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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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What’s on Weibo is an independent blog. Want to donate? You can do so here.

©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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Backgrounder

How Chinese Kuaishou Rebel ‘Pangzai’ Became a Twitter King

He’s been called a ‘Twitter king’, but how did the unexpected online fame of this ‘Hebei Pangzai’ start?

Jessica Colwell

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Twitter has fallen in love with a Chinese farmer after his drinking videos on Kuaishou were cross-posted abroad and went viral. He has embraced his new fans and Western social media, arguably becoming one of China’s most successful cultural ambassadors of the year.

He describes himself as the “inventor of tornado beer drinking style” and as an “ordinary peasant from China.” ‘Hebei Pangzai’ only joined Twitter in August of 2019, but he already has a Twitter following of more than 111.6K.

Although his account is temporarily restricted by Twitter at time of writing (“due to suspicious activity”), his popularity is only growing. Some Twitterers, such as the China twitterer Carl Zha (@CarlZha), are even initiating a “#FreePangzai campaign” to restore the account of the “one true King.”

But where and when did the online fame of ‘Hebei Pangzai’ start?

Let’s begin our introduction to Pangzai with one tweet from March of this year, when Twitter user ‘Hunnaban Trenchboss’ posted a video from Chinese short video app Kuaishou (快手) showing a man – ‘Pangzai’ – wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigarette while preparing an incredible mixed drink.

The man in the video smoothly pops the cap off a bottle of beer with a chopstick, pours some in a large jar, then twirls the bottle and propels the rest of the beer in a tornado of force down his throat.

He follows that up by pouring in more beer, some blue liquor, an egg, some Pepsi, and a hefty glass of baijiu – which he dumps in only after lighting it on fire, igniting his finger, and coolly lighting his cigarette. He then chugs the entire concoction in a matter of seconds.

“How do I become as cool as this guy, The Coolest Guy?”, the tweet said.

The same video was shared again in August by a few Russian accounts, was retweeted by an American account, and then went completely viral, racking up millions of views and tens of thousands of retweets.

That video has now been viewed almost 12 million times on Twitter, and has inspired tens of thousands of fans who herald him as ‘king.’

The man in the video referred to as ‘Pangzai’ (胖仔, ‘chubby dude’) is Liu Shichao (刘世超), a 33-year-old farmer and small-time Chinese internet celebrity from a city called Xingtai in Hebei Province.

According to an interview with Technode, he found out about the video on Twitter when some of his new foreign fans opened Chinese social media accounts to find him and tell him about his overnight online fame.

“One message told me that I was a celebrity now in America,” he told Technode: “So I chatted with the person [who sent the message] for a whole day, with the help of translation software.”

Within two days of his video going viral, Pangzai had figured out how to use a VPN, opened his own Twitter account and started uploading videos.

He even posted a reply on the original viral video to alert everybody to his account.

Liu’s early response to his viral video on Twitter.

Since then, Liu ‘Pangzai’ has amassed over 111,000 followers and has posted many more videos of everything from drinking, to cooking, to exploring his countryside hometown.

But it was the drinking videos specifically that earned him his following, both abroad and in China.

 

IT STARTED ON KUAISHOU

“Pangzai epitomizes the typical Kuaishou account.”

 

Liu began his internet career three years ago on Kuaishou, a Chinese short video app massively popular among China’s lower-tier cities and countryside.

In contrast to the polished, celeb-heavy platform Douyin, which is most popular among urban youths, Kuaishou is a platform for the masses. Its users are known for their crazy antics and general disregard for personal safety.

Liu Shichao’s Kuaishou account has 354,000 followers, but the majority of his videos have been removed.

Pangzai epitomizes the typical Kuaishou account. Posting under the handle “Chubby Dude from Hebei” (@河北胖仔), he uploads videos of himself eating and drinking in eye-popping combinations, or sometimes smashing things – from bricks to unopened water bottles – with his bare hands.

Liu’s video of breaking bricks with his hands was also popular on Twitter.

Liu also gained notoriety, and a couple hundred thousand followers, from his mastery of the so-called ‘beer tornado technique’ (小旋风 xiǎo xuànfēng).

According to an interview with the BBC, he peaked at 470,000 followers on Kuaishou and was monetizing his online fame with some 10,000 RMB ($1420) per month.

Liu’s signature beer tornado technique features in the first video he posted to Twitter.

Unfortunately for Liu, China’s Cyberspace Administration announced a crackdown on vulgar and illegal content across multiple social media platforms in spring of 2018, with a focus on Douyin, Kuaishou, and its sister news company Jinri Toutiao. Kuaishou was pulled from app stores until it cleaned up its act.

