The film, Young and Restless in China, is a documentary directed by Sue Williams that follows the lives of nine young Chinese women and men in their struggle with ambitions in a society that is changing swiftly. The nine characters face different opportunities and challenges in similar magnitude in their quest amidst capricious forces of economic reforms. The characters called Ben Wu and Lu Dong migrated from China in search of greener pastures, and they both return to benefit from the economic boom. Despite the success of their ventures, the toe characters find it very difficult to cope up with fast-paced Chinese society.
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The other character, called Xu Weimin, becomes a successful hotelier after abandoning the political ambitions he had as an activist. Zhang Jingjing also abandons activism and becomes an advocate representing thousands of homeless Chinese. The other character is Zhang Yao is a doctor with a big heart as he provides care to Chinese who cannot afford health insurance. The last character is the multitalented youthful hip-hop artist called Wang Xiaolei, who is a critic of capitalism in the new Chinese society (Williams, 2008).
Divergent experiences of young Chinese people due to varied status
The experiences of the nine young Chinese people before becoming economically successful and after experiencing different breakthroughs are contrasting. For instance, Xiaolei, the aspiring rapper, was raised in an abandoned warehouse in abject poverty after the divorce of his parents. The migrant worker called Wei Zhanyan is struggling with underemployment, and taking care of the mentally ill mother is a rural region where the poverty level is very high (PBS, 2015).
Since she comes from the peasant families and has a mentally ill parent to take care of, Zhanyan faces social stigma each day and has an unquenchable thirst for a parental relationship with her mother (Williams, 2008). The abject poverty in her village makes it a burden to care for the ill mother to the whole family. The rural housewife called Yang Haiyan was forced to drop out of school for lack of school fees. She is forced to look for odd jobs and makes the painful decision of leaving her family in search of a better job as a migrant worker.
Despite the dominance of Buddhism in the new Chinese society, Lu Dong decides to convert to be a Christian. He has to live through a divorce between his parents and get solace from the Christian values he subscribes to. The cyber café entrepreneur called Ben Wu has to face a society where corruption is the common language, and he has to embrace the ‘connections’ to survive in society. The other characters face similar impediments for belonging to lower economic classes in a society trapped between preserving its past and adapting to the rapid changes brought about by the economic boom (PBS, 2015).
The experiences of China’s young people and young people in the US
The experiences of the Chinese youths as the new age of technological advancements take over society is similar to the experiences of the American youths who are struggling to define their own identity and social media culture. For instance, Wang Xiaolei meets an online date and embraces the music associated with western culture in a society that is caught between the need to stay static and adopt the changes. The other characters have also embraced the dynamics of the changing China society in order to remain relevant in their businesses and careers (PBS, 2015). In the US, the youths have quickly embraced the social media culture and are very active in online dating, entertainment, and have created their unique culture away from the culture in society.
PBS. (2015). Young and Restless in China: The cost of work for China’s young generation. Web.
Williams, S. (Producer), Williams, S. (Director). (2008). Young and Restless in China [Motion picture]. United States: Indie Film.