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Trophy building? 形象工程

中国日报网 2019-05-07 13:27


Reader question:

Please explain why a local government office is described as a “trophy building”? Trophy? Trophy as an adjective?

My comments:

Yeah, trophy as an adjective does sound a wee bit odd, unfamiliar to the Chinese ear. In the present case, our Chinese ear is more familiar, actually, with what is known as an “image project”.

A noun can sometimes work as an adjective, of course. I think it’s just a matter of familiarity when it comes to learning a new phrase, expression or idiom. At first, something new always sounds odd. But over time, once we’ve heard or read it a few times, it begins to make sense.

Now, the said trophy building is the same as an image building, a building that’s built a little (or rather a lot) more elegantly or elaborately in order to draw people’s attention and admiration. And this is meant to enhance the image of the local government.

I don’t know exactly how a fancy looking office building will enhance the image of the people who work in it so don’t ask me how it works.

Don’t ask me how an image project can, in Chinese parley, give or lends face, how it can make people look good.

I really don’t know. Well, anyways, it’s at any rate not very difficult to understand “trophy building” if you understand what a trophy is, say, in the sporting sense.

After a sports competition, you see, a trophy is often awarded to the winner both as a reward and as a memorial. And whenever the winner shows people this trophy, he or she shows it to impress people.

Hence, by extension, when people use trophy as an adjective and trophy this and trophy that, they mean to say it is trophy-like, be it a “trophy house” or a “trophy housewife”.

And here are examples culled from the Internet:

1. Galway-based auctioneer Helen Cassidy makes her Dublin debut with one of the finest properties to come on the market in Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Sorrento, on Nerano Road, is an intriguing six-bedroom house hidden from the road standing on three-quarters of an acre of grounds overlooking Coliemore Harbour.

The 19th century house has been in the same family since the 1960s and is now on the market, with a tender date set for October 28th.

The guide price of €5 million puts it well within reach of many buyers seeking trophy homes, as well as builders looking at the development potential of the mainly level site.

Located a few minutes’ walk from Dalkey village, Sorrento is set at the end of a long gravel driveway that curves around to reveal the house with its wide V-shaped front clad in virginia creeper. To the left is a wide area of lawn that was once a tennis court. Beyond this is a superb Victorian greenhouse where the owners grow everything from peppers to strawberries.

- Hidden trophy villa with views of the sea, IrishTimes.com, September 15, 2005.

2. For “Beatriz at Dinner,” Salma Hayek has been transformed from an international glamour queen to one more brown woman in the American service economy. Clad in denim and a blue workshirt, her hair cut in pre-Columbian bangs, her character, Beatriz, seems solid and sensible — a woman comfortably rooted to the earth. She doesn’t think of herself as judgmental. The film sets out to test that belief.

Beatriz is a massage therapist and holistic healer in the LA area — she’s New Age-y without making a show of it — who works mostly with hospital patients but has a few private clients as well. Early in “Beatriz at Dinner,” she drives up into the Hollywood Hills for an afternoon session with Cathy (Connie Britton), the wife of a real estate developer. Cathy’s the kind of sincere, entitled rich woman who honestly believes she’s friends with Beatriz; the relationship shores up her progressive bona fides. Beatriz, placid and giving, rolls with it.

The movie is about how, after a lifetime of rolling, this woman finds herself coming to a hard stop. With her car on the fritz and a tow long in coming, Beatriz is invited to Cathy’s evening dinner party, much to the chagrin of Cathy’s husband, Grant (David Warshofsky). The evening is to celebrate the closing of a major development deal along with two other couples, the young and avid Alex (Jay Duplass) and Shannon (Chloe Sevigny), and the older Doug (John Lithgow) and his trophy wife Jeana (Amy Landecker, who plays Duplass’s sister on TV’s “Transparent”).

Doug is the star of the evening, a swaggering self-made real estate tycoon, and initially the amusements of “Beatriz at Dinner” lie in watching the younger men contort themselves into positions of abasement. As the dinner progresses and Beatriz slowly comes to understand the extent of the very real damage this man has visited upon the world — her world — the movie becomes about choice. What is she going to do about it? What can she do about it?

- ‘Beatriz at Dinner’ is judgment of the 1 percent, served cold, BostonGlobe.com, June 16, 2017.

3. “I feel like I can’t be myself,” confesses Bree, a young woman from Plainfield, Ill.

“You don’t want to seem like you care,” says Cam, slouched on a couch in Santa Cruz, Calif.

“I hate it, I hate it,” sobs Cheyenne of Austin, Texas. “Everything, so much of who you are, is dependent on how you look.”

“It exhausts me,” admits Alex.

“Nothing good happens from Tinder,” agrees Kyle, Alex’s sometime boyfriend — even though the two New Yorkers met through the massively popular dating app.

