The Monkey King vs. Harry Potter 孙悟空PK哈利•波特
A：I read in the press that some people are thinking of making Sun Wu Kong, the Monkey King, an international star, just like Harry Potter. Their argument is that the Monkey King is a lot more talented and capable than Harry and could be a big hit for audiences outside China.
B：In China, the Monkey King is a household name. Everybody knows he uses a magical golden stick as a weapon and can be transformed into 72 alter egos.
A：But many young people seem to like Harry Potter better. Harry is real and shares a lot of things in common with them. For example, he has conflicts with his teachers and classmates and he has his own best friends. The Monkey King, on the other hand, is born out of a stone. He doesn’t feel happy like an ordinary person, nor get angry like them. He doesn’t interact with other people either. He does not have the familiarity which people find in Harry.
B：That’s an interesting observation. Western characters like Superman, Spiderman and Batman, all have the qualities of an ordinary person. Even Tarzan has a sweetheart and friends. Those characters are very brave and always ready to help. In comparison, the Monkey King is a lone ranger. His only job is to protect his master, a saint. Although he rebels against the authority, the character lacks the worldly conflict between good and evil. As a result, he seems less approachable than Harry.
A：Many students told me that they like Harry because he has a girlfriend. The same is true of Superman and Spiderman. The girls are the source of their courage. The Monkey King doesn’t have love. Of the four characters in the novel Pilgrimage to the West, only Zhu Ba Jie has some interest in women but as a consequence he is always scolded and scorned. Most female characters in this novel are evil incarnations, being portrayed as temptations for the saint and his disciples. In traditional Chinese culture women used to be considered a source of evil.
B：So it seems that an intimate understanding of a worldly life and the righteousness of the superhero are the deciding factors in the popularity of these characters.
A：It certainly makes it easier for people to identify themselves with those super characters. A monkey born out of a stone doesn’t seem to resonate with the vibes of modern society.