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Critical Fans: Weibo Superstar Xie Na Under Attack By Her Own Supporters

Even Weibo’s number one celebrity can clash with their fans.

Gabi Verberg

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Image by CRI International

Chinese idol fans are often known for their unwavering loyalty army-like bearing, especially when defending their messiah from haters. However, as recent cases involving boyband Nine Percent and host Xie Na show, this vitriol might be turned against the celebrities themselves should their engagement with these online legions be lukewarm.

Are the fans there to serve their idol, or the other way round? Fanatical fandom that takes idol-worshipping to extreme heights is nothing new on the Chinese Internet. What is unusual is when the idols themselves get checked by their own fans for inappropriate behavior.

For a couple of days now, host of Happy Camp, actress and no. 1 star Weibo superstar Xie Na (谢娜) has come under attack from her fans for her performance in Chinese hit reality show Viva La Romance (妻子浪漫旅行), where four famous couples go on holiday together. According to Xie Na’s fans, she mentioned her husband, famous singer Jason (张杰), too often during the show despite several warnings from fans in the past to keep her affection under wraps.

To cool down the bubbling dissatisfaction among her fanbase, Xie Na engaged her fans in a Weibo discussion. She soon regretted this decision as the diplomatic initiative blew up in her face when she refused to acknowledge any wrong or listen to her fans’ suggestions. After being continually criticized by her fans, she made it clear how vexing this all was, posting comments such as: “Oh, so this is what prattling on Weibo is like,” “[This is] prattling, I’m out”, and “There is so much resentment, why can’t everybody be happy?”.

This is where it all went really downhill. Xie Na’s intransigence led to a fan walk-out. In a statement on Weibo, a spokesperson for the official Xie Na Weibo fan group announced that it had been handed over to Xie Na’s management. In that same statement, the spokesperson explains: “(Xie Na), you entered the discussion on Weibo where people are giving you no more than 15 suggestions, of which only some were regarding your husband […]. We only try to help you, it is up to you whether you listen or not, but instead, you just write us off by saying we are resentful.”

In reaction to the commotion, Jason posted a lengthy statement on Weibo explaining that the director of Viva La Romance required Xie Na to talk about her husband; after all, the program is all about married couples. He also added that a few days of filming gets edited into a one-hour episode and what does and does not get aired is not Xie Na’s decision, suggesting that the critical fans’ view was somehow skewed.

Picture of Jason and Xie Na, uploaded together with Jason’s statement on Weibo.

Fellow celebrities and co-stars from Viva La Romance, Ying Caier (应采儿), Ying’er (颖儿) and Cheng Lisha (程莉莎) spoke out in defense of Xie Na. In a post on Weibo, Ying Caier wrote: “If we are not to talk about our own husbands, then whose husband are we supposed to talk about? Isn’t the show called Viva La Romance?”. (Note that the English title of the program is not a literal interpretation of the Chinese title which is: “The Wife’s Romantical Holiday”).

The dispute got much attention on Weibo. Both the hashtags “Jason backs Xie Na,” and “Xie Na gets hatred by fans in a discussion about herself” racked up 590 million and 530 million views on Weibo within the first 24 hours.

Xie Na is not the first star to be confronted with disapproving fans. November last year, some fans decided to engage in fantasy “couple pairing” of the popular boyband NINE PERCENT (百分九少年), igniting the anger of both the boyband and other fans by shouting slogans that two members of the boyband, Kun (蔡徐坤) and Wang Ziyi (王子异) were “married.”

 

 

In a short clip that went viral on social media, a dozen fans hold up posters and shout: “Yi (Wang Ziyi) and Kun are real, they are married!” (异坤是真的,异坤结婚了). At the time, the hashtag “Kun and Wang Ziyi couple pairing fans shout slogan” got over 120 million views with many people discussing how far fans meddling in the life of their idols should go.

In some Weibo reactions, many fans showed their support for the two superstars, writing: “Leave them (Kun and Wang Ziyi) alone!”, many others condemned the fans that started the incident by saying: “Is this what you call being a fan?” and “You must be ashamed of yourselves!”

