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Weibo Night: All the Winners and the Highlights of the 2022-2023 Weibo Awards Ceremony

The main winners and trending topics surrounding the 2022/2023 Weibo Night Awards Ceremony.

Manya Koetse

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PREMIUM CONTENT ARTICLE

The biggest Weibo stars gathered at the main Sina Weibo event of the year: the annual Weibo Night. Which movies were the most popular, which influencers had their big breakthrough, and what went trending? This is an overview with a full list of all the winners and the moments that got people talking online [Premium Content].

Weibo Night was one of the biggest trends on Weibo this week. Weibo Night (#微博之夜#) is the yearly much-anticipated live-broadcasted ceremony that looks back on Sina Weibo’s hottest celebrities, entertainment productions, and happenings of the last year.

Hosted by the Sina media company, the night has been a recurring event since 2003 – long before the Sina Weibo platform was launched. The night was initially known as the ‘Sina Grand Ceremony’ (新浪网络盛典) until it turned into the ‘Weibo Night’ (微博之夜) in 2010.

During the ceremony of Weibo Night, which took place on the evening of March 25 in Shanghai and was broadcasted live on Weibo and on Sina, various prices were awarded in categories such as ‘The Hottest Weibo Celebrity of the Year’ (微博年度热度人物), ‘The Movie of the Year’ (年度电影), ‘Drama of the Year’ (年度电视剧), ‘Weibo Original Musician of the Year’, and ‘Weibo King & Queen.’

The award ceremony is always much anticipated since it is attended by all the big stars of the Chinese entertainment world, including the most famous actors/actresses, musicians, and online influencers.

What they are wearing is a big part of online discussions on Weibo Night, and with some celebrities changing their outfits during the night, talking about what they wear and who shines the brightest on the red carpet and who sits where is part of the fun.

So many stars in a row! Many thought that Yang Mi, in the red dress, was one of the best-dressed celebrities of the night; others thought it was Angelababy (杨颖), who is sitting next to her. Image via Weibo.

The hype surrounding the event begins long before the actual award ceremony as Weibo users can vote for their preferred candidates, and the shortlist of winners, based on Sina Weibo’s annual “Weibo Index,” is also published prior to the event.

The event is an important one for Weibo as a platform, not just because it drives massive traffic to the site, but also because all the celebrities have a strong Weibo presence and, throughout the night, express their love for the platform.

It is also important for celebrities, as it is an opportunity for them to promote themselves and the projects they are working on. Many celebrities do special photoshoots before the event and change outfits multiple times to make the most of their participation in the event.

As you can see below, there are so many categories during the award show, and some are actually really similar. This gives the idea that more important than the awards themselves is the showcasing of Weibo’s most popular celebrities.

On Weibo, the event was promoted using the slogan “Make the world more beautiful with the power of Weibo” (“以微博之力•让世界更美”).

Although the award ceremony is taking place in 2023, they are referred to as the 2022 Weibo Night since it mostly covers the year 2022, but also part of 2023, up to Spring Festival. For an overview by What’s on Weibo on the biggest topics of 2022 see this article.

 

THE RED CARPET

 

On Weibo, the hashtag “Weibo Night Red Carpet Livestream” (#微博之夜红毯直播#) received a staggering 610 million views this week.

The live stream of the red carpet was suddenly canceled midway, as there allegedly were too many fans gathering, and cancellation was done as a safety precaution.

Some videos surfacing on social media during the day also showed many fans around the area and some food delivery staff shouting out names to bring the right order to the right customer in the midst of the crowds.

 

MOST IMPACTFUL EVENTS

 

Weibo Night started with the presenters (Nigermaidi Zechman 尼格买提·热合曼 being one of them) announce an overview of the Weibo news topics that became a part of people’s collective memory over the past year.

The video shows different topics that went trending on Weibo in 2022-2023 with news footage. The video is divided into different segments.

▶︎ Under the topic of “conflict and disaster,” they listed the following (please note that not all hashtags are literally translated, but conveying the meaning so that everyone will understand what it is about):

• Tonga Volcanic Eruption and Tsunami #汤加火山喷发# (780 million clicks on Weibo)
• Russia-Ukraine War (#俄乌局势#) (10.1 billion clicks on Weibo) (read more)
• US Federal Reserve Interest Increase (#美联储加息#)(320 million clicks on Weibo)
• Europe’s Cold Winter (#欧洲寒潮#) (110 million clicks on Weibo) (related article)
• China Eastern Airlines Flight 5735 (#MU5735#) (5.6 billion clicks on Weibo) (read more)
• Turkey-Syria Earthquake (#土耳其强震#) (510 million clicks on Weibo) (related article)
• Assassination of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (#安倍普三身亡#) (2.5 billion clicks on Weibo) (more here)

