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Op-Ed ⎪ Cyber Bullying and Fake News: What You Should Know About the Zhang Zhehan Story

Opinion: Zhang Zhehan is still being punished every day for a crime he never committed.

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Along with several other celebrities, Chinese actor Zhang Zhehan has been a hot topic in the media this year ever since photos of him taken at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine went viral online. Not only does Zhang not deserve his recent blacklisted status, Jessica J. argues in this op-ed contribution for What’s on Weibo, he is also a victim of online fake news propagation and cyberbullying. 

 

Those following Chinese entertainment news may have read about the string of celebrity crackdowns and cancellations this year, including big names like pop star Kris Wu, actress Zheng Shuang, and actor Zhang Zhehan.

However, Zhang Zhehan’s inclusion among Chinese ‘blacklisted artists‘ is raising some eyebrows and has also drawn the attention of Li Xuezheng, the Vice Chairman of the China TV Artists Association and Director of the Golden Shield Television Center.

Among those ‘canceled’ artists, Kris Wu was arrested on suspicion of rape, Zheng Shuang was fined for tax evasion – but Zhang Zhehan did not violate any laws and, according to Li, “was not officially banned or deemed immoral by government bodies” (Drama Panda).

Instead, Zhang was swiftly canceled when old vacation photos of him near the Yasukuni Shrine surfaced in August 2021, despite apologizing quickly for not knowing the significance of the buildings in the area.

[For context, read: Chinese Actor Zhang Zhehan Under Fire for Yasukuni and Nogi Shrine Photos – Ed.]

One of the photos featuring Zhang Zhehan, causing controversy in 2021.

After digging a little deeper, it becomes apparent that there is much more nuance to Zhang’s incident than can be captured in a single sentence such as “Zhang visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine” or “Zhang posed for photos at the Yasukuni Shrine.”

 

Yasukuni Shrine is a Cherry Blossom Destination

 

The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is notorious for enshrining “1,068 convicted war criminals, 14 of whom are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of the war).” The shrine is of great significance when it comes to Sino-Japanese history, as many of Japan’s war dead enshrined at Yasukuni committed atrocities against the Chinese, including during the ‘Nanjing Massacre‘ which started in December 1937 and came to be known as the most notorious Japanese atrocity of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

However, what many people think of as the Yasukuni Shrine only concerns the shrine’s religious structures, including the prayer and worship halls. These are the places where Japanese prime ministers go to pay respects to this day, resulting in recurring controversies.

The Honden Main Shrine, where nearly 2,5 million Japanese war dead are enshrined as ‘divinities,’ is usually inaccessible to the general public. No photography is allowed at the courtyard of the Haiden Main Hall, which is where people pay their respects.

Yasukuni Shrine Main Prayer Hall.

Outside of these structures, the Yasukuni Shrine grounds include an open park area famous for its cherry blossoms. In fact, it houses a “benchmark” cherry tree, which Japan’s Meteorological Agency uses to officially announce the start of the cherry season (NBC News). It’s important to note that Zhang’s photos were taken in this prime cherry blossom viewing area, and not inside the shrine itself.

When searching for “Yasukuni Shrine Cherry Blossoms” on Google, one will find many travel guides and blogs showcasing the lively atmosphere and the sea of people that come to visit during the blossom season. As recently as March 2021 (Phoenix News), Chinese media have included the area around the Yasukuni Shrine as a popular cherry blossom viewing destination. See examples from China Daily, People’s Daily, and China News. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV even covered the benchmark tree in March 2018, the same year that Zhang’s photos were taken.

Many articles that came out around August this year claimed that Zhang “posed in front of the Yasukuni Shrine” (see examples from Radii, Business of Fashion). This is false because the building in Zhang’s photo is actually labeled “斎馆” (Saikan) and is an administrative or office building on the park grounds.

The building behind Zhang Zhehan is actually an administrative building.

The cherry blossoms are clearly the main focus in all of Zhang’s photos. In 2018, there were over 31.19 million international tourists to Japan, including over 8 million Chinese visitors. Each year Japan attracts almost 3 million visitors during cherry blossom season alone.

Zhang was just one among thousands of Chinese tourists coming to view Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. If this is considered an act that hurts national sentiments, then what about the millions of other Chinese citizens that came for the same reason, not to mention the Chinese media that recommended this place as a tourist destination?

