Friday, June 29, 2007

The Infamous Zhang Ziyi

Less than 2 weeks ago, during the Shanghai International Film Festival, Zhang Ziyi was blamed for being "unpatriotic" and this added to her already negative image within China.

If you read my blog entry on Yao Ming's Wedding, you probably remember that I said that most internationally known Chinese citizens are treated as national prides. But Zhang Ziyi is one exception.

(Read more about Zhang Ziyi on Wikipedia

After browsing a couple of Chinese forums I concluded that the general Chinese public hates her for the following two reasons:

  1. She became successful too early too soon
  2. She is deemed a bad national representative

Apparently, Zhang did not "work her way up" to reach her current status. People seem to think that her success was more due to her luck than her acting skills. On the other hand, people like Yao Ming, Liu Xiang or even Gong Li, really worked their butts off to get where they are today. So they deserve respect from the people, but Zhang doesn't.

Secondly, she does not "earn face" for China, on the other hand, she "loses face" quite often. Speaking broken English at MTV awards, playing a Japanese hooker in "Memoir of a Geisha" (this is especially bad) and now dating a non-Chinese man, all of which make the Chinese people angry. People are saying that her absence at the Shanghai Film Festival "implies that she thinks the Shanghai Film Festival is not as important as the other ones, such as Cannes, which she went to", and this, needless to say, is extremely unpatriotic and a big no-no.

To sum it up, based on Zhang's sad example, if you want to become a Chinese national pride, you must:

  1. Work very very hard, the Chinese people prefer success that is based on a blend of sweat and tears (and preferably blood, too)
  2. Make the people proud. Make sure your English is so good that you can talk to foreigners with ease. Even better if you can make witty remarks (instead of the foreigners making fun of you).
  3. Only play roles that lift the image of China/Chinese culture/Chinese people. Specifically, don't touch anything to do with the Japanese, or you are a piece of dead meat.
  4. Only date your fellow country men/women.
  5. Be openly patriotic. Attend and support absolutely all functions you are invited to in China, even at the risk of losing your Hollywood career because you have to ask the directors/producers for unpaid leaves on a regular basis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Read This If You Want To Sell Beauty Products In China

The Yahoo Top 10 Keywords change everyday, but some keywords are perennially on the list. 女人我最大 is one such keyword. It is the No. 2 most searched keyword in the "Media" category on Yahoo China today, and I think it was No. 1 yesterday.

女人我最大 (direct translation: "I, woman, am the greatest!") is a Taiwanese TV program that has become so incredibly successful, millions of women in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan follow the program faithfully every week.

The program is basically a beauty talk show. Every episode has a topic (eg, dieting, hair, make-up, skin care, plastic surgery, underwear, shoes, manicure, teeth whitening, supplement....anything that is related to beauty in the slightest sense) and special guests such as make-up professionals, models, second-line wannabe-starlets will share their tricks of the trade and, here comes the killer app, RECOMMEND PRODUCTS. 

The products they recommend may not be well-known international brands. On the contrary, the "experts" usually point their golden fingers at products that very few people have heard of (maybe this strengthens the credibility of the experts, since if the experts use products that everyone else can easily get their hands on, then what's so special about the recommendation?)

After every episode, the popularity and consequently the sales of recommended products immediately soar. Women have heated discussions about the products on web forums all over the country, and the name of the program has become a powerful sales tool. "Recommended by 女人我最大" has become an overused but effective label on countless beauty products.

Make-up artists and skin care professionals who frequently appear on the show have become celebrity-like super experts. They have written their own books, have their own web sites, one of them even has his own brand of skin care products now.

Now the program also publishes a weekly magazine that basically describes all the recommended products in written form one more time, plus maybe additional recommendation that did not get on the show.

Not surprisingly, there are many similar copycat TV programs now, but hey, nothing beats the original. It's just simply phenomenal. All this from a humble little TV show that must cost very little to produce. The guy who came up with the idea is a genius.

Watch 女人我最大 on

(this the search result page, click on any one of them for a quick glance of what the show is about, but it's in Mandarin only)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Chinese Idol 李宇春

Today on Yahoo China, the most searched keyword in the Celebrity's category is 李宇春, or Li Yuchun, if you will.

For a comprehensive explanation of this person (she is a girl, by the way) please check out the Wikipedia entry:

Although she looks more like a girlish boy than a boyish girl (and the voice, too), Li Yuchun is probably one of the most popular and most talked about young celebrities in China today. She came to the whole country's attention after winning the "Super Girl" contest, which is the Chinese version of American Idol, in 2005.

Most of her fans are naturally, female, as she does not possess the usual feminine qualities that attract young male fans.  But what makes these Chinese girl so crazy about Li Yuchun? Is this some sort of collective Lesbianism?

A quick research on several Chinese forums reveals the following:

"Yu Mi" (Chinese translation: fans of "Yu", and the pronunciation sounds similar to "corn" in Chinese, apparently this is supposed to be cute) say they like "Chun Chun" because she is :

  • different from the other girlie girls
  • natural, unpretentious 
  • friendly
  • cool, handsome, pretty (ok.....)
  • a little shy, but charismatic on stage
  • cute
  • what she says on stage sounds unrehearsed and genuine
  • bows like a gentleman on stage (yes, I know, this is a little weird...)
  • does not deliberately do things to please her audience, her face shows what she feels

People who don't like her think her popularity is due the fact that "she gives people more confidence."

Some also suggest that Li won the contest and went on to be a huge pop star because the "Super Girl" contest offered hidden democracy. Audience was able to choose the final winner by sending in SMS messages. Li's being picked on by the panel of judges at the beginning of the show probably also helped as some see Li's final victory as "victory of the people over a small group of elites" ....wait, that sounds more like communism, now I am confused...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yao Ming's Wedding

Today on Yahoo China, "Yao's wedding" ranks at No.15 on the "Fastest Rising Yahoo Search Words". 

Chinese people, and hence the media, place a lot of importance on Chinese citizens who have made themselves known internationally. They are usually treated as national prides. Yao Ming is one such big deal.

According the news articles found on Yahoo, CCTV (China's Government run TV channel) is planning to host Yao's wedding on it's Mid-Autumn Festival special program. If this news is true, Yao will be marring girlfriend Ye Li. Rumor also has it that Liu Xiang, another athlete celebrity, will be the host of the wedding.

Yao Ming's Official Fan Club

Yao Ming on Wikipedia

Liu Xiang on Wikipedia

Mid-Autumn Festival on Wikipedia