▶︎ A text on the screen then emphasizes how love and kindness can shine through in times of struggle and catastrophe, and the following events are listed:

• Sichuan Luding Earthquake (#四川泸定地震#) (1.59 billion clicks on Weibo) (read here)
• Missing Man Found 17 Days after Luding Earthquake (#泸定地震中失联17天的甘字找到了#) (2 billion clicks on Weibo)
• Building a Great Wall of Fire [to Prevent Wild Fire from Spreading] (#他们用微光筑起防火长城#) (1.43 billion clicks on Weibo) (read)
• Young Courageous Heroes to the Rescue (#这些娃儿侠肝义胆#) (540 million clicks on Weibo) (more)

▶︎ Then the text on the screen says: “There will always be people who create miracles by challenging oneself.”

• Kipchoge Won Men’s Marathon World Record (#吉普乔格打破男子马拉松世界纪录#) (120 million clicks on Weibo)
• Argentina Wins World Cup (#阿根廷冠军#) (3.9 billion clicks on Weibo)
• Eileen Gu Wins Gold (#谷爱凌金牌#) (4.1 billion clicks on Weibo) (related articles)
• Su Yiming Wins Gold (#苏翊鸣金牌#) (1.7 billion clicks on Weibo)
• Xu Mengtao Wins Gold (#徐梦挑金牌#) (1 billion clicks on Weibo)
• China Wins Its First Gold of the Games (#短道速滑中国队北京冬奥会首金#) (1.37 billion clicks on Weibo)
• China Wins in Women’s Asian Cup (#中国女足亚洲杯冠军#) (2.8 billion clicks on Weibo)

▶︎ The text on the screen then says: “There will always be people who firmly believe that there will be Spring after longing for it.

• China Cancels Circuit Breaker Measures for Inbound Flights (#入境航班熔断机制取消#) (150 million clicks on Weibo)
• End to [Covid-19] Travel Code Service (#行程卡下线#) (550 million clicks on Weibo)
• Goodbye Health Code (#告别健康吗#) (1.19 billion clicks on Weibo) (read here)
• Hello, 2023 (#你好2023#) (670 million clicks on Weibo)

▶︎ Text: “There will always be people who restart first after facing difficulties.”

Full River Red Breaks 4.5 Billion at Box Office (#满江江实时票房破45亿#) (170 million views on Weibo)
Wandering Earth 2 Breaks Box Office 4 Billion (流浪地球2票房破40亿) (290 million clicks on Weibo)
Boonie Bears Guardian Code Breaks 1.4 Billion at Box Office (#熊出没之伴我熊芯票房破14亿#) (120 million clicks on Weibo)
The Knockout (#狂飙#) (1 billion clicks on Weibo)
• A Lot of Concerts (#好多演唱会#) (110 million views)

▶︎ “There will always be people who turn a seed once planted into glory.”

• China Discovers New Moon Mineral (#月亮上发现嫦娥石#) (160 million clicks on Weibo)
• China Launches Third Aircraft Carrier (#我国第三艘航母下#) (1 billion clicks on Weibo)
• China’s C919 Jet Obtains Certificates for Commercial Flight (C919交付准备工作正有序推进) (190 million views)
• China’s Shenzhou-14 Manned Space Mission (#神十四发射成功#) (490 million clicks on Weibo)
• China Space Station Completes T-shape Basic Structure Assembly (#中国空间站“T”字基本构型在轨组装完成#) (140 million clicks on Weibo)
• Chinese Astronauts’ Firt Space Meeting (中国航天员首次太空会师) (110 million views on Weibo)
• China’s Shenzhou 14 Returns on Earth (#神十四返回地球#) (490 million clicks on Weibo)

Highlighted events: Tribute to China’s Firefighting Heroes

After the overview of all of these big topics, Chinese spaceflight Shenzhou 14 was highlighted and honored as one of the most important Weibo events of the year, together with the Chongqing wild fires.

Yang Zi, dressed in a black dress, was the actress to deliver a speech to pay tribute to the heroes of the Chongqing wildfires.

 

MOST INFLUENTIAL IN MUSIC

 

Weibo Breakthrough Artist of the Year

Voted as musicians that made the biggest breakthrough were:

• Liu Yuxin (刘雨昕), Guizhou-born singer/dancer
• Ouyang Nana (歐陽娜娜), Taiwanese singer, musician, and actress
• Shan Yicun (单依纯), Chinese singer and former winner of The Voice of China

▶︎ In this same category, the group INTO1 received the award for the most notable breakthrough pop group of the year. The group received attention on social media for their extremely correct posture during the award ceremony.

INTO1 was like its own little army during Weibo Night (image via Weibo).

