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China Memes & Viral

How a Boy Duped by Hair Salon Became the 2018 Internet Sensation

The footage of the awkwardly smiling and disillusioned teenager unravelled an endless stream of memes. Little did the teenager know that a few weeks after the incident, he would be the face of advertisement campaigns all over the country.

Gabi Verberg

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What was supposed to be a quick visit to the hairdresser turned into a disaster when the 18-year-old Wu Zhengqiang (吴正强) was presented with a 40,000 yuan ($5795) bill and a bad haircut. For Chinese social media users, the story became a source of countless memes this year.

Looking back at Chinese social media in 2018, one unexpected internet celebrity is at the center of one of the most meme-worthy stories of the year, reaching over 470 million views on Weibo.

It all started earlier this year, when Wu Zhengqiang (吴正强), an 18-year-old teenager, walked into a salon in Hangzhou to get himself a haircut. It looked like it was going to be a great day when he was offered a special hair and skin treatment for “free” – until the bill came.

Before the treatment was finished, the boy was surrounded by several people and was presented with a paper he was asked to sign. Only after the treatment was finished, Wu found out that he had given his approval to a staggering bill of 39,600 yuan ($5756).

Wu, who only makes a little less than 3000 yuan a month ($435) as a real estate agent, was not willing to pay the bill. When the salon employees refused to let him pay 480 yuan ($70), the original price on their price-list, Wu reported the incident to the police. In the end, Wu paid the shop a total of 2500 yuan ($363) instead.

But as time passed, Wu got increasingly annoyed about the whole incident. Not only did he feel robbed of his money, he also found his freshly plucked eyebrows looking even worse than before the treatment. So, he reached out to a local Hangzhou tv station to share his grievances (footage below).

The interview soon attracted the attention on Chinese social media, where most commenters did not focus on the story of the struggling teenager, but instead focused on Wu’s strangely shaved-up hairline, his thick characteristic eyebrows, the disillusion in his eyes, and his nervous smile – it all turned out the be the perfect ingredients for an endless stream of funny memes.

The hashtag “Hairline-boy expressions” received over 470 million views on Weibo, featuring many memes in which people captured feelings such as “I feel terrible wronged,” “Smile gradually disappearing,” “I’m puzzled,” and “Excuse me.”

But the popularity of the teenager reached further than just netizens using his face for memes; Wu soon appeared on several tv-shows including one of China’s most popular variety shows Happy Camp. He also starred in several commercials, making his face well-recognized all over the country.

Also, Wu’s personal Weibo account received thousands of new fans in his rise to fame. At time of writing, his Weibo page reached little over 400,000 followers.

How Wu’s career will further develop is hard to say. However, when Wu is asked what he will do when his popularity has faded away, he coolly answers: “I’ll just work.”

By Gabi Verberg

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

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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 Food & Drinks

98-Year-Old Hotpot and Coca Cola Lover Becomes Online Hit

Are hotpot and cola the key to longevity?

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This week, a 98-year-old Chengdu resident has become an online hit on Chinese social media, after videos of her and her granddaughter went viral. The popular grandmother loves to drink Coca Cola, eat hamburgers, and is crazy about hotpot – but only if it’s really spicy.

The 98-year-old became an overnight hit because of the videos posted by granddaughter Cai on China’s popular video app Douyin (TikTok), that show the grandmother’s great appetite for spicy food, alcohol, and sweet sodas.

When the granddaughter tries to persuade her grandma to drink less alcohol (“You’ve already had five!”) she’ll pour herself another cup; while dozing off, she’ll still talk about her favorite hotpot with beef tripe; when eating her hamburgers, she’ll eat so fast that her dentures fall out – all moments that were caught on video by Cai.

The woman, who has been nicknamed “grandma foodie” (吃货奶奶), has been starring in her granddaughter’s Douyin videos since August of last year. Since then, she has accumulated a social media following of some 410K fans and has now risen to nationwide fame, with dozens of Chinese news outlets writing about her. On March 4, she became the number one trending topic on Weibo.

On social media, most netizens praise the grandma for her positive attitude. “I hope I can do all the things I love, too, when I reach her age,” some say: “Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and drink whatever you like, whenever you like.” “Eating good food is the key to happiness,” others write.

Some also see a lucrative opportunity in the grandma’s sudden rise to fame: “She should become a brand ambassador for Coca Cola.”

Granddaughter Cai told Chinese reporters: “I think it’s the contrast that makes her so popular. She drinks Coke, eats hamburgers, loves spicy food, and all that greasy food. She’s leading the life of a young person, and it appears to be very unhealthy. But she still has longevity.”

