Monday, September 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by Other Lisa.

It's Supergirl! Or, more accurately, it's "The Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest." Jim Yardley of the NYT asks if this knock-off of American Idol presages greater dem0cr@cy in China's future:
The enormous public fascination with the independently produced show has stimulated a nationwide online discussion on issues ranging from dem0cr@cy to standards of beauty to whether Li is a lesbian. In a country where it is illegal to organize many types of public meetings, fans formed booster clubs and canvassed malls to court prospective voters. There were even accusations of voter fraud, as rabid fans circumvented the rule limiting each person to 15 votes.

"It's like a gigantic game that has swept so many people into a euphoria of voting, which is a testament to a society opening up," a social commentator, Zhu Dake, told state media.

No one is saying that the frenzy surrounding the show represents a threat to the ruling Communist Party or foreshadows the emergence of meaningful elective politics in China. But the degree to which the show resonated with people seems to have unsettled the government's propaganda leaders. There is already speculation it will be canceled next year.
Not only that, the winner, Li Yuchun, stands in marked contrast to the typical "model worker models" usually seen on CCTV:
Tall and gangly, with a thatch of frizzy hair, the adjectives most used to describe her in the media were "boyish" or "androgynous." Some commentators speculated that her fan base consisted of young girls who considered her to be their "boyfriend" because of her appearance.
Some speculate that the show also resonated with viewers because the contestants were recruited from the provinces, as opposed to the big city types more typically found on network TV.

Wow. Candidates representative of the people. Individualism over prefab beauty. Who'd have thought that would catch on?

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