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“Wow I’m So Fast!” – Olympic Swimmer Fu Yuanhui Becomes Chinese Internet Sensation

Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui has become a sensation on Chinese social media after she finished third in the women’s 100m backstroke in Rio de Janeiro on August 7. More than for her swimming skills, the 20-year-old athlete is praised for her funny expressions and down-to-earth attitude.

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Chinese Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui has become a sensation on Chinese social media after she finished third in the women’s 100m backstroke in Rio de Janeiro on August 7. More than for her swimming skills, the 20-year-old athlete is praised for her funny expressions and down-to-earth attitude.

The Summer Olympics in Rio have been a trending topic on Chinese social media for the past week. Among all matches and athletes, a 20-year-old girl swimmer, Fu Yuanhui (@傅园慧) has just won the hearts of tens of thousands of netizens for her sincere and funny remarks after the women’s 100m backstroke.

In the semi-finals of the women 100m backstroke on August 7, Fu Yuanhui ranked third with a time of “58,95, which means she will participate in the finals on August 9.

womens

Fu Yuanhui, born in 1996 in Hangzhou, is a female swimmer in the Chinese national team. Fu also competed in the 2012 London Olympics and won the 50-metre backstroke at the World Aquatics Championship in 2015. She is an internationally-ranked backstroke specialist.

After the semi-finals, Fu Yuanhui became a hot topic on Chinese social media, included in the top 3 hot searches list of Sina Weibo. Her popularity on the social media network is not all thanks to her swimming performance in the match – it is mainly for the interview she gave afterward.

[Check out subtitled version of the interview here.]

The interview with Fu Yuanhui after the 100m backstroke semi-finals.

At hearing her result, Fu exclaimed with surprise and delight: “58,95 ? ! I thought I did 59 seconds! Wow! Am I so fast? I am very pleased!” She told the journalist that she was not “holding back” but that she has used all of her “mystical powers” (洪荒之力, literally: power strong enough to change the universe).

She also said this was her best result and that she had been working long and hard for this result. When asked if she had high expectations for the finals, Fu answered with a bright smile, “Not at all! I am already very pleased!”

Immediately after the interview, many netizens expressed their affection for Fu, whom they titled “the comedian in the swimming profession” (泳界谐星). The interview video was shared thousands of times within 24 hours, receiving 10,000s comments. Emoticons and caricature figures of Fu followed within no time, turning the swimming star into a popular meme, with netizens posting pioctures of themselves copying Fu’s facial expressions.

6c9e4944gw1f6mvtbkmwmj20qo0r8wj2“I don’t have high expectations for tomorrow, I am already very pleased!”

swimmers2By comic author Ding Yichen (@丁一晨DYC)

005xPCfggw1f6mv62759hj30uo16mqliNetizens copying Fu’s facial expressions.

Many netizens praise Fu as “simple and non-pretentious” (单纯不做作). Some felt her funny expressions and genuine delight were a breath of fresh air compared to most Chinese athletes who often talk about their achievements in a much more serious manner. Her down-to-earth attitude about the finals also won the sympathy of many netizens.

By now, Fu has over 1.8 million followers on her official Weibo account.

swimmers1

“She is my goddess,” one netizen says: “I think everyone will love her after seeing the interview.”

8d03fe5fgw1f6mw8f9l72j20j60gtwgdOne of the many images being shared on Weibo, saying: “I am so happy!”

-By Diandian Guo

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jesús

    August 9, 2016 at 4:45 am

    Wow! I didn’t knew that chinese people knew to smile, so now i got hope the Chinese will be a little more humans well, all will must to be more…

    Congratulations to Fu! perhaps she isn’t the most beautifull woman in the earth, but she has a brightness that it becomes her in a very very pretty woman ^^

    DON’T CHANGE NEVER FU!!!

    Hi from Spain! ; ) Bye and kisses

    • Avatar

      Thomas

      August 9, 2016 at 7:37 am

      visit China sometime, there is a lot of smiling going on, also crying, jumping form joy and basically all emotions that you have is Spain also ;-P

      • Avatar

        Jesús

        August 9, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        I know XDD . Everything was an irony : P . But I do not think I ever wander through China, at least in this life because , if it costs me support to my country , I do not think I feel better surrounded by a population with so different from my culture and so hermetic mentality such as Chinese .

