Apropos the last post, last Sunday was Guanggun Day, or Bare Branches Day in China. It’s really more of a Singles Day for both boys and girls, but there’s definitely a focus on guys. The date, November 11th, or 11/11, was chosen for obvious reasons. Here are three movies to commemorate the event, one of three drunk guys singing 《单身情歌》, or the Bachelors Love Song (which seems to be the holiday anthem of choice); one a silly photo montage, and the third an animation of a poor guy all on his lonesome with the song “November 11th” in the background. This is all produced and aimed at young guys who aren’t the poor and disenfranchised that the dangerous surplus males are supposed to come from. Then again, a new survey indicates 67.05% of migrant men in Zhejiang have a mistress (or say they do, anyway). Will bare branches really end up always being the poorest? Or will middle class guys get stuck because they’re more picky?
Not long ago I wrote a long post dissecting Andrea Den Boer and Valerie Hudson’s case for the looming dangers to democracy and stability posed by China’s surplus men, currently somewhere around 18 million and expected to reach 30 million by 2020. Among my criticisms was that Den Boer and Hudson simply take a head count of men and women in China and take the difference to determine the number of surplus men, without taking into account other factors such as the number of prostitutes decreasing, at least temporarily, the bride supply and limiting the “bare branches” effect.
Homosexuality was another factor that didn’t come up in Den Boer and Hudson’s paper, and now from China Matters comes news that China has an estimated 30 million homosexuals. A little digging around uncovered this article from 2005 stating the 2001 census counted 20 million gay men and 10 million lesbians. That means 10 million fewer guys competing for brides, making the surplus male population right now a mere 8 million. And that’s not even counting the closeted gay guys who are married.
If these numbers hold steady (and it seems they have for at least six years), then we can expect a gay-adjusted surplus of 20 million in 2020, not 30 million. That Den Boer and Hudson’s study didn’t even count gay men shows another weakness in their argument. Their hypothesis was that unmarried men, not simply those getting regular booty, are prone to be more violent, apparently regardless of sexual orientation. Perhaps a gay marriage law is in order to prevent roving bands of dangerous gay men?
Afanti (阿凡提) is the Chinese version of the Uyghur name Effendi, a 13th century Sufi mischievous mystic, perhaps better known as Mulla or Hodja Nasrudin/Nesruddin/Nasr Eddin. Famous from Turkey to, well, China*, the tales of Afanti involve him and his donkey traveling around getting into all sorts of hilarious hijinks due to his being simultaneously wiser and more foolish than everybody else around him.
In other words, Afanti is a 13th century sitcom. He may or may not be the popularizer of the phrase “heads I win, tails you lose”. He’s certainly documented as saying it. One tale has him opining that since Allah is manifest in all things, “Allah is an aubergine”. He was the Jerry Seinfeld of the medieval Muslim world. The Afanti claymation program in China, shown above, was one of China’s first domestic cartoons and major hit. From what I can tell, millions of Chinese in their 30s remember Afanti fondly. On Youku, an uploader proclaims Afanti 一个NB！(see here for explanation), and the Afanti name is common for Uyghur restaurants across the country, a financial services website, and more. So it’s no surprise that the cartoon impressarios of Chongqing are working on a new Afanti cartoon for next year. The question on everybody’s mind: will they have the episode where a cross-eyed guy strokes and spanks a gold coin defecating donkey?
*Afanti is yet another example of how China, via Xinjiang, partakes in something of a truly international character (such as the muqams) but domestically promotes it as purely a local “Xinjiang characteristic”.