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Chinese TV Dramas

No Animal Harmed in the Making of This Film? Alleged Dog Abuse at Hengdian World Studios Angers Chinese Netizens

Animal abuse or a really good dog actor?

Manya Koetse

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An alleged case of dog abuse went viral on Chinese social media this week, after backstage footage of a violent scene was shared online. Dog actor ‘Xiao Huang’ is now praised for his hard work.

“No animal was harmed in the making of this film” is a standard message most viewers are used to seeing at the end of many movies, but in the case of this Chinese production, many netizens fear it is not the case.

Entertainment blogger and actor Ren Tao (任涛), who often posts behind-the-scenes videos, posted a clip and some photos on Weibo that allegedly exposed how a dog was purposely harmed during the filming of a costume drama at Hengdian World Studios (横店影视城) (see footage as posted by BJTime in embedded tweet below).

The footage shows a Chinese rural dog on a film set. Tied to a chord from two sides, the dog is pulled behind a horse that lashes out with its hooves. The actor on the horse also seems to direct the horse to kick the little dog, which falls down on the floor multiple times.

A second clip shows the dog twitching on the floor, seemingly unable to get up, while various cast members are looking at it without doing anything.

Ren Tao wrote: “The small dog was kicked by the horse several times, and after the scene was shot the director was indifferent and left. How cold*!” *[lit. “Warmth or coldness is the way of the world.”]

Hengdian World Studios, founded in 1996, is known as the largest outdoor film and TV studio in the world.

Although the actor later removed his original post of May 7, it had already been reposted and picked up by various Weibo accounts, including that of a popular pet blogger, who wrote that the crew and cast showed “no humanity.”

The pet blogger also mentioned the existing agreements of American producers and filmmakers regarding the wellbeing of animals on the set. The American Humane Association is the organization that monitors productions and awards the “No Animals Were Harmed” end credit.

“Film and television works are meant to disseminate culture, not to seek after profits and becoming a slaughterhouse for animals,” the blogger wrote. (See the clip they posted in the embedded tweet below).

The hashtag “Cast and Crew Abuse a Dog” (#剧组虐狗#) soon took off on Weibo, receiving over 15 million views.

Hundreds of commenters responded with anger, calling for a boycott of the production and condemning those involved.

 

Xiao Huang: Working Like a Dog

 

On May 8, the official account of the TV drama Held in the Lonely Castle (孤城闭) responded to the controversy with a lengthy statement and video, writing: “Today in our backstage area the news reached us of the online circulation of a video relating to “cast and crew members abusing a dog.””

The account states that the scene that was being filmed that day is from Feng Menglong’s “The Book of Horses and Dogs,” and that the dog that is featured in this scene is named ‘Xiao Huang,’ a “much-loved dog” who made a “guest appearance” in the drama.

The statement says that the horse and the dog were both tied to ropes to secure their position for the filming and to prevent them from running away. The staff controlling the ropes are there to make sure that the animals will not be hurt.

“Xiao Huang was not really kicked by the horse,” the post says, explaining that the rope was pulled at the same time the horse kicked, to make Xiao Huang trip and make it seem he was kicked. A fake horse leg was allegedly used for close-up scenes.

After the shooting was finished, the staff quickly calmed the horse and Xiao Huang, the post says.

About the video in which the actors look at the dog while it is falling down, seemingly injured, the statement says this scene was “important to the plot.” A veterinarian came to the set to put the dog under anesthesia beforehand, and the dog’s reaction was because of the after-effects of anesthesia – not because of being kicked by the horse.

The account post further says that the crew took care of the dog after the filming was completed, making sure it was ok until the anesthesia after-effects wore off, and then gave it food and let it play on the set.

“Xiao Huang was never injured and is well cared for,” the statement concludes: “Please respect the hard work of our crew and don’t spread rumors.”

The denial of the abuse became even bigger than the original story; the hashtag “‘Held in the Lonely Castle’ Cast & Crew Deny Dog Abuse” (#孤城闭剧组否认虐狗#) was viewed nearly 30 million times at the time of writing.

 

A Dog and Pony Show?

