9/10/08

My Thesis--Final draft

Chapter One—
Introduction: Amy Tan’s Transition from an Ethnic Writer
to a Global Writer

Why does Amy Tan want to replace her original interest with new subjects? What are the vital factors leading to her drastic exchange? How does her new work reflect the transition? These questions might puzzle a reader as s/he reads Amy Tan’s latest novel—Saving Fish from Drowning (2005). Needless to say, Amy Tan, the author of The Joy Luck Club (1989), is popular among many literature lovers all over the world. Right after the publication of her first novel, it became the bestseller of the year, lingering more than 40 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. The Joy Luck Club was not only the candidate for National Book Award and the National Book but also received the Commonwealth Gold Award and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award at the end of that year. Compliments and praises surged one another and the literature community has esteemed Tan as one of the most important Chinese American writers nowadays.
In 1994, Wayne Wang, an Asian American director, adapted the novel for a namesake film, and the movie was as touching as Tan’s original; it attracted even more people to read and appreciate Tan’s book. Since the publication of The Joy Luck Club, the glamour of Tan’s writing has lasted for over fifteen years; all her following works such as The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), and The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001) received high acclaim and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list again and again. These four novels share many similar motifs: mother-daughter relationship, ghost haunting, Chinese myth and fairytale, the interweaving of the past in China and the present in U.S. and the journey back to China. With these motifs, Tan constructs an exotic China for her fans with her excellent talent on storytelling. However, in her latest novel Saving Fish, Tan astonishes her readers with a brand-new setting, background, characters and plot. The importance of mother-daughter relationship and Chinese stories in her novel have been replaced by her concern over globalization and its impact on both the First World and the Third world.
The new story tells the adventure of the eleven missing American tourists in the Burmese forest through the voice of a Chinese American female ghost narrator named Bibi Chen. Being an experienced tour guide, Bibi organized the trip and gave it a tempting name “Following the Buddha’s Footsteps” (1); unfortunately, she was murdered fourteen days before setting out. Yet, this tragedy does not prevent Bibi's spirit from accompanying her friends to Burma and becoming the narrator and witness of the whole story. This trip is meant to start from a southwestern corner of China, the Yunnan Province and to end in Burma, for this route symbolizes the impact of numerous religious cultures on Buddhist art. This group is composed of twelve people with diverse backgrounds, from a British-born TV host, an American humanist to two inexperienced teenagers. While traveling in Burma, the eleven of them are kidnapped by local aborigines, the Karen people, who misrecognize Rupert, an adolescent who is crazy about the magic, as “the Younger White Brother,[1]” who could protect them from the persecution of the Burmese military government. Kidnapped by the Karen people, the eleven American tourists are isolated from any help; in the meantime, the news of their missing has been broadcasted globally and aroused international interest in their whereabouts. Numerous international TV companies are competing for information about them as well as the Karen people; suddenly, they are turned into TV stars luring audience all around the world.
During this period, these American tourists understand the miserable history of the Karen people and realize that they themselves are trapped with an ethical dilemma: their own rescue might reveal the hidden existence of the latter and leads to their arrest by the Burmese military. In the end, all the eleven tourists are released and the Karen people accidentally become the protagonists of a popular reality show, Junglemaniacs!. The show represents their life as a TV program and is popular in America.
To understand what makes Amy Tan abandon her old theme for a whole new subject, I would like to turn to comments from both Tan herself and her critics first, for their comments provide useful clues to identify possible reasons. After the publication of Saving Fish, Tan personally does not sense such huge differences as readers and critics do, saying, “My new book just brings into play more elements from my life, my multiple perspectives and interests” (“A Discussion with Amy Tan”).[2] For example, her creation of the Chinese ghost narrator Bibi continues the exotic Chinese aura from her previous novels; moreover, Bibi’s bizarre death is one of the two main mysteries[3] seasoning the story with a detective flavor which sustains its readers’ interest throughout the whole novel, as they pursue the solution of the riddle. Neither Tan’s specialty of interweaving the past and present nor the hideous but significant impact of fate is absent from Saving Fish. For instance, to impress her readers with the plight of the Karen people, Tan’s description switches between their present life withdrawn from the modern society and their past enveloped in one after another legend and superstition.
Nevertheless, with its brand-new motif, setting and character, this story is regarded as a departure for Tan. Tan herself is aware of the differences in this novel, as she says,
I knew that I was going to be doing something different from all the books, that it wasn't going to concern mothers and daughters or sisters, and it just scared me. I was also going to do something for the first time that wasn't so deeply personal and intimate, that had more to do with politics, in a way. So there were a lot of unknowns with this book for me. (Hansen 1)
Tan’s statement reveals the anxiety of an established writer when she wants to change from her routine subjects to a whole new issue. As for the numerous innovations in Saving Fish, firstly, Tan includes many more different characters than she ever has, and the diversity of these characters shows her ability to depict the life and experience of people other than Chinese American or Chinese. Also, the proportion of male characters rises drastically and, unlike those flat male characters in her previous works, male characters share equal thematic significance as the female ones in Saving Fish. Secondly, most part of the story is set in Burma; namely, the trip from China to Burma corresponds with Tan’s attempt to re-identify herself as a “global writer” instead of a Chinese American writer. Thirdly, the subject of the novel is no longer China or Chinese culture. Tan adds into her writing more elements such as global media and transnational tourism. Donald Morrison, an established book reviewer from Time International, describes Saving Fish as “the latest and most radically un-Tanlike of Tan's novels” (46). According to Morrison, mother-daughter relationship and the life of Chinese immigrants are no longer Tan’s focus in this novel. All in all, Saving Fish shows Tan’s attempt to demonstrate her new concern over globalization and her ability to tell a different story.
Undoubtedly, as she is a popular American writer, each of Tan’s works attracts public attention; the whole new topic of Saving Fish receives numerous comments from different perspectives as well. Maureen Neville deems that Tan attempts to adopt “a real-life incident” as a basis for a fiction which contains Tan’s “commentary on the ironies of modern life” (70). Through writing a story which contains a real event and her imagination, Neville presumes, Tan underlines her warning of both positive and negative effect on globalization to the First World as well as the Third World. Other critics focus on Tan’s representation of and comparison between Burmese and Americans. One book reviewer observes Tan’s description of the Karen people is multidimensional; in other words, she tries to present their different characteristics instead of simplifying them as a barbarian tribe encountering Westerners for the first time. Under Tan’s description, the Karen people can be wily and sly when they try to kidnap those American tourists; on the other hand, they can be as “vulnerable to misunderstanding and misapprehension” as the gullible Yanks, for both of them lack complete understanding of each other’s culture (“Seek and You Shall Find Your Illusions”). Moreover, Tan shows each individual in the tribe and his/her different personality, either astute Black Spot who designs the whole plan or Loot and Bootie, naïve twins, who are worshipped as the descendents of “the Young White Brother.”
Comparing between Tan’s narratives of the Westerners and the Karen people, one reads that Tan cunningly mocks Westerners and the culture they represent. They deem that they are “a cut above their national stereotypes,” which means they overestimate themselves as more insightful and intelligent ones than other tourists who only pay attention to the superficial aspect of exotic culture. Actually, they are no more than ignorant American tourists who seek “rustic romanticism and antiquated prettiness, no electric power lines, telephone poles, or satellite television dishes to mar the view" (“Seek and You Shall Find Your Illusions”). Tan’s portrait of American tourists is meant to expose the superficial and ignorant aspect of their mentality. As long as they experience the exotic culture in the Third World, they would immediately return to the First World, boasting around. As for the hardship of Third World people, leave it for their government. As Freud Sandy writes, “they are mostly well-meaning, but ignorant and naive, the group lands in one hilarious situation after another due to cultural misunderstandings” (158). By emphasizing the contrast between the Karen people and the American tourists, Tan belittles the later slyly to show how “self-fish” First World people could be.
In contrast to praises, some book reviewers doubt whether Tan has the ability to handle all components of the novel well and whether her over-confidence leads to its final imperfection. Lisa Gee mentions that according to Tan’s writing project, she has to deal with more than thirteen characters with backgrounds differing from one another plus the history of the miserable Karen people and the impact of globalization on them. Gee comments, “That's a lot - too much.” Indeed, due to lack of sufficient elaboration, each character reads “kooky” (“Blood and Buddhism in Burma”). Charles Matthews also proposes that to deal with all these characters and incidents, “Tan has almost too much material to crowd in.” He suggests, “Tan's imagination and ingenuity are apparent throughout the book … But it has too many of all of these, jumbled up together. Would it have hurt to save some of them for another novel?” (“Tan's Latest Novel a Jumble of Characters, Ideas, Plotlines”) While comparing Tan’s novel with The Canterbury Tales, Craig Nova argues that Tan’s characters are kind of “clichés in searching of some signifying detail” (BW06). Nova hints that Tan has wasted such a “potential fascinating story”; moreover, Nova expects to read a deeper description of the cultural misunderstanding between the Western tourists and the Karen people as well as the way the media represents this event instead of copious and lengthily background information of the ghost narrator, Bibi Chen (BW06).
As for her plot, Pascal Khoo Thwe views it as “formulaic, rather too close to that of a Hollywood blockbuster, while the non-American characters are somewhat wooden and stilted, like extras in an action movie, there solely for visual effect”(“Burmese Haze”).[4] In other words, her twelve characters are turned into flat characters to complete Tan’s colorful catalogue. Thwe also criticizes that the Burmese jungles looks like “a film set”; namely, Tan’s description of Burma lacks a sense of reality and her representation of the Karen people is like a film scenario. Also, prolonged paragraphs about the scenery, history, culture, religion, food and costume of Burma almost turn the novel into a tour guide book for Western readers who long for exotic aura. Hence, by writing a “formulaic” story containing elements such as “Westerners in exotic surroundings, murder, myth, mystery, conspiracy, kidnapping, bad guys, good guys, stupid guys and even a ghost” (“Burmese Haze”), Tan expects Western readers to accept her new style more easily and to share her observation and comments on what happens in Burma.

