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The Best and the Worst of CCTV New Year’s Gala 2017

The CCTV New Year’s Gala aired on Friday night and triggered thousands of netizens to comment on its best and worst performances. What’s on Weibo gives you a summary of the show’s highlights and its low points.

Manya Koetse

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The CCTV New Year’s Gala aired on Friday night and triggered thousands of netizens to comment on its best and worst performances. What’s on Weibo gives you a summary of the show’s highlights and its low points.

This year’s CCTV New Year’s Gala (known as Chunwan) has come to an end. The show, that is both a much-anticipated and a much-dreaded one, became top trending topic on Weibo on Friday night. The hashtag ‘Chunwan’ (#春晚#) alone drew 56.5 million comments.

As every year, viewers commented on the best and the worst moments in the show. The ‘worst’ parts often relate to the political aspects of the show; the annual Gala is as much about entertainment as it is about political propaganda.

Whereas it was the ‘Chinese Dream’ that was last year‘s main theme, the major themes propagated throughout this edition were ‘National Unity’ and ‘Family Affinity’, something that became especially apparent in the different comical sketches that were focused on family relationships and the coming together of people of different (ethnic) backgrounds.

The Worst Message: The Woman as “Breeding Machine”

This year, many people could not appreciate the message constructed in the Gala’s sketches that emphasized the woman’s role as mother and wife, such as the narratives where a woman depended on her husband’s money or the one where a wife wanted to let her husband divorce her because she could not conceive children (in the sketch titled ‘Long Last Love’ 真情永驻).

Many felt the sketches propagated women to have children, some saying they depicted women as “breeding machines.”

Author Chen Jian (@沉佥) wrote on Weibo:

“Every year watching Chunwan I always love the sketches and crosstalk the most, I would’ve never expected there would be a day that I would dread them the most. China is the country with the highest female employment rate in the world, and since long men are not the only breadwinners anymore. China would not have been able to create the miracle of its rapid economic development without the high employment rate of Chinese women participating in all areas of the economy. That China has become the world’s second-largest economy is also thanks to the contribution of Chinese women! But now there is this atmosphere of vigorous propagation for women to return home to have children, to depend on her husband, and to contribute by carrying on the family line. (..) But I hope that every clear-headed Chinese girl will make every effort to think for herself. No matter what people around you say, no matter what the media says, you are (..) an independent woman. Do not be swept away by the tide of feudal thinking. If you don’t save yourself, nobody will save you.”

The controversial sketch ‘Long Last Love’ where a woman wanted to divorce her husband for not being able to conceive children.

Others also expressed their thoughts on the representation of women in the show:

“There was a female Red Army soldier who had walked the Long March, there were female astronauts. But still, there is this idea of women leaning on their husbands for money or this sister who divorces her man for not being able to have a child. It really shows the existing problem. We are already with our head in space, but our feet are sucked into the swamp of feudalism.”

The day after the Gala, some netizens feel that the sexism in the New Year’s Eve show is so bad that they demand that CCTV apologizes to all Chinese women, with the hashtag “CCTV apologize to the nation’s women” making its rounds on Weibo (#央视向全国女性道歉#).

The Worst Performances: Jackie Chan and Dancing Pineapples

As for the dancing and singing performances; Jackie Chan’s much-anticipated appearance on the show turned out to be somewhat cringeworthy. The Hong Kong singer and kung fu star showed his love for China through a song that was simply titled “Nation” (国家).

In this act, the Hong Kong celebrity stood in front of an enormous Chinese flag together with students from the mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong, as well as ethnic minorities. Although the use of sign language by all the performers was praiseworthy, the song came after a night that had already seen many big flags, many dancing minorities, and the message of China’s national unity was already – not so subtly – propagated at every possible opportunity.

Many netizens, however, did like the performance; some even claimed it was their “favorite act of the night.”

Another remarkable performance was that of the ‘Being Healthy Song’ (健康动起来) by singers Lay (张艺兴) and Boran Jing (井柏然), in which adult men were jumping around in tiger suits and others were dancing and swinging as pineapples and mushrooms.

The song act that was criticized most on social media, for as much as it was allowed, was the song Millenial Night (千年之约) by Han Hong (韩红), a singer and songwriter of mixed Tibetan and Han ethnicity.

