Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the previous weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about. Think of this as the elusive spring breeze you’ll never feel again this month, or the next.
This week, we see the end of the manhunt for the Didi murderer, plastic surgery for minors, and the old face that launched a thousand fruit ads. But first…
Saturday was the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. In the blitz of media reports about the rebuilt disaster areas, resilience of the locals, and survivor stories, one special survivor had his day in the spotlight.
Zhujianqiang, or “Resilient Pig,” is a pig who survived for 36 days under the rubble of a collapsed farm, living mainly on liquid charcoal and rainwater. His miraculous rescue made national headlines and he is still alive today, having been sold by his farmer to raise in a private museum dedicated to the earthquake. In 2011, the porcine survivor was cloned, resulting in six offspring with identical DNA.
Now around 88 in human years, Resilient’s health is deteriorating fast, but he still attracts tourists from around the country and continues to symbolize the spirit of survival.
You’ve heard of people getting extreme procedures to look younger—but last week, Weibo was collectively outraged by a snippet of a variety show called Talking to Strangers, one which one of two guests invited to debate the benefits and drawback of plastic surgery claimed to have been “sent to take cosmetic surgery by [her] mom at the age of 14.”
This was no plea for sympathy: the guest, Wu Xiaochen, is a steadfast supporter of cosmetic surgery, told that she didn’t rebel against being taken to get surgery as a teen, because she knew it was “something that could make her prettier.” By now she has taken over 20 surgeries and spent four million RMB on her face, and though she has experienced botched procedures several times, Wu claims she has no regrets, because “the society is cruel” and she wants to be “extraordinary.” Meanwhile, Weibo users are debating whether minors should be allowed these surgeries and whether Wu’s views are unhealthy—such as, for instance, her claim that if her child is not beautiful, she will take them to get surgery at 12 or 13.
A full remodel: “I’ve never regretted it,” says Wu
More bizarrely, she says she and her friends think of one’s looks as houses; natural faces are the “unfinished shell,” while a remodeled face is “fully furnished house.” As for Wu herself? She “has a whole building on the face.”
Didi driver-hunt ends
DNA tests have confirmed that the body police found on Saturday in Zhengzhou, Henan province, was that of Liu Zhenhua, driver of a ride-share vehicle accused of murdering a 21-year-old flight attendant, surnamed Li, who hired his vehicle via the Shunfengche function of the Didi app from Zhengzhou Airport to the train station on May 5.
Liu’s name and Didi had been two of the highest trending keywords on WeChat in the past week, peaking at 10.6 milion and 51.6 million, respectively. While this was partly fueled by Didi’s offer of a public reward of a 1 million RMB reward for any information on Liu, the infamous “human flesh search engine,” China’s extrajudicial system of internet vigilantes, were also busily searching for information on the driver due to pure rage.
Didi announced on Friday that they will be suspending their ride-share service nationwide for a week. However, it has been under fire for not forthcoming with more information, and the victim’s father has accused the company of lack of communication and says he will be pursuing responsibility. In the meantime, we’re just left with this extremely useful advice from Zhengzhou police: “Do not engage in disputes with drivers and be accompanied when taking rides at night”
Help this old man!
If you’re one of the people that easily feel sympathetic upon seeing a sad old man, this sales tactic is for you.
E-commerce merchants have come under fire for abusing pictures of sad-looking old men to sell produce that’s “sluggish,” or generally unmarketable, known as 滞销. Slow sales often apply to fruits and agricultural produce. The government of Linfen county, Shanxi province, has criticized the practice for tarnishing the image of the local fruit industry, as the ads imply the county’s’ farmers are begging people to buy the unsaleable local produce.
Moreover, it seems that the merchants didn’t even bother to find pictures of different old men (or women). The model is now known as 滞销大爷 (Slow-Sales Old Man), and you will probably run into his wizened visage when you’re e-shopping in the next few days, so don’t let the sadness etched in his features distract you from the heaps of unwanted fruits in the background.