        Sorry if my commentary is offensive for someone, it isn’t my think.

        • Avatar

          你爷爷

          August 9, 2016 at 11:05 pm

          fuck you, bitch, Spanish white pig. Sorry, if my commentary is offensive for someone, it isn’t my think.

          • Avatar

            chao

            August 9, 2016 at 11:29 pm

            you make me feel shamed…. do not be raciest, please. I believe this Mr. Jesus is a friendly guy.

          • Avatar

            Liuxing Shen

            August 10, 2016 at 3:06 am

            Respect personal choice!

          • Avatar

            Siline

            August 10, 2016 at 11:33 am

            Your reaction is quite humiliating. Please think before you post. Even if you don’t get his humor and misunderstand, an appropriate reaction will be appreciated. Especially, people might think you represent CHINESE!

          • Avatar

            joshwu

            August 10, 2016 at 3:18 pm

            You’re such an obscenity of Chinese nation, just go home and die quietly. You make hundreds of millions of overseas Chinese

          • Avatar

            你爷爷

            August 11, 2016 at 12:42 am

            I post the previous comment because I don’t take “hermetic mentality” as a compliment, neither does “surrounded by population”, also “a little more human” made me feel offended. If declaring to apologize to whom feel uncomfortable after a long paragraph of ironic saying could be taken as “friendly”, I’m also friendly due to my same sentence posted after my racism curse. And to Joshwu, if you could not express yourself in English, use the dictionary, if you are lazy, just using Chinse.

    • Avatar

      Deus Vult

      August 9, 2016 at 8:19 am

      gas yourself you fucking spic

      • Avatar

        Jesús

        August 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm

        No mereces que nadie pierda el tiempo respondiéndote…

    • Avatar

      Robert

      August 10, 2016 at 2:13 am

      Miss you ass,humiliate our Chinese citizen

  2. Avatar

    Northest

    August 9, 2016 at 7:16 am

    She’s such a optimistic girl. Hope Chinese athletes can be more funny like her.

    I’m from China and just saw this on Reddit. Thanks for sharing this. Good translation. 🙂

  3. Avatar

    Cindy

    August 9, 2016 at 8:46 am

    This is adorable! I hope she does well in the finals. 🙂

    • Avatar

      xingfenzhen

      August 9, 2016 at 9:02 pm

      she won brozne, and she was jumping and down (and bronze and silver medalist all serious looking), so much you would have though she won gold.

      • Avatar

        Norha

        August 11, 2016 at 4:42 am

        haha..she really is cute, isn’t she?

  4. Avatar

    sreb

    August 10, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Congratulations! She’s fantastic– a genuine young athlete who did not allow the publicity and hype to go to her head. Here’s to continued success in the future.

  5. Avatar

    Leonardo França Ribeiro

    August 12, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Todos no Brasil a amamos <3 ela é uma pessoa super Gentil, brincalhona e super simpatica, suas reações foram muito engraçadas, com certeza Fu Yuanhui sera a atleta dessas olimpiadas 2016. Esperamos ve-la com muitas medalhas de ouro, você trouxe muitas alegrias pra todos nos. beijos de todo o Brasil FU Yuanhui nós te adoramos ^^

    All in Brazil love <3 she's a super person Gentle, playful and super simpatica, their reactions were very funny, certainly Fu Yuanhui will be the athlete of these Olympics 2016. We hope to see it with many gold medals, you brought many joys for all of us. kisses from all over Brazil FU Yuanhui we love you ^^
    sorry English terrible but I only speak Portuguese

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China Celebs

Weibo Blows Up after Fan Bingbing Announces Breakup

It’s been a tough year for Chinese celebrity Fan Bingbing.

Manya Koetse

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Two years after their engagement, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing and actor Chen Li have announced their breakup.

On the night of June 27 (China Standard Time), news came out that Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing is breaking up with her partner, Chinese actor Chen Li.

It was Fan herself who announced the separation through a post on social media, writing:

We go through all kinds of farewells during our lifetime. The love and warmth we gain throughout our encounters become everlasting forces. I want to thank you for all the love and support you’ve given me. Thank you for your care and love in the future. We are no longer ‘we’, but we are still ourselves.

The post soon received over 180,000 comments and more than 650,000 likes.

