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China Food & Drinks

“A Hundred Reasons to Eat Bamboo Rats”: The Story of Two Farmers Who Became Internet Celebrities

Within days, the vlogs of two farmers using ridiculous selecting criteria for animal consumption racked millions of views.

Gabi Verberg

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In the past months, two farmers called “the Magnificent Farm Brothers” (华农兄弟) have become an internet sensation by vlogging their day-to-day life on a bamboo rat breeding farm in southern China, where these rodents are served as a delicacy. Their propensity to always find a pretext, no matter how ridiculous, for eating their own animals, has amused millions of netizens.

They are China’s most popular farmers of the past year: “The Magnificent Farm Brothers” Liu (刘) and Hu (胡).

It all started a few months ago when the two started vlogging about their day-to-day life on a bamboo rat breeding farm in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province. The script hardly changes and is loaded with clickbait potential: Hu films his 29-year-old companion Liu doting on a cute-looking bamboo rat before finding an excuse to mercilessly execute and eat it.

Under the hashtag “A Hundred Reasons to Eat Bamboo Rats,” (#吃竹鼠的一百种理由#), with over 160 million views on Weibo, netizens have compiled countless scenes of the duet’s rat-gobbling.

There is no doubt that the comical value lies in Liu’s excuse-making. In one scene, a rat hasn’t eaten for three days due to a depression – Liu, feigning mercy, hastily concludes that he should put it out of its misery by eating it. Be it heat stroke, internal injuries, or some other health problem, Liu’s diagnosis for every rodent is always the same.

Aside from the gales of laughter incited by such provoking scenes, the duet’s vlog has also provided a business boost. In an interview with a local TV station, the two farmers stated that they started vlogging with the intention of turning the bamboo rat into a popular culinary delicacy.

Since going viral, the two farmers have been receiving orders for their bamboo rats from all over the country. The spike in demand for bamboo rat consumption has also benefited the two farmers’ co-workers – according to an article in the China Daily, the wages of other bamboo rat breeders have also increased thanks to the duet’s online following.

But the vlogs show more than just the farmer’s arbitrarily deciding which rat to kill next. To spare viewers, Liu kills the rodent off-screen, after which he resumes vlogging, explaining how to prepare a succulent meal of bamboo rat –marinate the dead rodent, stuff it with vegetables, then roast until cooked throughout.  The devouring of the meat is not left out, as viewers get to see the two farmers tuck into the so-called delicacies.

The false pretexts for animal-killing apply to anything that moves, not just bamboo rats. In one vlog, Liu catches a chicken, saying he’d better eat it since it might have caught a cold from last night’s rain. Ducks and pigs also receive a similar treatment. In some vlogs, Liu’s dogs make an appearance – but these he doesn’t eat (yet).

Netizens’ Reactions

The video channel of the “Magnificent Farm Brothers” on Bilibili, a Chinese video streaming website, has over 150 million views and 2.1 million subscribers to date.

A series of gags and memes have emerged from these viral vlogs. Some netizens joke that their own lives have a lot in common with the tragic fate of the little rodents that end up in Liu’s belly.

The text next to farmer Liu’s head reads “life” (生活) while the character on the rat reads “me” (我).

Others joke that Liu’s tendency to praise his livestock as “beautiful” or “cute” before devouring them highlights the danger of being deemed attractive, to the point where refusing to accept being complimented as good-looking is a necessary survival measure.

(Image below: “You are very beautiful!”, “No, I’m not, I’m really not, I’m not pretty.”)

One Weibo post with over 64 thousand likes reads “these are the scariest moments of my life,” followed by pictures of farmer Liu saying “you are so cute,” “I heard you got wet in the rain last night,” “I heard you got injured,” etc.

The two farmers may have become one of the biggest internet sensations this past year, but they have reacted calmly to their popularity. During a TV interview, the two commented:

At first, we were somewhat afraid that our popularity would perhaps disturb our quiet life on the farm. But fortunately, this is not the case.”

In any case, the duet has publicly expressed gratitude towards their fans, vowing to continue making videos of their skit-like, countryside life.

With animal activists nowhere to be seen, the success of the “Magnificent Farm Brothers” shows yet again the Chinese Internet’s magnetic attraction to gruesome content and irony-packed humor.

Want to judge for yourself? Check out some vlogs (no English subtitles) on Youtube here, here, or here.

By Gabi Verberg, edited by Eduardo Baptista.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Gabi Verberg is a Business graduate from the University of Amsterdam who has worked and studied in Shanghai and Beijing. She now lives in Amsterdam and works as a part-time translator, with a particular interest in Chinese modern culture and politics.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Two Hour Time Limit for KTV: China’s Latest Covid-19 Measures Draw Online Criticism

China’s latest COVID-19 infection prevention and control measures are drawing criticism from social media users.

Manya Koetse

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No more never-ending nights filled with singing and drinking at the karaoke bar for now, as new pandemic containment measures put a time limit as to how long people can stay inside entertainment locations and wangba (internet cafes).

On June 22nd, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (文旅部) issued an adjusted version to earlier published guidelines on Covid-19-related prevention and control measures for theaters, internet cafes, and other indoor entertainment venues.

Some of the added regulations have become big news on Chinese social media today.

According to the latest guidelines, it will not be allowed for Chinese consumers to stay at various entertainment locations and wangba for more than two hours.

Singing and dancing entertainment venues, such as KTV bars, can only operate at no greater than 50% maximum occupancy. This also means that private karaoke rooms will be much emptier, as they will also only be able to operate at 50% capacity.

