Radii launched on June 1 of this year, and this post is #623. Not bad for a short seven months! We’ll come back tomorrow to highlight some of our own favorites from 2017, but here are our Top 10 in terms of total views.
Well, actually, Top 9. #1 by a pretty wide margin is this article about a sex video shot in Chengdu. Must be some excellent SEO on that one. We’ll skip its recap.
Ok, here are 2-10, in reverse order:
Your guess is as good as ours! Of all the weekly photo themes we’ve run so far, “Kris Wu Selling Shit” has been the unlikely, breakout success. This post — depicting the singer, dancer, and Rap of China host selling 2017 Vin Diesel action/adventure vehicle xXx: The Return of Xander Cage — performed particularly well for whatever reason.
Onto more serious fare. Over the summer, the crucial role that Chinese news assistants play in facilitating reportage by international news bureaus came to light after a controversy involving one such assistant accusing Oscar Garschagen, a reporter at Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad, of fabricating stories. The paper initially backed its reporter, before capitulating to the accusations of the assistant, Zhang Chaoqun, and firing Garschagen. Before that, Zhang Yajun — co-host of our Wǒ Men podcast and a former news assistant — weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:
Chinese news assistants perform a job that is not well known by the public. Due to language barriers and official hurdles, many correspondents rely on their news assistants for story ideas, finding interviewees, translation and research.
Ah, Rap of China. We covered the breakout success of this iQIYI-produced reality show in some depth this year, analyzing what it says about generational divides in Chinese society, and giving a close listen to some of the new talent it’s minted. Perhaps because we were so ahead of the curve on this, one of our most viewed articles this year was a preview we posted near the beginning of the show’s run, highlighting the already meme-able performance of Kris Wu as the program’s ratings-driving host.
On a related note, “有freestyle吗?” was probably the internet quote of 2017.
Kind of a topical outlier here, but this article about a delightful gaming bar where people come to play the party game Werewolf — while actually dressed as werewolves — captured a good chunk of your interest:
After registering our names at reception and ordering some drinks, staffers led us to one of their three gaming rooms. From furniture, lighting to sound effects, everything in the rooms was particularly arranged. The club even has a team of in-house “judges” specifically trained to host and moderate games (apparently, all of these judges are young, pretty girls in their early 20s… just so you know). Guests only need to sit there and prepare to kill… oh, while wearing wolf masks.
Our resident rogue historian Jeremiah Jenne turned in two that ranked on this year-end list, including this meditation on US President Donald Trump and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping meandering around the Forbidden City, pontificating about China’s “5,000 years of history.” Jeremiah breaks this down:
The phrase “5,000 years of history” dates to the early 20th century, as Chinese historians began understanding the history of their own formative nation-state — a concept which in itself was a fairly recent import — in the larger context of world history. The history of “All Under Heaven” had always been synonymous with the history of civilization. Now confronted with the challenge of distinguishing their nation from all the others, historians noticed that China had just a bit more history than most other places in the world, and certainly more than those pesky Western states like Britain and France, never mind upstarts like Germany and the United States.
Another one from Jeremiah that resonated, this from the summer, and written in response to the obligatory annual “Why are travelers turning away from China?” article that tends to crop up in Western media outlets. After listing some reasons for the perceived downtick, Jeremiah concludes:
China should be attracting more tourists than it does. It is a large country with enormous diversity in ecosystems, culture, cuisine, and activities. Transportation and tourist infrastructure are improving at an impressive rate. China is also home to some of the world’s oldest and most fascinating civilizations. But for now, there remain challenges — some fixable, others which may require more time to solve — that depress the rate of inbound travel.
As part of the excellent Chinese Creative Revolution series, initiated by Milo Chao and Philana Woo for Radii, electronic music producer and multimedia artist Howie Lee sat down for a long discourse on his process with insightful, often provocative takes on creativity in China vs the West. Some key quotes:
“I don’t think about creativity, I just copy.”
“In China, art of the past few years has changed rapidly, and will conquer the rest of the world. The West has come to an end. There is nothing good left.”
“We must break the divide between original and copy.”
“[Rural Chinese] are equipped with the most modern technology, like smartphones, yet they are not corrupted by so-called education. Their output can be absolutely vital.”
Read the whole thing here.
Our Shanghai-based editor Adan Kohnhorst took many for the team this year — onion nasal flushes, all the “vitamin functional drinks” at Family Mart, et al. Strong investigative spirit. This was Adan’s most popular mission of 2017, in which he breaks down the physical effects of chewed betel nut, a mild psychoactive popular in some parts of China and Taiwan. Choice cut:
Who picked these nuts? I start trying to picture the Taiwanese farmer who brought this sensation down on me. I chew my nut in silence, sinking deeper and deeper into the fibers of my Taobao mattress. What music is this? It’s definitely too trippy for three nuts deep.
We covered Gong Shou Dao — both a film produced by Jet Li and starring Jack Ma, and a new form of martial arts that the duo hopes to eventually introduce to the Olympics as an official sport — from several angles. We subtitled a video of Jet introducing it at a pre-Singles’ Day gala; we were on hand at said gala for the Gong Shou Dao film premiere; we caught up with Gong Shou Dao the sport and gauged some online reactions a few weeks ago. But for some reason this post, which embeds Jet Li’s own Facebook post of the Gong Shou Dao short film, generated the most non-sex-video-related clicks for us in 2017. Go figure.
Come back tomorrow for Radii’s Editors’ Picks of 2017