I guess I am either too old-school or unfair and extreme. However, knowing that news of some celebrity receiving greater attention, eye balls and reams of newsprint than useful news is as disappointing as knowing that many celebrities float above the law and common sense.
China, like many other nations, is far too celebrity-obsessed. This is especially true of many millennials and Gen Z members who lean on this "prestigious" group for a collective sense of identity. Fandom is fine and normal if professional and competent artists are mollycoddled. Looking up to their admirable qualities is like seeking self-development. The youth need to be aware that artists' skills are to be patted, not their vanity.
We are bombarded with product placements and visually assaulted with branded contents from KOLs to wanghongs to all types of "influencers." From toothpastes to chips to soft drinks, their presence is closer to saturation in China than in the West.
The influence and status that they enjoy and the love and support they have from their somewhat brainless fans certainly propels them to a mind-set that they are above all else.
A celebrity being rude to airport security officers is not the first time a Chinese star has rubbed people the wrong way. One celebrity was caught evading taxes. Don't worry - apologize, pay a "hefty" fine, lie low and then it's comeback time. One who cheated investors? Pay a fine and still star in reality shows. One who cheated his way through his degree and bragged about his PhD? Lie low. Make a comeback. One who took drugs? Apologize profusely. Cry. Wait for comeback. And what do they all have in common apart from their usual fan base? Go beyond the law and make a comeback.
For you and me, such acts would have resulted in jail time. For them, it seems to be eventually forgotten with time. They will always be loved, forgiven and looked up to. It is this sense of unfairness that I find to be disappointing.
There is also a huge mismatch between their remuneration and the level of contribution they make to society. Don't even get me started on their supposed sense of professionalism and talent. While I'm not saying that all Chinese artists and celebrities are untalented, the fact that most of them have voice actors to dub their own voice is laughable.
I have no problem with people adoring celebrities but let them be artists who actually do what they are doing and admire them if they are real professionals - not the dumb, can't sing, can't dance heavily packaged nonsense that we see nowadays. Seeing people intrigued by Tik Tok clips, striving to be a wanghong and celebrity obsessed is sad for any nation.
There is a need to shift focus. Learn to admire real artists and individuals who contribute far more to our nation than those who grace billboards, appear on Tik Tok, pose at Sanlitun and are the next wanghong wannabes.
We need artists and contributors - not celebrities who earn more than the pillars of our society such as scientists, doctors, teachers and everyone else. Also, I really couldn't care less and am really sick of hot trends going on and on about how one cannot love any more because X and Y got a divorce or X and Z broke up. This is not where our gaze should be.
The author is a freelance writer. She was born in China, raised in Australia, educated in China, Australia and France. firstname.lastname@example.org
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