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.
This week, more embarrassment for China’s tourism image, celebrity salary caps, and a Peeping Tom gets his comeuppance. But first…
One Country, Two Dorms
The lackluster conditions of Chinese dorms—rooms at schools and workplaces designed for multiple occupancy —has long been acknowledged by embittered students at various universities. In September 2014, awful dorms became a trending topic, with pictures shared on Weibo of the worst offenders.
Now a short documentary by overseas student Futura Costaglione has reignited the debate. Entitled “One Country, Two Dorms,” the film focuses on the perceived inequities of the two-dorm system, in which local students in two colleges in Lanzhou and Beijing appear to receive a raw deal (eight to a room, rickety fans, unpleasant shared bathrooms) compared to foreigners (two-person rooms, en-suite bathrooms, A/C).
The decidedly amateur doc points out the rise in foreign students in China, asking “But at what price?” The answer is actually in the film: One Chinese student pays a yearly fee of 1,500 RMB, while her foreign counterparts pay 13,440 RMB for the same period. While many Chinese commentators noted this, some blamed faculties for treating Chinese students like second-class citizens—while there was the usual fringe invective against those foreigners, coming over here on their scholarships, subsidizing their education…
Chinese tourists expelled from Malaysia for risque dance
Two tourists have been deported from Malaysia, according to the South China Morning Post, for inappropriate and disrespectful behavior at a mosque. A miniskirted dance routine by 37-year-old Wan Han and 25-year-old Zhang Na, outside the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque, was unfortunately caught on camera, and provoked a storm of anger reactions and religious sentiments in the Muslim-majority country.
The chairman of the mosque suspended the pair’s right to further visits “to protect Islam’s sanctity,” and they were fined 25 ringgits (6.20 USD) before being put on a flight back to China.
This incident reminds Chinese visitors to conform to local customs and laws so that similar embarrassments can be avoided in future.
Stars’ Salaries Capped to Counter “Money Worship”
Chinese movie stars are set to received a massive hit to their paychecks – actors’ salaries will now capped at 40 percent of production costs, with stars’ salaries capped at 70 percent of the total budget for actors.
While the justification for the new official guidelines is to help realign Chinese society against “distorting social values” and “fostering money worship tendencies,” the more likely reason is to counter rampant tax evasion in the entertainment industry. A widespread practice is the so-called “yin-yang” contracts, in which a star is provided two contracts with different payments listed—only one of which is reported to the tax authorities.
In May, two contracts were leaked which suggested megastar Fan Bingbing is guilty of taking “yin-yang” contracts, an allegation which she currently denies.
Peeping Tom monetizes spycams in Chengdu “Love Hotel”
Be wary next time you embark on a romantic rendezvous in one of China’s so-called “love hotels”—someone might be watching.
Over the weekend, South China Morning Post reported that a Peeping Tom had installed cameras over beds in two “love hotel” rooms in Chengdu, providing real-time streaming sex tapes to a subscription-only QQ group (members reportedly paid 2,000 RMB per month.) The cameras were discovered in April by a newlywed couple visiting the city to take their wedding photos.
When the pair spied a clumsily made hole over the bed and found the camera, the wife took matters into her own hands—that night, she and her husband slept in the car, and called police the next morning.
The voyeur was arrested with “two hard drives totalling 3 terrabtyes of memory containing the sex tapes he had recorded” and explained to police that he had tried filming in rural hotels but the guests were “not ideal.”