 

The TV drama production’s statement has led to many reactions online. “The horse and the dog are both such good actors, and the crew is very hardworking,” a typical comment on Weibo said.

Others praise Xiao Huang for his hard work, and condemn the rumors about animal cruelty, saying the working methods of the crew show great progress in China’s treatment of animals.

But some are still skeptical and say they do not believe the provided statement, believing that the denial of rumors was only staged to avert controversy and promote the TV drama.

One Weibo blogger shared slow-motion footage of the backstage video, showing that Xiao Huang was tossed around by the horse’s leg during shooting. It also shows redness and baldness in the dog’s neck area.

“Abuse is abuse,” the Weibo user writes, denouncing the treatment of the dog during shooting, and criticizing the fact that the dog was given anesthesia.

Cases of dog abuse often go viral on Chinese social media. In 2017, the killing of a pet dog by a neighborhood guard triggered many online calls for rapid implementation of animal welfare legislation in China.

In 2016, a group of animal welfare activists in Chengdu took the law into their own hands when they publicly beat up a man who abused his dog. Meanwhile, the annual Yulin Dog Meat festival seems to get more controversial by the year.

On Weibo, the Xiao Huang case is not over yet. While some netizens side with the production team, others refuse to believe the dog was not harmed.

“I think it’s sad for the dog either way,” some write.  Meanwhile, the official page of the Held in the Lonely Castle TV drama posted another photo of ‘Xiao Huang,’ writing: “The most conscientious official is our best representative.”

By Manya Koetse

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

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.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Marcia

    May 11, 2019 at 12:23 am

    Don’t believe the Chinese. Any country that can hold a so called festival like yulin and drag pet dogs out of owners hands or run dog meat trades isn’t to be called human and definitely cannot be trusted. These acts are well documented and filmed China you CANNOT deny any of it.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Watch: Top 5 Popular Chinese TV Dramas (Spring/Summer 2020)

Some of the most popular Chinese tv dramas of the moment.

Jialing Xie

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These are some of the most popular TV dramas in China of the past weeks worth catching up on. An overview by What’s on Weibo.

It has been some time since we have made an overview of popular Chinese TV dramas to watch this season. It is high time to do an update, especially because – in the wake of China’s emerging COVID19 crisis in early February – there has been a peak in the already overwhelming popularity of TV dramas in China. Live streams and online shows have become people’s virtual stay-at-home “resort” to pass time and cope with anxiety and stress in times of corona.

While the stay-at-home orders have now been lifted and life is slowly returning back to normal, the popularity of some TV dramas has continued and even continues to grow.

We compiled a shortlist of China’s top TV dramas based on recent top search results on leading online video hosting platforms, including iQiyi, Sougou, 360Kan, and Baidu’s top charts for entertainment.

You can find most of the dramas with English subtitles available on YouTube. These are five of the shows that have been recently trending and are worth to catch up on!

 

1. Autumn Cicada (秋蝉 Qiū chán)

  • Date: Produced in 2017 and premiered on May 4, 2020
  • Genre: Action, historical, war
  • About: This drama is set during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong in 1941 and revolves around Ye Chong, a Communist agent disguised as a military officer, who goes to Hong Kong to help build the Japanese military presence in the area. With the sworn loyalty to his party and countrymen, Ye operates under the codename “autumn cicada” to leak important messages from inside the Japanese intelligence to his comrades outside. 
  • Context: The surrender of British Hong Kong to Japan on 25 December 1941, also known as “Black Christmas”, marks the beginning of the Imperial Japanese occupation of Hong Kong (香港日据时期). The occupation lasted for three years and eight months, until the Empire of Japan announced its surrender which brought WWII to an end.
  • Also: Autumn Cicada is probably not just popular because of its theme – spy activities during WWII have been an ongoing theme in Chinese popular culture – but also because its storyline is set in Hong Kong, a place that has become the focus of everyone’s attention ever since the Hong Kong protests erupted last year.  
  • Link: Youtube

 

