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Celebrity through smack-talking

I’m sure this will disappoint Prince Roy, whom I’d promised not to write about the whole stupid, boring, pointless Chinabounder thing (people unfamiliar with the whole affair should consider themselves lucky, but can click on that link if they feel like killing some brain cells), but my Chinese newspaper column this week is all about the Chinese blogosphere, and so I couldn’t very well not write about it.
This seems to be my most popular piece yet; within 20 minutes of it giong up on my blog at Bullog.cn, I got an SMS from Luo Yonghao (罗永浩, better known as 老罗 as in 老罗语录) saying “牛逼!” (“Badass!”) It’s also up on my own Chinese blog, but there are fewer comments there; the comments on Bullog tend to be more fun. Here’s a quick and dirty translation. Forgive any translatese; I did it quickly because, hey, I already wrote this once. Sinologues will probably prefer to read it in Chinese, where it is funnier.


After my blog got added to Bullog the other week, I got a record number of visitors, numbers that made my head spin, numbers that – frankly – I wouldn’t mind getting more of. So I’m thinking, how do I expand my scope to guarantee myself more readers? I began a careful consideration of the question, making a thorough study of the big shots of the Chinese blogosphere, and arrived at the conclusion that if you want to make it big in the blogoqiu, you just need to remember two words: talk smack! Talk all the smack you want about whoever you want, whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, but as long as you bitch your bitchiest and keep the smack flowing, you’re guaranteed readers.

Then let the smack-talking begin! Who do I bitch about first? Well — talking smack on celebrities is of course the easiest; bang something out about Fan Bingbing’s nosejob, Zhou Xun’s chin surgery, Li Yuchun’s cleverly concealed penis; call Tom Cruise a lunatic, Liu Dehua a fag, Jiang Wen too macho; ask why the entire Chinese film industry has thus far failed to produce anything even resembling a good movie; whatever. Posts like that are easy to write — they don’t take any kind of thought at all, just the desire to mow down everyone and everything in your path. I, being lazy and not posessed of very much free time, decided that this would be the right kind of blog for me, and began, anticipating my future online celebrity, sat down to write. Then I found out that Song Zude had gotten there before me.

So much for talking smack on celebrities. Plan B: many of the most popular blogs in the US are devoted to talking smack on the government, like DailyKos, Atrios, and other left-wing forums. I Googled and found that for some reason, there were hardly any blogs like that in China; Google turned up a few links, but for some reason none of them would open. Now this got me excited: I could be opening up a whole new market!
But then that evening, I was using a public toilet near my house and saw Comrade Hu Jintao’s groundbreaking ‘Eight Glories and Eight Disgraces’ on the wall, and saw banners calling on everybody to lend their support in constructing a (groundbreaking) “Harmonious Society,” and couldn’t help but think that this kind of blog would be disharmonious and disgraceful. Besides that, I checked a few newspapers and online reports and couldn’t find any bad news. Why waste my time talking smack on a government that doesn’t have anything wrong with it?

Then I thought, maybe I could get famous by making egao spoofs like Hu Ge. I know, SARFT said that spoofs and other online videos were “unhealthy,” but I’ve got the results of the physical that I had to take before getting a visa last year to prove the opposite! (Though I must say, it gave me a warm feeling to see that SARFT cares about my health so much. The US government would never do that.) The only problem is that I don’t have a camera and I’m too broke to buy one.

I was running out of get-famous-quick ideas when the whole ChinaBounder thing hit. One look at CB and Zhang Jiehai’s hit counters convinced me that this was the way to go: talking smack on celebrities didn’t work out; muckracking on the government fell through; sneering at Chen Kaige wasn’t an option, so by god, I would bitch about myself!
First I’d open a blog somewhere as Associate Professor Li Dasanr of Beijing #2 Coal Institute. Then I’d find this “Brendan” and start tearing into him, and call on my readers to sweep this foreign trash out of China in the name of the Chinese race. (Even better if it actually worked: I’d love to visit home; I just don’t have the money for a ticket.) I’m not sure exactly what the good professor would be bitching about, but I’m sure there are plenty of options:

  • Hurting the feelings of the Chinese People. I don’t want to get people all riled up, but I have to admit that I have, in public spaces, said many times that China only has 4999 years of history and that Li Bai’s “Quiet Night Thoughts” is not that good a poem. Oh, and there was the time at the ███ mausoleum when I ██████, then grabbed the body and started ████, vigorously ███████, while yelling “Reclaim the Mainland for the Kuomintang!” (This didn’t actually happen, but who’s to say it logically couldn’t have?)
  • Violating Chinese law. I confess: from time to time, I use pirate software, watch pirated DVDs, and even take illegal taxis and mototrikes, all illegal actions harmful to the public interest. Also, I couldn’t find translation work for a while, so I went around stealing manhole covers to sell for scrap.
  • Violating the One China principle. I’ve got a lousy memory, OK, and I always forget to say “Chinese” before “Taiwan.” I know, heinous. Especially since I live in Chinese Beijing.

