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China Memes & Viral

“Hi, Mom!” Box Office Hit Sparks ‘When My Mum Was Younger’ Trend on Weibo

The touching Chinese hit movie “Hi, Mom” has sparked an emotional trend on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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The movie Hi, Mom is all the rage in China, where social media is flooding with hashtags, photos, and texts celebrating moms and the bond between mothers and daughters. One big discussion is focused on all the things daughters would tell their younger moms: “Please don’t marry dad.”

If you could travel back in time and meet your mum before she had you, what would you say to her? What would you do?

This question is the idea behind Hi, Mom (Chinese title Hi, Li Huanying 你好,李焕英), the box office favorite in China this Spring Festival. The movie is directed by Jia Ling (贾玲), who also plays the female protagonist. For comedian Jia Ling, who is mostly known for her sketches during the Spring Festival Gala, this movie is her directorial debut.

Hi, Mom tells the story of Jia Xiaoling (Jia Ling) who is devastated when her mother Li Huanying has a serious accident one day. Jia is especially grief-stricken because she feels she has not become the daughter she wanted to be for her mother. When she finds herself transported back in time to the year 1981, she meets her young mother before she was her mum, and becomes her friend in the hopes of making her happy and change her life for the better.

From the movie “Hi, Mom”

Li Huanying is also the name of Jia Ling’s own mother, who passed away when Jia was just 19 years old. Jia Ling reportedly did not make the movie because she wanted to be a director, but because she wanted to tell her mother’s story.

The film has become super popular since its debut on February 12 and raked in 2.6 billion yuan (over $400 million) within five days. On day five alone, the movie earned $90 million.

The movie has sparked various trends on Chinese social media. One of them is an online ‘challenge’ for daughters to post pictures of mothers when they were young. The hashtag “Photo of My Mother When She Was Young” (#妈妈年轻时的照片#) received 120 million views on Weibo by Wednesday. Another hashtag used for this ‘challenge’ is “This is My Li Huanying” (#这是我的李焕英#). The hashtags have motivated thousands of netizens to post photos of their mother before she became a mom.

The trend has not just sparked an online movement to celebrate and appreciate mothers – it also offers an intimate glance into the lives of Chinese older women and shows just how different the times were when they were young. This also gave many daughters a new appreciation of their mothers.

“I used to have many wishes,” one female Weibo user wrote: “But now I just hope to make my mum happy.” Others praised their mother’s beauty (“My mum is so pretty!”) and said that they are proud to look like their mom, although some also complained that they had not inherited their mother’s looks.

The trend has also provided an opportunity for a moment of self-reflection for some. Seeing the unedited photos of their younger mothers, some called on female web users to stop losing themselves in ‘beautifying’ photo apps that alter their facial features, saying they will not have normal photos of themselves in the future that show their true (and unedited) natural beauty.

 

“Don’t marry dad, don’t believe his sweet talk.”

 

There is also another hashtag trending in light of Hi, Mum. It is “If You Could Go Back to Before Your Mum Married” (#如果穿越回妈妈结婚前#) and started with one popular fashion influencer (@一扣酥) asking her followers what they would want to tell her.

“Don’t marry dad. Don’t believe his sweet talk,” one person replied, with many others also writing that they would want to tell their younger mom not to marry their fathers: “I would tell her to look for someone who loves her, and not for someone she loves,” one person responded.

“Please leave dad,” another Weibo user writes, adding that her father drank too much and would hit her mother.

“Don’t feel like you need to marry because you’re older,” another daughter writes: “Don’t get into a ‘lightning wedding’ and don’t care so much about what other people say.”

“Live for yourself for once,” a blogger named ‘Zhi Zhi El’ wrote, with another young woman named Yumiko writing: “Don’t close your bookshop, be independent and confident, don’t listen to everything dad says, and don’t become a housewife.”

But there are also those who are happy with the way things turned out: “Mum! Marry dad! He’s good!”

In the end, most commenters just want one thing. As this Weibo user (@·__弑天) writes: “Mum, I just hope you have a happy life.”

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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.

©2021 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

Six Years After Becoming a Viral Hit, “Little Jack Ma” is Not Doing Well At All

Recent videos of ‘Little Jack Ma’ have caused concern among netizens. They are angry at those who exploited and abandoned him.

Manya Koetse

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He became famous overnight for looking like a mini-version of Jack Ma. Now, he’s worse off than before he became an online sensation.

