In January, a post called “The Huaguoshan Guidebook for Pretention” (花果山装腔指南) appeared on Tianya, China’s biggest online forum, and quickly became a phenomenon. Over 20,000 words long, the guidebook gives specific instructions on how to pretend to be of good taste and high class in terms of phones, glasses, business cards, watches, umbrellas and wallets, with the list continuously being updated by microblog.
“I teach people how to pretend, and I also reveal how you can tell when someone is only pretending,” the author, nicknamed 花总 (Hua Zong, General Secretary of Huaguoshan Mountain), wrote in his microblog.
Reaching beyond merely cataloguing high-end brands, his writing is sarcastic, sophisticated and hilarious, yet sometimes one can detect a human touch in his acidic commentary, or a grave concern for society hidden behind his playful words.
With the reference to Huaguo Mountain, home to the Monkey King, Hua Zong appears to be a big fan of the series, but his true identity is still shrouded in mystery.
Here is a partial translation of one guide within his opus, “How to Pretend to Be High Class on Weibo”.
– Your account should be tagged with a “V” (meaning it has been verified with a true ID, a privilege initially limited to celebrity users of Sina Weibo). However, you should show reluctance about being identified.
– Gossip profusely about celebrities’ private lives, but the subjects have to be either foreign or ancient, at least dating back to the Republic of China. For example: the romance of Xu Zhimo (poet, 1897-1931) and Lu Xiaoman (painter, 1903-1965).
– Talk about antique auctions every month. It’s better to discuss the most recent auction, and to use some jargon when doing so.
– It’s OK to post a photo of your dinner. However, the subject should not be the dishes but the celebrities that you happened to photograph while casually dining together.
– Don’t talk about money. If you really can’t help it, talk about angel investments.
– If you post photos of airport lounges, then only post those from VVIP lounges if you are in a domestic airport. Don’t photograph lounges for holders of platinum bank cards – this only makes you look like a housekeeper.
– Talk about the weather in Boston and Greece, not Macau and Las Vegas.
– Make sure you follow a Buddhist guru. It would be best if his practice is both esoteric and exoteric.
– Post a photo of the Buddhist prayer room in your mansion.
– If you are a Christian, you should be able to claim you’ve sat at the same table with a bishop, but not a bishop from the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China.
– It’s OK to convert to an obscure religion from South Asia, but don’t talk about it so much that you attract Weibo censorship.
– Do not post photos from the Boao Forum for Asia, but do post photos of you fishing near the Boao coast during the forum.
– If you want to show off your hotel room, it has to be midnight in a hotel no less prestigious than the Four Seasons (and better still if it’s the Waldorf or Peninsula). Your mood should be slightly blue; instead of your new Zegna handbag, take a photo of a Zen poem you wrote on the hotel stationery, with your (limited edition) Namiki pen casually in view and a copy of The Atlantic as the paper weight.
– If you are already a second or third generation high-class citizen, fiercely express your self disgust and betray your own class to ensure you stay high class for the rest of your life.
– If you want to post an old photo of your father, the background should be the Western Hills, Beidaihe River or Yangming Mountain (the nation’s founding fathers’ favorite places to have meetings). If it’s a group photo, make sure there is at least one person who reached the rank of general by 1955. Can’t find a general? Then Photoshop some old black-and-white photos into one image, print it out and then scan it. This will blow the minds of the “Red Blood” (descendents of the earliest CCP leaders). Since everyone from the old generation is already dead, you don’t need to worry about being busted.
– Do not reveal your sexual tendencies unless you must.
– If you are over 40 and still have a job, quit it. Your current occupation can only be the financial supporter of NGOs or an academic title.
– Stay away from mainstream opinions and do not comment on controversial social events. However, you must display your sympathy and kind heart. Love animals—“secretly” bring food to stray animals and accidentally run into your fans (as Sina Weibo followers are called). Protecting animals is forever politically correct.
– Never show off your diplomatic passport or your car plate number starting with 京A8 (this usually marks the car of a high-ranking central governmental official). Being high class means being privileged, but this truth can never be spoken out loud. Fans who are fascinated with the upper class as much as they are with justice and equality are dangerous. If you go over the top, you will be drowned in jealousy and hatred.
– Showing off your connections is an art, and showing off your connections with famous actors and directors must be even more subtle. You can know Jiang Wen, but your friendship better be traceable to over 10 years ago. Chen Daoming? Forget about him, unless he is mentioned as Du Xian’s husband. It’s OK that you don’t personally know Jackie Chan, and have but a nodding acquaintance with Jet Li during charity events. However, you should care about Zhang Yuan’s health and have visited Cui Jian when he was shooting “Blue Bone”. Never appear in the same photo frame with Zhang Ziyi.
– Science is never something for the upper class. Since antiquity, the upper class has been known for drugging themselves on mystery pills and believing in fortune-telling. As a member of the upper class, you should practice meditation and dhyana, or at least some yoga. Believe in reincarnation and necromancy; it’s also best if you have your own private traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor and astrologist. You need to make your fans feel like they are smarter than you, giving the illusion that God treats us all equally.
For the original, complete Chinese version, check out his column on caixin.com: huazong.blog.caixin.com/ or his microblog: weibo.com/hgszsj.
Does it all seem a bit frivolous to you? That’s fine. Other blogs have a bit more substance.
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