A World of Colourful Blossoms and Miss Papi
Talk about clashing of opinions, about public service deleting bbs post, about Miss Papi, and Prime Minister Zhou.
Start from a story
Yesterday my friend ZF wrote an article saying that start-up companies should be conservative about their money and spend where it counts. The article refers to a company as “rabid cat”, which he believes is squandering investor’s money. The company just organized a rock music concert for its programmers.
As an entrepreneur, I very much agree with ZF, so I forwarded this article to the wechat moments. But then, I didn’t realise that “rabid cat” is actually a business project of another project of mine.
So, LZ, CEO of “rabid cat” private-messaged me (with dirty language), saying that ZF didn’t really understand them. He said spending money on the rock concert had the approval of the investors and judging from the figures, it was worthwhile.
I think what LZ says has a point too. It seems you can’t measure the input-output ratio of a B2B company by simply using the way of a B2C business.
LZ wrote an article afterwards to explain his opinions, and of course, with anonymous and aggressive criticism to ZF. As a middleman, while I tried to mitigate both sides I felt very happy because I saw the clashing of 2 different ideas. Even though the collision might have been aggressive and accusatory, their opinions are sound and well-founded.
Sound and Well-founded, not Right or Wrong
The opinions from both sides are not impeccable, but not mistaken either. Why?
Our intuitive judgment towards something comes from the knowledge and experience we had before. It is safe to say that our past determines the height of our judgments and our friend circle determines the width of them.
Many friends who plan to open an public wechat account tell they are afraid to do it. They fear that their opinions are immature and may be laughed at.
I started writing a blog in 2007. Sometime I go back and read my previous essays and I always feel that they are not good. They either have childish opinions or lack evidence that make feel I was not observant enough to look beneath the surface. For example this one, I think it is shitty.
But I do not delete articles that I am unhappy with, because:
Firstly, this is the process in which I grow up. For every article, I put in a lot of efforts and I feel I have mastered some new knowledge after I finish them;
Secondly, I believe that is the best I could have done at that time. My opinions could be immature but with my limited knowledge and vision, I have expressed the best of me.
ZF and LZ use their own respective experience to judge the same subject. They express their opinions based on their own past experiences and supported by logically-sound evidence. Such expression, to my opinion, is the best kind of expression; such explanation explains the best of oneself; such argument is not of being right or wrong.
I have always considered that as long as you can find adequate evidence, any opinion can be right under certain circumstances. This is like a live app. It is not very attractive for someone like me who doesn’t have much “lonely moments”, but for students there could be a big market, because “me” is not an evidence for this app.
Therefore, if only an argument is sound and well-founded, its opinion cannot be simply seen as right or wrong. Sometimes the collision of two opposing ideas can give birth to a third. This is very common when brainstorming.
Different opinions are the catalysts of an age of “A Hundred Flowers Blossom”. (a social environment open to various political and cultural ideas)
A Time When More Flowers Blossom
Two weeks ago Keso started writing blog again. He stressed that what he was writing was a blog, but not we-media. Objectively speaking, “blog” and “keso” are two words that belong to the memories of people from last generation and they have not had the public’s attention for many years.
2005 – 2010 was the golden age for blogs in China. In 2005, Huixiang Mao initiated “Annual Chinese Blog Symposium”. 2007 was the first year I attended. That year, the slogan for the symposium was:
“Bai hua qi fang. Bai jia zheng ming.”
(Let hundreds of flower blossom. Let hundreds of arguments contend.)
In 2008, the slogan was:
“He er bu tong. Duo zhi xing bang.”
(Harmony with differences; diverse ideals prosper a country.)
Slogans from both years were emphasizing that it is ok for everyone to express himself. Opinions might vary, but they could still collide and made this world more diverse. Society and its culture would then move forward because of this.
It is even more so in an age of public accounts (wechat). Anyone can create a public account to express his/her ideas. No matter how “byway (not commonly seen)” the opinion is, there will be people who agree to it. No matter how “right” the argument sounds, there will be those who call you stupid.
Isn’t this the best times?
When Twitter, Fanfou, Mico-blog rose, many argued that professional media would be harder and harder to maintain because everyone could post on micro-blog. Incidents happened at a certain place and the people there could just take a picture and post it. In a social network of decentralization, what was media for?
Actually in the time of micro-blog, from what I saw, media was surviving just fine. Although its tree-shaped propagation changed into net-shaped, an opinion of 140 words (word limit of each post on Sina micro-blog) was too thinly argued. Besides, micor-blog was not centralized. You could read the celebrity ranking it made; you could read the “follow” list it recommended on your first log in; you could watch the media it suggested you follow… Such good a basic network form as Twitter got made into a tree-shaped structure by Sina.
In the times of public accounts, net-shaped propagation is truly realised. Media don’t have absolute dominance over the conversation. You never see wechat has ever made a celebrity ranking or recommendation on subscription accounts for new users, let alone recommending some media.
Because of the existence of various communities ( not only referring to wechat groups), the nodes in the network structure are consisted of not just individuals, but communities as well. A community is a group of people who are linked together because of some common ideas or interests. In the new form of the network structure, a community can be seen as one unit in general, a node that propagates information. And the power of a community node is so much more than that of an individual.
Orange: individual node
New generation of Content
This is truly the best times. The generation of contents is diverse; the propagation layer has really achieved a network structure; The receiving layer, because of the communities, the content that everyone has in his or her Wechat Moments greatly diverges. The 3 points above have made a time when more flowers blossoms.
