The Atlantic on China’s wenyi qingnian (文艺青年). Like the hipsters, this too is counter-culture subgroup made possible by urban affluence and social latitude. Both seem postmodern responses to the old positivist worldview.
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China Has Hipsters, Too
By Monica Tan, Tea Leaf Nation
Source – The Atlantic, published November 10, 2012
It’s happened all over the world, and it’s happening in China, too. As the country’s middle class swells in number — and its people discover the pleasures and disappointments of a life spent pursuing material comfort — there has come the emergence of a distinct counter-culture. In Chinese, they are the wenyi qingnian (文艺青年), or wenqing for short, literally meaning “cultured youth.” It’s China’s closest equivalent to the alternately beloved and reviled English word, “hipster.”
What does a typical “cultured youth” look like? Baidu Baike, China’s version of Wikipedia, contains an entry on the term that quotes writer and musician Guo Xiaohan: “I’m a very typical wenyi qingnian. I like poetry, novels, indie music, European cinema, taking pictures, writing blogs, cats, gardening, quilting, making dessert and designing environmentally friendly bags.”
They are twee, nostalgia-driven, and hipster-ish, with a dash of poet. Spiritual at heart, yet living in a very secular, money-driven modern China, wenqing are marked as highly individualistic, romantic, cultural connoisseurs…
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