2. Hunting 猎狐 Liè hú

  • Date: Produced in 2019 and premiered on April 14, 2020
  • Genre: Thriller, crime
  • About: Police agents Xia Yuan and Wu Jiaqi join hands to battle cross-border the financial crimes committed by Boling Wang, billionaire and chairman of Kerui Pharmaceutical Group. 
  • Context: The drama is based on China’s 2014 overseas campaign against corrupt officials, which was also called ‘Fox Hunt 2014′ or the ‘Operation Fox Hunt’ initiative. The campaign started on July 22, 2014, and had scored a victory with 428 economic criminals arrested from 60 countries and regions within 135 days
  • Also: Along with a domestic anti-corruption campaign named “beating the tiger” and “catching the flies,” the Fox Hunt initiative remains to be one of the largest crackdown campaigns on corruption China has ever seen.
  • Link: Youtube (no English subs)

 

3. Legend of Awakening 天醒之路 Tiānxǐng zhī lù

  • Date: Produced in 2018 and premiered on April 23, 2020
  • Genre: Action, adventure, historical, romance, wuxia, fantasy
  • About: In the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms era (五代十国时期), the young Lu Ping escapes the haunted Shanghai Tower and discovers that he possesses a rare set of superpowers known as “six distinct souls.” Together with people he meets on his journey to defeat the evil forces in the martial arts world, Lu and his friends transcend to the legend of awakening.
  • Context: The story is based on the fantasy novel of the same name by an online writer nicknamed Blue of Butterflies (蝴蝶蓝) on Starting Point Chinese Net (起点中文网), one of the largest reading and writing online communities in China. The story Legend of Awakening comes belongs to the Wuxia and Xianxia genres and is influenced by traditional Chinese elements including Chinese mythology, philosophy, and martial arts. 
  • Link: Youtube

 

4. Serenade of Peaceful Joy / Held in the Lonely Castle 清平乐 Qīngpíng yuè

  • Date: Premiered on April 7
  • Genre: Historical, Romance, Period Drama
  • About: The drama revolves around the life of Zhao Zhen (赵祯), the fourth emperor of the Northern Song Dynasty, and his efforts to maintain a balance between governing the country during turbulent times and his love for his family. 
  • Context: The drama is based on Milan Lady’s novel Held in the Lonely Castle (孤城闭) which originally tells the poignant love story between Princess Fukang and eunuch Liang Huaiji.
  • Link: YouTube

 

5. Intense Love 韫色过浓 Yùn sèguò nóng

  • Date: Released in 2019 and premiered on May 2, 2020
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance, Life
  • About: Jinbei Su, a stunning actress, and Shiyun Zhou, a doctor, are set up by their parents to get married.  Although they initially refuse to follow their parents’ wishes, they later realize that their romance might be part of their destiny. 
  • Context: This tv drama has stirred quite some excitement on Chinese social media, with 998,000 hashtagged posts on Weibo (#韫色过浓#), the topic page attracting more than 2.2 billion views. While some netizens found pleasure in the drama’s somewhat cheesy storylines, others criticized the show’s unrealistic beauty and social standards.
  • Also: Shows like Intense Love may change in the future because of a new regulation issued by the National Radio and Television Administration on April 13 of this year in response to numerous problems underlying the TV industry. The new regulation states dramas cannot exceed 40 episodes along with a limitation on how much actors can be paid for their roles (#广电总局拟规定剧集不能超40集#). The TV dramas released prior to the issue of the regulation are still unaffected by the maximum 40-episode limitation.
  • Link: Youtube

Wanna read more on Chinese tv dramas? Check our other articles here.

By Jialing Xie
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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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Chinese TV Dramas

Controversy over Scene in Anti-Japanese War Drama Featuring Black U.S. Soldier and Chinese Nurse

Some scenes from this anti-Japanese war drama have angered Chinese netizens over ‘historical nihilism.’

Manya Koetse

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A black soldier comes to China from afar during WWII and falls in love with a Chinese villager who sacrifices her life for him. This war drama is sensationalizing the Sino-Japanese War in the wrong way, many netizens say.

“I love you, I love China,” a black man tells a Chinese woman in a clip of an anti-Japanese war drama that has gone viral on Chinese social media over the past few days (watch clip in embedded tweet below).

