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, robots have a difference of opinion, plastic straws are banned, celebrities’ health apps get hacked, and a comedian punctures male egos:
Tutu and Wangbao, two robot assistants at the Jiangxi Provincial Library, got into an argument over which one of them has more “fans.” A video shows them trading stock insults in high-pitched voices, and ends with Wangbao attempting to make peace with Tutu but being ignored.
The last straw
A nationwide ban on plastic straws in the food and beverage industry formally went into effect on January 1. Some paper straw factories are now fully booked for orders until April.
A court in Guangzhou found a group of 17 people guilty of smuggling ivory worth over 1 billion RMB from 2013 to 2018 in what is China’s largest ever ivory smuggling case. Two defendants received life sentences.
On December 31, controversial writer-turned-filmmaker Guo Jingming apologized to writer Zhuang Yu 15 years after a court ruled that he plagiarized Zhuang’s work. Amusingly, on the same day, scriptwriter Yu Zheng (who is frequently accused of following trends set by Guo) also apologized for plagiarizing writer Qiong Yao six years earlier. Earlier in the month, 150 TV and film professionals had joined in a boycott of Guo and Yu’s works.
No laughing matter
Standup comedian Yang Li recently came under criticism for her bit on Tencent’s New Year Gala for allegedly “fanning hatred of men.” One anonymous viewer even made an official complaint to the National Radio and Television Administration over Yang’s quips, the most famous of which goes “Why are some men so ordinary, yet so self-confident?”
Health app hacked
A group of hackers infiltrated the anti-epidemic Beijing Health Code app and obtained the photos and national ID numbers of over 1,000 celebrities, which they advertised in a package for download for 1 yuan. The group caters to an entire industry of selling the private information of celebrities, from flight numbers to hotel stays, to fans.
Shrouded in fashion
Ren Sainan, a Henan woman in her 20s, has given up a white-collar job to design and model shrouds on Taobao. Though the job only brings in 3,000 RMB per month, and is consider unlucky by many, Ren, whose products include silk qipao and other exquisite cuts, said she thinks her profession removes the taboo surrounding death and “helps the dead say goodbye at the end of their lives.”
A food delivery worker in Xiangyang, Hubei province, paused to pound out a tune on a piano after completing a delivery in the mall. As onlookers recorded the scene, one audience member remarked to journalists that they were touched by “the universal thirst for a beautiful life.”
After a day’s snowfall, a Mr. Wang in Jinan, Shandong province, left work to find his car decorated with dozens of snow ducklings. He believes some local children did it.
A sculptor surnamed Wang in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, has been creating sculptures of celebrities—by biting their facial features out of apples. Wang’s videos show him gnawing on the apple before putting it on a wooden stand, where a light casts the eerily lifelike silhouettes onto the wall.
Cover image from VCG