I don’t know if it’ll work out in the end. Forget it if it doesn’t; I’m tired of this already.

7 Comments

  1. Prince Roy wrote:

    As the little shoeshine boy supposedly said to Shoeless Joe Jackson in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal: “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”

    Or as Michael Corleone said to his brother Fredo in the Godfather II: “Fredo, you broke my heart!”

    Either way, this is a sad day…

    Monday, September 11, 2006 at 7:12 am | Permalink
  2. Mi dispiace. But c’mon – just a quick mention! And I did it in Chinese first! Ironically, even!

    Monday, September 11, 2006 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  3. Now grow up you two. Give each other a pat on the back and make up. ;)

    Seriously, that piece is hilarious, Brendan.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006 at 12:19 am | Permalink
  4. studentyoung wrote:

    Quote:
    [Li Bai’s “Quiet Night Thoughts” is not that good a poem.]
    Webmaster, could you please read some relative material on the background of “Quiet Night Thoughts” by Li Bai, and take a second thought?

    版主啊,我们中国人可是非同寻常的含蓄啊,越是文化修养高的,就越在表达自己的情感、想法的时候就越是含蓄。我现给你举一个例子,南朝的《世说新语·简傲》中有个故事:嵇康与吕安是朋友,安拜访嵇不遇,嵇康之子嵇喜出门让吕安进屋,安不进,在门上题写“鳳”,即(繁体)的凤字,而去,意谓喜是一只“凡鸟”。

    宋人范成大诗《重九日行营藏之地》中曰:“纵有千年铁门槛; 终须一个土馒头。”,“铁门槛”是以前有钱有地位的象征,没钱的铸不起铁门槛;“土馒头”就是坟幕。后有人用其典曰:“城外都是土馒头,城内尽是馒头陷。”——写到这儿,我就不愿再多说了,留着以后版主看诗的时候再慢慢悟吧。

    Friday, October 13, 2006 at 12:32 pm | Permalink
  5. kastner wrote:

    我也較同意SY同學的提法。
    有些唐詩念起來似乎很呆,但結合特定的情境、共通的情感,依然可以體會出詩人當時至少一半的用心。
    每讀完一首詩,花費30分鐘去苦思琢磨和花費30秒鐘便匆下定論的結果或許十分迥然。這點在東方主義含蓄內斂的特徵下更爲明顯。
    希望不是故弄玄虛,至少在日益全球化的現代中國,很難想像西方人會認同遠東傳統的不顯露——尤其是我們自己都不免動搖懷疑。但請相信:東亞這種共同的潜文化真實存在。

    Monday, October 16, 2006 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
  6. studentyoung/kastner — Thanks for the information, but here’s a suggestion: when other people have a different opinion from you, it’s not necessarily because they don’t understand. I don’t like the poem very much, not for any lack of understanding, but rather because it doesn’t do anything for me on an aesthetic level. Please don’t get into the whole “我们中国人…” thing; it’s iritating and condescending, and I’m really not in the mood to hear it again for the millionth time at the moment.

    Sorry to be snappish. I’ve been in a lousy mood for the last few days.

    Monday, October 16, 2006 at 10:42 pm | Permalink
  7. kastner wrote:

    No problem Brendan. I am not good at forcing someone actually I guess me also hate that. It would be nicer to regard both my and youngstudent’s comment as kinda postive perspective for Li Bai’s “Quiet Night Thoughts”. No offense to your understanding. It’s just normal to say I like this, I don’t like that, you know.
    The point is, it seems will surely get into trouble everytime a Chinese saying “Well, we Chinese people…” before a foreigner no matter what true idea he wants to show. Annoying. anyway, I am not gonna join them so keep cool you guy. I would say these stupid stuffs regularly happen coz there is ONE THING you can hardly know and I now surrender to argue it anymore, ok let it go.
    I sometimes believe that silence gives deeper thinking and understanding.
    Have fun =)

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

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