Icons of our times

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 November, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 November, 1995, 12:00am

OCCUPATION: Icon. The pig means so much in Chinese culture that it has been elevated above the status of a mere hygiene-challenged quadruped.

MONEY: Loads of the stuff. Our chum the porker is supposed to represent posterity. This interpretation probably goes back to the days when Chinese peasants had to make do with rice and rats for dinner whereas rich people ate pork. You know, the bad old days of say two or three years ago.

CAREER PATH: Mr Piggy starts out as a happy enough little porker in a pigsty. Like many of Hong Kong's more prosperous and socially mobile residents, he began his life in China before being bundled across the border. Then, the masterstroke: his career takes off shortly after his arrival in the territory when he is, er, slaughtered. After a short tour of Hong Kong (you see him bouncing around with his mates in the back of a lorry, hanging out in wet markets and butchers' stalls and being biked around town by our old friend, Bikeman [Icon passim]), he is ready for his triumphal moment in the spotlight.

The lights are low, the walls decked in red and glitter-gold, the mahjong tiles have long since ceased to clatter ... all is silent until the kitchen doors burst open and out parade the waiters, each proudly carrying a tray on which Mr P. sits, splendidly roasted with twinkling red fairy lights where his eyes used to be. It is an entrance to match anything Las Vegas has to offer and the very pinnacle of bad taste.

THEN WHAT? Okay, so he gets eaten, first by humans, then by rats, then by worms. But those are mere corporeal concerns which Mr P. now transcends. He represents prosperity, good health and all those things we hold dear; all around town, first-born sons are allowed to become unhealthily obese because then they will grow up to be successful businessmen just like their daddies whom their wives lovingly call 'piggy-wiggy'.

HOBBIES: Mr P. likes popping up in classical Chinese tales, usually ones in which he roams the country with his best mate, the Monkey God.


FAVOURITE FILM: The Muppet Movie.


CLOSELY RELATED TO: Miss Piggy, who may come from a different culture but nevertheless embodies all that is great in life. She is, if you like, the patron saint of tai-tais.

FANS SAY: Where would we be without him? There would be no such thing as 'pigging out', telling 'porkers' or being as happy as 'a pig in sh*!' (in short, all the good things in life).

CRITICS SAY: Actually, I don't eat meat. Nor do I subscribe to this whole life-as-a-materialistic-orgy mentality.

ICONOGRAPHER SAYS: If you can't stand the pork, get out of the kitchen. Or something like that.