“So much dysfunction,” says journalist and filmmaker Nancy Jo Sales of the dozens of college students and young adults she interviewed for her documentary “Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age,” premiering Sept. 10 at 10 p.m. on HBO.

After a five-year immersion in the social-media-driven sex lives of the millennial generation — and, more personally, as the mother of an 18-year-old daughter — it’s clear to Sales that many of her subjects are miserably swiping their way through the brave new dating world that Silicon Valley has created for them.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented change in how we date, how we mate and how we connect,” Sales tells The Post.

At least 40 million Americans use one or more of the dozens of online dating services and mobile apps that have cropped up in the last six years. Millennials aged 18 to 30 spend an average of 10 hours a week flicking through the portraits and profiles on sites like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and Hinge.

The biggest, Tinder, sees up to 1.5 billion swipes a day worldwide, says company co-founder Jonathan Badeen, the man who claims credit for inventing the swipe — the right-or-left motion that drives the app as users pursue or reject potential matches. The simple mechanism perfectly suits the service’s short-attention-span, glued-to-their-phones target market.

It also launched a seismic social shift that psychologists are just beginning to grapple with.

“We evolved in the context of small groups,” says David Buss, a University of Texas evolutionary psychologist interviewed in the film.

Early humans encountered just a few dozen potential mates over a lifetime. But modern life — and especially Internet dating — provides an endless parade of choices, which “triggers the short-term mating psychology in a way that never would have been triggered ancestrally,” Buss adds.

In other words, it encourages hookups.

“Hookup culture did not start with dating apps,” Sales says. “But online dating has weaponized hookup culture and has sent it into warp speed.”

And even though 80 percent of dating-app users say they turn to them in hopes of finding a long-term partner, Sales says, the apps instead reward behaviors that undermine and, eventually, destroy relationships.

The fault lies in their very design, which exploits our brain chemistry through a calculated program of intermittent rewards that arrive regularly but unpredictably, just like the occasional jackpots of a slot machine.

“We absolutely added these almost game-like elements, where you feel like you’re being rewarded,” Tinder’s Badeen tells Sales in the film. “You’re excited to see who the next person is, or you’re excited to see, did I get the match?”

When a pair of Tinder users swipe right on each other’s profiles, the signal of mutual interest sets off some gratifying graphics and audio effects.

“And then you unlock the ability to message them, and it feels good,” explains Vin, a college student from California. “Or you can go back and test your luck again.”

“It’s like a mini-adrenaline rush every time,” Kyle says. “It’s like a little video game.”

Badeen based the function on the theories of Harvard behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner, whose experiments with pigeons proved that even birds can be transformed into compulsive gamblers, addicted to the high of occasional machine-driven winnings, if the rewards are doled out on what he called a “variable ratio schedule.”

“Having unpredictable, yet frequent, rewards is the best way to motivate somebody,” Badeen says in the film.

“It’s called gamification, and it is designed to be addictive,” Sales adds. “It’s explicitly modeled to control behavior.”


Women, in turn, feel pressure to project a veneer of ultra-feminine sexuality.

“We got the bombshell bra on, face full of makeup, the weave or the wig,” Bree says in the doc. “And when all that comes off, when they see the real you, then they’re not even attracted to you anymore.”

“The accepted narrative of the apps is all about liberation,” Sales says. “But in truth it’s just a lot of people reapplying gender stereotypes — and a lot of times feeling bad about it.”

The constant curation of an online persona can do a number on users’ emotional health.

“The effect of mobile dating apps is that you feel like you can be dating all the time,” says Harvard dating historian Moira Weigel. “You feel as if you should always be putting yourself out there, promoting your product.”

“I’m very aware of the pressure and the need to be manicured and beautiful and to have a uniform Instagram feed that people will want to follow,” says Cheyenne. “I don’t enjoy doing sexual stuff with people because I’m so caught up in how I look. And then I’m also caught up in how they look.”

“I don’t have the greatest self-esteem,” she admits.

Millennials like Dylan, a young New York DJ with an impressive social-media following, don’t have it any easier.

I was his trophy girlfriend with the cool clothes and a lot of followers on Instagram . . . but I don’t think he genuinely wanted me,” she says of one former flame. “He treated me like I was an object.”

Sales calls it “the scourge of ‘likes.’ ”

“That constant pressure to post and be perfect and be sexy has now worked its way into dating,” she says. “The makeup industry has exploded, by the way, and also plastic surgery — plastic surgeons have young women coming in saying ‘I want to look good in selfies.’ ”

An August study released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons noted a sharp rise in procedures for girls under age 19 — tying that stat to the fact that the average millennial will take more than 25,000 selfies in his or her lifetime.

“Now dating is based entirely on pictures, not just on dating apps but also on Instagram, on Snapchat, multiple platforms,” Sales says.

“Heartbreak is nothing new, but it becomes so much easier with this technology.”

- How tech bros ruined dating for young people, NYpost.com, September 8, 2018.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


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