Chen Li also posted a message on his Weibo account, saying:

From friends to lovers, and now back to friends. Emotions can change, but the purest feeling between you and me will not change. The trust and support we have for each other will always be there. We are no longer ‘we’, but we are still ourselves.”

This breakup comes after a difficult year in Fan’s career. In summer of 2018, the 37-year-old actress was at the center of a social media storm due to a tax evasion scandal.

She disappeared from the public eye for months, and then returned with an emotional apology on Weibo.

The announcement of the split has triggered thousands of reactions on Weibo, where the hashtag “Fan Bingbing and Li Chen Split Up” (#范冰冰李晨分手#) had received 380 million views by Thursday night.

At time of writing, the breakup is dominating Weibo’s top trending topics, with many netizens commenting that Weibo is ‘exploding’ and that Weibo servers must be overheating due to the celebrity news.

It is often celebrity news that causes Weibo to blow up. A recent incident of Chinese teen idol smoking inside a Beijing restaurant also triggered millions of views and comments.

When Chinese singer and actor Lu Han announced his relationship with actress Guan Xiaotong in 2017, it even led to a rare temporary breakdown of Weibo’s servers.

By Manya Koetse

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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China Celebs

Faking Street Photography: Why Staged “Street Snaps” Are All the Rage in China

Staged street photography is the latest “15 minutes of fame” trend on Chinese social media.

Manya Koetse

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It looks as if they are spontaneously photographed or filmed by one of China’s many street photographers, but it is actually staged. Chinese online influencers – or the companies behind them – are using street photography as part of their social media strategy. And then there are those who are mocking them.

Recently a new trend has popped up on Chinese social media: people posting short videos on their accounts that create the impression that they are being spotted by street fashion photographers. Some look at the camera in a shy way, others turn away, then there are those who smile and cheekily stick out their tongue at the camera.

Although it may appear to be all spontaneous, these people – mostly women – are actually not randomly being caught on camera by one of China’s many street fashion photographers in trendy neighborhoods. They have organized this ‘fashion shoot’ themselves, often showing off their funny poses and special moves, from backward flips to splits, to attract more attention (see example in video embedded below).

In doing so, these self-made models are gaining more fans on their Weibo, Douyin, Xiaohongshu, or WeChat accounts, and are turning their social media apps into their very own stage.

 

Street Photography in Sanlitun

 

The real street photography trend has been ongoing in China for years, near trendy areas such as Hangzhou’s Yintai shopping mall, or Chengdu’s Taikoo Li.

One place that is especially known for its many street photographers is Beijing’s see-and-be-seen Sanlitun area, where photographers have since long been gathering around the Apple or Uniqlo stores with their big lens cameras to capture people walking by and their trendy fashion.

A few years ago, Thatsmag featured an article discussing this phenomenon, asking: “Who are these guys and what are they doing with their photos?”

Author Dominique Wong found that many of these people are older men, amateur photographers, who are simply snapping photos of attractive, fashionable, and unique-looking people as their hobby.

But there are also those who are working for street fashion blogs or style magazines such as P1, and are actually making money with their street snaps capturing China’s latest fashion trends.

Image by 新浪博客

People featured in these street snaps can sometimes go viral and become internet celebrities (网红). One of China’s most famous examples of a street photographed internet celebrity is “Brother Sharp.”

‘Brother Sharp’ became an online hit in 2009 (image via Chinasmack).

It’s been ten years since “Brother Sharp” (犀利哥), a homeless man from Ningbo, became an online hit in China for his fashionable and handsome appearance, after his street snap went trending on the Chinese internet.

 

Staged Street Scenes

 

But what if nobody’s snapping your pics and you want to go viral with your “Oh, I am being spotted by street fashion photographers” video? By setting up their own “street snap” shoots, online influencers take matters into their own hands.

It is not just individuals who are setting up these shoots; there are also companies and brands that do so in order to make their (fashion) products more famous. According to People’s Daily, in Hangzhou alone, there are over 200 photographers for such “street snaps” and hundreds of thousands of models for such “performances.”

The photographers can, supposedly, earn about 20,000 to 30,000 yuan ($2,890-$4,335) per day and the models are well paid.

In this way, the “street snap performance” phenomenon is somewhat similar to another trend that especially became apparent in China around 2015-2016, namely that of ‘bystander videos’ capturing a public scene. Although these videos seem to be real, there are actually staged.

