The cult of HK Bus Uncle

July 18, 2006 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

The Hong Kong Bus Uncle (巴士阿叔) video (view below) is now 3 months old, but it still provokes heated discussion. The full gory details of the event, the ongoing saga, and the cultural significance of the Bus Uncle, continues to play out at sites like wikipedia.

First, the facts so far. On April 27, 2006, a video clip captured a verbal argument between an older and younger man aboard a bus in Hong Kong . The clip was taken by a passenger, uploaded to HK Golden Forum, and then quickly mirrored on YouTube and Google Video. Soon after its debut on YouTube, the 6-minute clip became a cultural sensation in Hong Kong and inspired vigorous debate and discussion on life and etiquette in the city. Attracting over 5 million hits, the clip became one of YouTube’s most viewed items in May 2006, attracted the attention of local and international media, and created catchphrases in HK and Chinese communities around the world. The cult of Bus Uncle spread fast to mainstream media, including sports TV promos, sitcoms and an ad for bottled water at PARKnSHOP.

So what more can I add? Nothing other than to mention that the Bus Uncle is one huge, throbbing metaphor for the subject of this blog, in several weird and wonderful ways:

  1. It demonstrates the power of weirdly-compelling user-generated content to truly engage with people
  2. The argument and tension between the older and younger man neatly captures the widening generation gaps in Asia
  3. The cult video was captured on a Sony Ericsson camera phone, a reminder of Asia’s mobile phone infatuation
  4. Bus Uncle would never have taken off without online communities like the HK Golden and then YouTube, but it’s the mainstream traditional media who still benefit, from increased newspaper circulation and fresh new content
  5. All across Asia there is an ongoing debate about the state of traditional and Asian values. Bus Uncle is part of the debate: should the young man have tapped the older man on the shoulder? Is city-life ripping apart Confucian values? Who was losing face?

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the Bus Uncle rage yet, enjoy!


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Entry filed under: hong kong, media general.

Most blog posts are in Asian languages

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