A “Drowning” Writer: the Limited Interpretations of an Ethnic Writer

Among these critics, I find Donald Morrison’s comment most interesting and relevant to my research, for she also focuses on what leads to Tan’s transition. In addition to Tan’s new setting in Saving Fish, Morrison asks herself the question in “Hostage to Fortune”: how did a writer known for dealing with personal dilemmas get interested in the political kind? Later, she herself offered to solve the problem, declaring, “The answer may lie in the inner turmoil Tan faced just before fate led her to Burma” (46). Morrison presumes that Tan had suffered from long-term depression which once is seen as a family inherited disease. By 2000, her situation was getting worse. For example, Tan could hardly walk on the street by herself, for fear that someone might stab her without reason. In fact, Tan has mentioned more symptoms in her book The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life (2003). Unable to find the reason, Tan fought with dread, low blood sugar rate, hallucination, sleep disorder, etc. These symptoms made it hard for Tan to concentrate on her writing, thus “the inner turmoil” generates emotional problems and severely influences her quality of life.
Being desperate and eager to figure out her disease, Tan visited many doctors; yet, very few of them provided correct diagnosis of her malady but suggested her to accept one after another expensive test and to pay a great amount of money for them. Finally, it came out to be “Lyme disease,” a disease tended to happen on the East Coast and ignored by most of her doctors. According to a “Lyme-literate,” a doctor who is familiar with Lyme disease, what Tan got was a “quite common” and “characteristic” one (The Opposite, 393-4). After proper medical treatment, Tan recovered both physically and psychologically rapidly. Now, Tan has a new perspective towards life and says, “I see things I don't want to take for granted ever again. I try to do more in life” (Morrison 46). To publish her new perspectives and new observation, she decides to abandon her old specialty—mother-daughter relation and Chinese stories. Instead, she composes a story less personal but more political. To achieve her goal, her trip to Burma became her immediate material. In 2000, Tan was invited by her friends to visit Burma, close to the time of her mother’s death. Even though her health was poor at that time, she agreed immediately; yet, at her second thought, she remembered the brutal military governments and confined human-rights fighters there like Aung San Suu Kyi and almost canceled the trip. However, even if she canceled the trip, she thought, would the situation there be any better? The answer is unknown. In the end, Tan did travel to Burma and what she saw and thought at that time became the central themes for Saving Fish. According to Morrison, “Saving Fish is one result of Tan's new energy” and the chosen genre, comedy, represents Tan’s new attitude to face injustices and turmoil in the world (46).
Besides the impact of Lyme disease, one should never ignore the influence of Tan’s mother, Daisy Tan, to her writing. Tan mentioned many times that her writing is always a record of what occupied her mind and what troubled her most; thus, Tan’s capricious mother and Tan’s complex feelings towards her since childhood become the central element of Tan’s work. For instance, only after recording the history of her mother with a video camera since 1990 at her home, had Tan published her second book, The Kitchen God’s Wife, a story based on her mother, who had asked Tan to write (The Opposite 82). Tan’s mother and her sufferings are both precious materials for Tan. While facing the questions whether her novels are all autobiographical, Tan replies, “what I draw from is not a photographic memory, but an emotional one”(109). It means that the deja-vu scene and characters in her works are due to her personal feeling towards her mother, who is sometimes helpful and sometimes hateful to her daughter. In a word, since all her four novels focused on mother-daughter relations, the weight of her “emotional” response to her mother is obvious.
The death of her mother is undoubtedly another strike to her because their complicate mother-daughter relationship has motivated Tan’s inspiration to write for years. From then on, Tan turns to other topics which interest her and linger in her mind for a long time—“the disturbing questions about intentions”:
When I finished the last book, it was about six months after both my mother and editor had died …. I had been thinking about the subject of this book for a while--the disturbing questions about intentions. But up until then I had been writing about mothers and daughters because the beliefs I developed from my life with a difficult mother had occupied most of my thoughts. And I tend to write about the questions that continually haunt me. But my relationship with my mother toward the end of her life was wonderful, and usually writers write about what’s not-so-wonderful. (“A Discussion with Amy Tan”)
To Tan, it was her mother who opened a window towards the exotic China for her, and now she has to find another window for her future writing. Therefore, she chose to compose a story based mostly on Burma instead of China and wrote about Americans instead of Chinese. Yet, in Saving Fish, one still detects the shadow of her mother in the narrator Bibi Chen, who is like an incarnation of her mother. For the voice of the narrator, Tan mentions, “Shortly after my mother died, I decided the voice would be hers: unintentionally funny, totally honest, astute about other people but sometimes blind to her own failings, doing good deeds but wanting the credit” (Jones 16). In another interview, she confirmed once again, “Her feisty voice is like my mother’s” (“A Discussion with Amy Tan”). Nova Craig even comments that the first part of the story, which records Bibi’s bizarre death and life, is like “230 pages of Bibi’s inane observations” (BW06). Although Tan did arrange a proper character to memorize her mother, Tan’s attempt to change the habitual theme is so earnest that critics find that the focus of the whole story is how Tan illustrates the interaction between Western characters (the First World) and the Karen people (the Third World) in global era. Hence, the change of focus in Tan’s life corresponds with the change of themes in her writing, and now she pays more attention to social events instead of personal relationship.
Beside these factors from Tan’s personal life, one should not ignore the influence of historical and social circumstances such as public reception of Tan’s works, her identity, and the Western withdrawal of interest in Orientalistm. As for the public reception of Tan and her writing, I would like to refer to Tan’s status in American literature. Even since her very first novel The Joy Luck Club which earns her several literature awards, Tan has been applauded the evocation of the exotic China in her novels. Ann H. Fisher mentions, “Tan is a gifted natural story-teller” (198). Namely, Tan’s ability to write novels, which combine her unlimited imagination, her Chinese origin and extraordinary writing skill, seems to guarantee her the status as one of the most popular Chinese American writers. Tan almost becomes the spokesperson of Chinese American culture and her novels depicting mother-daughter relationship are turned into counseling handbooks for many Chinese immigrants. Due to the popularity of Tan’s novels, the discussion of her novels in the academy is as fervent as the sales of her novels. Also, the amount of thesis and dissertations about Amy Tan is increasing. Being noticed by both academic institutions and ordinary readers, Tan has even produced a unique “Amy Tan phenomenon.” In “Sugar Sisterhood: Situating the Amy Tan Phenomenon,” Sau-Ling Cynthia Wong pays attention to the “socio-historical context” of Tan’s writing and tries to figure out what leads to the phenomenon. She observes that Tan becomes a popular writer whose writing “straddles the worlds of ‘mass’ literature and ‘respectable’ literature, stocking the shelves of airport newsstands as well as university bookstores, generating coffee table conversation as well as conference papers” (Wong 175).
Even though Tan gains respectable status in Chinese American literature from her first four novels, she is still under great pressure as a Chinese American (writer). To understand Tan’s anxiety, I would refer to the cultural context ethnic writers are facing nowadays. In the studies of ethnic literature, it is a common phenomenon to link an author’s identity with her works, for an ethnic writer’s bloodline seems to provide powerful legitimacy for her representation of her homeland and community. Likewise, the author’s ethnic identity has huge influence on her writing and the public reception of her writing. As for Tan, her Chinese heritage provides her plentiful materials for composing her alluring Chinese stories. Yet, Tan’s Chinese stories bring her both fame and harsh critiques. While readers praise her excellent writing skill that enables them to have a taste of Chinese culture and her Chinese heritage that guarantees the authenticity of her stories, some critics scrutinize her sentences for misperception of China.[5]
As critics evaluate her literary works, they can hardly ignore Tan’s ethnic identity. Tan’s writing is supposed to convey “politically correct” messages and to challenge prejudices against Chinese immigrants and Chinese culture in America. From time to time, it becomes a burden and responsibility for ethnic writers to speak for their communities, and this prescribes the subjects they can write on. In her discussion of the Amy Tan phenomenon, Wong even mentions that the publication of Tan’s first novel, The Joy Luck Club (1986) coincided with the latest wave of feminist movement in 1980s (176); her later novels, which are all related to Chinese immigrants, satisfy Western readers’ desire to peek into the mysterious Chinese culture, which Wong terms as “the persistent allure of Orientalism” in America (180). In other words, her ethnic identity reinforces the authenticity of her stories, leading to her success in American literary market. Since her ethnic identity has such huge impact on her writing and the public reception, most critiques about Tan’s novels target on her representation of China, the conflict between China-born mother and America-born daughter, Chinese legendary and ghost story—all motifs related to her Chinese heritage.[6] To some scholars, it seems that whether Tan illustrates Chinese American culture and Chinese immigrants “correctly” is far more important than her creativity and writing skill.
In response to the “misinterpretation” of her writing, Tan publishes The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, a collection of essays including her perceptions about various issues as well as her clarification of misinformation related to her life and books. Most important of all, it contains Tan’s responses to critics concerning the relation between her ethnic identity and her writing. Tan declares that most of her writing is inspired by Chinese legends passed on from her mother and by her personal experience as a Chinese American growing up in America. All these turn out to be precious materials for her writing which is the reflection of her whole life. Overall, she prefers that readers and critics name her novels as semi-autobiographies rather than representations of collective experience of the whole Chinese American community (304-6). However, Tan’s statement is not convincing enough to change the preconception of the critics and scholars of ethnic literature; her ethnic identity—a Chinese American—continues to determine the public reception of her writings.
As one can never change the whole world, the only thing Tan can do is to change herself. The best way to avoid misinterpretation is to abandon her original writer identity as a Chinese American writer. Regardless of the reputation built on her identity as a Chinese American writer, Tan refused to be categorized as one anymore. She declares:
If I had to give myself any sort of label, I would have to say I am an American writer. I am Chinese by racial heritage. I am Chinese-American by family and social upbringing. But, I believe that what I write is American fiction by the virtue of the fact that I live in this country and my emotional sensibilities, assumptions, and obsessions, are largely American. My characters may be largely Chinese-Americans, but I think Chinese-Americans are part of America. (The Opposite 310)
Through identifying herself as an American writer, Tan claims that her writing should not be consigned merely into specific fields such as Minority Studies or Chinese American studies. Considering the advantage of being an American writer, Tan asserts that she identifies herself as an American writer to escape “literary fascism,” which demands what ethnic writers should write, and announces, “And this is the real reason I consider myself an American writer: I have the freedom to write whatever I want. I claim that freedom” (316). With her claim of being an American writer, she feels free when she voices her opinions on multiple issues, either about the American society or about the Third World. Her assertion of freedom to speak and to publish books about all kinds of issues in America ensures herself that she is just an American writer. Besides these advantages, her identity as an American citizen enables her to travel internationally and these trips broaden her vision, turning her into a more “globalized” writer. To her, this new identity has multiple benefits: it helps to free herself from biased and limited interpretations of her writings; it is a strategy to expand her visions as a writer, including observation on international affairs. Tan knows well that as long as she keeps publishing novels about Chinese or Chinese American issues, she can hardly prevent the stereotyped misinterpretation of her writing. As a result, to reaffirm her determination to be an American writer, Tan chooses to write a different kind of novel, hoping that it could save her from “drowning” in the biased interpretations.
Another important factor related to Tan’s transition is the withdrawal of American Orientalist’s interest. I presume that to follow the latest trend of American literature and to sustain her status as a popular writer, Tan chooses to change her favorite themes. According to Wong, the Amy Tan Phenomenon is meant to describe the popularity of Tan’s writing among various social loci, including academic conference and the bookshelf in the airport. Still, what leads to her success exactly? Wong asserts that Tan’s success has close connection with contemporary historical context. While the feminist movement in 1980s lured American readers to matrilineal discourses, Tan’s novels, based on mother-daughter relationship, become handy examples. The combination of the agenda of the feminist movement and Western readers’ desire to learn exotic Chinese culture has given birth to the Amy Tan Phenomenon. Wong further argues that from Tan’s series of Chinese stories with leading female characters, one discovers that Tan is extremely sensitive to the needs of the Western readers. Moreover, the popularity of her works has close relation with “white-dominated readership,” for Tan’s Chinese story provides “the Other’s presence as both mirror and differentiator” (Wong 177). Wong claims that part of Tan’s readership is of Chinese immigrants and the second-generation Chinese Americans who find Tan’s writing resonating their experiences. In the meantime, the Western readers also find Tan’s writing has “the persistent allure of Orientalism” (180-3). Actually, many critics also find that it is the prolonged description of Chinese tradition and life that fascinate white readers and creates high sale rate for Tan (Romano 2). The American reading public considers her works as “faithful chronicles of things Chinese” and the details she provides about Chinese tradition become elements of “authenticity marking” (Wong 184). In a word, Chinese story has been selling well in American literary market since 1980s; thus, Tan continues this path and publishes a series of novels with similar motifs. All her four books before Saving Fish, plus a successfully adapted movie directed by Wayne Wong, confirm Tan’s position in (Asian) American literature. Yet, the taste of American readers changes from time to time. According to Amazon Online Bookstore, the sales volume of The Joy Luck Club ranks high among five novels which Tan has published; as for the second is Saving Fish from Drowning. The sale volume of other three novels Tan published is far behind these two.[7] In other words, readers get tired of similar Chinese stories in the other three novels and the sales volume reflects the tendency immediately. As a sensitive popular writer, Tan is quite aware of current trends and seeks a breakthrough. When Tan published The Joy Luck Club, the American literary market was crazy about Orientalism. But fifteen years has passed; now, issues about globalization captivate American readers. Thus, Tan follows the trend and publishes her fifth novel which successfully becomes the second bestseller of all her works. In Saving Fish, one reads Tan’s observation of the impact of globalization on Third World countries as well as Fist World countries instead of her favorite topics such as mother-daughter relation. Robinson comments that her latest novel opens a new possibility and is “an impressive narrative step up from Tan's previous gorgeous but increasingly samey domestic-exotic dramas” (“Ugly Americans”). Saving Fish witnesses both Tan’s change of writing style and her sensitivity to the taste of contemporary readers. In 1989, flourishing feminist movement enabled Tan’s success; in 2005, it is globalization “saving” Tan from repetitive motifs and providing her essential material to astonish her readers and critics once again.