 

Signs of Coordinated Smear Campaign

 

The three-year-old photos of Zhang surfaced on August 13, a sensitive date leading up to the August 15th Victory over Japan Day, the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II.* In addition to the timing, other accusations against Zhang, including those around a wedding he attended in Japan, rest on blatant misinformation and falsified Baidu entries. (*The Chinese Victory over Japan is commemorated on September 3rd when the signing of the surrender document occurred. )

To a lesser extent than the cherry blossom photos, Zhang was also condemned for attending a friend’s wedding at the Nogi Shrine in 2019 and taking a photo with controversial figure Dewi Sukarno, one of the wives of the former Indonesian President Sukarno.

Netizens soon noticed that the Baidu entry for Nogi Shrine was created the night before on August 12. Similarly, Baidu entries for Mrs. Dewi and Nogi Maresuke, the general whom Nogi Shrine is named after, were both edited on early August 13.

Photos of Zhang at his friend’s wedding at the Nogi Shrine.

Chinese state media outlet Global Times wrote that “there were also photos of Zhang attending a wedding ceremony at Nogi Shrine, another infamous shrine that honors imperial Japanese military officers who invaded China during World War II.”

While it is true the Nogi Shrine honors Japanese general Nogi Maresuke, he died in 1912, well before the events of WWII. So where did this blatantly false information come from?

It is also worth noting that the popular Japanese idol group Nogizaka46, who held a coming-of-age ceremony at the Nogi Shrine, performed several concerts in China without issue.

Numerous other rumors, though not published by reputable media, circulated broadly on social media sites including international platforms such as Youtube and Twitter.

Almost all of them have been debunked as misinformation or complete fabrications. For example, Zhang starred in a short film titled Brother, where his character’s mentally challenged older brother raises his hand when he gets a nosebleed. Zhang took a series of photos interacting with his co-star, but the photo of this gesture was taken out of context to accuse Zhang of making Nazi gestures.

The middle image in the top row was used to accuse Zhang of making Nazi gestures. His comment is a quote from the show, and his co-star responded similarly.

The nosebleed gesture from Brother.

Netizens have also noticed that over 800 marketing accounts posted at almost the same time asking for Zhang’s works to be taken offline (Weibo search), and that so-called water armies (paid commenters) heavily manipulated the direction of social commentary and sentiments (a netizen’s data analysis).

Based on all of this information, it can be reasonably concluded that Zhang was the target of a coordinated smear campaign.

 

Consequences of Misinformation and Cyber Violence

 

Within a time span of less than a week, Zhang lost all sponsorship deals and his career suffered a massive blow.

Shows featuring Zhang, including Word of Honor and Demon Girl, were taken offline from Chinese platforms Youku and Le.com. His scenes were erased from the critically acclaimed Nirvana in Fire. His songs “Gu Meng” and “Tian Ya Ke” from Word of Honor could no longer be streamed on various platforms and variety shows featuring him either removed the episodes including Zhang, or he was simply blurred out.

In addition, Zhang faced mass silencing, erasure, and defamation on all Chinese social media platforms:

  • Zhang’s accounts on all social media platforms were closed.
  • His face still cannot be shown on Bilibili, Douban, and other platforms (videos featuring Zhang will be deleted).
  • All positive content on Zhang has been deleted or has been made unsearchable on video site Bilibili. Searching for Zhang’s name on this platform will only show videos condemning him.
  • Many netizens still refer to Zhang as a “traitor” or a “spy.”
  • Before Li Xuezheng spoke up for Zhang, anyone attempting to clarify Zhang’s situation often found their posts deleted or their accounts closed.
  • Li posted on December 5th that Zhang doesn’t even have the right to his own name: “There are only two people in the world who can’t buy things on the internet. One is notorious fascist Hitler, the other is our Zhang Zhehan.”

Since Zhang was included on the performers’ blacklist issued by the Chinese Association of Performing Arts (CAPA), Li Xuezheng has been investigating potential corruption within the industry-led organization. In doing so, Li Xuezheng is also providing a platform for Zhang and his family to speak out for the first time since they’ve been silenced.

Li recently posted a letter from Zhang’s mother, garnering over one million likes within a day. In the letter, Zhang’s mother described the harrowing experience her son and her family have gone through over the past few months.