Quickly after the video incident, Kun uploaded a picture on his Instagram account of an empty circle drawn against a white background, with the comment: “My attitude towards the matter is like the picture, I have no words and there is nothing I can do”.

This disinterested approach seemed to have worked, as the clash between the Nine Percent fans soon blew over; perhaps that same approach would have worked for Xie Na as well, who has not yet reacted to her official fan group’s walk-out.

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.

©2019 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 Brands & Marketing

About Lipstick King’s Comeback and His ‘Mysterious’ Disappearance

After Li Jiaqi’s return to livestreaming, the ‘tank cake incident’ has become the elephant in the room on social media.

Manya Koetse

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Earlier this week, the return of China’s famous livestreamer Li Jiaqi, also known as the ‘Lipstick King’, became a hot topic on Chinese social media where his three-month ‘disappearance’ from the social commerce scene triggered online discussions.

He is known as Austin Li, Lipstick King, or Lipstick Brother, but most of all he is known as one of China’s most successful e-commerce livestreaming hosts.

After being offline for over 100 days, Li Jiaqi (李佳琦) finally came back and did a livestreaming session on September 20th, attracting over 60 million viewers and selling over $17 million in products.

The 30-year-old beauty influencer, a former L’Oreal beauty consultant, rose to fame in 2017 after he became a successful livestreamer focusing on lipstick and other beauty products.

Li broke several records during his live streaming career. In 2018, he broke the Guinness World Record for “the most lipstick applications in 30 seconds.” He once sold 15000 lipsticks in 5 minutes, and also managed to apply 380 different lipsticks in another seven-hour live stream session. Li made international headlines in 2021 when he sold $1.9 billion in goods during a 12-hour-long promotion livestream for Alibaba’s shopping festival.

But during a Taobao livestream on June 3rd of this year, something peculiar happened. After Li Jiaqi and his co-host introduced an interestingly shaped chocolate cake – which seemed to resemble a tank, – a male assistant in the back mentioned something about the sound of shooting coming from a tank (“坦克突突”).

Although Li Jiaqi and the others laughed about the comment, Li also seemed a bit unsure and the woman next to him then said: “Stay tuned for 23:00 to see if Li Jiaqi and I will still be in this position.”

The session then suddenly stopped, and at 23:38 that night Li wrote on Weibo that the channel was experiencing some “technical problems.”

But those “technical problems” lasted, and Li did not come back. His June 3rd post about the technical problems would be the last one on his Weibo account for the months to come.

The ‘cake tank incident’ (坦克蛋糕事件) occurred on the night before June 4, the 33rd anniversary of the violent crackdown of the Tiananmen student demonstrations. The iconic image of the so-called ‘tank man‘ blocking the tanks at Tiananmen has become world famous and is censored on China’s internet. The control of information flows is especially strict before and on June 4, making Li’s ‘tank cake incident’ all the more controversial.

But no official media nor the official Li Jiaqi accounts acknowledged the tank cake incident, and his absence remained unexplained. Meanwhile, there was a silent acknowledgment among netizens that the reason Li was not coming online anymore was related to the ‘tank cake incident.’

During Li’s long hiatus, fans flocked to his Weibo page where they left thousands of messages.

“I’m afraid people have been plotting against you,” many commenters wrote, suggesting that the cake was deliberately introduced by someone else during the livestream as a way to commemorate June 4.

Many fans also expressed their appreciation of Li, saying how watching his streams helped them cope with depression or cheered them up during hard times. “What would we do without you?” some wrote. Even after 80 days without Li Jiaqi’s livestreams, people still commented: “I am waiting for you every day.”

On September 21st, Li Jiaqi finally – and somewhat quietly – returned and some people said they were moved to see their lipstick hero return to the livestream scene.

Although many were overjoyed with Li’s return, it also triggered more conversations on why he had disappeared and what happened to him during the 3+ months of absence. “He talked about a sensitive topic,” one commenter said when a Weibo user asked about Li’s disappearance.

One self-media accountpublished a video titled “Li Jiaqi has returned.” The voiceover repeatedly asks why Li would have disappeared and even speculates about what might have caused it, without once mentioning the tank cake.