The scene is set on a mountain, where the man and woman hold hands when she tells him to flee from the “Japanese devils.” She repeats: “Remember: love me, love China.”

The love scene takes a dramatic turn when the two get ambushed by the Japanese army. The Chinese woman immediately pushes the man off the mountain to bring him to safety. While she cries out “love me, love China” she is attacked by Japanese soldiers and dies.

The scene comes from a 2016 TV drama titled The Great Rescue of The Flying Tigers (飞虎队大营救). The drama tells the story of Japanese soldiers chasing surviving members of a Flying Tigers aircraft after they shot it down. Various soldiers and army staff on the Chinese side try to rescue the fighters from the hands of the Japanese.

The drama’s portrayal of a romance between the foreign soldier and a Chinese woman, on the side of the Communist Eighth Route Army, has stirred controversy on Weibo this week.

“The director is retarded, this is historical nihilism,” one Weibo blogger writes.

Hundreds of netizens also criticize the drama’s director and screenwriters: “This is not even funny, what kind of scriptwriter comes up with this trash? This should be thoroughly investigated.”

The Flying Tigers (飞虎队) were a group of US fighter pilots who went to China during the final three years of the Second Sino-Japanese War to fight the Japanese invaders and defend China.

Flying Tigers.

The people behind the Flying Tigers belonged to the organization of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), who came together in 1941 to strengthen the Chinese Air Force.

In the now controversial TV drama The Great Rescue of The Flying Tigers, the black soldier is ‘Carl’ (Cedric Beugre), a surviving member of the Flying Tigers aircraft shut down by Japanese forces. The Chinese woman is ‘Xinghua,’ a female nurse who sacrifices her own life to save Carl.

The dialogues between Carl and Xinghua are pretty simple and at times almost ridiculous. While Xinghua does not speak a word of English and appears clueless, Carl is depicted as a stubborn, crude and somewhat silly character, who also seems to understand very little of what is happening around him and does all he can to be with his Xinghua after a brief meeting in the Chinese base camp (also see this scene or here).

On Chinese social media, the drama is critiqued for being a so-called ‘divine Anti-Japanese drama’ (抗日神剧): Chinese war dramas that sensationalize the history of the war by making up unrealistic and overly dramatic or funny scenes and storylines.

In 2015, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) announced a limit on these kinds of TV dramas that sensationalize the history of war, and in doing so ‘misrepresent history’ and ‘disrespect’ the Chinese soldiers who fought to defend the nation (read more).

TV series focusing on war are part of China’s every day (prime time) TV schedules. These Chinese war dramas are called “Anti-Japanese War Dramas” (抗日电视剧), literally referring to the period of ‘resisting Japan’ during WWII (in China, the 1937-1945 war is called The War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression 中国抗日战争).

The 40-episode series The Great Rescue of the Flying Tigers was aired by Yunnan City Channel but is also available online. Since there are countless reruns of Anti-Japanese war dramas on Chinese tv, it is possible that some viewers only now viewed the 2016 drama for the first time.

Some netizens call this a “new kind of fantasy war drama”, summarizing: “A black man comes from far away to China to fight Japan, falls in love with a Chinese nurse who sacrifices her own life for him and yells ‘Love me love China’ before she dies.”

Many on social media call the script “idiotic,” others question if black soldiers ever joined the Flying Tigers in the first place.

There seems to be more to the controversy than sensationalizing history alone though – relationships between foreign men and Chinese women, especially black men and Chinese women, are often met with prejudice and racism on Chinese social media. Mixing such a narrative in a drama about the Second Sino-Japanese war makes it all the more controversial.

Some see the narrative of the love between a foreign soldier and a Chinese woman as a way of ‘beautifying’ the war and ‘adoring everything that’s foreign.’

“This is not respecting history at all!”, one among hundreds of commenters says.

In the TV drama, the sentence “Love me, Love China” does have some extra meaning in the end. Although Xinghua sacrifices her life for Carl in episode 19, he eventually chooses to fight side by side against the Japanese ‘devils’ with the Chinese army, keeping his promise to “love China” like he loved Xinghua.

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. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

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

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