On Tuesday, Hunan TV’s promotional music gala became a trending topic for all the wrong reasons. The Chinese TV station found itself at the center of controversy for filming female performers from unnecessarily low angles.
Instead of close-ups and wide-angle shots — which were used when men were performing — women were filmed using low angle shots, panning up from their legs to their faces. The internet wasn’t happy.
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On Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, discussion raged over whether or not the show was exploiting women’s appearances. One user wrote, “As a videographer when watching various shows and movies, I like to study how their shots are captured. To be honest, they did it on purpose.”
Another comment reads, “Some girls aren’t in many shots at all, and they keep shooting the bottom of their skirts. We want to see dancing, not the bottom of their skirts.”
Other users, however, said they had no problem with the shots, and that the angles were intended to flatter and accentuate the women’s legs.
Netizens compare camera angles for men and women (image: Weibo)
One factor in the controversy is that the gala’s performers were from the hit Chinese TV show Sisters Who Make Waves.
Previously, the show was praised for its inclusivity and stated desire to challenge discriminatory attitudes towards middle-aged women. Furthermore, it was hailed as a refreshing change from the endless carousel of shows that focus solely on young pop idols. To many viewers, the way the gala was filmed ran contradictory to the show’s premise of female empowerment.
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Although Sisters Who Make Waves has been praised for breaking gender stereotypes, it’s also been criticized as “pseudo-empowerment.” Though the show is unique in tackling ageism, critics feel there is still a focus on the appearances of the contestants. As the season went on, it became clear that older women were more likely to be kicked off the show than their younger counterparts.
In an article published on social messaging app WeChat, one netizen wrote that “while the show ostensibly emphasizes a diversity of female values and female beauty, its stars are still primarily appraised, consumed, and favored for their attractive appearances, svelte figures, dewy skin, unrealistic pep, and extreme self-discipline.”
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