the six-minute video, which has been viewed million of times in Hong Kong and around the world, said he forgave Bus Uncle and sympathised with him for feeling stressed.

"The most important thing I learnt from the incident is that I must work hard to shorten my working hours so that I can go home earlier and avoid taking the same bus with Bus Uncle again," the 23-year-old property agent said.

"Having said that, I think everyone should stand in others' shoes and think for others. I felt a bit upset, because Bus Uncle verbally abused me and my family. But I am not mad at him, as I know he has pressure."

The clip recorded by a passenger with a mobile phone shows a composed Mr Ho enduring a furious Bus Uncle swearing and jabbing fingers. His encounter with the angry middle-aged man happened on April 27, when he was sitting upstairs on a double-decker bus on his way home to Yuen Long at about 11pm.

"I just tapped on his shoulder and told him to tone down when he was talking loudly on the phone. I did not expect him to explode like that," he said. The commuter said he had asked other passengers to keep their voices down before, and most accepted his requests; he had never met anyone who reacted like Bus Uncle.

"I always take long-distance bus journeys and it is very annoying to sit near those who speak at the top of their voice, especially when I want to sleep," he said.

"Maybe it is a problem of civic education of an individual, but if bus companies can appeal to passengers to keep their voices down when riding on buses, that would be great."

Mr Ho said that although he acted calmly when facing Bus Uncle, he felt scared.

"I feared he might hit me. So when he asked me to shake hands, I did. I kept thinking how to make his anger die down. But I never thought of fighting back, because I did not want to make it big and end up being questioned at a police station.

"I kept reminding myself to stay cool and avoid provoking the desperate man, as I had to work the next day. All I thought about was how to get off the bus safely."

posted by mono blanco at 5:57 PM on May 29, 2006


mullingitover said: "ZachsMind makes a very poignant observation that 90% of westerners probably wouldn't notice. A remarkably good point."

I'm not a diehard Firefly/Serenity fan for nothing. I even know how to say "monkey butt" in mandarin. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:09 PM on May 29, 2006


illiad said: "I love threads involving Chinese culture being analyzed by Westerners. Some of the insights are clever, educated and quite accurate, while some others just reinforce the 'stupid, crude Westerner' stereotype."

Right! What Illiad said! ...waitaminute. Which one am I?

I'm just in awe that this happened on April 27th in Hong Kong. I'm sitting here in Dallas, Texas and I saw it May 28th. I just think that's cool. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:46 PM on May 29, 2006


If anybody thinks that things are much different in Western countries, just check out this Askme about a young lady getting bullied every day on her bus in the USA
posted by Megafly at 9:37 PM on May 29, 2006


And what would you do if someone patted you on the shoulder to pipe down, los Americanos?

- Hey, what the fuck do you want? This is a free country, and this is my cellphone, and I can do whatever the fuck I want with it. Got a problem with it? Move to fucking China!


(ok, only slightly hyperbolic ;) but I bet the American equivalent of this kind of obnoxious man would use the 'This is a free country' line. It wouldn't be about elder vs. younger dude and saving face. It would be about the holy couplet of free speech and property.)
posted by funambulist at 2:15 AM on May 30, 2006


(and I should stress 'American equivalent of this kind of obnoxious man' as opposed to 'any random guy who is not obnoxious'... assholes are a non-culture specific problem, the manifestations of assholishess can be very culture-specific. It'd be great to have on video all sorts of localised versions of Bus Uncle!).
posted by funambulist at 2:19 AM on May 30, 2006


this was all quite fascinating.
er, well.. perhaps it would be more accurate to say engrossing. and a little interesting. (I am just procrastinating at work, after all.)

anyway, thanks guys.
posted by ryran at 9:16 AM on May 30, 2006


I'm sorry to see that no one jumped in to help the kid. I hate it when people harangue kids like that.

I've done my share of shushing people -- my wife won't even go to the movie theater with me anymore because she doesn't want to see me receive a beatdown. Full disclosure - I'm all bark, no bite. Couldn't fight my way out of a wet paper bag.

But for all the awkward situations I've put myself in, I'd never, ever, expect anyone to back me up or step in. If I was brave/stupid enough to tell someone to pipe down, or to try to impress my friends by teasing the drunk guy at the bar, I pretty much believe I'm gonna have to take whatever tongue lashing or worse I get.

Hopefully Elvis "Alvin" Ho will learn to choose his battles.

Terrifically funny video, tho!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:42 PM on May 30, 2006


The word you wanted was inevitably.
posted by Plutor at 1:11 PM on May 31, 2006


Interview with Bus Uncle.
posted by cribcage at 2:52 PM on June 7, 2006


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