It is unclear just how many videos and accounts have been removed as a result of the cleanup. We can get a rough idea from an announcement by Kuaishou earlier this year that in March of 2019 alone, it removed an average of over 11,000 videos and blocked almost 1,000 accounts every day.

The result for Liu was that his account was suspended for four months and the majority of his most popular videos, including the one that went viral abroad, were removed for promoting ‘unhealthy drinking habits.’

When you look at his Kuaishou account today, you won’t see many videos focused solely on baijiu and beer chugging.

The videos that remain on his account do include drinking (and his signature tornado move) but it is always accompanied by eating food or some other activity (such as sitting deep in a field of corn, munching on roast duck and dribbling baijiu down a corn leaf into a glass.)

In a video posted to Kuaishou, Liu pours baijiu into a glass from a corn leaf, before then lighting it on fire and chugging it.

Liu still has 354,000 followers on Kuaishou. His Chinese fans, like his foreign ones, marvel at his cool and collected manner as he eats and drinks all sorts of disgusting things.

Canned herring features heavily in his most popular recent videos, where he can be seen sipping the juice directly from the can.

In one of his videos on Kuaishou, Liu eating herring directly from the can, to the disgust of his fans.

“This has to be the most unaffected anyone has ever been by eating canned herring,” says one fan. “The flavor is disgusting! 99.9% of people who try this would vomit,” another online commenter replies.

 

AN UNEXPECTED TWITTER KING

“Liu is like many young men from the countryside of Northern China: open, friendly, humble, and genuinely excited to share his life.”

 

This year, Liu seems to have embraced his newfound international stardom with grace and savvy.

He uses Twitter’s in-app translation to help him communicate with fans and has been highly interactive on the platform.

Liu ‘Pangzai’ was also quick to open up a Paypal account and share it with followers, and has recently made YouTube and Instagram accounts to prevent scams pretending to be him. He has also collaborated with a Twitter fan to sell T-shirts online in America.

Many online fans have dubbed him ‘king’, perhaps the highest praise one can receive on the internet today.

But in contrast to the sunglasses and chill demeanor of his videos, Liu does not appear to be an internet celebrity overly obsessed with being cool.

Instead, he is like many young men from the countryside of Northern China: open, friendly, humble, and genuinely excited to share his life (and drinking habits) with the rest of the world.

Liu began using translation software to communicate with fans soon after joining Twitter.

After reposting all of his old drinking videos from Kuaishou, Liu started asking Twitter fans what they would like to see from him. Many responded that they wanted more about his life in rural China.

He has since followed up with videos showing him fixing a pipe with his friends, exploring his local market, cooking sweet potatoes, and, of course, a tutorial on how to master the ‘tornado beer’ technique.

Liu explaining on Twitter how to perform the tornado beer technique that helped make him famous.

Many have expressed concern for his health in light of his drinking habits, but he has assured everybody that everything he does is “within his ability” and that he doesn’t drink like that very often.

Liu is grateful for all the support and praise he has received from abroad. “It’s crazy to have all of these foreign friends all of a sudden,” he recently said in an interview with Deadspin: “I really have to thank them a lot. If I have a chance I will find them and we can drink together.”

Seemingly to that end, Liu has recently organized a party to be held near his hometown in China, exciting fans all over the world and spurring many to apply for passports and visas.

Once Liu began inviting people to his party, he changed the date and location in order to accommodate more attendees.

The date is set for December 14, 2019 in Zhuamadian City, Hebei Province; too soon for many to make it, but he promises another party in the spring. There is talk also of organizing a visit for Liu ‘Pangzai’ to go to America.

 

WINDOW INTO CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA

“Liu’s growing notoriety abroad seems to have flown completely under the radar of the Chinese internet.”

 

Although there are many vloggers like Pangzai in China, he stands out on Twitter as some sort of window into Chinese social media, especially because this online world is usually so separate from the Western realms of social media.

The recent explosive growth of Chinese social media apps such as TikTok has not done much to facilitate this kind of cultural interaction between China and the West.

Although Tiktok is, in fact, a Chinese app (called Douyin 抖音 in China), there are actually two different versions of the same app in mainland China and abroad, meaning that the other ‘Pangzais’ of the Chinese internet still remain within the social media spheres of the PRC, rarely gaining fame outside of the Great Firewall.

In China, aside from his fans on Kuaishou, Liu’s growing notoriety abroad seems to have flown completely under the radar of the Chinese internet. He is mentioned only one or two times across Weibo, and searches for his name and handle on WeChat, Baidu, and various Chinese tech news sites bring up nothing.

Liu is a rare example of genuine soft power coming out of China. A pure, grassroots man of the people with strong cultural appeal who sincerely enjoys sharing his life and his culture with the rest of the world. His tweets are full of affection and appreciation for his fans, as well as frequent prompts for followers to share their own lives and customs of their home countries.