Best Newcomer and Rising Stars

In the category of rising star awards – or those having made the biggest “leap” (微博年度飞跃音乐人), – are:

• Ayunga (阿云嘎), Mongolian musical theater actor, singer, and songwriter
• Gina Alice Redlinger (吉娜爱丽丝), German-Korean pianist who happens to be married to the renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang
• Dany Lee (李斯丹妮), Chengdu-born singer

▶︎ Boy band BOYSTORY was among the first to receive an award during Weibo Night, namely that of the best newcomer pop group (微博年度新锐团体).

Weibo’s Original and Influential Musician of the Year

• Wang Yuan (王源)

▶︎ Wang Yuan (王源, also known as Roy Wang) won the award for Original Musician of the Year. Born in 2000, Wang is mostly known as a member of the hugely popular TFboys idol group that debuted in 2013, but his solo career has also been thriving for years.

Roy Wang accepts his award at the Weibo Night, images by Sina Weibo.

• Li Yuchun (李宇春)

Li Yuchun shared a photo of her outfit on her own Weibo account.

▶︎ Li Yuchun (李宇春), once known as China’s “most handsome supergirl,” received the award for Weibo Influential Musician of the Year. Since winning the nationwide talent show ‘Supergirl’ (Chaoji Nüsheng) and appearing on the cover of Time Magazine Asia in 2005, Li Yuchun has become a household name in China and managed to stay popular. During Weibo night, she wore a beautiful white suit and was one of the few ladies not wearing a long dress for the occasion (Eileen Gu also wore pants!). Li Yuchun also performed at the event later on in the show.

Weibo Outstanding Musician of the Year

In the “Outstanding Singers” category, the awards went to the popular female singers:

• Yu Wenwen (于文文)
• Yuan Yawei (袁娅维)
• Zheng Suyan (郑秀妍)

Weibo Music of the Year

The award for Weibo Music of the Year (微博年度人气音乐) went to the following songs:

• “Just Like Sunshine” (像阳光那样) – Wang Yibo (王一博)
• “To Find You” (寻一个你) – Liu Yuning (刘宇宁)
• “Worry-Free” (花开忘忧) – Zhou Shen (周深)

 

MOST INFLUENTIAL IN ACTING

 

Weibo Breakthrough Actor of the Year

• Wang Yibo (王一博)

▶︎ Wang Yibo (王一博) is the winner of the Weibo Breakthrough Film Star of the Year. Wang (1997) has been super popular in China for years. Born in Henan, he is a multi-talent and is active as an actor, singer, dancer, rapper, and professional road motorcycle racer. In 2014, Wang debuted as a member of the South Korean-Chinese boyband UNIQ. Since then, his career has been thriving and he has starred in various popular productions, such as 2019 drama The Untamed (陈情令).

The Weibo Breakthrough Actor of the Year Award (微博年度突破演员), given to those actors who made a significant breakthrough in their careers during the past year, went to:

• Han Dongjun (韩东君)
• Jin Chen (金晨)
• Li Yitong (李一桐)
• Liu Yuning (刘宇宁)
• Xu Kai (许凯)
• Zhang Jingyi (张婧仪)

Newcomers, Rising, and Eye-Catching Actors of the Year

The award for best newcomer went to young actors:

• Hu Lianxin’er (胡连新儿)
• Wang Churan (王楚然)
• Wang Jiayi (王家义)
• Wu Xuanyi (吴宣仪)
• Zhang Yifan (张艺凡)
• Zhou Yiran (周艺然)

The Rising Actors Award (微博年度飞跃演员) went to:

• Bai Lu (白鹿)
• Guan Xiaotong (关晓彤)
• Mao Xiaotong (毛晓彤)
• Song Yi (宋轶)
• Tang Jianji (檀健次).

The ‘Eye-Catching Actors’ award (微博年度瞩目演员), which is about those actors who have achieved significant popularity and influence on social media, went to:

• Wang Jun (王俊)
• Wang Hedi (王鹤棣)
• Wu Lei (吴磊)
• Yu Shuxin (虞书欣).

The Weibo award for most promising or hard-working actors (微博年度进取演员) went to:

• Chen Zheyuan (陈哲远)
• Hou Minghao (侯明昊)
• Li Landi (李兰迪)
• Shen Yue (沈月)
• Tian Xiwei (田曦薇)
• Wang Ziyi (王子异)
• Zhang Linghe (张凌赫)

Tian Xi wei in Sophie Couture for Weibo Night, photos via Sina Weibo.

▶︎ Chinese actress Tian Xiwei stood out with a beautifully designed pink dress by Sophie Couture.