Because Cai’s grandma does not know much about social media, Cai tried to explain to her that “many, many people” like her a lot. “Why on earth would they like me for?” she replied: “I’m old!”

Want to know more about hotpot, all the reasons to love it, and how to make it at home? Visit our sister site Hotpotambassador.com here.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©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 Comic & Games

UPDATE: Taiwanese ‘Devotion’ Game Taken down in Mainland China amid Discussions over “Hidden Insults”

The super popular Devotion game is being blocked in the PRC after users discovered hidden messages insulting President Xi.

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Just within days after made-in-Taiwan horror game Devotion was released and became an online hit with Chinese players, the game has been blocked in mainland China amid discussions of the game containing secret insults towards Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Yesterday, we covered how Chinese gamers were going crazy over the first-person atmospheric horror game Devotion (还愿). The popular game took social media by storm this week, triggering discussions all over Weibo; the hashtag #Devotion (#还愿) received over 120 million views on Weibo within no time.

But today the game has been taken offline in mainland China, with discussions focusing on the game allegedly containing hidden insults directed at Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Devotion game has certain so-called ‘Easter Eggs’ (小彩蛋) which are hidden jokes and secrets that are concealed throughout games that would only be noticeable to people searching for them or paying extreme attention to the details of the game.

Some of these ‘Easter Eggs’ in the Devotion game seem to be highly political. One obscure detail on an evil talisman in the game shows an indirect insult of Xi Jinping (featured image and see image below), with four characters on the side of the object (呢嘛叭淇) representing a curse in Hakka while the stamp in the middle of the image showing the characters for ‘Winnie,’ which refers to Winnie the Pooh – the Chinese President is often compared to the bear for various reasons. The ‘curse’ would then mean something along the lines of “Xi Winnie the Pooh Moron.”

As explained by Spieltimes here, the seal in the middle of the talisman, which is considered evil in traditional Chinese culture, shows the name of the President next to the characters for Winnie.

One of the persons to expose the so-called “Easter Egg” is a well-known Weibo blogger from Shanxi, who is a secretary of the Daoist Society (@全真道士梁兴扬). He wrote that he had stopped playing the game after noticing the insults to the Chinese leader. His post has since been deleted.

In another part of the game, there allegedly is a newspaper segment that is showing what is believed to be a blurred picture of a younger Xi, with the headline saying that ‘Baozi’ (also used as a nickname) has been sentenced to prison, even suggesting he has been given “capital punishment.”

People believe that the blurred image is that of the President. Please keep in mind that this image is being spread online but we have not been able to verify yet if it actually comes up in the game, and consider the fact that it may have been photoshopped (we’ll update if more facts surface). Updated later: although this was suggested, it turns out that this is not true.

At time of writing, the live-streaming videos of the game through the online platform Billibili seem to be taken down, or at least, a search for the game now comes up with zero results. When searching for the Chinese name of the game on the Chinese version of online platform Steam, we also found no results at time of writing. The game is still available for international users. For Chinese users, only the soundtrack of the game is available now.

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese developer of the game, Red Candle, has issued an apology through Facebook, stating that the “insults,” that were allegedly referring to “internet sub cultures,” were already removed from the version released on Thursday night.

The Chinese publisher of the game, Indevient, has also issued an apology and stated it would end its cooperation with the game.

Various discussions across several online platforms show that Chinese netizens are outraged. On Weibo, some commenters said that they felt they were being insulted while the developer was also taking their money. On Steam, Chinese commenters also said that the game was “sh*t” for using its platform as a “political tool.”

Hashtags such as “Devotion Game Insults China” (#还愿游戏辱华#), “Reject/Boycott the Devotion Game” (#抵制游戏还愿#), and “Devotion Gate Brings Disaster to Steam” (#游戏《还愿》事件或殃及steam#), are quickly spreading on Weibo.

On the news site Spieltimes, which is focused on reporting on video games and more, the current Devotion scandal is being described as possibly “disastrous” and “a matter of utmost importance for Chinese players and the entire Chinese gaming community,” suggesting that this matter might possibly lead to a Chinese ban on the Steam site, which is a leading multi-player platform and game distributor.

As the game is now no longer available in mainland China, some commenters on Weibo are asking for their money back, an issue that Red Candle has not responded to yet.

For more information on this case, also see the coverage on Spieltimes here and its extensive coverage on the issue here.

By Boyu Xiao and Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

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

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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