A Writer “Saved”: Amy Tan as a Global Writer

After referring to possible factors of Tan’s change, I would like to examine how Saving Fish from Drowning reflects her new writer identity and writing themes. In this novel, Tan shows her interest in the impact of globalization nowadays, focusing on two essential topics-- the power of mass media and transnational tourism. Tan’s concern about global issues turns Saving Fish into a new literary genre—global novel and herself, global writer. To elaborate the formation of global novel as well as the emergence of global writer, I refer to the ideas of several theorists first. Although the phenomena of globalization and its impact on the modern age have been noticed since 1990s, most of the related discussion focuses on its economic, political and social influence around the world. Not until recently do cultural critics pay attention to the close connection between globalization and literature, and their discussions accelerate the emergence of global literature.[8] In “Global Narratives: Globalization and Literary Studies,” Liam Connell states that “how globalisation can be understood as a textual characteristic” is an essential question while analyzing certain literary works; also, he provides an explicit definition of literary studies of globalization, which should be “a criticism that seeks to identify how texts narrate the concepts of worldliness, convergence and universalism within the frame of a supposedly intensified internationalism” (85). In addition, in “Globalit, Inc.; or, the Cultural Logic of Global Literary Studies,” Ian Baucom points out that in views of the present social and historical circumstances, money and knowledge are two essential factors accelerating globalization. Baucom asserts that only with money can modern people design machines to transmit knowledge all around the world and this transnational flow of knowledge spread the concept of globalization and brings back abundance of money in return. To generalize the opinions of these critics, I choose two aspects of global literary studies which would respond to my analysis of Saving Fish: the focus on the content of the work as well as the circulation of the work. In other words, the content of global narratives tend to portray the intensive interrelation between characters and the external environment while global literary studies can never be separated from the social and historical circumstances of the contemporary era, which is how fast transportation accelerates the spread of global literature.
Among scholars working on this new genre, Paul Jay is an insightful one publishing a series of articles about the interplay of literature and globalization. As one of the leading theorists of global novel, Jay brings up many fundamental ideas about global novel and many of his ideas are related to the content and the circulation of global literature. In “Beyond Discipline? Globalization and the Future of English,” Jay starts with Immanuel Wallerstein’s concept of “the modern world system,” who stresses the continuity of world economy and transnational trade; the latter disagrees with the notion that these two are unique phenomena in the postmodern era but presumes that they appeared much earlier in late fifteenth century (34). Wallerstein’s theory of “modern world system” is seen as the predecessor of globalization, for several concepts are recognized in theories, such as transnational trade, world economy, and interdependence among countries. Since Jay follows Wallerstein’s concept, he thinks that globalization is a long-term historical process instead of a specific product of the postmodern age. Nevertheless, while Wallerstein’s discussion of the “modern world system” focuses on economic aspect, Jay broadens it to include cultural and literary aspects. Due to the circulation of global economy and the broadcasting of the media, Jay states, information and knowledge travel at the highest speed in various cultural forms and stimulates the innovation of the latter in return. These new cultural commodities, which contain new information and knowledge, not only create a huge fortune for its creator but speed up cultural exchange among various countries and cultures (Jay 115). Reversely, this kind of cultural exchange also speeds up globalization, for nations have more chances to influence one another in both economic and cultural aspect. Thus, the reputation of a certain writer can reach people all over the world and this boots the sales of his/her work; at the same time, the publishing house also makes more profit and is willing to publish more literary works. Hence, the concepts and ideas in these works have more chances to circulate worldwide and influence more people than before. To Jay, the dissemination of English literature and American culture in the early 20th century is the best evidence of how the First World makes great use of global market to influence the world according to their own ideology. Thus, as a renowned writer, Tan’s reputation accelerates the circulation of Saving Fish, which spreads her perspective on globalization internationally; reversely, the circulation of Saving Fish creates abundance fortune for her.
After explaining that one of the essential ideas of globalization is transnational circulation, in “Is Global Fiction Postcolonial?,” Jay goes a step further declaring that
“‘Global fiction’ suggests a critical or generic category designed to supersede the category of national fiction” (1).[9] According to Jay, globalization of literature relies on transnational transmission through multiple media to distribute numerous literary works, contributing to their popularity as well as the reputation of their authors globally. The ideas carried by these widespread literary works could have infinite impact on millions of people in seconds; since these literary works are read everywhere, literary critics try to coin a term for them—“global literature.” In global literature, global novel is one of the most popular genres and those who devote themselves to this kind of genre are labeled as “global writer.” The emergence of global literature highlights the long-term anxiety of literary critics to identify the nationality of literary works as well as the insufficiency of traditional categories used to sort numerous literary works. For instance, having both Chinese and American heritage, Tan’s novel about Burma could puzzle those who want to classify it into a proper category. Also, the original restrictive effect of state censorship is eliminated, for convenient transportation and Internet enable literary works to be read in any place and in any form. Without the expense of the printing, writers could still publish their works on the Internet and receive myriad responses. Or, enthusiastic readers tend to spread and forward such works to others and contribute the popularity of a certain literary work and its author. The national boundary, in certain degree, has lost its significance. Since the birth of each literary genre also has close connection with the contemporary lifestyle, the prosperity of global novel is attributed to the rapid development of globalization in various fields as well.
Yet, as a literary theorist, Jay goes beyond the widespread transmission of literary works, concentrating on how global writers elaborate close relation between globalization and modern life in their narratives, which is the content of global literature. “Global fiction,” Jay proposes, “from this point of view, is fiction about globalization” (“Is Global Fiction Postcolonial?” 1-2). The representation of globalization in global novel is not only the background or setting of the whole story, which would simply specify the time and location of the story. It is also a vital element which has tremendous influence on the plot development of the whole story and the characters. For instance, global novelists tend to depict how his or her characters respond to prosperous globalization and adjust themselves in order to survive in global era. Tan’s description of globalization in Saving Fish fits in with Jay’s definitions of global novel: firstly, the reputation of Amy Tan as a well-known writer in America contributes to the global circulation of her book; secondly, her hybrid background emphasizes the insufficiency of traditional literary categories; last but not the lease, the pervasive concern over globalization in Saving Fish makes it a global novel.
In “Globalization and the Postcolonial Condition,” Jay further investigates the complex relation among postcolonial condition, globalization and literary studies, for he stresses the influence of socio-historical circumstances to the emergence of contemporary literature. “[T]he current shift—if that is what we are witnessing—from a postcolonial to a global perspective” Jay states, “then, is consistent with the way the discipline of literary studies has developed over the whole course of the twentieth century”(83). To Jay, the emergence of every literary study must respond to its contemporary historical context; therefore, the studies of global novel can never be divorced from the emergence of globalization in current society. However, Jay never intends to separate postcolonial condition from globalization, for he never distinguishes between the two but concerns their continuity. Compared to other theorists who seek to set a fine line between globalization and postcolonialism, Jay believes that since globalization is a long-term historical process, it “has a long history incorporating the epoch of colonization, decolonization and postcolonialism” (89). As the title of his article—“Globalization and the Postcolonial Condition” suggest, the relation between the two is interdependent. Globalization is viewed as a huge historical framework where we consider the interaction between various elements, as “European imperial expansion, colonization, decolonization ...” (85).
Unlike postcolonial studies which tends to concentrate on the history of colonized countries (most of them being Third World countries) and their decolonization, global studies provides a grander perspective for theorists interested in the interaction between the First World and the Third World in global context. Writers who choose to compose global novels concentrate on issues like how the Third World deals with the invasion of Western cultures, tourism and lifestyle or how the First World media represents the Third World as well as its impact. In the meantime, even though global novelists have no intention to concentrate the miserable past of the Third World, it is by no means to be separated from global novel but frequently used as a comparison between different contexts. Novels like Rushide’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things might be labeled as global fiction by Jay, for both works focus less on nation-building and colonial history but more on how globalization alters each character (90). However, these global novels also touch issues like “identity and its relationship to ethnicity and culture, the challenges of developing a cohesive sense of social belonging among disparate populations,” which are “the concern of postcolonial fiction as well” (90-1). Thus, Jay concludes that global novel can not be distinguished from postcolonial fiction completely (85). In his discussion of The God of Small Things, the author links the God of “small things” to personal affairs and depicts how people in Kerala react to the trend of globalization, while the description of colonial history of Kerala is the necessary background information.
Concerning the major setting in Saving Fish—Burma, one tends to expect a “postcolonial novel” which is a popular genre in postcolonial era and focuses on the colonial history of Third World countries. With the story about a Third World country, “postcolonial novel” is usually the first label used to describe it; moreover, the analysis of this type of novel is labeled as postcolonial studies, emerging in the postcolonial era. In postcolonial novel, writers tend to concentrate on the colonial history of a specific Third World country, including the process of colonization, decolonization and its postcolonial condition. In “Globalization and the Postcolonial Condition,” Paul Jay defines “postcolonial studies,” saying, “[P]ostcolonial literary studies, of course, is rooted to a significant degree in the work of postcolonial intellectuals and writers, and is grounded in the political and social experience of political decolonization and nation-building” (84). In other words, most postcolonial writers are postcolonial intellectuals, either living in a Third World country or becoming exiles who inhabit Western countries, writing about their homeland and its colonial history. Yet, what interests Tan in the Burmese situation is more about its present political and economic turbulent state and its interaction with the trend of globalization than about its past turmoil caused by colonization. Although Tan mentions the historical sufferings of the Karen people and how the local military government persecutes them for years, the purpose of her writing is to highlight their present low living standard compared with that of wealthy Western countries and how their situation is known to the world through global media. Moreover, in her description of Burmese people, she does not see them as vulnerable victims lingering in the miserable past but classifies them into various groups according to their occupations or the locations they live. Tan expects to provide individualized portrait of each character; for instance, the Karen people hidden in jungle arena are differentiated by urban workers serving in hotels invested by foreign capital. In view of all these different backgrounds, Tan discusses how Burmese life is affected by globalization and how globalization changes its life style at the present moment. Under this global context, Tan wants to her readers to be aware of the huge impact of the pervasive globalization on a relatively weaker Third World country, which once struggled to regain its political independence but now faces economic pressure from the Western world.
To broaden the vision of her novel, Tan does not ignore the impact of globalization on the First World and makes an interesting comparison between the First World and the Third World. In other words, globalization is by no means the latest setting for the colonial history of the miserable Burma; instead, Tan merges its colonial history with its present anxiety to catch with the rapid pace of globalization. Still, Tan presents the colonial condition of Burma, which serves as great comparison to its present circumstance. Burma, once a colonial country, traces of the colonizer’s culture last until now such as their using English as a means of communication with the colonizers (as in the past) and foreign tourists (as in the present). This kind of comparison helps her readers to realize the transition of Burmese life in global era, seeing how Third World people adjust themselves to global economy as well as how First World people look upon them. One also takes a glimpse at how local culture crashes with global culture from the colonial past to the present global era in various ways. This corresponds to Jay’s argument that globalization is a huge framework for the interplay of colonization, decolonization, and postcolonial condition (85).
Jay’s depiction of Baby Kochamma, the essential character in The God of Small Things, provides a model for analysis of global media in Saving Fish, for both novels mention the omnipotent influence of media. In The God, Baby Kochamma is addicted to CNN, relying on it for absorbing information about the place where she lives and the whole world instead of stepping into her garden, feeling the place with her own senses. Similarly, Tan depicts how the Karen people in the deep jungle are crazy about American reality show—Darwin’s Fittest, which shows the adventure of a group of Westerners volunteering to experience barbaric life. In addition, they expect to have their own reality show, for they are sure that they would make better performance than those Westerners. With her vivid description, Tan highlights the pervasive power of global media internationally. Actually, Paul Jay not only indicates the emergence of globalization and its interrelation with historical context but infers why some writers concentrate on global issue, creating global narratives. In “Globalization and the Teaching of Writing,” Jay illustrates that while literary writers tend to be inspired by their personal experience and culture, the global era provides writers a “transnational context”; that is, “the ‘subject position’ of the writer has become increasingly globalized” (5). Due to the development of international transportation, Internet and global media, writers have more chances to contact other cultures, and all these virtual and real experiences become their writing and foster their viewpoints on all kinds of events. Therefore, according to Jay, besides those writers concerning global issues like Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, and Arundhati Roy, contemporary writer is more or less globalized under the impact of the external circumstances.
Eleanor Ty goes a step further to provide a formula of what a global writer is and what global novel should contain in “Rethinking the Hyphen: Asian North American and European Ethnic Texts as Global Narratives.” Ty’s study focuses on Asian American literature, and his argument helps us to identify concrete elements of global narratives and why some Asian American novelists like Amy Tan choose to become a global writer. According to Ty, Asian global literature refers to literary works by certain Asian American writers whose “are not primarily concerned with the challenges of assimilation, racial prejudice, or with cultural hybridity” (239). He argues that “[t]hese novels have moved away from the Bildugnsroman and the emigration narrative which negotiate problems created by the shift from the originary country to the adopted culture” (239). In other words, global narratives provide Asian American writers a narrative pattern to free themselves from cliché issues, such as Chinese immigrants’ experiences and the conflicts between Chinese mother and American-born daughter.
Moreover, while ethnic writers are labeled as Asian Americans or African Americans, Ty observes, “their hyphenated status has been seen as a marker of one’s belonging to two worlds, of one’s hybrid identity, and also criticized as a sign of non-belonging to the mainstream culture” (239). These ethnic writers could live under two opposite conceptions: on the one hand, they belong to either of the two countries; on the other hand, they belong to neither of the two countries. This hyphenated status actually determines what Asian American writers can write and leads to Tan’s transition from Chinese American writer to American writer. Nowadays, there is an alterative title for Asian American writers—Asian global novelist. By adopting this new identity, ethnic writers could excuse themselves from critics’ expectation to compose specific literary works and enjoy the freedom to write about diverse issues, like other mainstream writers. Ty’s idea corresponds to Jay’s opinion that under the magic power of globalization, writers from different origins are more or less globalized, for people worldwide are under the influence of globalization. As a result, some ethnic writers like Tan are willing to become global writers to write about the same issues which mainstream writers concern. As for Tan, Saving Fish can be seen as her attempt to shift from a Chinese American writer to a “global novelist” who has much more writing material and less limitation on subject choice (Ty 240). To elaborate a concrete definition of an Asian global novelist, Ty proposes three categories as criteria:
1. Works that overtly thematize globalization
2. Works authored by Asians in North American, Britain, or Australia, but whose subject matter have little or nothing to do with the adopted country of the authors.
3. Lastly, works by Asians in the diaspora which do not feature Asians as protagonists or deal with anything Asian… (240)
For its content and authorship, Saving Fish fits in with all three categories, for Tan writes a story about a group of 12 western tourists (although some of them have Chinese racial heritage, one can hardly define them as protagonists) take a trip in Burma, which is not Tan’s adopted country or homeland; she also situates the story in global era and definitely thematizes globalization. According to Ty’s formula, Tan can be classified as an Asian global novelist because Saving Fish shows her attempts to write about globalization.
In conclusion, the relation of Tan’s writer identity and writing themes is interdependent: the change of her writing themes, from Chinese immigrants to global issue, results from her desire to move beyond her ethnic identity—Asian American writer, and her shift in identity is connected closely to her desire to get rid of biased interpretations of her works and to assert her right to write about different issues. Her choice of global novel takes her a step further from an American writer to a global writer, whose works shares similar concern on global issues with other transnational writers. Becoming a global writer opens a new path for ethnic writers like Tan. In the following chapters, I would analyze Saving Fish to see how Tan considers globalization and its impact on both the First World and the Third World. Global media and transnational tourism would be two essential aspects of globalization Tan refers to, for both of them have tremendous influence on modern people’s daily life nowadays.











Chapter Two—
The Winner or the Loser: First World People’s Obsession with Global Media and Transnational Tourism

Preface: the Prophetic Curse

In Saving Fish Tan records a long journey from southwest China to Burma. This route her twelve American characters take symbolizes Tan’s transition from a Chinese American writer to a global writer. Likewise, the first part of the novel still contains familiar elements of her previous works such as her portrait of Chinese scenery. As twelve American tourists enter Burma later, Tan’s writing turns to global issues. The very first part of Saving Fish is like an introduction depicting the bizarre death of the tour guide, Bibi, the formation of the group as well as the characteristic and background information of all characters. All information mentioned in this part is arranged for the rationalization of the kidnapping in Burma. After Bibi’s death, her eleven friends have no idea what peculiar customs there are in Burma and Yunnan Province, so they invite Bennie Trueba y Cela to be their new tour leader. However, Bennie himself hardly knows anything about Burma and China but relies on the brochure prepared by Bibi in advance. His inexperience leads to one after another wrong decisions, which, in the end, result in their kidnapping. To highlight Bennie’s inability, Tan depicts an incident in a national park at the very beginning of their trip to foreshadow their later suffering. Being notified that their original local guide, Mr. Qin is not able to continue accompanying them, Bennie chooses another inexperienced guide among the candidates to pair with him, Miss Rong (Saving Fish 69-70). Since Miss Rong is not local to the area, when they are about to visit Tone Bell Temple Park, she does not understand the old warden’s warning in Bai dialect: they might encounter a thundershower and there is a television crew filming a documentary there, which they should avoid interrupting (83). Like Bennie, Miss Rong is too ashamed to let her customers know that she does not understand Bai dialect and dismiss the group in front of the entrance without recounting any warning.
As a result, while wandering idly inside the national park, these tourists are surprised by pouring rain and start rushing for shelters. Strolling together, Harry, Marlena and her daughter Esmé bump into the shooting location and accidentally become interviewees for their opinion of Tone Bell Temple Park. While the latter two are forced to sing Christmas song for the documentary, Harry strides away to urinate on one of the precious shrines, named “Grotto of Female Genitalia” (92). Harry does not deliberately ruin the prestigious shrine but misrecognizes it as a public urinal; still what he does is witnessed by a cameraman, who and his Chinese colleagues condemn Harry. In fact, not only Harry but other tourists make one after another mistake and damage lots of precious excavations. Needless to say, they enrage the Bai chieftain, the old warden at the entry and these Western tourists are charged payment for repairing the damage—“a severe price—one hundred renminbi” (94). Ironically, due to the difference in living standard and income between America and China, the penalty is so trivial that these American tourists do not take their mistakes seriously. However, before leaving this resort, they are cursed by the old warden, who says, “[F]or you bringing shame to Grotto of Female Things, everybody here you never have no more babies, no descendants, no future….” (98). Like a haunting spirit invoked by their impudent behavior, this curse follows them no matter where they go. They encounter a series of dangers, incidents, and diseases and end their trip with their own kidnapping. By describing this accident, Tan criticizes the arrogant First World people and foreshadows their later suffering.

Global Media and Transnational Tourism

Moving with the trip of her Western tourists to Burma, Tan says farewell to her old identity as a Chinese American writer. To blazon to her new writer identity as a global writer, Tan hardly mentions China in the latter part of the novel and none of her characters carry her Chinese heritage. Instead, the latter part of Saving Fish centers on how global media and transnational tourism influence the daily life of people all over the world, both in the First World and the Third World. Global media and transnational tourism seem to be two different subjects; yet, they work as two sides of one coin in the global era. The broadcasting of global media imposes on its audience a taste of exotic culture, which, in part, leads to the flourishing transnational tourism nowadays. By telling such a complicated story from multiple perspectives—of the Karen people, the eleven missing tourists, and global as well as local media in Burma, Tan means to remind her readers of some positive and malevolent effects of globalization.
In global era, blooming global media turns people into “living receptors,” receiving information from TV without much reflection. The information includes international political dispute, entertainment, advertisements and local happenings gathered from all over the world. Exposed to such flooding in of information, anyone who has an access to global media practice an old Chinese saying, “A scholar does not have to step outside his household gate, yet he knows the happenings under the sun.” Famous media theorist, Marshall McLuhan once mentions that, the development of synchronous satellite turns the earth into a global village and the distance between countries seems to dissolve; hence, what happens far away can be known immediately through TV.[10] Anthony Giddens also considers this elimination of distance as one important feature of globalization, arguing:
Globalization can […] be defined as the intensification of world wide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa. This is a dialectical process because most local happenings may move in an obverse direction from the very distanciated relations that shape them. (64)
According to Giddens, what interests him is the elimination of distance between different places as well as the relationship between local happenings and global circumstances, which, with the prevalence of global media, is no longer unidirectional but reversible. With the development of globalization, any trivial events happening in different regions could have significant impact on each other, and this constitutes a global network of influence, producing “the butterfly effect.” With global media, the First World watches the plight of the Third World while the Third World absorbs new ideas from the First World, ranging from the protection of human rights to the popularity of global brands like Nike and the McDonald’s. Therefore, global media accelerates global economy and intensifies the consolidation of global market, enabling people everywhere to exchange their cultures, custom as well as commercial products more rapidly. With global media, time differences among places of different time zones, in certain degree, lose its significance.
In Saving Fish, Tan discusses how a specific event happening in a specific corner is broadcasted by global media and arouses the interest of global audience. After the exposure of the kidnapping by global media, people all over the world, including the Karen people and the eleven missing tourists in the deep jungle, watch news every other hour for the latest information about their whereabouts. Judging from Giddens’ statement, a local happening can by no means be separated from the network of global media which connects people everywhere. Besides global media’s functions to connect the world, Tan also depicts its tricky relationship with modern people. By her portrayal of how Burmese military government manipulates both local media and global media to block negative information related to it, Tan shows how modern people manipulate global media. In the meantime, while depicting how First World people are prompted by global media to organize large scale activities to support the Karen people and the eleven missing tourists, Tan by no means forgets the incentive function of global media. In a word, Tan exposes the complicated relation between global media and First World people in Saving Fish.
As for the significance of transnational tourism, I would refer to the outcome of its integration into global media—travel shows on global media. Due to the popularity of satellite television and convenient international transportation, TV companies devote themselves into the production of travel programs to satisfy the curiosity of global audience. Television nowadays is more than a transmitter of instantaneous information and alluring commercials of products. Travel programs produced by TV channel like Discovery Channel or Travel and Living Channel stresses its two functions—pedagogic and entertaining ones. By watching travel programs, global audience learns cultures and customs of other areas and this helps to improve mutual understanding without costing considerable travel fee and time. Travel programs also transform images of an African jungle or a luxury five-star hotel on the Hawaii beach into a virtual feast for its global audience and satisfy their desire to peek into exotic cultures. While TV provides a visual feast for people who cannot afford expensive trips, transnational tourism fulfills the desire of those who can afford them for an “authentic” taste of the exotic cultures. After watching travel programs, Western tourists seeks images of local habitants with shabby clothes and bare feet or breath-taking natural scenery—all familiar scenes in travel programs. Unfortunately, like the twelve American tourists, their prospect often brings them to a series of culture shock, for what the media present might be misrepresentations. In fact, before being kidnapped by the Karen people, Tan’s Western characters have similar experiences. Influenced by travel programs, they are so eager to have an “authentic” taste of China that they cancel Bibi’s original plan to have a “Taste of Winter Delicacies” in a wonderful restaurant providing delicious local food (which is labeled as a “tourist restaurant” by them) but choose native cuisines at a vendor at the roadside for its plain flavor. They consider “it was completely spontaneous, not a tourist activity, but a real experience” (Saving Fish 71). However, the bacillus which contain in what they ate at the vendor cause severe diarrhea and torture some of them during the following trip. Tan’s description elaborates how ignorant and arrogant they are, for they would rather trust their illusion nurtured by the travel programs than the itinerary provided by experienced Bibi. Their lack of full understanding and respect of Chinese culture ruins their precious time in China. Fortunately, while transnational tourism makes them go on such an adventure, it also enables them to realize their misinterpretation of other culture and to modify their biased perception. Yet, not until the end of the story does Tan write about their introspection (463-485). To further explain this blurring boundary between the real (local circumstance) and the representation (the image on global media) in Saving Fish, I turn to Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulation, for it is the cornerstone of his study of various fields, especially mass media and ethnology.

