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Comedian’s Costume Criticism Controversy

A long valued history, still sparking debate today


Chinese netizens have been up in arms this week following ridicule of traditional Chinese costume on a television program hosted by the famous comedian Zhou Li Bo 周立波.

Sometimes known as the ‘Shanghai Clown’, the Shanghainese stand-up comedian has in the past enjoyed a long streak of popularity, with his humorous discussions of urban life, politics, and economic strategy as well as other topics.

However this week, his popularity spiked sharply downwards after a dance performance by a group of young people on a public show that he was presenting. The group performed wearing traditional marriage costumes in the style of those from the Tang dynasty. Here are the costumes in question:


Zhou Li Bo was reported to have repeatedly mocked the costumes, including asking if the costumes were ‘Korean’ and which ‘bath house’ they had come from.

When clips of his comments reached the internet, many people were astounded to the point of offense, and lashed out at Zhou for his ‘ignorance’, ‘lack of respect’, and ‘unacceptable’ behavior. In particular, one Chinese writer described his actions as ‘blasphemy’ and called for the comedian to run naked through Tiananmen Square as a punishment.

The fuel has been lit, however, for debates over whether to insult this style of clothing, named 汉服 han fu, is indeed equivalent to insulting Chinese traditional culture, or any culture at all. Many have argued in favor, claiming that if they do not guard attitudes of respect towards their history, the value of this culture will be washed away. Zhou Li Bo has assured the public that the clip will be edited out of the final piece, and stated that if people do not like his humor, do not to watch his show.

What are your thoughts on attitudes towards tradition?


Think you should start watching Chinese Television? Have a read of Guide to Reality TV.

Images courtesy of Weibo

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