Crazy Rich flop, swine x-ing, Monkey business, and ID photo retakes—it’s Viral Week
Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, tracking the rumors, humor, and gossip that Chinese netizens are chatting about. It’s as relieving as a temporary truce after months of trade war.
This weekend, people were mainly talking about a blundering boar, a disgraced Monkey King, bad ID photos, and the latest dust-up involving Ma Rong and Wang Baoqiang. But first…
When TWOC reviewed Crazy Rich Asians in September, after its US release, we noted that, while the formulaic Cinderella story proved to be a cultural phenomenon in the West, due to the low representation of ethnic Chinese in Hollywood, “the traditions of regional cinema are strong enough at Asian box offices that Crazy Rich Asians is just another drop in the bucket.” So it has proved: As Variety notes, “the film will be lucky to score more than $1 million in its opening weekend.” In the end, it made 7.95 million RMB (1.15 million USD), but cinemas began “slashing the number of screenings per day about 32,000 on Friday to 18,700 on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, reviews on Douban (6.2 out of 10) were scornful of the plot, and felt that the film catered to Western issues, such as identity, that Chinese viewers didn’t, well, identify with. Maybe the sequel, which is partly based in Shanghai and focuses on its titular China Rich Girlfriend, will do better.
Wang and Ma: The saga continues
The fallout of actors Wang Baoqiang and Ma Rong marital break-up has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad one. And also, very, very long. It began in 2016, when Wang, a rags-to-riches actor who has starred in films from Blind Shaft to Lost in Thailand, filed for divorce, complaining that his wife was sleeping with his manager. Wang’s life story is almost as well-regarded as his work (he is sometimes known affectionately as shagen, or “dumb root,” after one of his roles), and so Ma was the subject of much abuse. She’d long been considered a gold-digger—now she was a cheater, too. Two years later, the fury and finger-pointing has not abated, with several court cases, claims and counter claims, and even an arrest (the manager, for embezzlement) in the interim.
The story began trending once more on Sunday, when video and images of Ma in hospital, after some sort of scuffle, were posted on various outlets, with Ma claiming this was the latest in a long line of domestic abuse. Then more, messy allegations rapidly leaked: Ma had arrived at Wang’s house bearing scissors, intent on confrontation; police spent all night trying to defuse the situation; Wang’s mother was hospitalized, with palpitations. Currently, netizens are having a high old time mocking Ma with various memes—it looks like this real-life soap opera will probably run longer than an imperial concubine drama.
Point and shoot…and shoot…and shoot
Chinese is full of backhanded compliments, but it’s often said that nothing stings so much as being told that the photo on your national ID card looks just like you.
How bad are these pictures? So bad, apparently, that the Ministry of Public Security has announced that applicants for ID cards and residence permits will have two further chances to retake the photo if they are not satisfied with the first result. But some believe this is like “changing the soup without changing the medicine”:
The former residence of Ming dynasty author Wu Cheng’en (吴承恩), a tourist attraction in Huai’an, Jiangsu province, has caught criticism for featuring few articles actually related to the writer. Instead, it is full of photos of Liuxiao Lingtong (六小龄童), who played the Monkey King in the 1986 TV adaptation of Wu’s classic novel, Journey to the West.
It was further revealed that the nearby square, built on the 435th anniversary of Wu’s death last year, was renamed Liuxiao Lingtong Square after the actor attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and unveiled a statue of him as the Monkey King.
In recent years, Liuxiao Lingtong has been heavily criticized for his attention-hogging tendencies, such as suing students who parodied his portrayal, and promoting his new movie at the 2017 memorial service of Journey to the West director Yang Jie. Netizens were similarly unimpressed about this stunt:
Glass-bottomed bridges are a recent and terrifying fad sweeping Chinese scenic areas, with at least 100 built since 2015. Many acrophobic tourists are in empathy with one wild boar in Guangdong province, who decided to check out a glass bridge on Thursday, only to end up trembling in the middle.
Security eventually escorted the petrified porker across (seemingly, using a method inspired by curling). Afterwards, the boar was shown lying on the ground for several minutes to recover. Video of the incident has, predictably, gone viral.