She wrote:

Not only have the dreams and achievements he [Zhang] has worked for for more than ten years been crushed, but the entire internet is also filled with one-sided rumors and slander. His positive actions, his love for the Party and the country are erased, and his works have all been de-platformed. My son told me that he did not enter the Yasukuni Shrine, he did not visit it, let alone pay any respects. The information spread on the internet is false… We never got a chance to clarify. We feel completely powerless and hopeless.”

This part, in particular, was difficult to read:

The little nephew he loves is only four years old and dares not look at him, saying that his uncle is a bad person. When my son heard this, he went to his room and cried… He is really a strong person ordinarily, but at this moment he was broken.”

Zhang Zhehan was canceled in August over misinformation that cannot stand up to scrutiny, yet numerous reputable media entities continue to spread misinformation without further investigation.

As a consequence, Zhang’s works were de-platformed, his presence erased, his voice silenced, and even the right to use his own name is lost, all without any legal backing. In a country governed in accordance with law, a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty. But it’s been over four months now, and despite having committed no crime at all, Zhang is still being punished every day without rescission.

By Jessica J.

Jessica J. (alias) is the initiator of the Teddyfoxfluff blog which collects and translates Weibo posts relating to the Zhang Zhehan controversy. To read more, visit her blog here.

For more about Zhang Zhehan on What’s on Weibo, see our overview here

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

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

Jessica Jones (alias) is a Chinese-American software engineer and Computer Science MA graduate with a love for Chinese dramas. In light of the 2021 news developments involving Chinese actor Zhang Zhehan, she started the Teddyfoxfluff blog.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Cat Lost

    December 16, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    Tears streaming down my face while reading your article. Thank you! Thank you!! Finally some unbiased news report on Zhang Zhehan.

  2. Sônia Maria Frazão Ramires

    December 17, 2021 at 1:52 am

    👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  3. Pingback: Op-Ed ⎪ Cyber Bullying and Fake News: What You Should Know About the Zhang Zhehan Story – beijing

  4. Bing

    December 17, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you very much for writing this, I really appreciate this well-sourced, and well-written article.. thank you..

  5. Max

    December 17, 2021 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you for writing this article from a well-balanced view and using actual sources. It’s much appreciated!

  6. JaneDrew

    December 17, 2021 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you for this well-researched look at this case, including the information about the level of cyber-bullying and misinformation involved! The extent to which a person’s life and reputation can be attacked by malicious actors is really upsetting. The extent to which a lot of reporting about Zhang Zhehan claims that he did go to the shrine or that he was “banned by the government” is also unfortunate, and I’m glad that the author took the time to actually do research and provide accurate information.

  7. Nao

    December 18, 2021 at 5:10 am

    Great article! Thank you

  8. LT

    December 20, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Thank you for the update,I just recently came across this actor and felt very sorry to what has happen to him. Love his work and his personality,it really hurt reading how he broke down and cry.

    It is very unfair to be judge before being able to defend oneself.And hence why the need to have a balance of power politically(well my view).

    I really hope things will turn around quickly for him.A miracle is needed. Someone needs to be held accountable sharing all those fake news about him. By then his name will clear and he will be off the hook. And I hope really soon.

  9. Joe

    December 20, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    Appreciate basing the article on sources and realize this is a opinion piece, can’t help but feel there is an overly biased tone though? (especially the cherry blossoms part which conveniently glosses over that the shrine is a site commemorating war crimes in favour of statistics which show that “Other Chinese people go there too!”) Imo the article will be much better without attempting to downplay the implications a public figure can cause when one poses in front of such a monument.

  10. San

    December 21, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    Thank you for the article!! It’s Christmas. If Santa is real, I wish for Zhang Zhehan’s well-being and a comeback. we need a miracle for this to happen soon. We can only wish I guess. I cannot imagine how helpless they must be feeling right now.

  11. Sarah

    December 26, 2021 at 3:04 am

    To Joe: Please note the article clearly states that the shrine commemorates war crimes. Specifically:
    “The Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is notorious for enshrining “1,068 convicted war criminals, 14 of whom are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of the war).” The shrine is of great significance when it comes to Sino-Japanese history, as many of Japan’s war dead enshrined at Yasukuni committed atrocities against the Chinese, including during the ‘Nanjing Massacre‘ which started in December 1937 and came to be known as the most notorious Japanese atrocity of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

    This is a sensitive topic and it is best to read the article before making baseless allegations.

  12. meeeena

    December 30, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Thank you so much for all your hard work!