Simulation and Simulacra

Baudrillard has published lots of impressive essays; the topics range from his early enthusiasm on Marxism, sociology, and semiology to his zeal for cultural study and mass media.[11] Among his diverse researches, “simulation” has generated many theorists’ discussions and most of his writings are based on this unique idea. To understand his theory, one should first take a look into Baudrillard’s early articles about Marxism and semiology. In this early period, Baudrillard focuses on modern economic system and brings in the term of “sign value” to reconstruct Marxian theory on political economy. According to him, commodities are valued for their “use value,” “exchange value” as well “sign value,” “whereby commodities are valued by the way that they confer prestige and signify social status and power” (Best and Kellner 114).[12] Actually, sign value is close in sense to Marx’s concept of exchange value, for both theorists know the importance of “exchange.” Exchange value is the economic aspect of a commodity, which constructs the linkage between human need and objectivity, and humanity are weaved into this “system of the objects.” In other words, exchange value of certain commodity is determined by what it equals to in commerce instead of what it can be used for. As for sign value, according to Baudrillard, the sign value of an object is its value existed within a system of objects. For example, when people mention a Benz car, people usually refer to the class prestige attached to it instead of how smoothy it runs or how safe it can be. Therefore, by a mere glance at the vehicle one drives, one could guess his/her occupation and income. While Marx takes the importance of use value higher than that of exchange value, Baudrillard asserts that exchange value has a greater impact on human society.
Baurdillard further develops this concept of sign value and proposes that modern people get used to connecting commodity with ideology and this influences the criteria they follow while purchasing products. For instance, while watching commercial advertisement representing a harmonious family with their beautiful house and RV car, people connect these two ideas together—the commodity itself as well as a successful and wonderful life. The car is not merely a commodity but a representative of certain class values as well as tastes, and people may even forget its practical function but are dazzled by its sign value. Modern people thus gradually lose their subjectivity and become token subjects in the system of objects; namely every choice people make is influenced by the whole economic network constituted by sign value. To be purchased, a commodity must turn into a sign to fit into the system of the objects. To clarify this concept of sign value, Baudrillard separates it from the commodity which it is originally attached to and asserts that the sign is gradually seen “as the reversion and death sentence of every reference” (Simulacra and Simulation 6). The sign has its power of reproduction and is no longer the reference attached to the origin (the product). Thus, the referential relation between the origin and the sign has lost its significance.
In 1980s, Baudrillard turns his attention from modernity to postmodernity and tries to reverse the hierarchy of use value and sign value. Baudrillard mentions, in the modern era, sign value always accompanies the commodity and its existence is based on it; likewise, the former is attached to the latter. However, in the postmodern era, it is the sign which determine the use value of a product. Only after the sign value of a commodity is recognized by consumers and it arouses their desire to purchase, then its use value is appreciated. To further explain his emphasis on the sign, Baudrillard adopts the idea of “implosion” from Marshall McLuhan to explain this kind of breach between the signifier and the signified, or the sign and the object (Best and Kellner 119). Baudrillard is also nominated as the “French McLuhan” by Mike Gane for his later interest in media theory.[13] According to McLuhan, in the postmodern paradigm, the proliferation of the media and information has contributed to a unique phenomenon--“the implosion,” which is the breach of the one-to-one linkage between the sign and the object. Moreover, the procreative ability of the sign is another vital factor accelerating the implosion and the “precession” of the sign, which means that the sign becomes more essential to modern people than the real (the object). With the nature of the sign in mind, Baudrillard claims that we are now in a new era in which all kinds of virtual systems[14] construct our perspectives and lifestyles, such as Internet and global media. These virtual systems are like the system of objects. Originally, these virtual systems are based on high-technology products; however, the signs generated from those gradually surpass the objects, giving birth to their own code. These proliferate virtual systems accelerate the reproduction of the sign in consequence. For example, the significance of the technical device—computer—does not rely on its use value but the virtual system—the Internet—constructed by connections with many other computers. To understand the productivity of the sign, “Martin Language” can serve as an example. These days, the Internet has generated its unique language “Martin language,” originally composed of the symbols on keyboard to convey specific feelings. Martin Language is popular among teenagers in Taiwan and even appears on newspapers, official tests and newspapers. Hence, what is produced from the virtual system influences our life in return. The organization of the society also needs these virtual systems to operate smoothly, in the postmodern era, “signs take on a life of their own and constitute a new social order….” (Best and Kellner 118)
In Simulation and Simulacra, Baudrillard proposes the idea of simulation to illustrate how this precession of the sign turns the postmodern era into an era of simulation. He provides a definition of simulation: “Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal” (2). “Generation” here is close to the productive capacity of simulation; therefore, simulation is not simply a copy of the real but rather has its own ability to create one. Simulation becomes a threat to the boundary between the true and the false, the real and the imaginary (3). The media serves as the best example of the mechanism of simulation, for it has generated its own virtual system, coining numerous new simulacra, which block the communication among modern people and the real. These new simulacra could be far more interesting than the object in the real world; hence, the reality is not important anymore.
To be more specific, Baudrillard asserts that unlike dissimulation, which is to mask what one has; “to simulate is to feign to have what one doesn’t have” (3). This means there is nothing real in the era of simulation. To explain his idea more clearly, Baudrillard describes different levels of image:
it is the reflection of a profound reality;
it masks and denatures a profound reality;
it masks the absence of a profound reality;
it has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum. (6)
According to his classification, the latest level of image is similar to simulacrum. In the first level, the image is the representation of the real or a copy of the original such as a duplicate of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. In the second level, the image is so real that it blurs the boundary between the two; moreover, the image confuses people and is a kind of “maleficence” which deliberately masks the real. This happens when the duplicate of Mona Lisa is done so well and people cannot distinguish it from the original. In the third level, the image plays “sorcery,” for it pretends that it is a copy of the real while the reality does not exist. The best example is those absurd reports of social events concocted by journalists or anchors. In the final level, the image becomes a simulacrum which exists independently and generates its own real. Here, the simulacrum is the product of the whole developmental process, which is named as simulation. Baudrillard claims that the era of simulation is “a hypereal” one as well, in which the distinction between the real and the simulacrum is blurred and leaves “room only for the orbital recurrence of models and the simulated generation of difference” (3). The prefix “hyper” hints that what modern people see is “more real than the real whereby the real is produced according to a model” (Best and Kellner 119). “The real” nowadays actually loses its original significance and should be labeled as the simulacrum because it has nothing to do with the original object; in other words, in the era of simulation, only the model and the simulacrum are left.
Baudrillard takes Disneyland in America as a perfect model of simulacra to illustrate the idea of simulation and the hypereal. Disneyland is an imagery world full of illusions and phantasms and is constructed like a virtual reality by all means of high technology; thus people go there to realize their fantasies of imaginary world. It existence makes Americans believe that once they step outside Disneyland (the simulacrum), they are back to the real world and only kids would keep be trapped into this imaginary world. Indeed, as a postmodern society, America itself is constructed by the same elements Disneyland uses: models and codes. The whole country relies on models and codes generated by virtual systems like the Internet and global media. While global media provides all kinds of information which construct their perspective and logic, it confines what people can watch and learn about the world. Besides global media, people have no other convenient accesses to the world. Hence, the operation of the America society is determined by virtual systems and the existence of Disneyland is to conceal “the fact that the real is no longer real….” (Simulation and Simulacra 13) Moreover, the economic yield brought by Disneyland per year is amazing and it creates a grant empire including animation production, cinema company, many attractive commodities, along with thousands of employees lived by it. Disneyland is definitely a procreative simulacrum that has produced its own real according to its model. In his essay, Baudrillard consistently warns us not to be trapped by the alluring magic of simulation and lose our ability to distinguish the real from the simulacrum in the postmodern era.
In addition to his discussion of Disneyland, Baudrillard also applies his theory of simulation to the studies of the media. Actually, part of Baudrillard’s media theory is attributed to Marshall McLuhan. According to McLuhan, rapid development of global media has given birth to a global village in which people receive similar information and share roughly the same perspectives about events. As the machine of simulation, global media helps to spread all kinds of codes as well as simulacra and all of these constitute a hyperreal condition in which global audience can by no means distinguish the real from the simulation. Moreover, with techniques of image processing like montage and cutting, what is represented on TV is artificial and modified, or a simulacrum, which loses its one-to-one linkage to the real. TV news is no longer the exact record of the real but the perspective of global media. Integrating McLuhan’s ideas into his theory of simulation, Baudrillard asserts that First World audience no longer desires for the real because they hardly have any access to it. Therefore, Baudrillard warns us that precession of simulacra and the loss of human subjectivity.
In contemporary era of globalization, satellites TV have turned the earth into a global village by providing synchronal information. While most people cannot afford transnational travel, they can only rely on global media to provide them the happenings of other cultures and countries. However, as Baudrillard points out, what global media represents is not the real but the simulacrum; in consequence, the more widespread global media becomes nowadays, the harder modern people can resist the dominance of simulacra. The only way to burst the simulacra would be transnational tourism, for it provides people a face-to-face contact with the real world, like Tan’s twelve Western tourists who travel to China and Burma. Thus, while global media perplexes global audience with its vivid (mis)representation of the real, transnational tourism could be the antidote which brings people to face the real world. Since Tan shows similar concerns over globalization as Baudrillard, the latter’s theory would be the theoretical basis of my discussion on how Tan represents the impact of global media and transnational tourism on both the First World and the Third World. In order to explicate various aspects of globalization, Tan chooses a multiple-angle approach to the central incident of the novel—the kidnapping of the eleven American tourists. My analysis would be divided into two major parts—the respective reactions of the First World and the Third World towards the alluring magic of global media and transnational tourism. As I mentioned in the previous section, global media and transnational tourism work as two sides of one coin as for as globalization is concerned and their impact has been seen all around the world. Thus, I would deal with Tan’s observation of the circumstance First World people encounter global media and transnational tourism first.
In terms of the impact of global media on First World people, I refer to its positive function to broadcast the kidnapping all over the world, leading to its end. With her depiction of the appearance of TV set in the Burmese jungle, Tan stresses its necessity to First World people. Being forced to stay with the Karen people, the eleven Western tourists are amazed that there is a TV. Even though they are stuck in such primitive village, they are not disconnected from the world and could still gather the latest information. For example, they feel excited when they hear a female voice reporting the fire in China (Saving Fish 306), and this implies that Western people rely on TV so much that they hardly could move their attention away from global media even if they are on vacation or even in danger. Moreover, to these tourists who are accustomed to the existence of global media, news anchors as well as program hosts are familiar faces and, with a mere glimpse of their images, “they felt comforted,” for they think “they were closer to civilization than they thought” (306). Ironically, only when eleven American tourists realize that they are still in the virtual system constructed by global media can they be relieved of the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar but real place. Therefore, the existence of TV in the jungle highlights Western people’s heavy reliance on global media. Furthermore, Tan writes about the broadcasting of global media. According to Tan, it is non-stop broadcasting of the news of the kidnapping that catches global attention and leads to their rescue in the end.