“This cracks me up,” one commenter wrote: “On the outside we all know what’s going on, on the inside there’s no information whatsoever.”

“It’s tacit mutual understanding,” some wrote. “It’s the elephant in the room,” others said.

Some people, however, did not care about discussing Li’s disappearance at all anymore and just expressed joy about seeing him again: “It’s like seeing a good friend after being apart for a long time.”

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by @karishea and @kaffeebart.

 

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China Brands & Marketing

Chinese Actor and State Security Ambassador Li Yifeng Detained for Soliciting Prostitutes

Li Yifeng is not exactly living up to his role as spokesperson for the Ministry of State Security.

Manya Koetse

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Chinese actor and singer Li Yifeng (李易峰) went top trending on Chinese social media today. The actor, who previously starred as brand ambassador for the Ministry of State Security and played Mao Zedong in The Pioneer, has been detained for visiting prostitutes.

On January 10 of 2021, China celebrated its very first National Police Day to give full recognition to the police and national security staff for their efforts. For this special day, the Ministry of State Security launched a promo video starring Chinese actor Li Yifeng as the National Police Ambassador (#李易峰国安形象传片#). But today, it turned out that Li might not have been the best man for the job.

Chinese official media reported on September 11 that the 35-year-old actor has been detained for soliciting prostitutes. The hashtag “Li Yifeng Detained for Visiting Prostitutes” (#李易峰多次嫖娼被行政拘留#) received nearly two billion views on Weibo on Sunday; the hashtag “Beijing Police Informs that Li Yifeng Solicited Prostitutes” (#北京警方通报李易峰多次嫖娼#) received a staggering three billion views.

Shortly after the news was announced, various brands for which Li served as a brand ambassador announced that they were no longer working with the actor. Lukfook Jewellery, Mengniu Dairy, Honma Golf, Panerai, Prada, Sensodyne, King To Nin Jiom, and other brands declared that they had terminated their contract with Li (#多个品牌终止与李易峰合作#).

Li rose to fame in 2007 when he participated in the Chinese My Hero talent show. He later debuted as a singer and became a successful actor, starring in various Chinese TV dramas and films. Li became especially popular after starring in Swords of Legends and won an award for his role in the 2015 Chinese crime film Mr. Six (老炮儿). He would go on to win many more awards. One of his biggest roles was starring as Mao Zedong in the 2021 blockbuster The Pioneer (革命者).

According to Global Times, Li was previously announced as one of the celebrities attending the Mid-Autumn Festival Gala on CCTV on Saturday night, but his name was later deleted from the program.

“I had never expected my idol to collapse like this,” some disappointed fans wrote on Weibo.

In a ‘super topic’ community dedicated to the star, some fans would not give up on their idol yet: “Where is the proof? Besides the Beijing police statement, where is the actual proof?”

On Li Yifeng’s Weibo page, where the actor has over 60 million fans, nothing has been posted since September 5.

The Huading Awards, a famous entertainment award in China, announced that they cancelled Li Yifeng’s title of “Best Actor in China” (#华鼎奖取消李易峰中国最佳男主角等称号#).

“He lost all he had overnight,” some commenters wrote. “Celebrities generally get cancelled for two things: one is evading taxes, the other is sleeping around,” one popular comment said: “So in a nutshell, pay your taxes and don’t sleep around.*”

“Why do you even need to see a prostitute when you’re so good-looking?” others wondered.

One Weibo user (@大漠叔叔) wrote: “Have a good head on your shoulders and just remember one thing. It does not matter how good your reputation is, or how many titles you have, how much the audience loves you, how much the fans embrace you, how many awards you get, it won’t protect you. Stay clear-headed, merit does not outweigh faults! You can’t cross the moral bottomline nor cross the boundaries of the law. You can be canceled just like that.”

By Manya Koetse 

* This comment is loosely translated here, but the Chinese is quite funny because the words ‘taxes’ and ‘sleeping’ sound similar. “明星塌房的两个主要原因:一个睡,一个税。 简而言之:该税的税,不该睡的别睡.”

 

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