To watch his introduction to Twitter and rise to fame is to see the best of the internet: cultural interaction, genuinely shared delight, and mutual admiration inspired by hilarious antics caught on camera.

His Twitter fans express their hope that Twitter Support will soon lift the temporary ban on their ‘Twitter king.’ To them, it’s perfectly clear: this online king is nowhere near dead, long live Pangzai!

Follow the #FreePangzai hashtag on Twitter.

Update: Panghaizi is out of Twitter jail!

 
Want to read more about unexpected online celebrities from China? Also see:
The Story of Two Farmers Who Became Internet Celebrities;
The “Vagrant Shanghai Professor”;
From Farmgirl to Fashionista: Weibo Celebrity Fairy Wang.

 

By Jessica Colwell
Follow @whatsonweibo

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

“Living a Nightmare” – Chinese Beauty Guru Yuya Mika Shares Shocking Story of Domestic Abuse

Famous makeup artist Yuya Mika shared her story in a video that has since gone viral on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese famous makeup vlogger Yuya Mika has come out and shared her experience of being physically abused by her former boyfriend. Yuya’s story – told in a documentary-style video that is now going viral – does not just raise online awareness about the problem of domestic violence, it also shows the raw realness behind the glamorous facade of China’s KOLs’ social media life.

Fashion and makeup blogger He Yuyong, better knowns as Yuya (宇芽) or Yuya Mika (@宇芽YUYAMIKA), has gone viral on China’s social media platform Weibo for sharing her personal story of suffering domestic abuse at the hands of her ex-partner.

On Monday afternoon, November 25 – which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – Yuya, a KOL (Key Opinion Leaders/online influencer) who has over 800,000 followers on her Weibo account, wrote: “I’m a victim of domestic violence. The past six months, I feel like I’ve been living a nightmare. I need to speak up about domestic violence here!”

With her post, Yuya shared a 12-minute documentary-style video in which she tells how she has been abused by her partner of one year, with whom she has now separated.

The short doc does not just tell Yuya’s story, it also features the experiences of her former partner’s ex-wives, who allegedly also suffered domestic violence at his hands.

Besides the shocking accounts of the women, the video contains also footage of Yuya’s ex-boyfriend trying to violently drag her out of an elevator – a moment that was caught on security cameras in August of this year.

Yuya identifies her former boyfriend and abuser as the 44-year-old artist and Weibo blogger ‘Toto River’ (@沱沱的风魔教), who was married three times before starting a relationship with the famous beauty blogger.

The two met each other through social media, and Yuya initially fell for his talent and kindness. But, as she says, his perfect social media image soon turned out to be nothing but a fake facade, and the nightmare began.

The beauty blogger explains that the domestic violence went hand in hand with mental abuse, with Yuya being brainwashed into believing she was lucky to be with a man such as her boyfriend.

As the abuse became a regular occurrence, Yuya tearfully explains how she sometimes could not work for a week because her face was too bruised for shooting videos.

Yuya also writes on Weibo that she shares her story so that the experiences she and her ex-boyfriend’s former wives suffered will not happen to other women, and to warn others from ending up in a similar situation.

Meanwhile, the Weibo account of Yuya’s former boyfriend has been closed for comments.

Yuya Mika is not just popular on Weibo and video ap Tiktok. The beauty guru – famous for doing imitation makeup of celebrities and famous icons such as Mona Lisa – also has over 750k fans on her Instagram account and thousands of subscribers on her YouTube Channel, where she posts makeup tutorials.

Yuya Mika as Mona Lisa.

Yuya is part of the company of Papi Jiang (aka Papi Chan), a Chinese vlogger and comedian who became an internet celebrity in 2016. On Tuesday, the Papi Jiang company also responded to Yuya’s video, saying they fully support the makeup artist in coming forward with her story.

At time of writing, Yuya’s story has been shared over 425,000 times, with a staggering thread of more than 280,000 comments on Weibo.

Many commenters respond in shock that the tearful woman in the video is actually Yuya, as the makeup artist is usually always smiling and shining in front of the camera. Other Weibo users express their hopes that Yuya’s ex-boyfriend will be punished for what he did.

With over 160 million views, the hashtag “Yuya Suffers Domestic Abuse” (#宇芽被家暴#) is now in the top five of most-discussed topics on Weibo.

Over the past few years, the issue of domestic violence has received more attention on Chinese social media, especially since China’s first national law against domestic violence came into effect on March 1, 2016. More women have come forward on Chinese social media to share their personal experiences with domestic abuse.

According to Chinese media reports of Tuesday afternoon, local authorities are currently investigating Yuya’s story.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes
Follow @whatsonweibo

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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.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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