On Weibo, the news drew wide attention today, with the hashtag “KTV, Internet Cafe Time Limit of Two Hours” (#KTV网吧消费时间不得超2小时#) receiving over 220 million views at the time of writing. One news post reporting on the latest measures published on the People’s Daily Weibo account received over 7000 comments and 108,000 likes.

One popular comment, receiving over 9000 likes, criticized the current anti-coronavirus measures for entertainment locations, suggesting that dining venues – that have reopened across the country – actually pose a much greater risk than karaoke rooms due to the groups of people gathering in one space without a mask and the “saliva [drops] flying around.”

The comment, that was posted by popular comic blogger Xuexi, further argues that cinemas – that have suffered greatly from nationwide closures – are much safer, as people could wear masks inside and the maximum amount of seats could be minimized by 50%. Karaoke rooms are even safer, Xuexi writes, as the private rooms are only shared by friends or colleagues – people who don’t wear face masks around each other anyway.

Many people agree with the criticism, arguing that the latest guidelines do not make sense at all and that two hours is not nearly enough for singing songs at the karaoke bar or for playing online games at the internet cafe. Some wonder why (regular) bars are not closed instead, or why there is no two-hour time limit for their work at the office.

Most comments are about China’s cinemas, with Weibo users wondering why a karaoke bar, where people open their mouths to sing and talk, would be allowed to open, while the cinemas, where people sit quietly and watch the screen, remain closed.

Others also suggest that a two-hour limit would actually increase the number of individuals visiting one place in one night, saying that this would only increase the risks of spreading the virus.

“Where’s the scientific evidence?”, some wonder: “What’s the difference between staying there for two hours or one day?”

“As a wangba owner, this really fills me with sorrow,” one commenter writes: “Nobody cares about the financial losses we suffered over the past six months. Our landlord can’t reduce our rent. During the epidemic we fully conformed to the disease prevention measures, we haven’t opened our doors at all, and now there’s this policy. We don’t know what to do anymore.”

Among the more serious worries and fears, there are also some who are concerned about more trivial things: “There’s just no way we can eat all our food at the KTV place within a two-hour time frame!”

By Manya Koetse

*” 餐饮其实才更严重,一群人聚在一起,而且不戴口罩,唾沫横飞的。开了空调一样也是密闭空间。电影院完全可以要求必须戴口罩,而且座位可以只出售一半。KTV其实更安全,都是同事朋友的,本身在一起都不戴口罩了,在包间也无所谓。最危险的餐饮反而都不在意了”

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China Food & Drinks

Post-Covid19 Outbreak Reopening: Haidilao Hotpot Dinners Just Got Pricier

“My wages have gone down, Haidilao’s prices have gone up,” – netizens criticize Haidilao’s price surge after its reopening.

Manya Koetse

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First published

China’s number one hotpot chain has quietly raised its prices after its post-coronacrisis reopening, much to the dissatisfaction of hotpot-loving netizens: “While my wages have gone down, Haidilao’s rates have gone up.”

Huddling around the simmering hotpot was perhaps one of the last things on people’s minds during the coronavirus outbreak, but now that malls and restaurants are gradually getting back to business in China, the hotpot has been put back on the table – although not exactly the same as before.

Since closing its doors in late January, Haidilao, China’s most popular hotpot chain, is one of the restaurants reopening after the coronavirus outbreak. By mid March, it had reopened 85 locations in 15 cities across China, Caixin Global reports. Earlier this week, the chain also opened its doors again in Beijing.

Different from the pre-COVID-19 days, Haidilao restaurants now have fewer seats and there is an increased distance between dining tables.

Each table now can have no more than three guests and all tables have a distance of minimally one meter in between them. Customers also need to use hand sanitizer and have their body temperature checked before entering the restaurant.

Due to the restaurant’s limited tables and increased labor costs, its menu prices have gone up. Haidilao’s quiet price increase became a trending topic on Weibo this week under the hashtag “Haidilao’s Prices Rise Approximately 6% After Reopening” (#海底捞复工后涨价约6%#). One news post about the topic received around 224,000 likes and over 12,000 comments.

“It wasn’t cheap [to eat here] to begin with,” some commenters complain: “Now it’s even more expensive.” The restaurant’s exact price surge differs per region.

Haidilao, which opened its first restaurant over 25 years ago, is the dominant hotpot chain in mainland China. By late 2019, the chain had 768 locations in China.

The restaurant is known for its Sichuan hotpot with an innovative strategy: high-service, high-tech, and high-quality. The restaurant is so popular that customers often wait in line for one or two hours in order to get a table.

Despite people’s general appreciation of Haidilao, most netizens argue that the chain’s price surge is a bad move, mentioning that due to the coronavirus crisis, “many people have lost their jobs,” and that it is unfortunate that “food prices are rising, while we don’t get our wages.”

“My wages have gone down, Haidilao’s prices have gone up. I just wanna cry,” some commenters say.

Many Weibo users mention that Haidilao is a big company that already had relatively high prices, saying a price increase in these times is unfair to customers.

“I could tolerate it if my wages would also go up,” some write.

An online poll held by news outlet Sina asked Weibo users if they could accept Haidilao’s 6% price increase. Among the 122,000 respondents, 16,000 answered they were okay with it, while an absolute majority of 77,000 said they could not accept the surge.*

“They have the right to raise their prices, we have the freedom to stop eating there,” some write: “I won’t go there anymore.”

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
Follow @whatsonweibo

*(other replies to choose from included “it has nothing to do with me” or “other answer”),

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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