Weibo Attractive Actors of the Year

Honored as the most “attractive” actors of the year are:

• Gao Ye (高野)
• Pan Yueming (潘粤明)
• Tong Yao (童瑶)
• Wang Yang (王洋)

Weibo Night Performers of the Year

The Weibo award for performance of the year (微博年度表现力演员) went to:

• Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴), Chinese actress who recently starred in the popular series You Are My Glory (这个杀手不太冷静)
• Li Xian (李现), Chinese actor who starred in TV series Meet Yourself (which actually boosted Yunnan tourism)
• Yang Zi (杨紫), one of the big stars of the night who starred in multiple successful productions recently

Weibo Public Favorite Actors of the Year

The Weibo Public Favorites Actors of the Year awards, also called the Weibo Word-of-Mouth Actors of the Year (微博年度口碑演员) award, went to:

• Ma Li (马丽)
• Song Jia (宋佳)
• Yao Chen (姚晨)

▶︎ Of course, Yao Chen should be on this list – although Yao Chen is not necessarily China’s number one actress, she was one of the first celebrities to share her personal life on Weibo since 2009,and interact with her fans. On Weibo, she talks about her everyday life, family, news-related issues, work, and fashion. She posts a lot personal pictures every day. Yao Chen’s popularity as an actress and philanthropist combined with her frequent Weibo updates and closeness to her fans have made her a huge Weibo celebrity.

▶︎ Ma Li (马丽) has been in the limelight a lot reently. The Chinese actress starred in Too Cool to Kill (这个杀手不太冷静) and was a hit star during the Spring Festival Gala.

Weibo Quality Actor of the Year

They received the Quality Actor of the Year (微博年度品质演员) Award at the Weibo Award stage:

• Xiao Zhan (肖战)
• Liu Yifei (刘亦菲, Crystal Liu)
• Zhang Ruoyun (张若昀)

▶︎ Zhang is known for his acting work in various productions and well-known dramas, such as Joy for Life (2019). In 2022, he starred in Under The Microscope, a series about a math genius who ends up in a complex web of corruption and lies after he discovers a major tax discrepancy in his county’s finances.

Weibo Awards for Fine Acting of the Year

The award for realistic acting / fine acting (微博年度质感演员) went to some of China’s most renowned actresses, namely:

• Yang Mi (杨幂), the super popular actress who recently starred in Thank You Doctor (谢谢你医生)
• Angelababy (杨颖), the multitalented celebrity who often makes it to Weibo’s top trends
• Tong Liya (佟丽娅), actress and dancer of Xibo ethnicity who won many awards for her acting work
• Liu Shishi (刘诗诗), the renowned actress who is commonly praised for her quality acting

The actresses take their award at the Weibo Night stage.

▶︎ This became a much talked about moment since it was the first time for Angelababy to be at an event with Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming. The moment Angelababy went on stage, the camera focused on Huang who spoke a few words with Li Bingbing who sat right next to him. This sparked discussions on what he said at that moment, and simlarly, when Huang was on stage, people wanted to know what Angelababy was saying to Yang Mi. Oh, if only you could be a fly on the wall!

Weibo Award for Influential Actor

The award for actor that had the most influence / impact on Chinese social media thi year (微博年度影响力演员) went to:

• Li Bingbing (李冰冰)

▶︎ Li Bingbing shared the stage with Li Yuchun for this award, as Li Yuchun was honored for being the most influential musician.

 

MOST INFLUENTIAL IN MOVIES

 

Weibo Breakthrough in Film

The awards for the most notable breakthrough in film (微博年度突破电影人) went to:

• Wang Yibo (王一博)
• Da Peng (大鹏)
• Zhang Chiyu (张吃鱼/张迟昱)

The breakthrough in film winners, photo shared by Da Peng on Weibo.

▶︎ Da Peng, who is always quite active on Weibo (@大鹏董成鹏), is the director and screenwriter for the Chinese comedy movie Post Truth (保你平安) about a former mob boss who has now ventured in the business of selling burial plots and finds himself in the middle of a rumor scandal after the death of one of his clients.

Weibo Quality and Impactful Films of the Year

Honored in the category of “quality film” of the year (微博年度品质电影):

Moon Man (独行月球)
Song of Spring (妈妈)
Lighting Up the Stars (人生大事)
Hidden Blade (无名)

Honored in the category of films that made the most impact on Weibo (微博年度影响力电影), meaning they generated the most online discussions and often topped the Weibo trending lists:

Wandering Earth 2 (流浪地球2)
Full River Red (满江红)
Home Coming (万里归途)

Weibo Quality Filmmakers of the Year

The award for quality film influentials of the year (微博年度品质电影人) went to:

• Lei Jiayin (雷佳音)
• Jackson Yee (易烊千玺)
• Rao Xiaozhi (饶晓志)
• Wen Muye (文牧野)

▶︎ Wen Muye directed the 2022 movie Nice View (奇迹·笨小孩) which stars Jackson Yee and tells the story of the 20-year-old Jing Hao who comes to live in Shenzhen to look after his little sister Tong Tong after the unexpected death of their mother. Rao Xiaozhi directed Home Coming, one of the major box office hits of 2022.