The Rising Star—Harry Bailley

To elaborate Tan’s observation of global media, I concentrate on one specific character—Harry Bailley, for he is the only one left in the hotel as well as the only first-hand source for competitive TV companies. Also, the broadcasting of the video tape of Roxanne, one of the missing tourists, on global media is another crucial point; without it, the kidnapping cannot end. Among all tourists, Tan’s portray of Harry Bailley and his interaction with the media shows what global media can do for First World people. Due to drunkenness, Harry did not catch up with the sunrise viewing and morning shopping with his companions but becomes the first one aware of the kidnapping (235). Unlike his powerless friends confined in a No Name Place, Harry is the only one who concerns their whereabouts and who could possibly help them. After a couple days of delay caused by Heinrich, the owner of the hotel, who refuses to raise an unnecessary alarm and loses his business, Harry finally relates the missing of his friends to a group of German tourists and expects them to spread the news out for more attention. Indeed, the spread of the news among tourists in Burma is like “a virus,” and tourists there suspect all kinds of possibilities (330). Yet, compared to the spread from mouth to mouth, global media arouses immense attention on this incident in seconds. Tan writes, “By New Year’s Day, one hundred thirty international newswires had run stories about the eleven tourists missing….” (331) After the exposure, journalists rush to interview Harry Bailley for more “authenticated” and first-hand information. As for Harry, being an experienced TV host, he is used to the virtual system constructed by global media, having strong faith in it to help his friends. Therefore, being tired of Heinrich’s lukewarm response, Harry is persuaded by Garrett Wyeth, an independent videographer, to practice his basic civil right as an American—freedom of speech—instead of cooperating with the former, who wants to cover up the whole incident for his own interest (334). Harry’s interview with Garret catches the attention of various TV Companies; among them, Global News Network instantly makes a report about the kidnapping (338).
Nevertheless, trusting the almighty power of global media, Harry accepts one after another interviews, shooting advertisements for group tour agencies and even film an investigative documentary for Myanmar military government, named Mystery in Myanmar. Like a chain reaction which cannot be stopped once it starts, soon the missing of the eleven Western tourists becomes a magnet luring more and more journalists and TV production teams rushing to Burma for further information. Harry is the key of the kidnapping; thus, each decision and statement he makes has vital significance to the journalists and TV companies. Thinking of putting the incident under the sun, Harry insists that his intensive exposure on global media would let his friends receive great attention from global audience. Hence, even though he is asked to follow hearsay from anonymous witness, toiling tirelessly from one city to another with the TV crew of Mystery in Myanmar, he thinks, “it was worth it, anything to keep his friends in the public eye” (406). Addicted to the system constructed by global media, Harry firmly believes that global media will help to save his friends. On the other hand, with his media background, Garrett knows that global media has tremendous influence on First World people, and once the media is working, the world is watching. He significantly claims, “That’s how news determines what happens in the world!”(335) What Garrett says here actually echoes Baudrillard’s observation of the domination of simulacra over human society in the era of simulation, where the media creates its own hyperreality to determine human reactions.
To uncover the incident intensively is good for the eleven American tourists; at last, the circulation of information on global media forces both the Burmese government and the U.S. Embassy to adopt a more active measure while handling this tough problem. For instance, after the exposure of the kidnapping, U.S. government agrees to fly anxious families of the missing tourists to Burma. In addition, global media has turned the kidnapping into a productive simulacrum that generates more and more simulacra around it; the more the simulacra are, the more real the incident looks on global media, for most people rely on TV to understand it. Under the diligent investigation of numerous journalists, the background of eleven American tourists is revealed and hundreds of trivial and fragmented pieces of information are used to fabricate the eleven simulated American tourists. Through the representation of global media, global audience know what Roxanne does for living or how old Rupert is. Ironically, no matter how real their simulacra looks like, according to Baudrillard, it is not the real; yet, Western spectators feel that they are familiar with the eleven American tourists and express their sympathy for them, organizing various activities, like raising funds and donating money for their families and to urge U.S. Government to speed up their rescue.
As for Harry, he keeps hosting Mystery in Myanmar and his show is like a stimulant to local tourism, attracting more tourists to flock to Burma to experience its exotic culture while there are also tourists eager to leave after the kidnapping. Seeing lots of tourists in the lobby,
Harry reasoned that his reports might have encouraged people to return—astonishing, really, how one person can make a difference in the world. All the tourists had rushed out of the country when the news of the disappearance was known, couldn’t pack their bags fast enough. Now, after his first report, from Bagan, and the Mandalay episode just yesterday, the hotel lobby was packed with tourists. (406-7)
Indeed, the cooperation betweenthe success of Mysterious in Myanmar turns Harry into a well-known, however, Tan’s depiction here is meant to remind her readers another aspect of global media—it’s the cooperation global media and transnational tourism creates millions of business opportunities for TV companies. In Harry’s case, Mystery in Myanmar is produced by Burmese military government; therefore, the latter also becomes the direct beneficiary, earning abundance of money from foreign tourists.
To understand the popularity of Mystery in Myanmar, one should not ignore its entertaining function. Although Harry himself considers the show as an “investigative documentary,” to most audience, it is “the best reality show around” (410). Compared with a serious documentary, the reality show is definitely a preferable choice, for what the audience needs is not the real, which hardly exists in this era of simulation, but entertainment instead. Baudrillard develops the concept of the blurred boundary between entertainment and information on global media in “The Implosion of Meaning in the Media.” He asserts that since the whole world is composed by simulacra which are generated at high speed, nowadays “we live in a world where there is more and more information and less and less meaning” (Simulation and Simulacra 79). Like the burst one-to-one linkage between the object and the sign, the linkage between the signifier (information) and the signified (the meaning) is also broken. First World people receive all kinds of information from TV without understanding the meaning conveyed by it; information which becomes mere simulacrum has lost its meaningful connection with the truth.
Being a simulation machine, TV accelerates the simulation process by distributing simulacra but not meaning. Since what global audience watches on TV is simulacra which has no relation to the origin (the meaning), the boundary between serious international news report and entertainment program is blurred. In other words, for some audience who do not comprehend the significance of the Iraq war, the image of death in Iraq is equal to the caricature of the Iraq war in The Simpsons, for both of them, through, are considered as TV programs for whiling away leisure time. As for the representation of the kidnapping on global media, the GNN report by no means provides the truth but uses dramatic and exaggerated expressions to describe the incident. Also, Mystery in Myanmar, which is meant to be a serious documentary of the incident, looks like a treasure-hunt program entertaining Western audience with a mystical atmosphere as well as Burmese natural beauty. TV shows like Mystery in Myanmar, which mix up information and entertainment, are labeled as “infotainment”; and the birth of this term declares the dawning of the era of simulation (Best and Kellner 120). While Baudrillard criticizes this phenomenon, Mystery in Myanmar does help to attract attention from global audience.
To stress the broadcasting of global media, Tan makes use of the exposure of Roxanne’s video tape, on global media, which records the whole trip as well as the situation of the Karen people in No Name Place, as the turning point of the kidnapping (410-20). Although Harry’s intensive exposure on global media has aroused international concern of the kidnapping, Roxanne’s video revealing the location of the eleven American tourists, is the key factor of their rescue. As Harry watches the video for the first time, he thinks that it is merely a home video given by TV station, who expected him to prepare for the filming. Nonetheless, it turns out to be a vital clue indicating the whereabouts of his friends and the record of the appalling images of the mutilated bodies of the Karen people, as they were forced to by Burmese soldiers to step into mine fields first. In this video, as a witness of the Karen people’s sufferings, Roxanne murmurs, “We have to help them… We can’t just give them sympathy or a token bit of help. We want to help in a bigger way, a substantial way that can make a difference” (418). What is recorded in this video touches the heart of every spectator. Still, Baudrillard reminds us that it is not truth but a simulacrum from Roxanne’s perspective. It reflects how Roxanne watches the Karen people and their suffering instead of the truth. Without any access to the truth, the impact of this video, or one should say, this simulacrum, is striking. Roxanne’s commentary turns the eleven American tourists into “freedom fighters for democracy” and the Karen people, victims (443). Later, global audience, who misrecognize them as human-rights fighters, organize activities to support the eleven Western tourists, including huge parades held in cities all over the world. In the mean time, policymakers in many Western countries and ASEAN are calling an emergency meeting to determine how to handle this situation (444). All these activities are stimulated by Roxanne’s video—a simulacrum, which helps to rescue not only the eleven American tourists but also the Karen people. Since global media spreads the message out successfully and arouses enormous global concern, the Burmese government is forced to assure the safety of the latter. All those who concern about this incident have entered the virtual system constructed by simulacra, and this testifies Baudrillard’s theory that in the era of simulation, First World people have lost their subjectivity but follow the logic of the system of the object. All in all, it is global media and its broadcasting that arouses the attention of global audience to Burmese situation, accelerating the rescue of the eleven American tourists as well as the Karen people.

The Terror of Simulation

While Tan demonstrates positive influence of global media on First World people, she does not fail to warn us about its negative impact. As I mentioned in the previous section, due to the precession of simulacra, the First world people live in the kingdom of hyperreality generated by global media. The truth has lost its significance and the boundary between the real and the simulacrum is blurred—all simulation is truth, and all truth is simulation. Every image represented by global media is edited and modified to cater to the preference of the First World people. Getting used to this kind of simulacra, First World people gradually lose their interest in the truth because it takes huge amount of money or time to travel (inter)nationally. Moreover, the implosion of information accelerates the circulation of every kind of message and this increases the difficulty to pursue for the truth. As a result, the truth is gradually ignored and First World people tend to ignore it.
To warn her readers of the terror of simulation, Tan’s depiction of a popular American reality show Darwin’s Fittest points out how simulacra confuses First World people, leading to dangerous misinterpretation. Darwin’s Fittest is filmed in Austria with participants struggling to overcome all kinds of challenges set by the producer and to compete to be the winner of the show. In contrast to Harry, who is confident of the effect power of global media, Bennie is the only one who admits that he is bewitched by the simulacra constructed by global media. Bennie is the number one fan of Darwin’s Fittest, for it brings him excitement; moreover, being captivated by the simulacra in the show, he cannot but share the same feelings with those participants. He even considers the reality show as his “pabulum” and the TV screen as a “beacon” lighting his mind (384). Even though Bennie declares that he recognizes the small tricks played by TV companies like “the makeovers of people [contestants] with missing teeth, bad hair, and recessive chins” (384) and the show is no more than a recreation to him. Being stuck in the deep jungle without any access to civilization except TV, Bennie gradually loses his judgment in telling the real from the simulacrum. Tan depicts how Bennie feels confused and is unable to distinguish the reality show and his own situation:
This is TV, you dope, it isn’t real. His glazed eyes returned to the screen, and a minute later, his logic flapped once again, so that he was operating under the reasoning of dreams. It’s a reality show, he told himself, and that means it is real, the people are real, the boats are real, the holes are real. The only thing that separates their reality from mine is a piece of glass. … He sent message with the power of his mind. Look at me, please. God damn it, look at me! I’m stuck in the jungle, too. Look at me! (385)
This passage symbolizes the precession of simulacra as well as the loss of human subjectivity. Since Bennie once tries to persuade himself that what he sees is to the real, he, later, is unable to divide the difference between the reality show and the real. The piece of glass, according to Bennie, is the only thing that blocks him from other people, who are actually the simulacra on TV. To Bennie, Darwin’s Fittest is not only an imitation of the savage life; but the “real world,” or the “hyperreal world,” which is similar to his present situation. Even though Bennie has personally experienced the life in the jungle, the similarity between the real and the simulacrum makes him more confused than before. By portraying Bennie’s addiction to the simulacra, Tan points out how deep the First World people indulge themselves in the hyperreality constituted by global media.
The manipulation by Global News Networks (GNN) reveals the inseparable relation between global media and the simulacra as well. In Saving Fish, GNN is the representative of the First World TV Companies and its slogan marks, “Making news in how we report the news”(306). GNN do not recount an event to their audience directly but “make” it become the way GNN want. Hence, the truth loses its significance, and GNN only reproduces its simulacrum, which is more interesting and alluring to global audience. What happens if the news is not interesting enough? GNN might reply, “Just make it interesting!” Frankly speaking, GNN does help to rescue the eleven American tourists and the Karen people since its coverage of the incident arouses global attention; nevertheless, its concern is different from that of Harry, who thinks about nothing but his friends’ safety. For example, the headquarter of GNN considers this event as “sexy news,” which could be a stimulant to their TV rating, for First World audiences are fond of the synthesis of “the mystery of the missing, two of them being innocent children, the romantic angle of Burma, and an obvious villain in the form of a military regime” (332). Related reports by GNN seem like an integration of Discovery Channel, international news, and a soap opera starred by Harry Bailley, an amazingly attractive male to middle-aged women (332). Like Mystery in Myanmar, news reports on GNN are merely “infotainment” designed to entertain First World audience. The primary concern for GNN is never the truth, which is no longer expected by its audience, but high rating and income from advertisement. Hence, every journalist who contacts Harry, like Garret and Belinda, seeks by all means firsthand information and interviews from him because this assures their promotion in the future. For instance, Garret successfully persuades Harry to accept a series of interviews, expecting “to sell the piece to the first network that offered him top whack” (333). As for Belinda, while watching Roxanne’s video with Harry, she records it sneaky and “[imagines] all the signs leading to ‘top of the news hour,’ an in-depth special, a fast-track promotion to anchor the evening news or produce her own weekly show, numerous Emmys …” (414). None of the journalists Tan depicts in the novel has really concern on the truth of the incident as well as Harry’s feeling. The incident is nothing but a chance for their promotion.
Journalists and TV Companies cooperate to twist the kidnapping into a simulacrum that pleases First World audience as well as themselves. Therefore, the eleven American tourists could be innocent victims persecuted by Burmese military government or freedom fighters in seconds-- all depend on how global media represents them on TV. Before the exposure of Roxanne’s video, the situation and identity of the eleven American tourists are unclear, yet, Roxanne’s commentary in the video turns them into brave but a bit of “foolish” freedom fighters, because of their naïve desire to help the Karen people “not in a token way but,…in a substantial way that can make a difference” (438). Moreover, without Roxanne’s own explanation of the scenes in the video, fragmented passages in it leaves huge space for global media to interpret them. Likewise, the original meaning of the video is excluded from the virtual system constructed by global media, and most audience could only follow global media’s perspective rather than understand Roxanne’s intention behind the camera. For example, without Roxanne’s explanation that “the substantial way” mentioned in the video is no more than “one hundred dollars” promised by tourists before leaving, GNN misinterprets their intention and tries to create a more alluring simulacrum for them. In consequence, their simulacra are altered from those of powerless captives to freedom fighters, for the latter catches more global attention, contributing to the high ratings of GNN.

“The Nature of Happy Ending”

After the account of how global media manipulates the kidnapping, generating one after another simulacrum, Tan’s description of the dramatic rescue in the end enhances her anxiety over the domination of simulation over human society and the loss of human subjectivity. In the final chapter, entitled “The Nature of Happy Ending,” Tan writes in Bibi’s voice:
On January 16th, Global News Network broadcast the dramatic rescue of my friends and the Lord’s Army by a brand –new Mi-8MPS helicopter generously supplied by the Indian government. Most of the tribe could have walked down, but after the twins said they wanted to be airlifted by the giant sling, everyone else did, too. Why not? It made for great TV visuals, all day long. (449)
To satisfy the expectation of its audience to watch a happy and dramatic ending, GNN magnifies the rescue by an eye-catching helicopter. It seems that all people involved receive good endings, including the eleven American tourists, the Karen people and the TV Company. However, this happy ending testifies the overall precession of simulacra over human society, in which the two become simulacra existing only in the hyperreality generated by global media, not the real persons. The scenario conveys Tan’s ultimate warning against negative effects of global media: global media manipulates modern people to think according to the system of objects and how people gradually lose their own subjectivity. Ever since the news of the kidnapping was came out, the reactions of First World audience determine its progress.
Before the news is spread by the German tourists Harry talked to, the search for the eleven American tourists is stagnated; yet, once it is intensely covered by global media, it immediately catches the eyes of global audience. To attract these audiences, TV Companies are willing to invest enormous money and labor for the latest information. Also, the more information has been revealed on global media, the more urgent the event becomes; ultimately the kidnapping arouses great concerns of U.S. Government as well as Burmese military government. This process illustrates how global media turns human being into simulacra and how the simulation precedes the real, affecting human perspectives and actions. Being caught in the virtual system of global media, human beings become powerless captives without any subjectivity. Nevertheless, after their dramatic rescue, the Karen people and the eleven American tourists do not recover their subjectivity but are still under the control of the global media and the surveillance of First World audience. The former are starring their own reality show—Junglemaniacs! and some of the latter become special guests, returning to the Burmese forest. The crew of TV Company brainstorms for days in naming the show and their final decision, Junglemaniacs, means “crazy people in the jungle,” which tries to capture the circumstances the Karen people are in—“the peppy exclamation point to capturing the excitement of watching the real perils of real contestants in a real jungle, where elimination by real and excruciating death was always a possibility and might even occur live during broadcast” (451). According to these TV crews, the purpose of Junglemaniacs! is clear: to present “real” contestants, “real” jungles and “real” elimination because First World audience desire to see “the real” without being aware that the real is no longer available on TV. Hence, the TV rating of Junglemaniacs! benefits TV Company as well as the Karen people, for under the surveillance of global audience, the Burmese military government could not mistreat the Karen people in public.
However, the taste of First World audience is much more difficult to please than the Karen people expected; once they get tired, hardly can any spectacular natural scenery and mysterious religious ceremony move them. Tan depicts the waveform of the rating of Junglemaniacs! in close relation to the manipulation of the TV crew, when the show is on:
The TV ratings go sky-high in just the first two weeks—number one among reality shows airing in the United States on Thursday during prime time. The rating dipped a bit the third week, but were revived when two guests on the show, Mark Moffett and Heidi Stark, revealed they had discovered a new species of plant. (451)
In other words, when there is no special guest designated by the TV crew to visit the Karen people, the audience feel tired of watching the daily life of the latter in no more than two weeks. After the discovery of the new species of plant in the Burmese forest, botanists rush there for further investigation, naming it as Balanophora (453). No wonder, this newly discovered plant helps the Karen people to win the interest of First World audience once again. Yet, the Karen people is not aware that the expected cancellation of Junglemaniacs! is close. Tan writes, “Another month passes, by which time the ratings for Junglemaniacs! has plummeted to the depth of a sink-hole. Not even the tragic deaths of a few members of the tribe from untreated malaria could resuscitate it” (455). Under this situation, the show is canceled and the Karen people as well as the eleven missing tourists vanish from TV. Global media thus declares the end of the show announces the death of the simulated two. (Here, it means the end of their simulacrum in the virtual system.) Unfortunately, without the protection of the show, the Karen people are put in a refugee camp, meeting their death soon (455); hence, the cancellation of the show leads to both the death of the simulacra and the real humans at the same time.
To understand this determining power of global media over the simulacrum as well as the real, the emergence of the reality show on TV can serve as an excellent illustration. While shooting the reality show, global media publicizes each detail of the private lifetimes of an individual to global audience. Baudrillard claims that the reality show symbolizes the end of the era of “intrinsic, subjectivity, meaning, private and inner life and the emergence of a new era belong to obscenity, fantasy, dizzy, transience, and penetrability” (Bulter 131-2). Likewise, once the private life is made public by global media, its significance has been forgotten. An individual’s privacy as well as the individual are transformed into simulacra, which are treated as raw material for entertainment. The simulacrum of an individual cannot earn respect from others, for audience considers the individual no less than a fictional character on TV whose significance ends once he or she is out of the monitor. Also, the development of filming technology and satellite television make First World audience lose their ability to distinguish the real from the simulacrum. For instance, in the case of the Karen people, their simulacrum—Junglemaniacs! fascinates First World audience, for they misinterpret the show as the real the first time they watch it. Since the concrete boundary between the real and the simulacrum is blurred, First World audiences do not realize that they are watching “real” life and “real” suffering of “real” people. Barely the First World audiences respect the Karen people as human beings, sympathizing for their plight. Therefore, when getting tired of the show, the First World audiences simply switch to another TV channel for either news of another desperate Third World country or alluring travel programs recording the life of another exotic tribe. As a result, the horrible massacre of the Karen people by the Burmese military government is unknown to the First World audience and Bibi, the ghost narrator, is the only witness. Bib’s witness, ironically, points out the crucial fact that in global era, only the “ghost” could see the real in “person”; as for First World people, what they witness is only the simulacrum.
To summarize the whole scenario, it seems that ever since global media realize the promotive potential of the kidnapping and broadcast the situation of the Karen people, it has appropriated them into its virtual system and determined their future. The virtual system reversely controls the action of the real people (the Karen people as well as the TV Company) and this is the horror of the simulation—the precession of simulation over the real. Under the glamour of the simulation, each individual has lost his/her subjectivity and acts according to its logic. Humanity has eventually been excluded from this virtual system.




