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Viral Week Ep. 161

More World Cup news and views, a sexist wedding controversy, a disastrous attempt at a Chinese blockbuster, and a university blacklists an innocent student. It’s Viral Week…

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 a pleasant summer’s rain after a weekend of heat waves and storms, but one that actually makes the weather stay cool after.

This week, more World Cup news and views, a wedding sexism controversy, and a disastrous attempt at a Chinese blockbuster, but first…

Blacklist brouhaha

The social credit blacklist (失信名单/失信黑名单) appears to be getting Biblical: A gaokao student from Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, recently learned that, despite being accepted by a top Beijing university, found that the sins of his father were visited up on him—he could not be accepted as his father, Mr. Rao, had failed to pay a loan of 200,000 RMB and been listed.

The ensuing controversy centred on whether the son deserved to suffer for his father’s poor credit, and whether the new system was, in fact, working. Many argue that the idea of ancestral sin is traditional Chinese thinking, and its modern equivalent can be found in the notion of class enemies, through the ubiquitous citizens’ dang’an file, to the modern social credit score. Some concluded that “it’s time to punish the sons and daughters of corrupt officials, too” and others argued that the son was reaping what his father had deliberately sowed. Mr. Rao has, it transpires, repaid the money and asked for his name to be white-listed, though it is unclear if his son can now attend the university—or even if he wants, given their unwelcoming attitude.

World Cup victory costs Chinese brand 70 million RMB

After one month, the World Cup finally came to its end this morning, when France won the championship after a dramatic final, which thrilled early morning Chinese supporters—especially once some spotted a sole flag-waving fan in the crowd.

Thanks to the French, kitchen utensil company and team sponsors Vatti also made headlines for their pre-Cup campaign to refund money on certain goods purchased from June 1 to July 3 if France wins. Today, the company published a notice on its official Weibo account, promising to honor the deal.

But although, according to the company’s report, Vatti’s offline retail sales reached about 700 million RMB, a 20 percent year-on-year growth, and online sales of 300 million RMB (up 30 percent year-on-year), meaning an estimated an 79 million RMB bill awaits, Vatti’s shares rose on the stock market—meaning an overall win for Vatti and France.

11 sisters pony up for their younger brother’s wedding

Last week, a video of a wedding in a village from Shanxi province went viral online, after it emerged that the groom’s 11 elder sisters had collectively paid for their little brother’s marital home, betrothal gifts and even wedding banquet.

These virtuous sisters didn’t receive any praise, which caused a backlash online among those who see the story as exemplifying backward values that place boys over girls:

They had 11 girls, just looking forward to a boy. How distorted the values of their parents are! How serious is the gender inequality in the countryside! The sisters began to work at the age of seven or eight, but the whole family supports the only boy. If the parents have no money, then don’t have so many children; if the boy has no money, then don’t get married so early! The sisters have been suffering already, but have to take care of everything, including the wedding and the wedding house for you. Good-for-nothing, shame on you!

Some point out the family has violated the one-child policy:

Did you pay the fine for violation of birth control before getting married?

Some created a “nickname” for these sisters—“扶弟魔,” a term that has the the same pronunciation with “Voldemort” in Chinese, meaning “brother-assisting demon.” But according to the Beijing News, these sisters said in an interview that they never felt their parents favored their brother over them, arguing that their parents were not “valuing boys more than girls,” but were just traditionally-minded and wanted a son anyway. So our question is, what’s the difference between their parents’ “traditional mind” and having a preference for men?

Fantasy film flops fast

With summer, the Chinese movie market has finally entered the high season—but not for fantasy flick Asura which has become an online sensation for all the wrong reasons.

The epic story of a young boy trying to find his real identity who ends up saving the world “cost 0.75 billion RMB” (around 100 million USD) and starred Tony Leung and Carina Lau, who filmed for a full year before the July 13 premiere. Producers hoped the story, based apparently on ancient Tibetan myth, would help launch a massive franchise of Monkey King proportions.

Alas, the film scored a 4.9 rating on Tencent-backed ticketing site Maoyan, prompting producers to pull Asura from theaters after just one weekend, claiming unfair pressure. A representative from producers  Zhenjian Film told news site Sina that the decision “was made not only because of the bad box office. We plan to make some changes to the film and release it again.” The producers also insisted that the low score on Maoyan was the result of a malicious “water army” that decided to skew the system. Some agree, others say the bad score could be blamed on the atrocious storyline of movie. “Pre-release market heat for this movie was quite low — below average,” a representative for Beijing market research firm Fankink told the Hollywood Reporter, suggesting that poor interest and marketing was already dooming the movie; in addition, the latest score of Asura on Douban is 3.1 out of 10.


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