    I really hope Zhang Zhehan is doing well and can make an awesome comeback SOON!

  13. Youn ji young

    January 20, 2022 at 6:38 am

    당신이 바로 제시카 이군요! 고맙고 반가워요. 계속해서 Zzh 을 위해 애써주시기 바랍니다
    법적인 절차가 진행 된다는 좋은소식을 기다립니다! 24일이면 신고한지 한달이지나는건데, 아직 소식이없어서 초조합니다
    💚🇰🇷

  14. María

    January 20, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    #GoLiXuezheng #IsupportZZH #bestrongZZH

  15. Ti

    February 12, 2022 at 11:51 am

    1. Mr. Li Xuezheng interviewed ZZH in Jan 2022, in which he stated that he is willing to be investigated on whether he visited that controversial shrine. He was following a tour to view cherry blossom.

    The interview with English subtitle on youtube:
    https://youtu.be/bUt1raMMJBY

    It is worth noting that many folks have raised their voice now that though all were taught about the controversial shrine, but most citizens don’t know the exact location. And that was probably the point where the cyber violence took advantage of.

    There were clarifications showing that the building seen behind ZZH in the picture is the (cherry blossom) park management building, not the shrine.

    At this point, it seems the justice is in the hands of the police now. It is rather strange that without thorough investigation, CAPA issued the boycott on ZZH within hours of the spreading of the accused fake news on Aug 13, 2021.

    It is more questionable that they did jt again in in Nov 2021, after many clarifications came out about how the building behind ZZH was not the shrine. We would think a full investigation should have performed by then, before such a severe punishment is done on a citizen.

    And then within 10 days, ZZH himself appeal to CAPA as they indicated, but all he received was a piece of paper with a phone number that would go straight to voice mail.

    This ordeal with CAPA is very fishy, and the timing of ZZH old picture being made a hot topic is too much of a coincident. Probably this is the unruly entertainment industry behavior that the government is trying to fix.

    2. Later on, Mr. Li was asked by his upper manager to delete all his posts questioning CAPA. He asked if that directive was from the party. But it was from some leader in the organization.

    Several days later, rumors were spread on the net that Mr. Li himself has visited the controversial shrine.

    I think at this point it is very clear that there was a force behind the scene running those rumors and misinformation.

    A few days later, Mr. Li was muted too.

    Details can be reviewed here:
    https://youtu.be/bUt1raMMJBY

    3. Using trolls and disinformation to defame someone is not new. There’s a TedEd video about it, which you will find having similar tactics as what were done to ZZH, and probably Mr.Li now too.

    https://fb.watch/b7iuw4l6DI/

    4. In the interview with Mr. Li Xuezheng, Zhehan mentioned that he himself has tried to report his case to the police, of misinformation and defamation, but many police departments didn’t accept his case, due to strong public opinion. Around late December, Beijing police department accepted his report.

    A few days later, there was a directive that ensure all police departments must accept any case reports from citizen.

    I think that was a good news, that the government noticed. Any citizen should have their civilian right, and should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

  16. Khal

    February 21, 2022 at 11:01 am

    Hope ZZH get back to his normal life and the Govt of China to start looking into this seriously. I learn a lot abt the Chinese history while watching ZZH drama. You can see his loyalty to China and this is how they pay him.

  17. Arini

    February 25, 2022 at 7:47 am

    Thank you for this clear information. I am his fan from Indonesia. The news makes me shock, but I’m glad that his movies are still on iQIYI.

    You got my support Zang Zhe Han! (And maybe from all of your fans in Indonesia) Hope your star rising more after this!

  18. Anthea Philander

    March 10, 2022 at 10:09 am

    God bless you Zhang Zhehan. Cannot wait for your name to be cleared and the real perpetrators punished‼️ Cyber bulling and cancel culture at its worse. Remember: clean hands needs no washing – the truth will eventually come out…So hang in there and stay strong 💖💞❤️💗💕

  19. TI

    March 12, 2022 at 11:04 am

    Just like this article said, Zhang Zhehan is still paying an unimaginable price for a crime he didn’t commit.