Chapter Three—
Junglemaniacs! : The Impact of Global Media and
Transnational Tourism on the Third World

From Invisibility to Visibility

Compared to her description of First World people’s reaction toward global media and transnational tourism, Tan’s depiction of how Third World people adjust themselves in the global era, focuses on the reaction of the Burmese government, the local people and the ethnic minority group Karen people to global media and transnational tourism respectively. Likewise, global media and transnational tourism have a paradoxical impact on the Third World. Generally speaking, prosperous transnational tourism and global media bring many changes to Third World countries. Some critics in their articles have noticed this tendency. For instance, in “Contentions and Contradictions of Tourism as Development Option: the Case of Kerala, India,” T. T. Sreekumar and Govindan Parayil assert that even though large-scale tourism has been opposed by local environmental and labour activists for its possible destruction on ecosystem, the government of many Third World countries like India have esteemed “tourism as ‘an engine of growth’—an excellent source of foreign exchange and employment—to revive the local economy” (530). According to them, Third World states play an essential role in supporting the development of tourism industry in their country and these governments tend to presume that “tourism will bring jobs and revenue” to counter economical recession (530-3). Critics with similar ideas tend to reach a consensus that since the tourist industry has been listed as the fourth largest economic activity in the world, developing Third World countries rely on transnational tourism to earn foreign currency; still, they might sacrifice its ecosystem in exchange of economic development at the same time.[15]
Like these critics, Tan notices this phenomenon and her main concern of the Burmese situation is related to how its government makes use of transnational tourism as well as global media to earn foreign currency. While global media broadcasts spectacular scenery and exotic culture internationally, transnational tourism enables the global audience to have a taste of the exotic Burma by turning themselves into foreign tourists. As the Burmese local government permits the Western TV Company to shoot a series of documentaries of local life for the first time, prosperous transnational tourist industry brings enormous profit in return. Moreover, transnational tourism leads a Third world country to its high visibility on global media, which encourages more and more foreign investment—the mutual contribution formed by transnational tourism and global media, as Sreekumar and Parayil mention in their article, hold the economy of Burma. Relying on transnational tourism and global media to support its local economy, Burma enters onto the global stage first as a site of entertainment and relaxation far away from urban life. It is designated as a paradise for First World people.
To cater for the interest of Western tourists and to retain the foreign investment, the Burmese government gradually alters its economic structure: tourist industry replaces traditional agriculture and fishery as the most popular economic activity, which emerges for the need of foreign tourists. To develop its tourist industry, local people are forced to abandon their original occupations-- most of them who are farmers or fishermen now become waiters or porters in luxury hotels, like Black Spot who works for foreigner-invested hotels. Others might choose to make a living by selling tourists handiwork in craft fairs like Walter become local guides. In other words, while globalization opens another access to fortune for Burma, it creates new types of jobs for Burmese, altering their ways of life. Ironically, while Western tourists are seeking an authentic taste of nature in Burma, Burmese people are likely to give up their original lifestyle and gradually alienate themselves from nature, surrendering themselves to the capitalist market.
In addition to these ordinary Burmese, there is another group of people living in a more terrible situation— local dissidents like Aung San Suu Kyi who toil to overthrow the brutal Burmese military government and pursue real democracy in Burma. In order to attract foreign tourists, the Burmese government decides that nothing but submissive Burmese and exotic culture are allowed to appear in Burma. Moreover, the Burmese government does not expect the Western tourists to witness bloody scenes, which could destroy the atmosphere of peacefulness in such an earthy paradise. Although local insurrectionists never stop their fights against the inhuman treatments by Burmese government, organizing one after another riot, Burmese government adopts both tough and soft tactics to suppress these riots: for a well-known figure like Aung San Suu Kyi, they puts her under house arrest to avoid global condemnation; to an indigenous tribe like the Karen people, the military government pursue them into jungle area, cutting down their contact with the outside world. Yet, to most Burmese, its government does treat them better, under the surveillance of global media and support of transnational tourism. For instance, after the exposure of the kidnapping and the retreat of foreigner tourists, one Burmese tour guide, under condition of anonymity, says to the media, “But to be honest, the government treats the people better when the tourists are coming, When the tourists are not coming, the ordinary Burmese are punished, not the government”(Saving Fish, xix). In a word, although tourist industry has altered the traditional Burmese ways of life, global media and transnational tourism benefits local Burmese in many ways. For instance, the two foreign forces lead to prosperous tourist industry and work as a monitor that stops the Burmese government’s long-term torture of its people, improving local living standard.
To further illustrate how the Burmese military government responds to the trend of globalization, I focus on how Tan depicts the way Burmese government takes an advantageous position in controlling Harry Bailey, the emblem figure of First World expertise on media, to show that the Third World is not always the passive receiver of the impact of globalization. The Burmese government could also reverse this circulation, directing the First World to follow its own rules. This reverse side of the power relation between the government of Third World countries and the media has evoked a series of discussion. In his article about the Pakistan press, named “Third World: An Alternative Press,” Altaf Gauhar claims that since most of Third World countries are developing countries, what kind of press they might develop and could benefit themselves most from deserves to be discussed (165). Gauhar also notes the power of a government in the Third World to manipulate its press and to turn it into “an instrument to propagate its own views” (166). In other words, the government of Third World countries tends to restrict both local press and global press, for both rely on it for information.
To take a step further, Tan’s depiction of the broadcasting of the kidnapping emphasizes how the Burmese government supervises its local TV station—TV Myanmar as well as global media. As the kidnapping is known to the world, numerous TV companies compete for interviewing Harry Bailey. Witnessing this keen competition, several Myanmar ministers come up with the idea to turn this incident into a handy advertisement to promote their local tourism on global media. While the whole world is eager for the follow-up of the eleven missing tourists, they can enjoy exotic culture and spectacular scenery of Burma at the same time (Saving Fish 349). Thus, under the instruction of the Burmese government, TV Myanmar immediately recruits Harry and produces Mystery in Myanmar, which constructs the triangular linkage of Burmese government, TV Myanmar, and Harry. Each has a different goal to achieve. Devoting himself to the rescue of his friends, Harry thinks that the “investigative documentary show” he is hosting keeps the incident under news coverage and he could trace their whereabouts once receiving information from witnesses. Yet, to the Burmese executives of Mystery in Myanmar, their goal is to complete the task assigned by their government and to satisfy the expectations of the Western audience who are concerned about the fate of the eleven missing Western tourists in Burma. To the Burmese government, Mystery in Myanmar increases the country’s visibility on global media, its pervasive detective-story atmosphere, plus a travelogue starred by Harry, pleases its Western audience, earning even more attention fro Burma.
However, as I mentioned in Chapter Two, Harry’s investigative documentary is no different from other reality shows, for both are based on the simulacra and the real is no longer available on global media. Nevertheless, TV Myanmar successfully presents Mystery in Myanmar, fulfilling the original demand of the First World TV Company, Global News Network: a combination of “the mystery of the missing, two of them being innocent children, the romantic angle of Burma” (332). Hence, the ability of the Burmese government to manipulate global media might be superior to that of First World TV Companies. Moreover, while the Burmese government issues a statement related to the resolution of the kidnapping crisis, it demonstrates its powerful control over global media. The whole statement is presented as a one-way announcement, preempting any responses and interrogation from others, signifying the Burmese government’s power to manipulate global media. As a result, the basic function of global media as a means of communication, as Baudrillard points out in “Requiem for the Media,” is lost:
We must understand communication as something other than the simple transmission-reception of a message, whether or not the latter is considered reversible through feedback. Now, the totality of the existing architecture of the media found itself on this latter definition: they are what prevents response, making all processes of exchange impossible…. (169-70)
The original function of global media, according to Baudrillard, is to provide a space for communication among different sides, enabling the exchange of opinions and ideas. However, the precession of simulacra nowadays has blocked the circulation of opinions, for neither the sender nor the receiver has the opportunity to understand each other directly. Both of them are familiar with the simulacrum of each other, instead of the “real” other. Likewise, the categorical statement made by the Burmese government prevents any doubts and response from the third party.
To characterize the mass media nowadays, Baudrillard also claims that “the mass media are anti-mediatory and intransitive. They fabricate non-communication—
this is what characterizes them….” (169) The best illustration of Baudrillard’s argument would be the way Burmese government blocks all feedback related to its statement. Indeed, the Burmese government does not seek the agreement of the First World or the Karen people while it makes its final decision. To stress the resentment of the Karen people while they hear the decision of Burmese government, the announcement of Burmese government on TV and the fierce shoot of Bootie—“Lies! Lies! ...Bo-Cheesus will punish you and you and you.”—are intertwined by Tan (Saving Fish 445). Yet, nobody broadcasts their frustration or cares about their perspective; the Burmese government is the only one who has the power to manipulate global media because the latter has no other materials to broadcast except those provided by Burmese the former. Furthermore, the Burmese government makes complete use of Harry at the end of its statement. After misleading Harry into useless and endless search for his friends following all kinds of fake hearsays, the Burmese government “invites” him to be the only witness of its statement (446). Ironically, Harry, the emblem figure of First World expertise of media, becomes the spokesman of a Third World military government and the witness of its manipulation of global media. During the whole event, Harry is under the complete control of the Burmese government, forgetting his identity as an experienced media worker and helping to create simulated the Karen people and heavenly Burma. Accordingly, even though unequal distribution of information once slowed down the Third World’s progress to join tourist industry and global media, nowadays, the ability to create the hyperreality on global media is no longer the privilege of the First World but is also appropriated by the Third World in the era of globalization as well as simulation. With this skill in hand, the Burmese government can promote its tourist industry and attract more Western tourists and investment into its local economy.
As for the heroes of the story—the Karen people, transnational tourism and global media once contribute to their rescue from long-term misery. Prosperous transnational tourism increases the demands of attendants and stewards in five-star hotels or restaurants; thus, Heinrich hires local Burmese as well as the Karen people—Black Spot and his companions. Transnational tourism indirectly provides the Karen people a new access to the outside world and can be seen as a medium between the Karen people and the external world. Besides, global media, to a certain degree, changes their fate and help the world know their situation. While the eleven Western tourists are amazed at the appearance of TV in deep forest and seek for a sense of security from the anchor on TV, the only show interests the Karen people is a reality show-Darwin’s Fittest, which records the competition among a group of Westerners who try to overcome various difficulties and dangers in an Australian jungle, contesting against each other to be the survivor at the end of the show (306-7). Unlike the eleven Western tourists who consider TV their psychological prop, the Karen people have a vision about global media: “The tribe had fantasized that they might one day have a TV show. They were fitter than these survivors. If they had a show, everyone would admire them, and then SLORC would be too ashamed to kill a tribe that was number one” (307). Realizing the pervasiveness of global media and its power to transmit both local happenings and global events to all corners of the world, the Karen people presume that the visibility of their situation on global media would be the one and the only way to solve their problem, securing their life at the same time.
Although the Karen people are less addicted to global media than First World people, their faith in it reinforces its power to convince people its virtual reality, either those in the First World or those in the Third World. With the stolen satellite TV, even if they dwell in the jungle, the Karen people receive more information than other Burmese who can only tune in to the limited government-run channels in Floating Island Resort, which is described as an “informational wasteland” (333). Aung Zaw, in his report on the constraints imposed on journalism by the Burmese government, comments that since Burmese media has been seized as “the government’s voice” and no longer reliable, those who are eager to have other news, either international or local, turn “to shortwave radio stations such as BBC, VOA or the Washing-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) for alternative news” (Zaw 67). Still, most local Burmese have no choice but accept what local media provides for them. In contrast with the local Burmese who can only watch “two Myanmar government-run channels forecasting good weather” (Saving Fish 334), the Karen people learn to appreciate multiple TV shows, figuring out a solution for themselves. They assume that since the reality shows filmed in primitive regions fascinate Western audience, it would certainly expect to peek at the life of “real” aborigines.
Fortunately at first, the intervention of global media does benefit the Karen people a lot by broadcasting their misery to the world and shooting the reality show starred by the Karen people— Junglemaniacs! To understand the tremendous impact of global media on the Karen people, one must take a look at the unique legend of the Karen people—the incarnation of Younger White Brother. Before Black Spot bumps into Rupert, the enthusiastic fan of the magic, the Karen people have waited for the incarnated Younger White Brother for years, firmly believing that Younger White Brother can make them “invisible” and giving them victory against the SLORC army (295). Thus, Rupert is misrecognized as the incarnated one. But the Karen people spend a long time to realize that he is a mortal without any distinctive ability to turn them invisible or invulnerable. Gradually disillusioned from their old legend, a modified version starts to work for the Karen people. Black Spot realizes that visibility might not be completely negative and actually “the Younger White Brother had come with ten people and a moviemaking camera to record their story” (393). Conscious of the camera carried by one of the tourists, Black Spot recalls their idea to have their own reality show, realizing that only becoming “visible” can save them from the persecution. Soon the videotape recording part of the journey of the eleven missing tourists is stolen and sent to Harry. Its broadcasting on global media not only exposes the whereabouts of the eleven missing tourists but also arouses the sympathy of global audience towards the Karen people. The Karen people are “now more visible than ever” (392-3). Different from their original expectation to become “invisible,” their presence on global media is the new prescription for their survival by making the world aware of their plight. As a result, global media and transnational tourism do affect the living standard of Burmese as well as the operation of the Burmese government.

