Hailing from northeast China, middle-schooler Zhong Mei Mei is famous for his short video clips imitating teachers on video app Kwai (Kuaishou 快手 in Mandarin), TikTok’s biggest competitor in China. Recently, all of his imitation videos were taken down. Why? Three separate sources gave three separate reasons.
The first and most widespread response came from the local education bureau. In an interview responding to questions about the videos’ removal, a representative wished Mei Mei could film videos with more “positive energy”. If you’re confused about what “positive” means, you’re not alone. Mei Mei’s videos do not explicitly criticize teachers. Watching the clips, most users point out how realistically they depict schooling.
One WeChat post asks, “do local teachers not face administrative problems? Do patient teachers not have to be strict sometimes?”
The sentiment is that the videos accurately depict China’s classrooms, and scenes that everyone can relate to. The videos evoke more nostalgia than anything else.
As Weibo users put it, “is imitating teachers negative energy?”
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The second reason came from Mei Mei’s school. The school’s principal said he was worried that the highs and lows of fame would affect Mei Mei. Therefore, he contacted Mei Mei’s family and expressed these fears. Still, the principal clarifies he did not explicitly ask Mei Mei to take his videos down.
The video of his response, widely circulated on Weibo, has thousands of comments saying that the teacher’s actions make sense. But still, some worried how this will impact Mei Mei’s future.
One top comment asks, “Is stifling a young child’s talent truly a good thing?”
Mei Mei’s mother gave the final statement, and was the only one to claim responsibility for removing the videos. According to a video interview, she asked Mei Mei to take the videos down because of negative comments.
By the time Mei Mei’s mother’s video came out, netizens were understandably confused. The education bureau, school principal, and mother of Mei Mei had all given separate reasons for removing the videos.
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Many of them also thought the concern for Mei Mei’s mental wellness came off as fake. “Originally the videos were just fun teacher parodies” one said. The thing impacting Mei Mei’s mental health, it seems, was the drama surrounding the videos’ removal.
The removal of Mei Mei’s videos has left many unsatisfied. People are craving entertainment now more than ever, and the suspicious sequence of statements from these groups have left Mei Mei’s fans frustrated and confused, in a unique and still-unfolding online debate.
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