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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

China’s New Hit Drama ‘Nothing But Thirty’ Thrives in the “She Era”

Chinese latest hit drama ‘Nothing but Thirty’ has 20 billion views on its Weibo hashtag page.

Yin Lin Tan

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China’s latest TV drama hit Nothing But Thirty is flooding Weibo discussions. With over 20 billion views on its hashtag page, the show is one of the most popular shows of the season and demonstrates that China’s ‘she era’ (ta shidai 她时代) dramas are all the rage. What’s on Weibo’s Yin Lin Tan explains.

“Have you heard of ‘independent at the age of thirty’ (sān shí ér lì 三十而立)?” Wang Manni asks, her hair pulled back neatly and white shirt cleanly pressed. “I hope that, before I’m thirty, I’ll be promoted to supervisor.”

Riding on the wave of female protagonist (‘heroine’ 大女主) shows that have been taking over China’s entertainment scene, Nothing But Thirty (三十而已) is a 43-episode drama by Dragon Television that follows the challenges of three different women who have reached the ever-important age of thirty.

In a society where women are often expected to be married by their late twenties, a show like this, which tackles women’s present-day struggles, both in their personal and professional lives, has resonated with many.

In fact, the show is so popular that at the time of writing, the show’s hashtag (“Nothing But Thirty”, #三十而已#) has over 20 billion (!) views on Weibo.

 

Depicting the struggles of China’s thirty-something women

 

Nothing But Thirty revolves around the lives of three female leads from different walks of life. Gu Jia (Tong Yao) is a capable businesswoman turned full-time housewife; Wang Manni (Jiang Shuying) is an independent, career-oriented sales assistant; and Zhong Xiaoqin (Mao Xiaotong) is your run-of-the-mill office lady.

For Gu Jia, the birth of her son was what truly transformed her into a full-fledged housewife. In many ways, she seems like a perfect wife and mother: well-educated, capable, and thoughtful. But, eventually, she too has to face life’s challenges.

Driven and hardworking, Wang Manni is confident in both her looks and abilities. Her immediate goal, at least at the start of the show, is to achieve professional success. Throughout the show, her resilience is put to the test, personally and professionally.

Zhong Xiaoqin is described by many netizens as the most “average” or “normal” character. She is kind-hearted -sometimes to the point of being a pushover -, and has spent years at the same company without rising the ranks. Though her story might seem mundane at first, this peace is disrupted when her marriage takes a turn for the worse.

 

A story that resonates with the masses

 

“The show attracted wide attention, and it strongly resonated with female audiences. Many thirty-something working women saw their own lives reflected in the show,” Xinhua recently wrote about the show.

Nothing but Thirty currently carries a 7.6 out of 10 rating on Douban, an online reviewing platform.

Though some reviewers criticized how the later episodes of the show were unnecessarily draggy, most praised it for its portrayal of strong female characters, good acting, and largely realistic depiction of women above the age of thirty.

“I saw myself, and also saw the friends beside me,” a reviewer notes.

In China, women are, more often than not, burdened with expectations of getting married and settling down by the time they are in their late twenties. If you’re single and thirty, that’s made even worse.

Those who fall into this category carry the derogatory label of “leftover women” (剩女), a term that reflects how single women above the age of thirty are seen as consolation prizes or even unwanted goods.

Thirty is thus an incredibly important number, especially for women — something that’s clearly reflected in the show’s concept trailer.

Aside from societal expectations of starting a family, some women now also take it upon themselves to build their careers. In fact, you can chase after professional success without burdening yourself with the idea that you must be married – a notion exemplified by the character of Wang Manni.

Nothing But Thirty also showcases the sheer diversity of experiences for women above thirty: you don’t have to be married, you don’t have to be super capable, and you don’t have to be thinking about having children. Each woman goes through her own unique struggles and isn’t necessarily endowed with the so-called “protagonist’s halo.”

Ultimately, the popularity of the show is driven by the three female leads and the actresses who bring these strong characters to life.

By telling a story that is relatable and touches on relevant social issues, namely on expectations of women in society, Nothing But Thirty was able to achieve widespread popularity and is adding another notch on the trend of China’s ta shidai (她时代) dramas. 

 

The rise of ta shidai shows

 

Ta shidai literally translates to “her era” or “the ‘she’ era.”

Ta shidai shows explore what it’s like to be a woman in China today. The female characters are diverse when it comes to both their backgrounds and character arcs; they might have different jobs, different levels of education, or different personalities. These shows mostly center around a strong female lead and/or a main cast that is primarily female.

More importantly, they often feature capable women and how these women overcame the odds to achieve success.

Recent shows like The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊) and Sisters Who Make Waves (乘风破浪的姐姐) also fall under this category, as do somewhat older hit shows such as Ode to Joy (欢乐颂) and Women in Beijing (北京女子图鉴).

The Romance of Tiger and Rose is set in a society in which women are in charge and men are subordinate, in a daring reversal of gender roles. Though the show has been criticized for using social issues to attract attention, it gained a decent following for tackling topics like gender inequality and women’s rights.

The Romance of Tiger and Rose (传闻中的陈芊芊)

A reality TV competition that swept the Chinese entertainment scene, Sisters Who Make Waves attempted to rebuke stereotypes of women over 30 as “leftover women.”

The show brought together female celebrities above the age of 30 (the oldest competitor was 52), and had them go through a series of challenges, culminating in a girl group formed by the final competitors.

Nothing But Thirty is just another example of a show that’s attempted to depict the realistic struggles of women in modern-day China.

More Chinese dramas that feature women — specifically, their struggles and the expectations that society places on them — are slated to be released in 2020.

Over the past few years, more attention has been focused on women’s rights in China. As feminism becomes an increasingly important topic of discussion in China, strongly facilitated by social media and not without controversy, companies are likely to hop on the bandwagon and continue producing shows that fall squarely in the ta shidai category, given the genre’s rising popularity.

Though we can’t expect every single show to perfectly, accurately, and realistically portray women’s struggles, the fact that more stories like these are being produced already helps bring such conversations into the mainstream. 

Hopefully, the trend of ta shidai shows is a sign that these issues won’t just be tackled on camera, but in real life as well. 

 
Read more about Chinese TV dramas here.
 

By Yin Lin Tan

 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.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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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
Follow @whatsonweibo

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.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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