    Here is the first and only interview he had after the attacks in Aug 2021, with Mr. Li Xuezheng:

    https://youtu.be/G_okUh4H9cI

    Recently, his mother has posted another letter to her tea shop WeChat account about how she dare not grow old, as she needs to be strong for her son. Her son has been unemployed since Aug 2021, they dared not go out at first, even contemplated suicide to prove their innocent, but then decided that staying alive is only chance they have to clear their names. She has been providing for them both, on top of paying the debt caused by the cancelation of those endorsements.

    https://youtu.be/-rNt6bBEsrU

  20. okj

    April 21, 2022 at 11:05 am

    Quite obvious that this is a coordinated effort by regime change agents to manipulate discord among Chinese netizens by manufacturing the traitor card against a patriotic actor and his family to create civil unrest via the c-entertainment realm. Those responsible are following the playbook as outlined in the documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ https://consortiumnews.com/2021/01/14/netflixs-the-social-dilemma-tells-only-half-the-story/

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China and Covid19

King of Workout Livestream: Liu Genghong Has Become an Online Hit During Shanghai Lockdown

Liu Genghong (Will Liu) is leading his best lockdown life.

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With their exercise livestreams, Liu and his wife are bringing some positive vibes to Shanghai and the rest of China in Covid times, getting thousands of social media users to jump along with them.

On Friday, April 22, the hashtag “Why Has Liu Genghong Become An Online Hit” (#为什么刘畊宏突然爆火#) was top trending on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Liu Genghong (刘畊宏, 1972), who is also known as Will Liu, is a Taiwanese singer and actor who is known for playing in dramas (Pandamen 熊貓人), films (True Legend 苏乞儿), and releasing various music albums (Rainbow Heaven 彩虹天堂). He is a devout Christian.

Besides all of his work in the entertainment business, Liu is also a fitness expert. In 2013, Liu participated in the CCTV2 weight loss programme Super Diet King (超级减肥王, aka The Biggest Loser) as a motivational coach, and later also became a fitness instructor for the Jiangsu TV show Changing My Life (减出我人生), in which he also helped overweight people to become fit. After that, more fitness programs followed, including the 2017 Challenge the Limit (全能极限王) show.

During the Covid outbreak in Shanghai, the 50-year-old Liu Genghong has unexpectedly become an online hit for livestreaming fitness routines from his home. Together with his wife Vivi Wang, he streams exercise and dance videos five days of the week via the Xiaohongshu app and Douyin.

In his livestreams, Liu and his wife appear energetic, friendly, happy and super fit. They exercise and dance to up-beat songs while explaining and showing their moves, often encouraging those participating from their own living rooms (“Yeah, very good, you’re doing well!”). Some of their livestreams attract up to 400,000 viewers tuning in at the same time.

The couple, both in lockdown at their Shanghai home, try to motivate other Shanghai residents and social media users to stay fit. Sometimes, Liu’s 66-year-old mother in law also exercises with them, along with the children.

“I’ve been exercising watching Liu and his wife for half an hour, they’re so energetic and familiar, they’ve already become my only family in Shanghai,” one Weibo user says.

“I never expected Liu Genghong to be a ‘winner’ during this Covid epidemic in Shanghai,” another person writes.

Along with Liu’s online success, there’s also a renewed interest in the Jay Chou song Herbalist’s Manual (本草纲目), which is used as a workout tune, combined with a specific dance routine. Liu is also a good friend and fitness pal to Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou.

This week, various Chinese news outlets such as Fengmian News and The Paper have reported on Liu’s sudden lockdown success. Livestreaming workout classes in general have become more popular in China since the start of Covid-19, but there reportedly has been no channel as popular as that of Liu Genghong.

The channel’s success is partly because of Liu’s fame and contagious enthusiasm, but it is also because of Vivi Wang, whose comical expressions during the workouts have also become an online hit.

While many netizens are sharing their own videos of exercizing to Liu’s videos, there are also some who warn others not to strain themselves too quickly.

“I’ve been inside for over 40 days with no exercise” one person writes: “I did one of the workouts yesterday and my heart nearly exploded.” “I feel fine just watching,” others say: “I just can’t keep up.”

Watch one of Liu’s routines via Youtube here, or here, or here.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

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China Music

Weibo is Watching the DJs & Sports Presentation Team at the Winter Olympics Venues

Chinese netizens are not just closely following the athletes, they are also paying more attention to the “atmosphere enliveners” at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

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Chinese netizens are not just closely watching the athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics – the DJs who are performing at the various venues and their noteworthy song selections have also become a popular topic on social media.