Best Movies of the Year

The most beloved movies of the year on Weibo (微博年度人气电影) are:

Hidden Blade (无名)
Wandering Earth 2 (流浪地球2)
Home Coming (万里归途)

▶︎ Hidden Blade is a 2023 Chinese World War II espionage thriller directed by Cheng Er. ‘Home Coming’ (万里归途) is inspired by China’s overseas citizens protection response during the 2011 Libya crisis, and it sparked waves of nationalistic sentiments earlier in 2022.

▶︎ The sci-film Wandering Earth 2 became a box office hit in 2023 and has already become a part of China’s online culture in terms of visuals, memes, and vocabulary.

Weibo Most-Watched Movie Person of the Year

The award for Weibo Most-Watched Movie Personality (微博年度关注电影人) went to:

• Karry Wang (王俊凯)
• Li Yu (李玉)
• Yang Lina (杨荔钠)

▶︎ Yang Lina wrote and directed the 2022 film Song of Spring (妈妈), which tells the moving story of an 85-year-old mother caring for a 65-year-old daughter with Alzheimer’s disease.

Weibo Most Influential Director of the Year

▶︎ Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) received the award for most influential director of the year. The renowned director’s latest film Full River Red (满江红), a historical suspense comedy film starring Shen Teng and Jackson Yee, became a hit during the Spring Festival holiday and is China’s sixth highest-grossing box office entry of all time.

 

MOST INFLUENTIAL IN TV

 

Weibo Drama of the Year

This honors the Weibo serialized dramas of the year (微博年度剧集):

Love Between Fairy and Devil (苍兰诀)
Draw The Line (底线)
Wild Bloom (风吹半夏)
The Knockout (狂飙)
The Three-Body Problem (三体)
Bright Future (县委大院)
Love Like the Galaxy (星汉灿烂·月升沧海)
The Story Of Xing Fu (幸福到万家)
The Blue Whisper (驭鲛记之与君初相识·恰似故人归)

Weibo Drama of the Year

The Oath of Love (余生,请多指教) – Yang Zi and Xiao Zhan both star in this drama about a romance between a doctor and pianist
Being A Hero (冰雨火) – crime and mystery drama featuring Chen Xiao and Wang Yibo
Immortal Samsara (沉香如屑·沉香重华) – xianxia drama starring Yang Zi and Cheng Yi

Variety Show of the Year

Street Dance of China 5 (这就是街舞5) – reality competition show focused on street dance
Time Concert: Season 2 (时光音乐会2) – music variety show
Hello, Saturday! (你好星期六) – variety show including games, interviews, and more

 

MOST INFLUENTIAL WEIBO CELEBRITIES

 

Weibo Influential Sports Personality of the Year

The award for Weibo’s Annual Most Influential Sport Person (微博年度影响力体育人物) went to:

• Eileen Gu (Gu Ailing)
• Ren Ziwei (任子威)

▶︎ 2022 really was the big year of Eileen Gu (@青蛙公主爱凌, 6.5 million fans), the America-born Olympic freestyle skier and gold medalist who came out for China. Although Gu could not attend the Spring Festival Gala earlier this year, she did attend Weibo Night, wher she changed outfits twice and also gave some interviews. For more about the Year of Eileen Gu, see our article here.

Hottest Celebrities of the Year

• Xiao Zhan (肖战)
• Yang Zi (杨紫)
• Wang Yibo (王一博)

▶︎ Xiao Zhan, Yang Zi, and Wang Yibo were the big winners of the Weibo Night. They all received the awards as the most popular Weibo celebrities. Xiao Zhan has over 31 million followers on Weibo (@X玖少年团肖战DAYTOY); Yang Zi has over 60 million (@杨紫); Wang Yibo (@UNIQ-王一博) has over 40 million.

A moment of Xiao Zhan sitting by himself, with his back super straight and a serious face, also went viral on Chinese social media.

▶︎ Besides both being super popular on Weibo, Xiao Zhan and Wang Yibo have more in common: they both starred together in the 2019 Chinese television series The Untamed, which is also very popular within online boys’ love communities.

The popular actress and singer Yang Zi, also known as Andy Yang, is also known for starring in various hit dramas such as Ode to Joy, Ashes of Love, Go Go Squid!, and Oath to Love.

Weibo Annual Favorite Person

The Weibo celebrities with the most likability are:

• Chinese table tennis player Sun Yingsha (孙颖莎)
• Professional esports multigame player Yi Nuo (一诺)
• South-Korean-born Chinese short track speed skater Lin Xiaosha (林孝埈)

The Queen and King of Weibo

• Hu Ge (胡歌)
• Liu Yifei (刘亦菲, Crystal Liu)

▶︎ The most anticipated awards of Weibo Night are those of the Weibo Queen and King. This year, Hu Ge (胡歌) was voted Weibo King while Liu Yifei (刘亦菲, Crystal Liu) accepted the Weibo Queen award. Liu Yifei is a Chinese-American actress who is most famous outside of China for starring in Disney’s Mulan live-action movie. Liu Yifei, who was recently announced as the new global spokesperson for Bvlgari, wore a spectacular Elie Saab dress to the Weibo night awards.

