What the Duck 4
The Duck Craze: Why the Fascination?
Again and again, people in Hong Kong and outside observers wonder just why the duck has taken off so well in this one place. Some, like the creator, believe it is a symbol of childhood. Hofman told CNN, "I see it as an adult thing. It makes you feel young again. It refers to your childhood when there was no stress or economic pressure, no worry about having to pay the rent."
Perhaps this is the case. Others believe it is a symbol of freedom, as they believe it can float wherever it wants and is independent of any ties. I wonder if this is a more accurate reason for its popularity than its symbolism, as perhaps it subtly represents what Hong Kong itself wants to be: free from China, independent and autonomous in the new world.
I believe the duck craze is not merely a fad, but may arguably be indicative of a receptiveness to the outside world and an eagerness to accept the new as part of an old identity. The duck is an outside entity, the original idea not developed in Hong Kong or by a Hong Kong citizen, yet it has been accepted into the fold of Hong Kong culture. It may also show how innovative the people of the region are and perhaps why they have made Hong Kong so successful in the global business world. Adaptability and innovation to an ever-changing world are valuable assets in the expanding global economy, and in the simple image of a duck, Hong Kong has created a booming industry all its own.
Whatever the case, it is clear that Hong Kong has absorbed "Spreading Joy Around the World" as part of its urban fabric and, perhaps, even its identity. Visitors to the region in the spring of 2013 immediately associated the duck with Hong Kong and made it one of their must-sees on lists of prominent attractions to visit. This is particularly amazing when one considers that the duck had only been in Hong Kong for little over a month, and was supposed to soon leave for a new destination.
All in all, however, it is entirely possible that the duck shows a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle, one that we cannot distill to such simplistic metaphors as independence and globalization. Perhaps the duck is, after all, just a duck.
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