Anyhow, today's tunes are about what I'm going for in my Great American Novel of a Classic Chinese Kingpin. Big and deep and bright, upbeat and fun to rock out to, yet honest about its seamy underpinnings without belaboring the point. Big money might have no soul, but we're more interested in how it goes around the world. We want to see Cao Cao being the boss, furthering reform and structure within his ambition. We also want to acknowledge the downsides of his actions, the sacrifices of his ruthlessness, the opposing views to his rationale. But we ultimately wish to take an interest in his character, cheer him on if we agree, understand him if we don't.
Upon recommendation from various friends, I watched the entirety of The Wire. Different setting (Baltimore), different emphasis (the war on drugs and its effect on police work, politics, schooling and the media), written from a position of direct authority, but quite an inspiration nonetheless. The Wire portrays gritty realism without overwhelming despair, moral ambiguity and conflicts as a natural product of the environment. It points no fingers, offers no solutions. It touches on various dimensions of its conflicts without losing focus, neither glamorizing nor demonizing any side of the matter. Instead of a staged production, it comes off like a cleaned-up documentary. I don't impress easily, so take that as the high praise it is. Damn but I love that show.
I can't draw from a similar fount of experience, and I plan to write with more glamour and optimism. But I can absorb enough research to keep an eye toward those strengths of narrative focus and setting-specific themes. Thus far, my sketchy trade of choice is knockoff counterfeiting - A Very Big Deal to trademark holders, a victimless crime to those who don't see Dior's stock tanking over a few runs of fake shoes. Let me make it clear that we're talking unauthorized use of designs here, not poison products and fake brakes. The distinction is critical, and not just because I don't want to turn the haterade firehose on my (anti)hero.
Knockoff counterfeiting meshes with cultural differences in valuation of intellectual property and priorities of law enforcement, both within the countries of production and the ports where Customs might rather focus its resources on anti-terrorism. It can be a lesser evil for bringing in cash flow compared to the possible alternative of sweatshop factory conditions. It's also good for teh lulz - I sort of want a Sqnny radio now. On the unfunny business side, counterfeiting can cause tangible harm to brands, make its havens unattractive to investors, and fund crime syndicates with their tentacles in shadier endeavors.
The dramatic potential therein is left as an exercise to the reader, and to myself as I get more into detailed planning. In the meantime, I'm enjoying assorted videos of factory tours. If only Mr. Rogers were still around to narrate.