Why I Think There's Nothing Wrong with Me Checking Out and Enjoying Old School Chinese Entertainment!
While I started watching mostly contemporary Chinese entertainment, I should remember that they also introduced me to some old school actors. For example, Liu Xuehua was introduced to me because she frequently played motherly roles. Qin Han frequently played fatherly roles. It made me think, "Why is so and so ALWAYS landing on a major part?" Qin Han being the Jade Emperor in Cowherd and Weaver Girl is a major part. Liu Xuehua always plays an important parent or even the main antagonist (she would have made a really strong Daoming Feng in Meteor Garden). It would be rude not to credit the older days of the senior actors right?
I would admit the very first Qiong Yao-based production I saw was the 2001 version of Romance in the Rain. I started reading reviews and the names "Qin Han" and "Liu Xuehua" were tagged into them. And it got me surprised saying, "Woah I didn't know Qin Han and Liu Xuehua were once an on-screen item." It compelled me to do some research finding out that both Liu Xuehua and Qin Han were paired on-screen. I started watching the 1986 version of Romance in the Rain which gave me the guts to critique both versions.
For example, I soon started saying that the 1986 version didn't click with me not because I was only familiar with two cast members (Qin Han and Liu Xuehua) with buckets of tears. It helped me understand the nature of melodrama like "The Last Night of Madame Jin" although written by Pai Hsuen Yung, felt like a Qiong Yao novel with all its melodramatic plots, the female protagonist suffering years for the sake of love, etc. I soon started to critique wishful thinking all because I started comparing old school drama with new school drama.
I would dare say watching old school Chinese dramas and movies did help me critique what's lacking in both sides. For example, I critiqued the 1986 version of Romance in the Rain to be overly depressing rather than just not liking it so much because it was old school. Then it also helped me see what was practically wrong with the 2001 version. I soon felt like that Jerry Yan and Barbie Xu would have been a stronger casting for Shuhuan and Yiping. My feeling of having seen old and new school was an educational trip on how to master the timeless art of writing.
Watching a classic film that involved Qin Han and Brigitte Lin called "Red Dust" made me see there are classics worth watching. Now I'd watch any films starring Jerry Yan or Vic Chou over Qin Han's any day but... I cannot deny that it was a masterpiece worth watching. I know there are also bad films in the old school, but there are also good films that you can definitely enjoy no matter how old you are. Just think, I enjoy the way Qin Han acts out his role as much as I enjoy the way Jerry Yan acts out his role.
In watching some of the old films, I felt like inspiration was drawn from them. For all we know, Barbie Xu-Wang might have been a huge fan of Liu Xuehua when she was younger. Vic Chou may have been watching Qin Han's shows when he was younger at the same time, he is a fan of Andy Lau. It helps me feel how contemporary celebrities must have enjoyed old school entertainment. If they can enjoy it, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't.
So I would be proud to say that I enjoy both old school and new school Chinese entertainment... it's not the time period but the quality that counts!