Wanghong and their unlikely creativities: a study of Chinese social media culture

All Abstracts > Wanghong and their unlikely creativities: a study of Chinese social media culture

Wanghong and their unlikely creativities: a study of Chinese social media culture

Author | Affiliation: Jian Lin | University of Groningen

Presenting at:
3A | Wanghong, Social Media Entertainment and the Social Industries


Abstract:

This paper zooms in on the paradoxes and dilemmas of Chinese wanghong culture. It firstly locates wanghong in the trajectory of cultural history in contemporary China, asking how distant it may be from the rebellious youth of the May Fourth movement in the revolutionary era as well as those Red Guard youth active during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Wanghong presents as hypercommercialized, deeply depoliticized and non-revolutionary, defined by individualism and consumerism. But it also sits at the center of China’s high-level policy pivot to building the world’s most advanced digital economy and a robust domestic consumer economy. To deepen the paradoxes, if wanghong’s consumerism and commodified entertainment culture is degrading and apolitical, the “unlikely” aesthetics and their inherent sociality also contribute to the authenticity of wanghong culture, serving as “light-hearted resistance” which does not challenge the social and political order, but teases, refuses and disrupts everyday lives that have been made “boring” in a real-world of hierarchy, constraint and conservatism.


About the author

Jian Lin

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Jian Lin (Ph.D.) is an assistant professor in the Department of Media and Journalism Studies at the University of Groningen. He has co-authored the book Wanghong As Social Media Entertainment in China (Palgrave McMillan, 2021). He also published articles on Chinese creative industries, platform studies, and social media culture in leading academic journals. His research interests include cultural industries and creative labor, social media entertainment, platform studies, and Chinese contemporary culture.

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