Papi and the censorship
Deleting Post Is the Stupidest Way to Do It
In a time when the generation and receiving of information are highly divided, what Public Relations shouldn’t do the most is deleting people’s posts. They should express, with ever more sound evidence, with ever more influential means to do so.
In fact, it is not that you shouldn’t delete them, but that you can never completely erase them. In the past, when Public Relations were dealing with crisis, they could go to media to ask them delete what they didn’t want to see, be it threatening or bribing. Each agent might only need to contact about 10 – 20 media to strangle those voices they did not agree to.
But now, the generation of information is a network, and medias are just some small units within the net structure. This means the number of what you have to delete may be hundreds or thousands, which you will never have time to. Plus, what good does it do to delete some posts? In those communities that work as receiving nodes in the network, the opinion has long been spread before it is deleted. Thus, deleting an article doesn’t change the average attitude the community has for something.
During the time of Spring Festival, I wrote an article titled “Why I Think Alipay’s A Moron”. Those from Alipay asked me if I could delete it and to which I refused. Then they put up warnings of infringement through lawyers but I didn’t care either. Further, they complained to Tencent, requiring my article be deleted by Wechat.
This is really dumb. Quoting from Mr. Smart, “there is no Public Relations on the Internet”. If my article was really deleted, or I was being sued, the most possible I would do was raising a fund for hiring lawyers. By then the public opinion would be against them and they would have to clean up the mess. It was sheer bad deal.
But recently I found that Alipay did one thing right. Several days ago they invited me to their events. They were going to hold an event in Beijing called “Ask Ali”. Part of the event was discussing the problems Alipay had and suggestions of their transformation. I thought they did 2 things right from a Public Relations point of view:
- Admitting their own flaws to diminish the influence of negative reviews
- Reaching out to those who criticize them and turn these nodes into friendlies.
Though I didn’t have time for the event, I thought they might be trying to prove that Mr. Smart was not all correct. They were trying to express and on the other hand trying to make friends.
(See, I am not always bitching Alipay)
Bai Hua Qi Fang and Miss Papi
When I watch the first video from Papi I start to like her right away. There are 3 reasons:
- The video is not exactly refined but not coarse either.
- The content is close to the lives of netizens, making it easy to be understood and spread.
- She skilfully rubs it in, and resonate with the viewers.
But her recent videos are demanded revising by State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) for their negative content (always rubbing it in) and inclusion of large amount of swearing words. Here is the report from People’s Daily:
According to SARFT, the phenomenally popular video series “Miss Papi” is requested to revise for the video hostess’ constant usage of cursing language such as “Wo Tsao (holy fuck)”, “Cao (fuck)”, “Xiao Biao Zi (little bitch)”. SARFT Requires that the video series go offline modification. It can only go online again after the exclusion of its vulgar content and passing the evaluation of certain Internet media regulations.
I do not intend to criticize certain department using double standards. For example, swearing word in an anti-Japanese war TV drama is not prohibited. I do not intend to suggest SARFT have an official micro-blog account and enable commentary section. Then they would know “Wo Tsao (Fuck)” is not swearing at all
What I want to say is that in the times of “Bai Hua Qi Fang (open yet non-unanimous ideas)”, should we tolerate those programs that seemingly deviate from orthodox but yet obtain the favour of public?
You may question, what makes you say that “Miss Papi” is a program of public favour?
Doesn’t 10 million view counts each video represent the approval to the content and expression the public has for it?
If we say “shit”, “fuck”, “you bitch” on a daily basis as common exclamations, why can’t we use them in public media?
Some may argue that such usage would be a bad influence for kids.
But there are so many other sources of bad influence for kids. Why don’t you go to see if your kids learn these words in school?
On the other side, from the perspective of Chinese traditional culture, “Diao (dick)” is word that can’t be used in public. However, since Jay Chou has used “Chao Diao (super dick)”, the word becomes very popular. Now when you describe someone as very capable, you may just say “Wow, so dick” without even noticing. Now, is “dick” a swearing word? It has become an adjective.
“Fuck”, “fuck you”, “little bitch”, “WTH”, expressions like so has become part of the daily conversation of the public. They have been out of the range of cursing. If I say “fuck”, does it mean that I really want to fuck this person? Obviously I am expressing surprise. Then, these words are actually no longer swearing words.
This doesn’t mean Internet information requires no management, but it should be structural. And this structure should adapt to the transformation of social and cultural progression. In a time of abundant and diverse information, this structure should agree to the preference of the public.
On June 19, 1962, Prime Minister Enlai Zhou once talked about the question, whom does art creation serve? He said:
People likes it, and you don’t. Who are you? Shanghainese loves storytelling and ballad singing, Huai Opera, Yue Opera. Why do they need permission from Beijingnese? Political leaders may have their hobbies. Some like drama, some like paintings, some like antique, but what does it matter? We may think highly of a drama, but it isn’t necessarily good. What we say doesn’t count. Everyone has his own preference, how can it be the only standard? Art requires the permission of the peoples. The art has its value so long as the people love it. And it is allowed to exist and can’t be prohibited so long as it is not anti-party or anti-socialism. Artists are there for the people, not just the leaders.
I think Miss Papi’s videos are not against the party or socialism. She is only expressing in humour the reality of the society.
What do you think?