One such example happened in 2017 when a video went viral of a young woman being scolded on a Beijing subway for wearing a revealing cosplay outfit.

The story attracted much attention on social media at the time, with many netizens siding with the young woman and praising her for responding coolly although the woman was attacking her. Later, the whole scene turned out to be staged with the purpose of generating more attention for the ad of a “cool” food delivery platform behind the older lady.

In 2015, photos of a ‘romantic proposal’ made its rounds on social media when a young man asked his pregnant girlfriend to marry him using over 50 packs of diapers in the shape of a giant heart. One bag of diapers carried a diamond ring inside. It was later said the scene was sponsored by Libero Diapers.

 

Wanghong Economy

 

Both the latest street snap trend and the staged video trend are all part of China’s so-called “Wanghong economy.” Wǎnghóng (网红) is the Chinese term for internet celebrities, KOL (Key Opinion Leader) or ‘influencer.’ Influencer marketing is hot and booming in China: in 2018, the industry was estimated to be worth some $17.16 billion.

Being a wanghong is lucrative business: the more views, clicks, and fans one has, the more profit they can make through e-commerce and online advertising.

Using Chinese KOLs to boost brands can be an attractive option for advertisers, since their social media accounts have a huge fanbase. Prices vary on the amount of fans the ‘influencer’ has. In 2015, for example, the Chinese stylist Xiao P already charged RMB 76,000 ($11,060) for a one-time product mention on his Weibo account (36 million fans).

According to the “KOL budget Calculator” by marketing platform PARKLU, a single sponsored post on the Weibo account of a famous influencer will cost around RMB 60,000 ($8730).

The current staged street snap hype is interesting for various online media businesses in multiple ways. On short video app Douyin, for example, the hugely popular street snap videos come with a link that allows app users to purchase the exact same outfits as the girls in the videos.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, an online survey by Tencent found that 54% of college-age respondents had the ambition to become an “online celebrity.”

 

Making Non-Fashion Fashion: The Farm Field as a Catwalk

 

Although becoming an actual online celebrity used to be a far-fetched dream for many Chinese netizens, the latest staged-street-snap trend creates the possibility for people to experience their “15 minutes of fame” online.

Just as in previous online trends such as the Flaunt Your Wealth Challenge or A4 Waist Challenge, you see that many people soon participate in them, and that they are then followed by an “anti-movement” of people making fun of the trend or using it to promote a different social point-of-view.

The 2018 “Flaunt Your Wealth” challenge, for example, in which Chinese influencers shared pictures of themselves falling out of their cars with their expensive possessions all around them, was followed by an Anti-Flaunt Your Wealth movement, in which ordinary people mocked the challenge by showing themselves on the floor with their diplomas, military credentials, painting tools, or study books around them.

In case of the (staged) “Fashion Street Photography” movement, that now has over 103 million views on Weibo (#全国时尚街拍大赏# and #街拍艺术行为大赏#), you can also see that many people have started to mock it.

“I find [this trend] so embarrassing that I want to toss my phone away, yet I can’t help but watch it,” one Weibo user (@十一点半关手机) writes, with others agreeing, saying: “This is all so awkward, it just makes my skin crawl.”

The anti-trend answer to the staged street shoot hype now is that people are also pretending to be doing such a street snap, but ridiculing it by making over-the-top movements, doing it in ‘uncool’ places, wearing basic clothing, or setting up a funny situation (see embedded tweet below).

Some of these short videos show ‘models’ walking in a rural area, pretending to be photographed by a ‘street fashion photographer’ – it’s an anti-trend that’s become a trend in itself (see videos in embedded tweets below).

Although this ‘anti-trend’ is meant in a mocking way, it is sometimes also a form of self-expression for young people for whom the Sanlitun-wannabe-models life is an extravagant and sometimes unattainable one.

They don’t need trendy streets and Chanel bags to pretend to be models: even the farm field can be their catwalk.

In the end, the anti-trend “models” on Chinese social media are arguably much cooler than the influencers pretending to be photographed. Not only do they convey a sense of authenticity, they also have something else that matters the most in order to be truly cool and attractive: a sense of humor.

Also read: From Mountains of Taishan to Faces of Amsterdam – Interview with Street Photographer Jimmy on the Run

Also read: Beijing Close-Up: Photographer Tom Selmon Crosses the Borders of Gender in China

By Manya Koetse

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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