Currently, Shenzhen satellite tv is broadcasting “The Generation Show (年代秀),” a trivia game show based on Shenzhen’s four generations – Maoist, 80s, 90s, new millennium. Their advertising caught my eye because it speaks to how “modern life” and “urbanization” are popularly understood in Shenzhen.
The Mao era is filmed in sepia browns and shows a tractor pulling a cart with several people in it, a person peddling a bicycle, and several others walking on the road. They are being urged to go forward. The 80s clip was filmed in color and shows two youths wearing bluejeans and large sunglasses, dancing to music coming from a boombox. The 90s clip is of an architect directing construction workers to raise a piling; they are going up. Finally, the new millennium era is empty of people, just glass steel, reflecting a beam of light.
So, yes, a ruthlessly literal interpretation of the generations: Shenzhen has gone from moving forward and dancing in the streets, to building skyscrapers for nobody. Sigh.