▶︎ Liu was reunited on stage with Weibo King Hu Ge, with whom she starred in the popular Chinese TV drama series Chinese Paladin. Hu Ge has previously won numerous awards for his acting, including the Best Actor Award at the 2013 Golden Eagle Awards and the Best Actor Award at the 2016 China Britain Film Festival. He is also popular as is a singer in China.

By Manya Koetse 

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Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Memes & Viral

Chengdu Disney: The Quirkiest Hotspot in China

How a senior activity park in Chengdu was ‘Disneyfied’ and became a viral hotspot.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

How did a common park turn into a buzzing hotspot? By mixing online trends with real-life fun, blending foreign styles with local charm, and adding a dash of humor and absurdity, Chengdu now boasts its very own ‘Chengdu Disney’. We explain the trend.

By Manya Koetse, co-authored by Ruixin Zhang

Have you heard about Chengdu Disney yet? If not, it’s probably unlike anything you’d imagine. It’s not actually a Disney theme park opening up in Chengdu, but it’s one of the city’s most viral hotspots these days.

What is now known as ‘Chengdu Disney’ all over the Chinese internet is actually a small outdoor park in a residential area in Chengdu’s Yulin area, which also serves as the local senior fitness activity center.

Crowds of young people are coming to this area to take photos and videos, hang out, sing songs, cosplay, and be part of China’s internet culture in an offline setting.

 
Once Upon a Rap Talent Show
 

The roots of ‘Chengdu Disney’ can be traced back to the Chinese hip-hop talent show The Rap of China (中国新说唱), where a performer named Nuomi (诺米), also known as Lodmemo, was eliminated by Chinese rapper Boss Shady (谢帝 Xièdì), one of the judges on the show.

Nuomi felt upset about the elimination and a comment made by his idol mentor, who mistakenly referred to a song Nuomi made for his ‘grandma’ instead of his grandfather. His frustration led to a viral livestream where he expressed his anger towards his participation in The Rap of China and Boss Shady.

However, it wasn’t only his anger that caught attention; it was his exaggerated way of speaking and mannerisms. Nuomi, with his Sichuan accent, repeatedly inserted English phrases like “y’know what I’m saying” and gestured as if throwing punches.

His oversized silver chain, sagging pants, and urban streetwear only reinforce the idea that Nuomi is trying a bit too hard to emulate the fashion style of American rappers from the early 2000s, complete with swagger and street credibility.

Lodmemo emulates the style of American rappers in the early 2000s, and he has made it his brand.

Although people mocked him for his wannabe ‘gangsta’ style, Nuomi embraced the teasing and turned it into an opportunity for fame.

He decided to create a diss track titled Xiè Tiān Xièdì 谢天谢帝, “Thank Heaven, Thank Emperor,” a word joke on Boss Shady’s name, which sounds like “Shady” but literally means ‘Thank the Emperor’ in Chinese. A diss track is a hip hop or rap song intended to mock someone else, usually a fellow musician.

In the song, when Nuomi disses Boss Shady (谢帝 Xièdì), he raps in Sichuan accent: “Xièdì Xièdì wǒ yào diss nǐ [谢帝谢帝我要diss你].” The last two words, namely “diss nǐ” actually means “to diss you” but sounds exactly like the Chinese word for ‘Disney’: Díshìní (迪士尼). This was soon picked up by netizens, who found humor in the similarity; it sounded as if the ‘tough’ rapper Nuomi was singing about wanting to go to Disney.

Nuomi and his diss track, from the music video.

Nuomi filmed the music video for this diss track at a senior activity park in Chengdu’s Yulin subdistrict. The music video went viral in late March, and led to the park being nicknamed the ‘Chengdu Disney.’

The particular exercise machine on which Nuomi performed his rap quickly became an iconic landmark on Douyin, as everyone eagerly sought to visit, sit on the same see-saw-style exercise machine, and repeat the phrase, mimicking the viral video.

What began as a homonym led to people ‘Disneyfying’ the park itself, with crowds of visitors flocking to the park, some dressed in Disney-related costumes.

This further developed the concept of a Chengdu ‘Disney’ destination, turning the park playground into the happiest place in Yulin.

 
Chengdu: China’s Most Relaxed Hip Hop Hotspot
 

Chengdu holds a special place in China’s underground hip-hop scene, thanks to its vibrant music culture and the presence of many renowned Chinese hip-hop artists who incorporate the Sichuan dialect into their songs and raps.

