Gok Wan: Made In ChinaWednesday 7th March 2012
Channel 4, 8pm
Gok travels to China in search of himself, and clothes (naturally). Exposing the ugly truths behind the world’s fastest growing economy must be particularly difficult, and although he doesn’t necessarily get to the core of these issues, he portrays a very British, light-hearted take on modern China; delivering an insightful perspective into the fashion industry and putting it all into context for us Brits.
One aspect of the programme that really intrigued me was a shopping trip Gok took on behalf of his dead ancestors. In China, a ritual takes place whereby paper imitations of luxury goods are burned as offerings to dead relatives in order to to help them in the afterlife. Gok travels to a specialist shop which deals only in paper products and goes on to purchase a variety of objects, ranging from couture paper clothes to karaoke machines, air conditioning units, mobile phones, iPads - you name it. I find this idea completely baffling considering none of these objects actually existed at the time of his family members deaths.
This whole ideal just adds another level to the consumer culture in which we are absorbed. These imitations of mass produced objects serve no particular function, existing only to be burned; an idea which rings true with our obsessive consumption of material and the continual struggle as we try to live beyond our means.