The singer is very popular on Sina Weibo, where she has over 13 million followers. Despite her popularity, her lip-synced performance on Chunwan made her the target of many online jokes.

Also the train projected on the background screen during her song sometimes made it seem as if the singer was standing on the rails with the train coming at her, with netizens saying: “Get off the tracks, Han Hong!”

The Best: Scenes from Harbin and Shanghai

But the Gala of 2017 also had its highlights. This year’s Gala was innovative in its use of Virtual Reality (VR) techniques, for example, with viewers being able to watch the show in VR via various mobile apps.

Like the performance with the 540 dancing robots last year, the CCTV Gala seems to become a new platform to promote the image of China as a high-tech nation.

One performance that was popular and quite spectacular was that of Coco Lee and JJ Lin in Shanghai; a catchy pop song (that actually did not seem lip-synced) in Shanghai with motorists performing a bold stunt in a so-called “globe of death.”

The extreme motorcycle stunt show let a total of 8 motors spin through a huge metal ball with the iconic Pearl Tower in the background.

Another popular act was that of Mao Amin and Zhang Jie (毛阿敏 & 张杰) amidst a 3D projection full of colors and lights that was somewhat reminiscent of a scene from the Avatars.

The dreamy ‘Wind Dance’ also deserves a mention, with dancer Li Yanchao (李艳超) stealing the show with her beautiful appearance and graceful appearance. The background of this performance was probably even more Avatar-like than that of Mao Amin and Zhang Jie.

During this performance, dancer Li was accompanied by a group of at least 100 dancers.

The performance called “Snow Dream” (冰雪梦飞扬) from sub-venue Harbin also won the favor of many netizens who said it was their favorite act of the night. Performed by, among others, the Heilongjiang Acrobatics Troupe, the fragment showed dozens of acrobats ice-skating in costumes with led-lights in the middle of Harbin’s Snow World – a themepark completely made from ice and snow.

“It might not have been the place with the most celebrities,” some netizens said: “But the Harbin part was the most beautiful of all.”

Despite all criticism, it is fair to say the 2017 CCTV Gala was a success – it actually is the criticism that makes the evening, as it has become a New Year’s tradition to comment on the show and complain about it.

The sentence “there’ll never be a ‘worst’, just ‘worse than last year'” (“央视春晚,没有最烂,只有更烂”) has become a popular saying about the show throughout the years, and again, was one of the sentences uttered by many on Chinese social media again this year.

“But even if it is bad, we still need to see it,” one netizen concluded. With an audience of millions and thousands of people both praising and condemning the show, this year’s show really wasn’t that bad after all.

– By Manya Koetse
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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Celebs

Meet Ding Zhen: Khampa Tibetan “Horse Prince” Becomes Social Media Sensation

Ding Zhen’s quiet life out in the grasslands is seemingly over.

Luke Jacobus

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A Khampa Tibetan farmer has become an online sensation in China due to his handsome features. His overnight fame, which comes with legions of adoring fans and TV show invitations, has sparked discussions about the often-overwhelming loss of privacy that can accompany online stardom.

The recent rise to internet fame of a young man named Ding Zhen (丁真) has sparked controversy over the benefits and downsides of e-celebdom.

The 20-year-old farmer, who lives in Litang in the Kham region of Tibet, found accidental online fame after being captured in a blogger’s photography session in Nyima County, according to a Haixia News article.

His handsome features attracted online attention, snowballing out of control after his appearance on a livestream. The young man shyly admitted to having little proficiency in reading or speaking Mandarin, but managed to express his love for raising horses.

The cameraman and other villagers apparently later publicized Ding Zhen’s name, address, and other personal info, soliciting gifts and leading some netizens to mock Ding Zhen’s village neighbors as “blood-sucking vampires.”

Ding, still unaware of his own fame, mentioned with some difficulty on the livestream that his dream was simply to become a “horse prince” (马王子) by winning his local horse races. His dream after that? To raise more horses, of course much to the delight of many Weibo users, some of whom have begun creating fan art in the young man’s honor.

Calls for Ding Zhen to open a Douyin account of his own, or even to appear on reality television shows such as The Coming One (明日之子) and Produce Camp (创造营), have inspired heated debate.