The Greatest Reality Show of All Time

Despite these advantages, one should not ignore the negative effect of global media and transnational tourism on the Third World. To elaborate their negative impact, I divide my discussion into three parts which concern the impact: the image of Burma, the life of local Burmese, and most important of all, the future of the Karen people. As for the ability of global media to twist the image of Burma, I would relate to two different images of Burma before and after the kidnapping. Global media—as a media of simulation—possesses the magical wand to alter any event represented on TV. In Sophia Peterson’s article, “A Case Study of Third World News Coverage by the Western News Agencies and The Times,” she confirms two criticisms Third World countries direct at Western news agencies: first, compared to the amount of news about the First World on Western news agencies, little news related to the Third World has been reported. Second, Western news agencies tend to address negative news about the Third World (62). As for the first criticism, Peterson points out that due to various reasons such “outright censorship” and indirect harassment which Western agencies encounter while gathering news from Third World countries or fewer subscribers from the Third World, Western news agencies are unwilling to raise the proportion of the news about the Third World (71). Likewise, in the section entitled “How They Made the News,” Tan writes about how Western journalists disguise themselves as tourists in order to get into Burma, collecting information of the eleven missing tourists (Saving Fish 407-8). Moreover, as the kidnapping develops, the way global media reports the situation of Burma corresponds to Peterson’s observation on how Western news agencies prefer to expose the dark side of the Third World. After the first report of the eleven missing Western tourists, global media changes the image of Burma from an earthly paradise to a dangerous region where human rights are seriously endangered. Before, Burma was constructed as a holiday resort free from worries, attracting lots of foreign tourists and bringing in foreign investment; local Burmese are seen as joyful servants who appreciate the coming of their royal foreign guests. This simulated Burma is the combination of exotic culture, colorful handicrafts, and local people with sun-burned skin and comfortable foreigner-invested five-star hotels.
However, as the kidnapping happens, Burma becomes more appealing to
Westerner news agencies and numerous reports are published within a very short time. To understand intensive coverage, Peterson borrows the concept of “negativity” from Johan Galtung and Mari Holmboe Ruge. In “The Structure of Foreign News: The Presentation of the Congo, Cuba, and Cyprus Crises in Four Norwegian Newspapers,” they assert that “negativity” containing in negative events happened in Third World
countries tend to attract the attention from global new agency as well as global readers
In other words, “negativity” increases the newsworthiness of Third World countries
on foreign news agencies. To define the four characteristics of negative events,
Galtung and Ruge write:
Negative events, …, possess several properties which contribute to their newsworthiness: they usually occur within a short span of time, conforming to the publishing cycle of a daily newspaper (the frequency news factor): they are consonant with preconceived ideas of a conflictual universe; they are unambiguous in the sense that consequences are usually cut; and finally, they are unexpected, since negative events are rarer than cooperative or neutral events. Each of these news factors (frequency, consonance, unambiguity, and unexpectedness) contributes to the newsworthiness of events. (77, Original italics)
According to Peterson’s explanation of these four characteristics, the higher proportion of the former contains in the negative event, the faster the later would be perceived by foreign news agency and global readers. As for the kidnapping happening in Burma, it contains two of the four characteristics: the incident happens unpremeditatedly and the information of its consequence is blocked by Burmese government in order to preserve its image as a earthly paradise. Thus, this negative event, the kidnapping, catches the attention of foreign news agency immediately. While First World people start to notice dangers underneath this paradise, wondering what might trap the eleven American tourists, competitive Western TV Channels, without fully investigating the details of the kidnapping, issue lots of speculations to satisfy global audience. The reports made by global media focus on the background information of how the brutal Burmese military government abuses local insurrectionists, turning Burma into a living hell. Meanwhile, these negative reports have caused considerable loss to local Burmese making a living on tourism. After the kidnapping news is spread, a large-scale withdrawal of foreign tourists out of Burma is triggered. As Burmese economy relies heavily on transnational tourism, the departure of the foreign tourists results on a general rise of unemployment rate in Burma. Yet, the sufferers of this umemployment are by no means the Burmese government, which keeps most of the foreign currency, but local people whose life rely on very small amount of salary. As Tan shows it through the complaint of one local tour agent, “When the tourists are not coming, the gentle people are punished, not the government” (Saving Fish xix). Unlike the Burmese government, which is skillful at manipulating global media, local Burmese are always the victims of the conspiracy between the Burmese government and global media.

The Karen people and the Tasaday

Nevertheless, the Karen people suffer most from the manipulation of global media. To analyze the notable birth of the simulated Karen people on global media as well as the unknown death of the real Karen people in a Burmese canyon, I turn to Baudrillard’s discussion on ethnology and reality show. Certainly, the concept of simulation and simulacra is the center of Baudrillard’s theory, and many of his later writings are devoted to exposing the influences of simulation in various field. In “The Precession of Simulacra,” he takes two subjects as examples: ethnology and reality show, for the emergence of the two highlights the terror of simulation nowadays. While commenting on ethnology, Baudrillard writes:
Ethnology almost met a paradoxical death that day in 1971 when the Philippine government decided to return the few dozen Tasaday discovered deep in the jungle, where they had lived for eight centuries undisturbed by the rest of mankind, to their primitive state out of the reach of colonizers, tourists, and ethnologies. (Simulation 13)
Baudrillard mockingly states that what an ethnologist does is to protect the Tasaday to “decompose” once they contact modern world, and to keep their “virginity” (13-4); in other words, to keep the Tasaday unchanged, they should be left in their virgin forest, isolated from any kinds of interferences. Baudrillard insinuates that what ethnologists do is not for the sake of the Tasaday but for their own sake because “for ethnology to live, its object must die” (13). Baudrillard further inquires, “Doesn’t every science live on this paradoxical slop to which it is doomed by the evanescence of its object in the very process of its apprehension, and by the pitiless reversal this dead object exerts on it?” (14) Hence, never can the object of any kind of study have direct contact with the researcher.
As a an acute observer of simulation, Baudrillard satirically comments that modern ethnology aims to study various human races that once existed on earth and that the absence of these indigenous species enables ethnologists to create simulacra of the lost species easily and to reconstruct the “original” environment they lived. In other words, the apparition of the real Tasaday in front of modern people might cause a more severe trouble to ethnologist, the inventor of simulated Tasaday, than the aborigines’ own ill adaptation to the of new environment. To maintain the holy status of the simulated Tasaday created by the ethnologist, the real Tasaday must return to “the ghetto, in the glass coffin of the virgin forest, [and] again become[] the simulation model of all conceivable Indians before ethnology” (15, Original italics). Only when ethnologists are distant from the real Tasaday, the scholars can continue their studies of the simulated Tasaday which exist only in the hyperreality constituted by ethnologist themselves. While the Tasaday become “referential simulacra,” Baudrillard asserts, “the science itself a pure simulation” (15). Thus, the purpose of science or ethnology is not to present the truth, for it cannot exist, like the undiscovered Tasaday; science can only present simulacrum to satisfy the curious public as well as to establish its factuality. Science is no more than a process of simulation and the Tasaday, its simulacra. In the era of simulation, the real, or the origin, has lost its significance, for the simulacrum is the only thing to be seen by the world. Nevertheless, many critics comment that as a postmodern theorist, Baudrillard rarely sheds light on the ending of the object of his study, no matter human or inanimate objects. To explicate Baudrillard’s indifferent attitude to his object, Steven Best and Douglas Kellner’s article provides a key. They suggest that “Baudrillard gives up all modes of radical politics and enters into a post-political phase of analysis” (126). Also, they complain that most of the time, Baudrillard disregards “human suffering,” which is often used as “certain sign spectacles abstracted from material underpinnings” (138). Likewise, his indifferent attitude toward the fate of the Tasaday in his discussion of ethnology shows that Baudrillard’s ultimate concern is never human but the system of simulation. Being an expert of simulation, Baudrillard himself also neglects the significance of the real but is addicted to the lure of the simulacra.
However, Tan’s depiction of the Karen people takes a step further, elaborating on not only how global media make use of them but also on their whole history, including their long-term abuse by the Burmese government and their death in a Burmese canyon. The unwilling segregation of the Tasaday by the ethnologists recurs when the Karen people are forced to stay in their origin residence, shooting a reality show. Before the publication of the videotape containing the image of the Karen people and the eleven missing tourists in the jungle, most Western audience rarely knows the existence of the Karen people. Because the real Karen people have not appeared on TV but immediately become the simulated Karen people manipulated by global media, their real existence has no significance to global audience. Only after they are simulated are global audience aware of their situation. Witnessing how Roxanne’s videotape arouses First World people’s feelings of sympathy, global media enhances the simulated Karen people’s image as one of harmless victims who suffer over years from the tyrannical Burmese government and expect the eleven tourists as well as global audience to become their allies. Hence, the real Karen people are always away from global audience, for it is the simulated Karen people that gain their attention, which is distorted by global media.
As for the real Karen people, after waiting for a long time for the incarnated Younger White Brother in vain, they take global media as their new rescuer. To attain the most dramatic effect, they take a helicopter and “fly” from the deep jungle down to the modern world, expecting to start a new life. Yet, they do not stay in the modern world forever but are sent back to the primitive state soon for filming Junglemaniacs! The reality show does bestow them a new possibility: to become well-known and to secure their safety. Nevertheless, what global media promises the Karen people is by no means eternal safety but turns them into another simulacrum, whose only existence is in the hyperreality constituted by global media. The return of the real Karen people to the jungle can serve as a perfect proof of Baudrillard’s critique of ethnology, for their appearance in the modern world would endanger the simulacrum established by the global media. Before the appearance of the real Karen people, the global media, like ethnologists, block the direct connection between the global audience and the real Karen people, leaving the latter in the “glass coffin” shaped as a TV set; their return to the jungle is the necessary stop to ensure the “credibility” of the simulated Karen people by the global media. Only by doing this can the function of global media be preserved, for this real Karen people, like the Tasaday, “will provide a perfect alibi, an eternal guarantee” for its simulacrum. Therefore, the return of the Karen people to the jungle is not to protect themselves but the global media. Baudrillard has pointed out that in this era of simulation, the truth (the real Karen people) is never an essential existence and its importance is replaced by procreative simulacra.
Moreover, when Baudrillard does not clarify the fate of the Tasaday, Tan describes the miserable ending of the Karen people. Even though the whereabouts of the Tasaday is never the concern of ethnologists and the existence of real Tasaday dissolves into hyperreality, losing its significance as physical being on earth according to Baudrillard’s study of ethnology, Tan’s discussion of the disappearance of the real Karen people as well as the simulated counterpart emphasizes the cruel side of global media and the terror of simulation. In the last chapter, “The Nature of Happy Endings,” Tan recounts the fate of every character and among them, the one of the Karen people is the most heartbreaking one. Their transient appearance in the modern world accelerates their death, as ethnologists warns, “the natives decompose immediately on contact, like a mummy in the open air” (Simulation 13). Soon after their dramatic rescue, the Karen people are sent back to their original habitat for the shooting of Junglemaniacs!. As a result, when the real Karen people are intact in the glass coffin named as Burmese jungle, the simulated Karen people “becomes the simulation model,” alienated in another glass coffin, the TV (Simulation 15). After they reinhabit in the forest, Junglemaniacs! starts to broadcast on global media, recording the daily life of the Karen people, including their joy and sorrow. Unfortunately, the reality show does not last for a long time because the public loses interest in it and its rating drops to the bottom. In the end, Junglemaniacs! is canceled. Global media has determined both the beginning and the ending of the reality show, which presents the simulated Karen people as entertainers.
The cancellation of the show not only determines the death of the simulated Karen people but also accelerates the murderer of the real Karen people by the Burmese military government. As the show is broadcasting, Burmese government stops its atrocious treatment to avoid global condemnation. Yet, when the global media gets tired of the simulated Karen people, it is time that the Burmese government regains its power over both the simulated and the real Karen people. In Baudrillard’s study, nobody knows the fate of the Tasaday; similarly, nobody would ever know the fate of the Karen people. Feeling reluctant to cover up the death of the real Karen people, Tan relates it through Bibi, the ghost narrator with “the Mind of Others,” and according to Bibi, the Karen people are eventually forced to jump into a swollen river, drowning themselves while escaping the pursuit of the Burmese military government (456). Their heartbreaking ending points out the callous side of global media as well as the inconstancy of global audience. Actually, this kind of manipulation of Third World minorities by global media has happened to Dalai Lama, the guru of Tibet. Meg McLagan asserts that since the very first visit of Dalai Lama to the United States, “he has been transformed into a pop icon of sorts.” (98) In other words, although his great visibility on global media helps to arouse global attention to the Tibetan situation, global audience gradually forget the strong political agenda behind the image of Dalai Lama, considering his speech as a “show,” and “the Dalai Lama is nothing other than a Hollywood actor doing his piece and leaving the stage” (Meg 105). Once global audience identities Dalai Lama as an icon, the political stance of Tibet and Dalai Lama is ignored and this situation coincides with what Baudrillard calls the simulation of the real Dalai Lama. Hence, McLagan’s article warns her readers against the representation of Third World minority by Western media. Compared with the situation of Dalai Lama, that of the Karen people might be more powerless in dealing with global media. The seeming rescue of the Karen people has relegated the real Karen people in the jungle, and global media take advantage of the simulated Karen people for the sake of the rating. When global audiences are addicted to the “performance” of the simulated Karen people in the reality show, the death of the latter is like the exist of an actor who finishes his part and leaves the stage. The disappearance of the simulated Karen people has never alerted the global audience to the fact that this disappearance is equal to the death of the real Karen people. In consequence, while Baudrillard’s discussion stops where the Tasaday are sent back to the forest, Tan records the miserable ending of the Karen people, trying to warn her audience about the ultimate terror of simulation.
To stress the powerlessness of the real Karen people, I would briefly refer to how the eleven missing tourists have been manipulated by global media in the kidnapping. According to Baudrillard’s theory of simulation, the real should be alienated from global audience and becomes the “perfect alibi, an eternal guarantee” for global media; thus, it is necessary to silence the voices of the real Karen people as well as the eleven missing tourists. Both of them have experienced the inability to express their own opinions; however, after their rescue, the fates of the two are completely differently. When the eleven foreign tourists return to the First World, Tan writes, “their experience had opened them to possibilities beyond their Western-acculturated senses” (449). They feel grateful to the conveniences given by the modern world and feel sympathy for the suffering of the Karen people. They receive a kind of epiphany during the time they are in the jungle (434). Some of the eleven missing tourists, especially Moff and Heidi, the discoverers of Balanophora moffettorum, have the chance to assert their own opinions by receiving interviews, sharing their amazing and unforgettable experience in the Burmese jungle. Being native English speakers, they have no problem in communicating to the world.
On the other hand, due to their bad command of English, never can the real Karen people elaborate their responses to the world on global media. Their need must be interpreted by a third party such as Roxanne’s commentaries in the videotape. Not knowing English, the Karen people cannot fully explain to their foreign friends their legend or defend themselves when the Burmese government represents them as brutal rebels or interferes in First World TV Company about the content of their show. Under the manipulation of the global media, the Karen people are no more than puppets. Their bad command of English prevents their direct communication with the global audience who watches their show, concerning their lives. To the naïve Karen people, faithful believers in the old saying, “Action speak louder than words,” they believe that although they cannot directly communicate with the global audience, once the world see how they suffer, they could be saved. Junglemaniacs! makes part of their dream come true by making them visible to the world; hence, global media should be credited with the filming of the show.
Ironically, while the Karen people are applauding global media for broadcasting their situation and volunteering as the actors of the reality show, they are also testifying what Baudrillard defines as the complete “virtuality,” in which “the hidden finality of the technique would be that of building a perfectly autonomous world, from which we can retire and remove definitely” in Simulation and Simulacra (102). Namely, advanced technology prevent face-to-face communication among modern people and ultimately replaces their position. As time goes by, modern people become numb about anything happening in the world. For instance, a video recorder, “the medium of virtual pleasure,” replace us and watch the films for us, freeing us from feeling guilty of not watching the films by ourselves or from considering whether we should watch it immediately. On the surface, the video recorder frees us from the limitation of the time and the film; actually, it reduces our desire to watch the video, gaining pleasure from it (103). Hence, “the reality show,” Baudrillard proposes, “can be used as a micro-model for the analysis of all virtual reality.” (98) Global media operates its high-tech devices to construct a virtual reality; its latest product, the simulated Karen people and the reality show hosted by them, blocks face-to-face communication between the global audience and the real Karen people, paralyzing the interchange between the two. With the manipulation of global media over the simulated Karen people, the TV crew of Junglemaniacs! makes global audience believe that they are together with the real Karen people in a virgin forest, sharing their daily lives and feelings. In the meantime, the real Karen people believe that Junglemaniacs! would become an access for them to communicate with the outside world and to make the world sympathize their plight. Unfortunately, as Baudrillard argues, the function of communication for the media is lost, and it only “prevents response, making all process of exchange impossible” in the era of simulation (“Requiem for the Media” 169-70). Thus, there is no way for any communication between the global audience and the real Karen people, for the global audience see only the simulated Karen people.
This gap between the real Karen people and its audience can be seen as the biggest plot of simulation, similar to the way the ethnologists seal the real Tasaday in the virgin forest to protect the simulated ones created by ethnologists. For instance, the purpose of Junglemaniacs! is to present “real perils of real contestants in a real jungle, where elimination by real and excruciating death was always a possibility and might occur live during broadcast”(451). TV Company believes that global audience would be crazy about the show; nevertheless, the rating drops to the bottom after a few months and even the death of a few members of the tribe can not lift it. Ironically, the death, here, refers to not only a few simulated Karen people but also a few real Karen people; yet, global audience has lost its ability to associate the two. Misrecognizing Junglemaniacs! as an entertainment, the global audience forget that it is the real life and real suffering of real Karen people, this forgetfulness is, according to Baudrillard, also “the collapse of the real and its double”(“The Virtual Illusion” 98). Because the significance of the real is ignored, global audience has no trace of the real. Since the global audience identify with simulated Karen people in the reality show, every injury and death occurring in the tribe are taken as part of the script. The death of one simulated Karen person in the show is considered no more than an actor who resigns his work. Global media has turned human beings into apathetic receivers of information, and Junglemaniacs! has cut down thoroughly the communication between the real Karen people and global audience. Being applauded for its function to the simulate Karen people and Burmese forest, Junglemaniacs! is designated as “the greatest reality show of all time” and its filming could be seen as a successful process of simulation (Saving Fish 450). In Lucas D. Introna’s article “The (Im)possibility of Ethics in the Information Age,” she also proposes that Baudrillard’s concept of mediation (simulation) and the sense of hyperreality “is making it increasingly difficult for obligation to grab us, for us to come face to face with obligation.”(73-4) Here, the word “obligation” refers to either sympathy or practical actions people take after witnessing certain event. The indifference of the global audience toward the sufferings of real Karen people corresponds to Introna’s anxiety that high technology and the simulation have paralyzed the human emotion towards others.
Even since the death of the simulated Karen people and real ones broadcast internationally cannot move its global audience, hardly can the death of the real Karen people outside camera arouse much interest. After the show is canceled, they are sent in a refugee camp on the Thai border waiting for further arrangement. Yet, the Thai government thinks that the Karen people are not refugees, for they have been treated like stars in Burma and decides to send them back to their hometown. As global media abandons the Karen people, their life, again, is under the control of the Burmese military government which constantly considers them troublesome insurrectionists. Their death is represented by Tan in a Burmese news report which says, “[W]hile being transported, [the Karen people] escaped and then drowned when they foolishly jumped into a swollen river” (456). When the news of their death spreads to the outside world one month later, only the eleven tourists who once lived with Karen people feel “devastated.” This is real death of the real Karen people in the world of virtual reality. Global media is by no means their only murderer, but it does participate in destroying their primitive life in the Burmese jungle. Without the interruption of the global media, the Karen people would still be waiting for their Younger White Brother. Without Junglemaniacs!, they would not be exposed to the modern world and accelerate its own death like the Tasaday. The miserable fate of the Karen people manifests that they are the “real” victims in the process of simulation.




