Barometer of Chinese Culture

 Posted by on 24 April 2006 at 8:24 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 242006

I’m not entirely sure what this means, but the two Chinese students who made this now-classic “Backstreet Boys” lipsynch video are huge celebrities in China. They are now going commercial with their skills, at least as much as possible in the Chinese system:

Huang Yixin and Wei Wei, two students at the Guangzhou College of Fine Arts, were hanging around their dormitory last summer and decided — as one does — to turn on their webcam, put on their Houston-Rockets jerseys and lip-synch a few of their favourite songs by the Backstreet Boys. They uploaded the clips to Google Video, a free website full of such stuff. Their grimaces are over the top, self-consciously ludicrous. And they became famous almost instantly.

Astonishingly famous. Almost every Chinese internet user under a certain age has seen the “Back Dormitory Boys”, as they are now called. Web forums discuss their private lives. National radio and television shows have hosted them. Even their roommate, just visible in the background playing computer games, gets celebrity treatment.

Last month, a media company in Beijing called Taihe Rye hired Messrs Huang and Wei to continue their lip-synching, for cash. Song Ke, the boss, says that he has already placed his clients in a television commercial to be filmed next month for Pepsi Cola, one of China’s largest advertisers. The plan, says Zhao Qian, another manager at Taihe, is to put the Back Dormitory Boys together with their idol, Yao Ming, a Chinese basketball prodigy who plays centre for the Houston Rockets.

The old-school Chinese authorities are reportedly not amused.

(Update: In a loosely related but more ominous barometer, the Chinese government apparently now thinks that their military is so strong that they can afford to not take inductees with conditions like chronic loud snoring. I don’t think this bodes well for the West.)

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