Six years after he became famous for looking like Alibaba founder Jack Ma (Ma Yun 马云), the young boy known as ‘Little Jack Ma’ seems to be struggling and lagging behind his peers.

The boy’s name is Fan Xiaoqin (范小勤) and he is from a rural village in Yongfeng County in Jiangxi Province. In November of 2015, at eight years old, he became an online sensation for resembling Jack Ma. After his photo went viral – one of his cousins initially posted it online – he was nicknamed ‘Little Jack Ma’ (also ‘Mini Ma Yun’, 小马云).

Fan Xiaoqin’s resemblance to Jack Ma is so striking, that there have even been persistent fake news posts including a photo of Fan, claiming it is Jack Ma as a young boy.

On the left, photo of Fan Xiaoqin that is often falsely claimed to be Jack Ma. On the right, an actual photo of Jack Ma as a young boy.

Fan Xiaoqin was all the rage – he even became a meme. People wanted to take a photograph with him, companies wanted him to promote their business, and social media influencers wanted to share a moment with him for clout-chasing reasons. ‘Little Jack Ma’ traveled the country to attend banquets and fashion shows and to meet with celebrities.

One of Little Jack Ma’s press photos.

After Jack Ma himself even acknowledged the resemblance between him and Xiaoqin in a Weibo post, Chinese state media claimed Alibaba was funding Fan Xiaoqin’s education until university graduation, something that was soon denied by the company’s spokesperson.

State media reported that his education would be funded (left), a rumor that was later debunked (Fortune, right).

At the time, the boy’s sudden fame was already a cause of concern to some. Just a year after becoming famous, it became known that Fan was not doing well at school and that his parents, who are poor and struggling with health issues -his mum has polio and his dad is handicapped -, did not know who to trust or how to deal with their son’s rise to fame.

 

A Tragic Story Behind a Famous Meme


 

At the height of his fame, Xiaoqin was managed by a company that arranged his gigs and he also had his own nanny to accompany him during his travels and performances. At events and dinners, Xiaoqin was often constantly playing a role and shouting out Alibaba slogans.

Traveling with his nanny during the peak of his fame.

Image via https://www.sohu.com/a/449433430_113692.

Now, Fan Xiaoqin is once again a topic of online conversation as recent videos and a live stream on the boy came out, showing the boy is back with his family in the village.

He was previously let go by the company that managed him. His former official Weibo account and Kuaishou account, where he was known as ‘Chairman Little Jack Ma’ (小马云总裁) are no longer online, and there have been no new updates on his activities since the launch of a Mini Jack Ma schoolbag in 2019.

The video shows that the boy, both physically and mentally, appears to be much younger than his actual age. At the age of 14, his physique is more similar to a 6 or 7-year-old child and he suffers from painful legs. Another video also shows that the boy falls behind in language development and struggles to answer the most basic math questions.

Screenshot of the livestream that is making its ways around Chinese social media.

The moment that Xiaoqin is approached by the (self-media) reporters live streaming their visit, he walks up in dirty clothes and says: “Money, do you have money?”

According to an article on Sohu by author Li Honghuo (李洪伙), the company that managed Xiaoqin promised to send the family 2000 yuan ($310) every month, but they have stopped issuing payments seven months ago.

News about Fan Xiaoqin’s current situation triggered anger online, with many people saying Fan Xiaoqin is a victim of greedy people who exploited the boy and then abandoned him. The recent video shows the boy has small spots on his skin; some claim it is because the boy was given hormones to slow down his growth.

What commenters are most upset about is how Xiaoqin did not get the chance to properly go to school together with his peers, and that the most important years of his childhood were taken away from him for a piece of fame that eventually left him empty-handed. He now seems to be worse off than before he became ‘Little Jack Ma.’

“They abandoned him once he was no longer of value to them,” some say. “They destroyed him, let’s hope he can still lead a happy life.”

Some people also wonder if the child has an intellectual disability, with his situation only getting worse during the years he was exploited. They blame his parents for allowing their son to be taken away from them.

But there are also those who criticize the people who now visited Xiaoqin and filmed him, questioning their intentions and calling on people to leave the child in peace.

Overall, the majority of commenters still hope that Xiaoqin can receive a proper education and enjoy what is left of his childhood.

 
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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Memes & Viral

Wedding Canceled over Too-Tight Underwear: Chinese Local Wedding Tradition Goes Trending

Chinese local traditions still matter. A size too small was the end of this Guizhou wedding day.

