China’s scientific community has entered the conversation about the wave of fresh-faced, androgynous Chinese male stars known as “xiao xian rou,” or little fresh meat. Their conclusion after digging into this phenomenon? Blame the CIA.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which is the premier research institution for the social sciences under the Chinese State Council, released a report claiming that the CIA was responsible for the rise of “feminine” male celebrities across Asia.
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According to The Times, the report, called “Do you know how hard the CIA is working?” condemns the rise of “feminine male artists” and pinpoints their origins to Johnny & Associates, a talent agency started by American-born Japanese businessman Johnny Kitagawa. It claims that Kitagawa colluded with the CIA to “weaken the male temperament of Japanese society,” which led to the effeminization of celebrities across Asia, spreading to China.
Xiao xian rou stardom, its subsequent beauty standard, and the rabid fan following that ensued across China are well-documented. However, the Chinese government has been more than clear on its disdain for these stars, who stand in direct contradiction the Chinese ideal of the virile, patriotic, and manly man. Last September, Xinhua, the state news agency, condemned these stars as “niang pao,” or “sissy,” and said they were destructive to society.
But despite the criticism, fans of “little fresh meat” stars such as Luhan and TFBoys seem to be just as dedicated as ever. Many say that these idols represent a changing of gender roles in a highly patriarchal society. Some just like them because they’re pretty. But whatever the reasons behind their rise, this new report shows that such changes may not be welcome by everyone.
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