Monday, November 17, 2014

When mushroom soup turns into sexual innuendo in Sound of the Desert


Although I am having a blast watching Wei Wuji and Xinyue's romance unfolds onscreen, I actually have very mixed feelings about the execution of some of the most anticipated scenes in the novel. Scenes that I expected the director to execute well did not produce the "after-effects" that I hope. The climatic moments in the novel ended up "anti-climatic" onscreen. The musical score, execution, and film cutting/editing were subpar and wasted the onscreen chemistry of the two main leads. Surprisingly, the drama succeeds in some "less important scenes" of the story that I least expected anything beyond some "lines recital." 

This scene is one of the most hotly discussed scenes on the Baidu Forum. The original novel gave no underlying meaning than what is depicted through the innocently simple dialogue between characters. In the drama, however, Eddie Peng and Liu Shi Shi's genius acting gave a whole new meaning to the "mushroom soup" or Qun Zi Tang scene. 

Xinyue: "I drank some qunzi (mushroom) soup last night"
Xinyue: "It was absolutely delicious!"
Wei Wuji: "You drank qunzi soup last night?"
Xinyue mischeviously points her finger at Wei Wuji to imply there is something "beyond" what she just said
Wei Wuji pauses for a moment before processing what Xinyue is trying to hint. 
DING! Wei Wuji finally realizes what Xinyue is trying to hint
His face immediately brightens up with excitement
Wei Wuji: "Do you still want to drink it now?"
Xinyue seemingly oblivious at what she is implying
She gives Wei Wuji the "I didn't say anything" look. 
Wei Wuji: "You!" 
The Chinese characters "Qun Zi," a type of mushroom, sounds very similar to another Chinese term Jing Zi or the male reproductive cells (also known as sperm). Mushroom, like the banana, is often used to reference the male genitalia. 

If Xinyue didn't point her finger at Wei Wuji and make the "you of all persons should know what I mean" look, the viewers would not have the imagination to interpret the scene beyond "I just simply want to drink mushroom  soup." The last shot where they both fall back onto the bed is indicative of anything except "innocence."  

At first, Wei Wuji looked very confused when Xinyue told him she drank mushroom soup last night. This confused look and the fact he reiterated what she just said to confirm her "mushroom soup" inference suggest that Wei Wuji was not aware that Xinyue left his bedside to drink mushroom soup. They obviously sleep together on the same bed. It's difficult to believe that he wouldn't be aware that she snuck out in the middle of the night. Even if Wei Wuji failed to detect Xinyue's midnight cravings, his immediate response when she pointed her finger at him is highly suggestive that the mushroom soup definitely had something to do with him. Why else would Xinyue direct her finger at him if the mushroom soup didn't relate to something he did or something about him?

In sum, the Chinese netizens provided the following interpretations:

1) Face Value Theory - Xinyue simply wanted to voice her craving for mushroom soup.
2) The Kissing Theory - Wei Wuji drank mushroom soup for dinner. They had a make-out session before bed, obviously involving some mouth-to-mouth action. The taste of mushroom soup transferred onto Xinyue's taste buds.
3) Um-Hum Theory - The most R rated theory of all theories. The name of the action starts with the word "blow" and ends with the word the "job." Xinyue's wolf upbringing is bringing out her carnivorous appetite, pun intended. As a young healthy male, Wei Wuji is the last person to practice celibacy and would rather spent his time in bed with Xinyue doing something other than sleeping.  

I highly doubt the sexual innuendo in this scene was intentional by the scriptwriter. Out of all production companies, I least expect Tang Ren Media to be explicit in their sexual contents. I suspect Eddie Peng and Liu Shi Shi just got a little too high and decided to add in their own spices in an otherwise "innocent" scene. 


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