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The Internet’s End Game

2016-01-10刘莎

汉语世界(The World of Chinese) 2016年2期
关键词:姑娘

刘莎

What do web celebs find when they stagger to the Finish line?

Most online celebrities cant tell jokes, they cant sing, they cant act, and theyre probably not exactly a conscientious worker. Fame fades quickly in the digital age. So, whats the endgame for these internet luminaries?

For those who rely on their looks, the fall can be particularly hard. Luo Xiaoyi, more widely known as Nansheng Guniang(南笙姑娘),

was hailed as the “goddess” of Chinese otaku men after her photos in costume from the Republic of China period were reposted on online forums and popular fan site Douban.com.

With that fame came invitations to real-life events, but soon people found that her unprocessed appearance looked nothing like her photos. She went from “goddess” to “the master of Photoshop” seemingly overnight.

She still posts her pictures on her Weibo account, but most of the comments below are “I know its fake.”

“Once someones true face is revealed and turns out to be different from what we believe, we lose interest in them,” says Qian Yu, a computer engineer and former fan of Nansheng Guniang. He now runs an “online goddess” forum at Baidu Tieba that collects personal information and gossip about fashion bloggers and models. The forum has over 700 active users, mostly male, all hoping to find a natural “goddess” who has never had plastic surgery. “Fans dont like the feeling of being cheated, but they hate cowards more,” says Qian.

Though not always the most astute literature critics, the online world will not tolerate things like plagiarism. Tangqi, an online romance writer, lost over 50,000 followers on Weibo since July 2015, after her most popular novel was accused of plagiarism. She supposedly copied and published her works from Dafeng Guaguo, who wrote explicit homosexual fiction—which has also made her hesitant to sue. Tangqi simply turned the relationships heterosexual and made a mint.

“The writing style, storyline, and plots from Dafeng Guaguo are almost the same; the only difference is...the male and female characters,” one former reader told TWOC, adding that he has withdrawn from the QQ group of Tangqis fans and started a online boycott of an upcoming TV series based on Tangqis novel with over 3,000 like-minded others.

Tangqi apologized for “imitating” the other writers style and insisted that she did not plagiarize, but she continued to bleed followers.

Pang Mailang(龐麦郎), a rags to online riches story for his viral song “My Skating Shoes”, captured hearts with his unconventional singing and a style that gave him the appearance of a starving artist. However, a feature, “Troubled Pang Mailang”, by Renwu, a Chinese monthly magazine, depicted his seemingly troubled mental status as a narcissistic personality.

In the article, the author wrote that Pang seldom cut his fingernails or changed his bed sheets. He often watches French cartoons even though he cant speak French. He also called himself “Jonathan Pangmailang” and told reporters he was from Taiwan, despite being born in Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province. He seemingly had an intellectual fetish for internationalism, using foreign actors in his own music video to make himself look more international.

The article was enough to bring him down. The internet attacked with mockery and hatred, and he became known as a pathetic poser who manipulated the public to generate profits, a representative of the low end of the low bar that is popular culture.

As Pang Mailang and Sister Feng faded from the public eye, more have taken their place. Rather than starting out with agencies and public relations teams, they fight to establish themselves on their own and wait for companies to pour in with sponsorship offers.

So before fading naturally or falling apart, most online celebrities grab at any chance to commercialize their fame: beauties become clothing or makeup shop owners; jokers join hands with advertising companies, and bloggers become book writers.

The glorious Sister Feng is doing better than one might think. Eventually, humiliating her lost its allure and she faded from the cruel eye of Weibo. But it paid off.

She did not only secure a green card and lives her life in the US but also got a column in a newspaper, was profiled by the New York Times, and writes in a mature, sophisticated tone—quite apart from her normal faux genius persona. Her predecessor, Sister Lotus (芙蓉姐姐), grabbed attention in 2004 by posting photos of herself in revealing dresses and highlighting her “s-shaped curves” online. Like Sister Feng, she was laughed at for having no self-awareness and being too confident, “taking ugliness as beauty,” as some netizens said. After 11 years, now that most have forgotten her, Sister Lotus is now quite trim and spends her time at charity events and volunteers at NGOs. And, with the money she made as the internets whipping girl, she managed to open a communications company.

Both Sister Feng and Sister Lotus were ordinary girls from small cities who turned their online theatrics into serious money.

The fall from fame doesnt have to be hard or humiliating. Many are happy to have the money that rolls in from their profiles for endorsing products; others go into business for themselves. In the end, they have what theyve always had: followers—followers who didnt care where they were going.

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