The "Making-of" DINOSAUR RIDER Documentary
"I put on my lorica and I take my sword
I will be afraid if the monsters roar
But I wanna be a Dinosaur Rider for you
I will keep my brave look in your mind
I will drink your blood just like mine
'cause I wanna be a Dinosaur Rider for you
Oh Yes I wanna rider a Dinosaur to your door
even though you love me no more"
In 2011, I made a documentary on a Beijing-based punk band called the Bedstars. Documenting their lives over the period of a few weeks opened up a whole new world to me that I never knew existed in Chinese cities today. It is a world that seems more familiar to Debbie Harry's 70s New York than a gleaming metropolitan that the rest of the world pictures when they imagine Beijing and Shanghai. New China (新中国) has inherited some strange relics from the West, and one of them is Punk music.
Like most of the people I grew up with, I've never had a "punk" phase. Which is why the burgeoning of such a scene in the city I was born in drew my interest. But what interests me more is the people who are part of this movement. These young urbanites born after 1980 and 1990 belong to an unprecedented generation of only-children under China's strict one-child policy, growing up with little compass in the midst of China's own identity revamp. For them, competition is cut throat; failure is not an option. Every child is expected to succeed in a society where success is defined by which elite school one goes to, how much money one makes or how high-ranking one is in the government. For these punk rock kids who are pursuing an alternative dream, life is full of difficult choices and contradicting desires. Their drunken musical escapades in the wee hours of the nights are often followed by sobering mornings when they have to put on a mask and be who they are expected to be. They have to trudge alongside a path that is decided for them until they can find their own. Meanwhile, their music will continue to be sanctioned by censorship, and their pursuits will continue to be misunderstood by those who are closest to them. But instead of disappearing, they are singing louder than ever.
During the making of the documentary, I really got to know the band, and fell in love with their music. What they sing is the most immediate outpour of who they are. The simple honesty of their music channels the punk spirit in its most original, unadulterated form. And what I learnt is that punk in China is not just about getting drunk, it is not just about teenage angst and rebellion. Punk is an attitude towards failure. It is about not living life according to arbitrary values of success. It is in this spirit that I was inspired to write a story about them. And it is the hope that these young people would never be forgotten that gave birth to Dinosaur Rider.