Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Supergirl Contest

Organizers of the wildly successful talent show, Super Girl, drew both huge ratings and the ire of Beijing trying to put a lid on "unpure" speech in the media and the Internet.

To Beijing sensibilities, the first problem with SuperGirl is the coolness factor. To millions of hip young Chinese, cool means speaking in Hong Kong or Taiwan hua, or speech. The 3,000 or so city, provincial, and regional TV outlets keep up with the kids by slyly incorporating HK or Taiwan talk into their programs. In the big city studios, like Beijing or Shanghai, such speech is completely out of fashion. Don't tell that to the hordes of kids weaned on Taiwan or HK pop.

Then, there's the problem of the winner, Li Yuchun. She does not fit what Beijing usually ascribe to a national idol, the demure girlish doll. Li looks like a boy, with her spiky hair punk style. Maybe something like David Bowie, without the brooding edginess. To add insult to the injury, Li Xiang, the pop girl emcee, spouted HK talk all night long. Oh, my my.

Finally, there's the underlying uneasiness in Beijing of the coronation process. It had the feel of political campaigns of western democracies. People were out on the streets distributing flyers, stumping, and organizing parties for their favorite idol. Millions of text messages were flying all over the countryside plugging candidates.

In spite of huge ratings that put the main sponsor, Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt, way ahead of their competitors in real sales, the organizers denied rumors of the show's demise next year. They claim to be preparing for the next big thing, Super Boy.