CHINA Podcast: Story in the Story (11/25/2019 Mon.)

CHINA

Podcast: Story in the Story (11/25/2019 Mon.)

People's Daily app

02:07, November 25, 2019

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From the People's Daily App.

This is Story in the Story.

China's entertainment and media industries will continue to see robust growth in the next five years, according to a private report.

The report said the combined industry revenue would expand at a compound annual growth rate of 7.2 percent from this year until 2022 to reach $343 billion.

Internet video, online advertising and video games will lead the trend, with projected growth of 16.3 percent, 11.8 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. The film industry will also see vigorous expansion.

Generally unaffected by a slowdown in the broader economy, both sectors have sprouted into a significant segment of the tertiary industry and played a major role in boosting consumption.

China has become the world's second largest online advertising market and overtaken the US to have the most movie screens, and boasts a huge population of videogame players. 

Today’s Story in the Story looks at how the country’s entertainment industry has given rise to celebrity fans who will stop at nothing just to get a glimpse of their favorite film idol. 

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Gong Yuwen (right), known as "Hongqiao Diva," has her picture taken with actress Ma Sichun. (Photo: CFP) 

For years, Gong Yuwen, an ordinary-looking 18-year-old high-school dropout, spent most of her days camped at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, stalking and taking photos of the celebrities who passed through.

Gong calls herself an "all-loving fan," which means she isn't obsessed with any one particular star, but enjoys following all of them - whether they are K-pop singers, Chinese actors, models or comedians.

Gong enjoyed an exciting life as a full-time fan, until she herself was one day thrown into the spotlight when this story of a die-hard fan at Hongqiao airport, a dropout and jobless girl living off her grandparents went viral on the Internet. 

Now nicknamed "Hongqiao Diva" by the media, she had to deal with the unexpected fame, criticism, and people who want to profit from her notoriety.

Gong was suddenly thrown into the spotlight in December, when Shanghai singer Yuan Chengjie posted a photo on microblogging site Weibo of Gong and another girl at a McDonald's in Hongqiao airport, writing that he was sharing breakfast with "two little fans."

That post soon attracted the attention of other fans who recognized Gong. 

Gong's ubiquity left many in awe. When some fans browsed through previous photos they had taken of their idols at the airport, they were astonished to find that Gong was in them.

Yuan's average Weibo post gets 100 reposts. But the post featuring Gong has been forwarded over 46,000 times, with most Weibo users marveling at her star stalking techniques and her brazenness in asking every celebrity she manages to hunt down for a photo.

Gong became an Internet sensation, and as the celebrity of the moment, real celebrities had to borrow her fame.

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Swarms of fans chase their idol at the Shanghai Hongqiao International airport. (Photo: CFP)

At first, she continued to show up at Hongqiao airport, waiting for the stars. Every time when celebrities took a photo with or offer an autograph to Gong, it made headlines.

Some netizens joked that you could now judge the level of a celebrity's fame by the attention they had received from Gong. "Don't say you're famous if you haven't been stalked by Hongqiao Diva!" one netizen said.

Just after she became famous, reporters sought to dig out details of her past, and the story of her allegedly low IQ and poor academic performance at school soon emerged, prompting many to criticize her for being a terrible example of China's fan culture.

Gong's grandmother told reporters that Gong had stopped attending school after she flunked her high school entrance examination, and had since devoted her time to waiting for celebrities at the airport.

The great satisfaction she gets from taking photos with celebrities is something that is far more fulfilling than attending school, and cannot be measured by money. Her grandmother says although she hasn't a source of income, Gong has never sold any of the celebrity autographs she collected.

But for many, Gong's fame means nothing more than money. And those around her soon started to take advantage of that fame.

She seems to have lost her freedom. Last week, when she returned to Hongqiao from a trip to Changsha to record an entertainment program, paparazzi snapped photographs of her wearing a mask, followed by a group of four, including her agents and her mother. When one reporter tried to approach her, she refused to be interviewed, while her mother threatened to call the police.

She no longer shows up at the airport stalking stars. She told one reporter, "Whenever I go to the airport, there's a crowd waiting for me. I have no freedom," she said.

(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe and Paris Da Hang. Music by: bensound.com. Text from China Daily and Global Times.)

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