This is one reason why this ‘Disney’ meme happened in Chengdu and not in any other Chinese city. But beyond its musical significance, the playful spirit of the meme also aligns with Chengdu’s reputation for being an incredibly laid-back city.

In recent years, the pursuit of a certain “relaxed feeling” (sōngchígǎn 松弛感) has gained popularity across the Chinese internet. Sōngchígǎn is a combination of the word for “relaxed,” “loose” or “lax” (松弛) and the word for “feeling” (感). Initially used to describe a particular female aesthetic, the term evolved to represent a lifestyle where individuals strive to maintain a relaxed demeanor, especially in the face of stressful situations.

 

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The concept gained traction online in mid-2022 when a Weibo user shared a story of a family remaining composed when their travel plans were unexpectedly disrupted due to passport issues. Their calm and collected response inspired the adoption of the “relaxed feeling” term (also read here).

Central to embodying this sense of relaxation is being unfazed by others’ opinions and avoiding unnecessary stress or haste out of fear of judgment.

Nowadays, Chinese cities aim to foster this sense of sōngchígǎn. Not too long ago, there were many hot topics suggesting that Chengdu is the most sōngchí 松弛, the most relaxed city in China.

This sentiment is reflected in the ‘Chengdu Disney’ trend, which both pokes fun at a certain hip-hop aesthetic deemed overly relaxed—like the guys who showed up with sagging pants—and embraces a carefree, childlike silliness that resonates with the city’s character and its people.

Mocking sagging pants at ‘Chengdu Disney.’

Despite the influx of visitors to the Chengdu Disney area, authorities have not yet significantly intervened. Community notices urging respect for nearby residents and the presence of police officers to maintain order indicate a relatively hands-off approach. For now, it seems most people are simply enjoying the relaxed atmosphere.

 
Being Part of the Meme
 

An important aspect that contributes to the appeal of Chengdu Disney is its nature as an online meme, allowing people to actively participate in it.

Scenes from Chengdu Disney, images via Weibo.

China has a very strong meme culture. Although there are all kinds of memes, from visual to verbal, many Chinese memes incorporate wordplay. In part, this has to do with the nature of Chinese language, as it offers various opportunities for puns, homophones, and linguistic creativity thanks to its tones and characters.

The use of homophones on Chinese social media is as old as Chinese social media itself. One of the most famous examples is the phrase ‘cǎo ní mǎ’ (草泥马), which literally means ‘grass mud horse’, but is pronounced in the same way as the vulgar “f*ck your mother” (which is written with three different characters).

In the case of the Chengdu Disney trend, it combines a verbal meme—stemming from the ‘diss nǐ’ / Díshìní homophone—and a visual meme, where people gather to pose for videos/photos in the same location, repeating the same phrase.

Moreover, the trend bridges the gap between the online and offline worlds, as people come together at the Chengdu playground, forming a tangible community through digital culture.

The fact that this is happening at a residential exercise park for the elderly adds to the humor: it’s a Chengdu take on what “urban” truly means. These colorful exercise machines are a common sight in Chinese parks nationwide and are actually very mundane. Transforming something so normal into something extraordinary is part of the meme.

A 3D-printed model version of the exercise equipment featured in Nuomi’s music video.

Lastly, the incorporation of the Disney element adds a touch of whimsy to the trend. By introducing characters like Snow White and Mickey Mouse, the trend blends American influences (hip-hop, Disney) with local Chengdu culture, creating a captivating and absurd backdrop for a viral phenomenon.

For some people, the pace in which these trends develop is just too quick. On Weibo, one popular tourism blogger (@吴必虎) wrote: “The viral hotspots are truly unpredictable these days. We’re still seeing buzz around the spicy hot pot in Gansu’s Tianshui, meanwhile, a small seesaw originally meant for the elderly in a residential community suddenly turns into “Chengdu Disneyland,” catching the cultural and tourism authorities of Sichuan and even Shanghai Disneyland off guard. Netizens are truly powerful, even making it difficult for me, as a professional cultural tourism researcher, to keep up with them.”

By Manya Koetse, co-authored by Ruixin Zhang

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

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©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Music

The Chinese Viral TikTok Song Explained (No, It’s Not About Samsung)

The viral Chinese ‘Samsung’ Tiktok song is also not about cheating or getting back with your ex.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

Over the past few days, a Chinese song ‘challenge’ has been going viral on TikTok, with various TikTokers from America and beyond mastering the phonetics of a Mandarin song, lip-syncing it and delivering their own dramatic performance.

TikTok user Ajibola Olalekan posted the popular part of the song on March 16, receiving over 71k likes within two weeks, with various TikTokers using the sound for their own videos, some receiving millions of views (watch).

TikTok creator Emily, also known as Maverickmother, lip-synced the song from her car, writing: “Admit to your husband you were wrong and apologize or sing in Chinese..”

