Entertainment

This handout image courtesy of Netflix shows a scene from season one of South Korea's Squid Game. (Youngkyu Park/Netflix/AFP)

Does China need its own Squid Game?

Despite Netflix not being in the China market, Chinese viewers have still managed to watch the global hit show Squid Game, prompting questions on whether China can come up with its own global hit. It is not so much a question of box office ticket sales or viewership revenue, but the gains of soft power and cultural diplomacy that can be reaped. What are China’s barriers to creating global hits?
People look at publicity posters of The Battle at Lake Changjin at a cinema in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China, on 7 October 2021. (CNS)

Can the Chinese criticise their patriotic movies?

The movie The Battle at Lake Changjin has broken all sorts of box office records in China. This patriotic drama portrays Chinese volunteer troops fighting in the Korean War against the US, and is highly rated by the authorities and the public. However, certain comments have been criticised for being disrespectful to the people and times in the movie, and the police have detained Chinese financial media personality Luo Changping for his allegedly disparaging comments against the country's volunteer fighters. Zaobao’s China Desk examines the issue.
A woman walks past a store of German fashion house Hugo Boss in Beijing, China, 27 March 2021. (Thomas Peter/File Photo/Reuters)

China's crackdown on pretty boys and temple temptresses: Why are Chinese women feeling targeted?

The Chinese authorities are not just clamping down on celebrities for their excesses or “unhealthy’ fandoms, but setting the ground rules for media portrayals of gender norms of appearance and behaviour. In particular, the "effeminate aesthetics" of male celebrities and female influencers marketing themselves in Chinese temples have come under attack. But why are Chinese women feeling targeted? Are these necessary actions to moderate the internet economy or just signs of an over-the-top paternalistic bent?
People pose for photos in front of a statue of American actress Marilyn Monroe Universal Studios Beijing, China, 21 September 2021. (CNS)

Universal Studios Beijing: With 5,000 years of culture, can China create its own theme park?

Universal Studios Beijing opened to much publicity, with tickets being snapped up in just one minute. But some detractors question if this is exactly the sort of imperialism that China has grown out of and it should be developing its own mega attractions with Chinese elements. Would doing so simply entail rejecting Western influences? How can it develop a concept that truly reflects a flavour of China or its popular culture?
Cartoon: Heng Kim Song

ThinkCartoon

Heng Kim Song has been the freelance editorial cartoonist

Two men have their breakfast on the street in an older neighborhood in Shanghai, China on 30 August 2021. Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired a high-level meeting that “reviewed and approved” measures to fight monopolies, battle pollution and shore up strategic reserves, all areas that are crucial to his government’s push to improve the quality of life for the nation’s 1.4 billion people. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Can China succeed in income distribution reform and get rid of its celebrity economy?

The assets of the top eight tycoons in the world have a combined worth of half the global population, says EAI academic Lance Gore, and the Chinese Communist Party faces a choice: Will China go down the old path of Western advanced capitalism, especially Anglo-American capitalism, and make the same mistakes as them? China has shown resolve in reforming its income distribution issues in various sectors including the entertainment industry. But it is not an easy path as vested interests may still interfere and the people can only rely on the self-purification of the Chinese Communist Party to uphold the regime’s people-centred nature.
Left to right: Chinese pop culture icon Gao Xiaosong (Internet), Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma (Bloomberg), and actress/producer Vicki Zhao (Weibo).

Celebrities scrubbed from the Chinese internet: Victims of China’s social revolution?

Personalities such as actress/producer Vicki Zhao and music multi-hyphenate Gao Xiaosong have recently been scrubbed from the Chinese internet. Curiously, among the “wrongs” they are thought to have committed, a common one between them is having strong links to big capital Alibaba. What are the authorities saying with this latest clampdown on well-connected pop culture icons? Is an engineered social revolution under way?
Kris Wu arrives at the iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards (MMVA) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 26 August 2018. (Mark Blinch/File Photo/Reuters)

Kris Wu’s downfall and the dark side of big capital

Kris Wu has been detained by the police in Beijing. His social media accounts are deleted from Chinese social media platforms, wiping out the star's online presence. While this is not the first time Wu is embroiled in sex scandals, it is the first time he is detained. Who are the benefactors and financial powers behind China's top celebrities like Wu? And what does this mean for China's crackdown on big capital?
A supporter gestures while holding the final edition of Apple Daily in Hong Kong, China, 24 June 2021. (Lam Yik/Reuters)

Beijing’s message behind the closure of Hong Kong’s Apple Daily

Han Yong Hong observes that the Hong Kong pro-democracy paper Apple Daily meant different things to different people. Its own history and rise to infamy was also chequered and at times conflicting. But its demise just before 1 July seems to indicate that the central government is sending a clear message that without “one country”, there can be no “two systems”.