Manya Koetse

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A wedding in Guizhou was canceled after the bride discovered the underwear bought for her as part of a local wedding tradition was too small. The incident has sparked discussions on old-fashioned customs in modern-day weddings.

There is so much happening in the world right now, but besides the bigger issues, a local Chinese wedding scandal has been attracting major attention on social media over the past few days.

On January 2nd, a young man from Zunyi in Guizhou province had his own wedding day canceled by his prospective in-laws because the underwear that was bought for his bride turned out to be too small.

According to local customs, the groom’s side was supposed to buy the bride a new outfit from top to bottom, including shoes (a custom called shàngtoulǐ “上头礼”). But because the undergarment purchased by the groom was too tight, the wedding ceremony was called off at the very last moment.

Not wanting to waste the expensive food and arrangements, the groom’s relatives decided to turn the wedding reception into a New Year’s party instead.

A video that has been circulating on Weibo, also reposted by Xinhua News, shows how the wedding reception host explains to the guests why the wedding ceremony cannot proceed, proposing to continue the festivities anyway as a casual New Year’s social gathering.

The incident received massive attention on social media, with one hashtag about the news garnering over 740 million views (#小伙因买内衣不合适迎亲被拒#). On Q&A site Zhihu.com, one thread about the issue received over 4200 replies.

 

Size does matter

 

Although there are many commenters who say the bride “made a big fuss over nothing”, there are also those who think bad communication and outdated customs and beliefs are at the root of the canceled wedding.

Many people on social media also express their surprise at the different local wedding traditions within China, which can greatly vary from region to region.

The too-tight underwear case is about more than just being a size too small. The Chinese idiom “wear tight shoes” (chuān xiǎoxié ‘穿小鞋’) means “to make life difficult.” Giving someone tight shoes to wear (给人穿小鞋) means making things hard for someone by abusing one’s power.

In this case, although it is about the groom’s side giving the bride too-tight underwear instead of shoes, the bride’s side allegedly took it as a sign that the groom wanted to teach his future wife a lesson that he would not make life easy for her and would want her to be obedient.

The bride later spoke to Red Star News (红星新闻) to clarify that things were not as simple as presented in the viral news story. The fact that the underwear that was bought for her was too tight – the bra was two sizes too small – was indeed a problem, but it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The couple had conflicts before this occurred, and when the bride wanted to discuss the problem of the tight underwear, she was met with an unpleasant response from the groom’s side, as they refused to buy her suitable underwear.

She also said that after the wedding was canceled the bride price of 88,000 yuan ($13,650) was returned to the groom’s family.

The couple had previously already officially registered for marriage. The two are now filing for divorce.

 

“A struggle between modern society and feudal rubbish”

 

On WeChat, popular blogging account Xinwenge also posted about this matter, suggesting it was actually the groom’s mother who bought the tight underwear.

Xinwenge quotes some netizens from Guizhou who allege that in-laws often buy clothes or shoes for their future daughter-in-law to show the bride their own dominant position. “It’s a struggle between modern society and feudal rubbish,” the author writes.

Other netizens also share their own stories, such as the experience of ‘King Cat Wants To Travel’, who says that her mother-in-law was never involved in the planning of her wedding until she absolutely insisted on making the bed on the night before the wedding.

“I found out why on our wedding day,” she writes: “She put the duvet from their family on top of mine”, implying the husband’s side would be ‘on top’ in the marriage. She adds: “PS: we’re now divorced.”

Another local custom mentioned is that of the bride having to wait outside the house, not being able to go in until someone from her new husband’s family tells her to – allegedly in order to make the bride a more obedient wife afterward.

One Weibo user commented that local traditions and customs are getting in the way of the true meaning of marriage. Regardless of what the groom’s parents say, what the bride’s parents do, what the bride price is, how the guests behave, “do these two people who are getting married actually feel good about it? Do they approve of each other’s values and ideas about life? Do they feel they’re suitable to spend their lives together?”

“If this is a modern-day wedding, why should the bride still be expected to wear the underwear bought for her by her mother-in-law?” another person writes.

“It’s 2021. You’re not getting married over customs, nor over underwear,” another person says.

But not everyone agrees, with some still valuing the power of tradition: “Buying her small underwear means making her life difficult. It’s impossible that they did not know this. It’s good that they didn’t marry.”

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes

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.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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