Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about.
This week, there’s a probe into college admissions fraud, a racist toothpaste gets rebranded, an 80s Mandopop hit goes viral, a spicy argument erupts in Chongqing, and new graduates get creative:
A woman in Shandong province named Chen Chunxiu recently discovered that her admission letter to the Shandong University of Technology had been suppressed in 2004, and someone else had attended and graduated from the university in her name while she went on to a job as a factory worker and restaurant server. An investigation of higher education fraud in Shandong has since revealed that 242 people have entered 14 universities in Shandong by using other peoples’ admission offers.
Toothpaste cleaned up
Colgate-Palmolive announced it will change the name of Darlie, its toothpaste brand for the Asian market with an infamous blackface logo. The brand had been founded by Hawley & Hazel Chemical Company in Shanghai in 1933, and is known as 黑人牙膏, or “Black Person Toothpaste,” in Chinese.
Billionaire real-estate developer Wang Zhenhua was sentenced to five years in prison for child molestation by a Shanghai court, raising the public’s ire, as they felt the punishment was too lenient.
A teacher in Changzhou who told a fifth-grader in her class that her essay did not contain enough “positive energy,” which apparently led to the girl’s suicide, is under investigation by the local education bureau. The incident has ignited fierce debate on the draconian discipline enforced in Chinese classrooms, as well as the way that the concept of “positive energy” stifles children’s creativity.
Mandopop singer Fei Yuqing’s 1983 hit “One Plum Blossom” (《一剪梅》) has gone viral abroad after one of its cover versions was shared on YouTube in February. The phrase “Xue hua piao piao, bei feng xiao xiao,” which comes from one line of the song, and is translated as “Snow falls and wind blows” (雪花飘飘，北风萧萧), has become a popular meme expressing helplessness, sorrow, or indifference.
When the Shanghai Electric Department investigated a villa whose monthly electric bill rarely exceeded a suspiciously low 300 RMB, despite having to air condition its 200 square meters, they found that the owner had installed an “energy saving device” to hack the electricity meter that swindled the city of 130,000 RMB over seven years.
This year’s graduation ceremony at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan involved a colorful parade of students atop various farming vehicles, including tractors and seeders, cruising down the school’s main avenue.
A graduating class at a Shanxi university with 27 male students and one female student dressed for the ceremony with the boys in formal suits and the girl in a wedding gown, angering netizens who felt the practice was inappropriate and demeaning to the female student.
A large teddy bear discarded near a clothing donation bin by students leaving a Shandong medical college has become an internet sensation, due to passersby adding clothing and a mask, and rearranging the bear’s pose.
Last week, a tourist to Chongqing, a municipality notorious for spicy food, complained to the management of a restaurant that the “mildly mildly mildly mildly mildly spicy” dish she ordered (by writing the character 微, meaning “a little,” five times on her order) was too hot. Next time best to order no spice at all, her waiter quipped.
An old man from Haozhou, Anhui province, was forced to walk nearly 1,000 kilometers to Huangyan, Zhejiang province, in hopes of getting a job, as he had no mobile phone on which he could show his “health code” to public transit authorities. The man has since been taken home by his family.
A man in Guangdong province tried to treat constipation by inserting a 40 centimeter-long live eel into his rectum, which almost killed him before doctors gave him an operation to remove the the eel.
Cover image from CFP