On Feb 8th, the US-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu (谷爱凌, Gu Aling) became the youngest ever gold medalist in freestyle skiing, winning the big air event for China. The American-born Gu has become a superstar in China, and everything related to her is going viral these days, including the songs that were playing when Gu had won gold.

The hashtag “When Gu Ailing Won the Gold, Jay Chou’s Song Huo Yuan Jia is Played” (#谷爱凌夺冠现场放周杰伦的霍元甲#) has received more than 29 million on Weibo. Chinese netizens praised the DJs for the song selection, saying it perfectly captured the scene as the song has a strong rhythm, and is also known as ‘Fearless.’

Before the hashtag about Gu went trending, the DJ team already attracted attention on Chinese social media for the interesting and noteworthy music selection at various events.

During the Ice Hockey Women’s Preliminary Round Group A, when Team US competed against Team ROC, there was a conflict between the two teams and the DJ played a remixed version of Katyusha, a Russian song that became famous during World War II. The dramatic effect of the scene and wartime song pairing made the song’s name (#喀秋莎#) and a video of the DJ trying to ‘make some noise’ on the venue go trending on Weibo with over 53 million views. Many netizens thought the music selection was humorous, with some joking that the DJ was adding oil to a burning fire.

Xie Xiao (@篮球DJ小牛), the ice hockey stadium music director for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics who played the song that day, later clarified on Douyin that the selection of Katyusha was not a response to the conflict. Before that game, he allegedly had already planned to use it because it is a famous song in Russia, and he already played a lot of well-known American songs.

Photo via Xie Xao, @篮球DJ小牛

Another creative song choice by this DJ team that resonated with Chinese netizens occurred during another ice hockey match between Team China and Team Japan, when an American DJ performed Defending the Yellow River on a keyboard. In China, Defending the Yellow River is a famous patriotic song. It was the seventh chapter of the classic Yellow River Cantata, written in 1939 to praise the fighting spirit of the Chinese people (#美国DJ现学后现场弹奏保卫黄河#).

A list of popular hashtags on Weibo relating to which songs are played at the venue of the Winter Olympics also demonstrates that music has become a more relevant and popular part of the Olympics, and is also an attractive component of the event that is encouraging more people, especially younger generations, to watch and participate in the Games.

Xie also said that the team is only allowed to select songs from a specific Winter Olympics music library due to copyright and licensing. The library includes 16000 musical tracks divided into various (sub)categories based on music styles, language, and themes, covering many hit songs and different music from all across the world. On the first event day of speed skating, for example, Adele’s Rolling in the Deep blasted through the speakers.

The pandemic has made the role of so-called ‘atmosphere enliveners’ or ‘vibe teams’ (气氛组, 氛围组) more important. This already became clear during the Tokyo Olympics, where we saw empty stadiums due to coronavirus measures, with DJs creating playlists to motivate athletes in the absence of cheering fans. This shift has also brought more online attention for DJs and other crew members, who would usually stay behind the scenes.

On the venues, the atmosphere is raised by Olympic mascots walking, jumping, and running around the venues interacting with smaller audiences. Meanwhile, the DJs are playing energetic tracks or are creating remixes and mash-ups while producers use different elements at the venue to enhance the audience’s experience.

Li Helin, the deputy manager of the venue operations team at Beijing National Speed Skating Oval, takes care of the event presentation at the venue. He also worked as an MC at the volleyball stadium during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Li has also been in charge of some popular music selections played by the DJs during events involving the China team, including Calorie (卡路里) by the Chinese idol girl group Rocket Girls 101 and Immortal Sound Above Cloud Palace (云宫迅音), the opening theme of Journey to the West, a 1986 TV series that is still considered one of China’s most popular TV dramas. These song selections also were popular on Weibo.

Li Helin, image via Sina.

Li previously said he believed that using DJs to connect with the audiences and to enliven the atmosphere at the venues will become a bigger trend for big sports events in the future. As the standard of sports presentation and fan engagement rises, more new elements, such as spectacular lighting, drones, 3D projects, etc. will also be included: “Sports presentation serves the game, but also adds fresh elements to it.”

Meanwhile, many social media users praise the music crew: “This time, the DJs at the Olympics are really awesome and their song selection is on point.”  “If you don’t know what kind of work you want to do, becoming an Olympic DJ is a good choice,” one Weibo user writes, with others agreeing: “Seriously, if I cannot be an Olympic athlete, then I’ll strive to be an Olympic DJ.”

 

By Wendy Huang

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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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