“This kind of person,” wrote one Weibo commenter, “should be riding horses and shooting arrows out on the grasslands; he shouldn’t be imprisoned in Vanity Fair by your fan club’s cultural values.”

Others worried that this young man, “uncorrupted by the world,” might be taken advantage of by others for financial gain.

This concern over the invasiveness of online fans likely stems from previous incidents where ordinary Chinese citizens became extraordinarily famous overnight, such as in the cases of ‘Brother Sharp,’ a homeless man similarly inundated with adoring praise online for his good looks and stylish appearance, and Shanghai’s ‘Vagrant Professor,’ both of whom found their privacy constantly invaded by fans seeking photos or just a chance to meet the new stars. Soon both men could hardly walk outside without being swarmed as their private life had been effectively ended- all because they happened to become popular online.

‘Brother Sharp’ (on the left) and the ‘Vagrant Professor’ (right) both also went viral overnight.

Two phenomena unique to the Chinese internet seem to place these e-celebrities at a higher risk of being tracked down offline by their fans. One of them is the “human flesh search engine” (人肉搜索,) a massive online effort tapping into the knowledge and offline connections of netizens to track down and identify a person, often for shaming or as justice for perceived wrongdoing. The other is the highly-organized “super fan club” phenomenon prevalent in Chinese e-celeb culture, some of which boast structures rivaling the biggest corporations, with PR and financial departments. It’s no wonder then that some netizens fear for Ding Zhen’s personal life.

Many of these concerned netizens seem to particularly admire the simple, pastoral lifestyle of the “grasslands” (草原) which Ding leads, one which has been popularized in novels like Jin Yong’s Legends of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳), which details the adventures of the young Guo Jing, a Chinese boy who joins the court of Genghis Khan. The novel has been read by millions across China and has become a prominent source of political metaphors on the Chinese web. One commenter exhorted others to “Let him become his own hero, a horse prince! Don’t let the worst impulses of the internet corrupt him.”

With the question “Should Ding Zhen leave the grasslands?” (#丁真该不该离开草原发展#) becoming a trending topic all of its own, it seems opinions about his popularity are fiercely divided. “I hope this handsome guy can make his own choices,” writes one Weibo user: “..and no matter whether he becomes a star or not, I hope he can keep such an innocent heart!”

According to the latest reports, Ding has received a job offer from a Chinese state-owned company since his unexpected rise to online fame. CGTN writes that the ‘horse prince’ has now signed the contract, but they do not mention if this new job will allow him to do what he loves most – raising horses and being out in the grasslands.

 
By Luke Jacobus

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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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China Arts & Entertainment

Oh, the Drama! Chinese Opera Performance Turns into Stage Fight as Drunken Man Attacks Actors

This local traditional opera performance unexpectedly turned into a stage fight.

Manya Koetse

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On October 9 in Zhejiang’s Lishui city (Laozhu Town), a theatrical performance unexpectedly turned very dramatic when a drunken man stormed on stage to fight with the performers.

A video showing the Chinese opera performance being disturbed by the drunkard, turning it into a chaotic stage scene, is gaining major attention on Chinese social media.

The incident occurred Friday night around 9 pm, when the Laozhu Theatrical Troupe was performing.

Videos of the incident that are circulating online show how one man comes on stage, attacking one of the actors. The scene escalates into a big fight when others try to intervene. The police were quick to arrive at the scene.

Various news reports suggest the man started to act out after getting into an argument with one of the ‘Huadan’ (花旦) performers of the troupe. In traditional Chinese opera, the Huadan characters are young female roles, often seductive in appearance and quick with their words.

Local police posted on Weibo that the chaos was caused by a 33-year-old local who started to become aggressive after he had too much to drink. The man is charged with disorderly conduct and is currently detained.

The case received even more attention on social media when it turned out that the 33-year old troublemaker is the son of the head of a neighboring village.

Many Chinese netizens feel that the man is spared by Chinese news media outlets, which only report about a “drunken man” who was “causing trouble.” They insist that the real story should be properly reported.

“The son of the village chief took liberties with a huadan actress who rejected him, and then he kicked her, causing her to lose consciousness. He then beat up other actors,” some commenters explain.

“He is not just a ‘drunkard’, he’s the son of the village secretary.”

“What an explosive performance it was!” one Weibo blogger writes.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

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

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