The popular video maker Azz (@theofficial_azz) also posted a video of himself singing the song, writing: “Admit you were wrong or sing in Chinese.”

TV host and content creator Mark Odea took things a bit further and put on a dramatic performance of himself lip-syncing the song, writing: “I didn’t realize this song was in English.” According to his interpretation of the song, the lyrics go like this:

Woman cheat
So true in shit sun sun
Would you lie? you shout It’s over Ya
But you are now women itchy
Loud loud itchy ya
Woman cheat send some d
Ching eat chang

While some think the song is about cheating or getting back with your ex, others also refer to this song as the “Chinese Samsung song,” because they believe the singer is singing about ‘Samsung.’ It’s actually the word cāngsāng (沧桑) they’re hearing, meaning ‘great changes’ or ‘ups and downs.’

The Chinese song in question is “This Life’s Fate” (今生缘) by the Beijing-born singer Chuan Zi (川子, real name Jiang Yachuan 姜亚川, born in 1969). Released in 2009, it is one of his most famous songs, which is about life and friendship.

The part of the song that has recently gone viral on TikTok is as follows:

我们今生注定是沧桑
Wǒmen jīnshēng zhùdìng shì cāngsāng
哭着来要笑着走过呀
Kūzhe lái yào xiàozhe zǒuguò ya
朋友啊让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a ràng wǒmen yìqǐ láo láo míngjì ya
我们今生兄弟情谊长
Wǒmen jīnshēng xiōngdì qíngyì cháng

“Our lives are destined to be full of change
We cried when we came [into this world], let’s leave with a smile
My friend, let’s remember very well
We’ll always be like brothers in this life”

By now, the Tiktok trend of foreigners pouring their hearts into mastering a song they may not even understand has also attracted attention on Chinese social media, where many netizens are enjoying the spectacle.

“The feelings of a ‘straight guy’ are just universal,” one top commenter writes (the word used is ‘Zhinan’ 直男, originally referring to heterosexual males, but then came to refer to an entire category of men in China).

“They may not get the exact meaning of the song, but the emotion is there,” others say.

The song, filled with nostalgia, contemplates life and death, emphasizing our shared journey and finding solace in companionship.

If you want to master the entire song yourself, here are the full lyrics (see full song here):

我们今生有缘在路上
Wǒmen jīnshēng yǒu yuán zài lùshàng
In this life, we are destined to be on this journey

只要我们彼此永不忘
Zhǐyào wǒmen bǐcǐ yǒng bù wàng
If only we never forget each other

朋友啊,让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a, ràng wǒmen yīqǐ láoláo míngjì ya
My friend, let’s remember very well

别在乎那一些忧和伤
Bié zàihu, nà yīxiē yōu hé shāng
Don’t mind about all that worry and pain

我们今生注定是沧桑
Wǒmen jīnshēng zhùdìng shì cāngsāng
Our lives are destined to be full of change

哭着来要笑着走过呀
Kūzhe lái yào xiàozhe zǒuguò ya
We cried when we came [into this world], let’s leave with a smile

朋友啊,让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a, ràng wǒmen yīqǐ láoláo míngjì ya.
My friend, let’s remember very well

我们今生兄弟情谊长
Wǒmen jīnshēng xiōngdì qíngyì cháng
We’ll always be like brothers in this life

朋友啊,让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a, ràng wǒmen yīqǐ láoláo míngjì ya
My friend, let’s remember very well

我们今生有缘在路上
Wǒmen jīnshēng yǒu yuán zài lùshàng
In this life, we are destined to be on this journey

只要我们彼此永不忘
Zhǐyào wǒmen bǐcǐ yǒng bù wàng
As long as we never forget each other.

朋友啊,让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a, ràng wǒmen yīqǐ láoláo míngjì ya
My friend, let’s remember very well

别在乎,那一些忧和伤
Bié zàihu, nà yīxiē yōu hé shāng
Don’t mind about all that worry and pain

我们今生就像梦一场
Wǒmen jīnshēng jiù xiàng mèng yī chǎng
This life is like a dream.

有你陪喝醉了又何妨
Yǒu nǐ péi hēzuì le yòu héfáng
What’s the harm in getting drunk together with you

朋友啊,让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a, ràng wǒmen yīqǐ láoláo míngjì ya
My friend, let’s remember it very well

凡尘过后终了无牵挂
Fánchén guòhòu zhōngle wú qiānguà.
After this mundane life, there will be no worries

朋友啊,让我们一起牢牢铭记呀
Péngyǒu a, ràng wǒmen yīqǐ láoláo míngjì ya.
My friend, let’s remember it very well

By Manya Koetse

Independently reporting China trends for over a decade. Like what we do? Support us and get the story behind the hashtag by subscribing:

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.

©2024 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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