Chapter Four:
Conclusion: New Identity and New Writing

Tan’s thematic concerns in Saving Fish reflects her transition from an ethnic writer whose work focuses on Chinese mother-daughter relationship to a global writer who concentrates on the development of globalization in both the First World and the Third World. Tan elaborates her observation on the impact of globalization on two issues—global media and transitional tourism—vividly showing the response of modern people. While her portrait of First World people exposes how arrogant they are as encountering the other culture, the difficult situation of the Karen people represented in the novel is so touching that readers not only learn Burmese colonial history but also sympathize the plight of the Karen people. In the mean time, due to her interest in Burma, Tan notices that the media has enormous influence over the image of the Third World countries while most people have no direct access to information about the Third World but TV news. Tan notices that Western media tends to focus on negative events of the Third World countries, which leads to misunderstanding among its global audience and ignores the improvement done by the Third World government. Global media presents only the simulacrum of the Third World, which tends to be negative and dictatorial. For instance, Tan illustrates a specific event which happened in China several years ago; at that time, Tan was invited to attend the charity party in Beijing as a speaker who would encourage other participants, most of them were well-intentioned Westerners, to donate money to the Chinese orphanages which can hardly sustain huge expenses for helpless orphans (The Opposite 360-6). Unfortunately, the American-fund-raising organization forgot to apply for a not-for-profit permit to collect funds legally, so their good intention could not be delivered to the Chinese orphanages. According to local regulations, foreign aid and donation in the party was forced to cancel and participants were not allowed to give any formal speech related to the issue.
The next day, several Western reporters who attended the party published a series of sarcastic articles to condemn Chinese government for its deliberate ignorance of Chinese orphans as well as for its response to well-intentioned foreign sponsors. These reports, in Tan’s opinion, enraged Chinese authority and it, later, shut down the door to foreign aid for the Chinese orphanages, blocking any contact between the two parties. Hereafter, no one could have a glimpse of the situation of Chinese orphans or adopt prompt strategies to help them. Tan deems that thoughtless Western media should be responsible, in certain degree, for the suffering of Chinese orphans, for Chinese government had no intention to forbid the circulation of good intention from aboard. In terms of this specific event, even though biased reports had brought the situation of Chinese orphans into the open, raising public attention, it also twisted the truth, wronging Chinese government and became the indirect persecutor of Chinese orphans. Likewise, in Saving Fish, Tan depicts how global media invents the simulated Karen people and the eleven Western tourists. Tan emphasizes how global media alters the truth and confuses global audience to believe the simulacra. Thus, she warms her readers that alluring illusions which are constructed by global media might cause more misunderstanding among different regions and unable to help those in need.
In fact, being a contemporary popular writer, Tan’s relation with the media is quite ambiguous. On the one hand, it is the media which helps to establish her reputation in American literary market by numerous interviews on radio stations and television programs; on the other hand, the public reception and misinterpretation of her works becomes a burden for most ethnic writers as well as herself, which is the obligation to write “politic correct” messages. Besides, all kinds of rumors about her life keeps Tan puzzled. In The Opposite of Fate, Tan recalls how surprised she was while reading the “obituary-like biography” of her written by the publisher of Cliffsnotes, since she is not dead yet (9). In that article, she reads lots of misinformation about herself such as her relationship with a German man who is doubted to have a contact with drug dealers (9). However, rapid circulation of the press and the media leaves her no time to clarify these misunderstandings, the only thing she could do is to write humorously a list of “persona errata” for her readers who want to know her more (113-20). Although Tan is getting used to the “public scrutiny” caused by the media for years, Tan’s attitude towards the media is always very cautious (8). Her suspicion of the media reveals during the adaptation of The Joy Luck Club. In “Joy Luck Club and Hollywood,” Tan depicts how she hesitated before selling the copyright of The Joy Luck Club and how she tried to fight for the “exact” image of her Chinese American characters during the process of brainstorming the screenplay with Wayne Wong, the director and Ron Bass, the playwright. Tan wonders, “What if the movie was made and it was a terrible depiction of Asian-Americans?” (180-1). While negotiating with Wayne Wong and other crews from Hollywood movie company, she frequently felt worried that if film makers would twist the image of her Chinese American characters as well as China. Still, the adaptation of The Joy Luck Club gave her a chance to cooperate with the media during the filmmaking process and to understand how the media works. Whereas she was promised to have the full control during the filming and even invited for many times to participate the shooting, providing her precious opinions, Tan’s concern on the media’s tendency to twist the real into the simulacrum is never dissolved. None of her novels has been adapted for a movie hereafter. Corresponding to her warning of the simulation of global media in Saving Fish, Tan is fully aware of the terror of the simulation caused by prosperous global media.

Amy Tan as a Tourist

Fortunately, being an American citizen, Tan enjoys the freedom to travel internationally without much restriction from American government. Attributing to the development of Internet with her travel experiences, Tan’s writings can be more globalized than those writers whose publications as well as actions are limited by local government. By taking different trips, Tan enriches her vision and writings. Also, due to her cautious attitude towards the media, Tan prefers to visit the country she writes and experience its culture in order to get firsthand materials. Different from Tan’s previous works about China, most of the setting of Saving Fish is in Burma. To gain reliable information, Tan feels responsible to visit the country beforehand. In other words, to be a good writer, she firstly learns to be a good tourist and only after she has witnessed the culture and custom of the country, can she fairly record the happenings there. For example, not until her trip to China in 1987, did Tan begin writing The Joy Luck Club and publishing it two years later. Likewise, to compose Saving Fish, Tan by no means takes a risk to rely on her own imagination to construct the social, economic and political situation there; instead, Tan took a trip with her friends to Burma in 2000. Like the characters of her novel, her trip starts in southwest China and ends in Burma. Tan recalls how she looks upon Burma later, stating, “Burma is a great setting for a novel—beautiful, mysterious, historical, forgotten, transformed, ill, and full of the horrific that is not mentioned in tour brochures” (“A Discussion”). Like any other tourists, Tan herself is succumbed to Burma’s mystery and beauty, expecting to be overwhelmed by its exotic culture; yet this Burmese trip teaches her that Burmese situation is far more complicated than what the tour brochures represents. Being aware of the persecution of human right in Burma, Tan’s friends interrogate if, instead of boycotting Burma, she should visit there. Tan replies:
In the end, I had to ask myself, is it my intention to help the people there, or to witness their plight, or to understand the complexity of the problem, or to simply have a good time seeing shrines, Buddhist art or antique shops? Which? All? What was my decision based on? That then was my moral response, knowing multiple sides to a moral dilemma, finding ambiguity, then having to choose and rationalize my choice. Part of the reason was to write a novel based there. (“A Discussion”)
Being reminded of Burmese situation, Tan is still eager to know what leads to its present image on Western media; therefore, “knowing multiple sides to a moral dilemma, finding ambiguity” becomes the major concern of Tan’s decision to join this Burmese trip. Instead of relying on Western media to tell her the life of Burmese people, Tan makes up her mind to visit Burma by herself. In other words, transnational trips make Tan more globalized.
After her Burmese trip, Tan keeps paying attention to the life of Burmese and gladly finds that the situation of Burma is getting better and better. Tan depicts:
I was reading stories about Burma over the years, and it looked like things were getting better. … but then it would all be yanked back very quickly when the world was no longer looking. But the strategy worked, because the temporary improvements would all be reported in the news and people outside ended up feeling Burma was doing better. (“A Discussion”)
In Tan’s opinion, global attention could press Burmese government to reform and treat its people better if they report news fairly. Hence, this Burmese experience becomes the precious material for her writing and Saving Fish reflects what she saw and felt in Burma. According to Tan, even though what she writes is fiction, “[f]iction has a huge role in presenting the truth of anything – not the facts, but the feelings, what you feel, what others feel, what your moral position is, your version of truth” (“A Discussion”). Here, Tan seems to assert that her novel is also a simulacrum of the happening of Burma, which may not be “the facts” for which can not be obtained in any forms of literary work but her feelings. Although her readers might not be able to visit Burma by themselves, Tan hopes they can share her feeling of Burma and to have “compassion” on Burmese people. Being a tourist definitely gives more credibility to Tan’s writing for what she witnesses, which subsequently turns into precious words, touching her readers. Therefore, Tan is fully aware of the terror of simulation; still she appeals that the inventor of simulacra such as novelists and global media should not twist the meaning of the real during the process of simulation.

New Identity and New Writing

In conclusion, Tan’s fifth novel Saving Fish from Drowning might have several significances: first, it is the turning point of her writing career, which suggests her transition from an ethnic writer to a global writer; second, her new identity as a global writer leads her to multiple issues other than Chinese mother-daughter relationship and Chinese folktales which occupy her previous works; thirdly, global issues in Saving Fish have revived the interest of her readers and increased the sales volume; last but not least, by broadening her writing, this new novel enables critics and readers to evaluate her book from diverse perspectives other than before. To embrace her new identity as a global writer while not abandoning her ethnic heritage, Tan demonstrates a new possibility for her ethnic fellow writers.



Notes
[1]According to Tan, the Karen people worship the Younger Write Brother, “who had been part of their mythology for hundreds of years” (Saving Fish 282). Also, they believe that one day the Younger Writer Brother would return with another copy of “the Important Writings,” which recorded their history but lost long ago (283). With the magic book and the person, the Karen people are confident that they could “restore their tribe’s power” (283).
[2]To grasp as much reference of such a new published novel as possible, I look for information on the Internet. Amy Tan’s website, Amy Tan, especially the Q&A section—“A Discussion with Amy Tan,” provides lots of firsthand information about herself and her writing.
[3] The other one is certainly the missing of the eleven Western tourists.
3As for the association with “Hollywood blockbuster,” Tan has close relations with mass media since the beginning of her writing career. Two of her previous works have been adapted into a movie of the same name, including The Joy Luck Club and a serial Sagwa (“A Discussion”).
4For more related discussions, see Ma 29 and Mistri 251.
5See Lee105-127; Heung 597-616; Davis 89-100 and Foster, Women of Color: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Twentieth Century Literature (Austin: U of Texas P, 1996).
[7]According to Amazon.com, Amazon Sales Rank in Books of The Joy Luck Club (1989) is #3,265; Saving Fish from Drowning (2005), #4,823; The Hundred Secret Senses (1995) ,#19,880; The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), #21,203 ; The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001) , #50,438. The less the number showed means the better the book sells. See, Amazon.com on World Wide Web: http://www.amazon.com/. To know about the system, Amazon Sales Rank in Books, works, see Morris Rosenthal ‘s article, “Graph Explains What Amazon Sales Ranks Mean” on the World Wide Web: http://www.fonerbooks.com/surfing.htm.
7See O’Brien and Szwman’s 610-11; Jolly 693 and Shu 86.
8For the convenience of the discussion, I would not differentiate among various terms like “global fiction” and “global novel” but consider them as equivalent.
9McLuhan is a one of the founders of media studies whose theory creates a “McLuhan renaissance” recently (Genosko1). See McLuhan, M. and Fiore, Q.’s War and Peace in the Global Village (San Francisco: Hardwired Press, 1997).
[11]See The System of Objects (London: Verso, 1996), The Consumer Society: Myths and Structures (London: Sage, 1998), The Mirror of Production (St. Louis: Telos Press, 1975), Seduction (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990), Symbolic Exchange and Death (London: Sage, 1993).
[12]For more understanding of use value and exchange value, see Karl, Capital. Vol. I (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co, 1906).
[13]See Mike Gane’s Baudrillard: Critical and Fatal Theory (London: Routledge, 1991).
[14]Different from the real world, virtual system is the space generated by network of computer or other media. Various codes and models replace the existence of real objects and construct its own system.
[15]See Gonsalves 2-3 and Sinclair 1-51.





















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