|http://www.sina.com.cn 2004/05/24 10:46 北京青年报|
Imagine yourself a Chinese student in London again: It's almost 10pm later the same day. You've been hard at work since lunch, working through the pile of books you need to read in preparation for the next tutorial. You almost jump out of your skin①when the familiar firm-but-polite voice of the tannoy lady invades the eerie silence of the library. Once again you find yourself wondering why it is that the other few remaining students also happen to be from overseas. With mixed feelings you head through the swing doors and past the caretaker, who bids you goodnight -- at least that's what you think he said: it's hard to tell through the thick accent.
As you turn the corner of Regent Street, you realise immediately that something is up. A crowd has gathered outside Marks and Spencer, right where you normally wait for the bus. You hardly have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce what's happened: the replay of last Sunday's Carling Cup Semi-final...Arsenal versus Everton...unavoidably heightened emotions...excessive alcohol consumption. Good news: your bus is heading towards you. As you take a seat in the empty bus, you notice that blood is pouring from the nose of one of the football fans in the street. It's with a great sense of relief that you feel the bus pulling away from the kerb and moving into third gear.
Does this picture bear much resemblance to reality? Well, it's true that many British (especially English) people are obsessed with football -- but not everyone. Living in a country where there are more Yingchao followers than in England, I'm often asked about my football loyalties. Alas, your average Beijing taxi driver knows more about the Premiership than I do! But I'm an exception: a sizeable majority of English men are indeed avid football supporters; in fact, at times it almost feels as if English males have a social obligation to follow a particular team.
Is it true that Britain is full of alcoholics? No. Yet it can't be denied that drink and 'armchair football' do often go together: there is always an excuse to knock back one more drink, either in celebration or commiseration. Several haigui who've returned from studying in the UK have mentioned to me their surprise at how often English young people seem to get drunk. Sadly, this is a mark of the times: it is still perceived as cool to get so intoxicated that you lose any sense of self-control. Many drinkers plunge gladly into inebriation as an escape from reality. By the way, let me say that, whilst I realise that there are drunks and wilful drunkenness in China, I truly respect the way young people here seem to know how to enjoy themselves without turning to booze. Many Brits wouldn't feel able to enjoy singing karaoke unless they were already tipsy.
Still, we must be careful not to allow the views or behaviour of a minority to represent the majority. What did you think when you read about the brawl? "Typical Britain -- the land of football hooligans" can I hear you say? The combination of drink and heightened sentiment naturally leads to the odd tussle from time to time. Regrettably, there have been several incidents in recent years of English football fans causing havoc abroad. But please don't allow yourselves to think that yobs are the norm; they simply aren't! I can count on the fingers of one hand how many fights I've witnessed in the UK.
Why is it that we're so prone to forming stereotypes that end up being unrepresentative? Even more than the textbooks we study at school, the newspapers we read on the underground have a major influence on our thinking. Working out what makes for an interesting story is constantly on an editor's mind. When the spotlight is on another country or culture, the tendency is to write about something either novel or negative; after all, that's where the interest lies. As readers, we often unwittingly take things a step further②and convert the unusual into the typical. For example, a British paper would be unlikely to publish an article on 'The Continued Strength of Chinese Filial Piety' -- whereas an article entitled 'Chinese Nouveaux Riches Opt for Old People's Homes' has far more potential. Yet how wrong readers would be if they concluded that most Chinese no longer care for their elderly parents.
So if you're a reader, well done, but do make sure you read with your thinking cap firmly on. Beware of passive reading. Question the author in your mind; seek background for new information. By all means allow what you read and hear to challenge your assumptions; be open to changing your opinions. Above all, be as critical and discerning as possible. (听英文51163,文章注释511631,作者简介511632)
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