Closing out 2017, here are some of our favorites from Radii’s output since launching this past June. If you’re interested in a strictly objective assessment, check out our most clicked articles of 2017 here.
We started off strong in the audio department, with Zhang Jingjing and Zhang Yajun’s Wǒ Men Podcast launching in mid-July. Since then their topics of conversation with a rotating cast of guests have ranged from Donald Trump to craft beer, and they also touched on one of late 2017’s most globally resonant subjects, sexual harassment. The Wǒ Men crew has been putting out new content like clockwork, producing 13 episodes to date (all of which are streamable here).
Wǒ Men hosts Jingjing (left) and Yajun (right)
We were also proud to launch our second podcast later in the year: B-side China, initiated by Radii editor Josh Feola. You can check out the latest episode of that, which discusses Chinese black metal and social protest music, right here.
Radii also produced a few short, original videos this year. One standout for us is a video interview with Shanghai artist Zhang Jianjun, produced by Radii’s Adan Kohnhorst and fellow NYU Shanghai alum Kevin Pham. Stream that one here.
Our regular history columnist Jeremiah Jenne already got some shoutouts in our stats-based Top 10 post from yesterday, but we want to give him another nod here. His dispatches are always timely and balanced, presenting much needed nuance into the global conversation about China. We especially appreciated Jeremiah’s latest post, The Question of “Chinese influence”.
And a shoutout to Taylor Hartwell, our man on the ground intrepidly documenting the wild world of zhibo, or Chinese live-streaming. Taylor launched his zhibo column in June, and in the time since then has amassed 20,000 followers and innumerable lessons on the quirks of Chinese internet culture. One of our favorites is one of his most recent, a two-parter on “small fresh meat” and “sunshine boys”.
Art, Music, Film
Many of our 2017 favorites came from our Culture section, where we closely followed the ins and outs of China’s art, music, and film happenings. While this field usually exists at a remove from political and social issues — especially in a place like China — we also saw how cultural forms like art and music can be used to respond to issues affecting larger society, such as the RYB Kindergarten scandal that broke out last month.
One of the most poignant articles we published this year on that front is filmmaker Han Xia’s review of 2017 film Angels Wear White, which directly tackles the issue of child sexual abuse, and coincidentally began its short theatrical run in China immediately after the RYB Kindergarten allegations came to light:
The cultural event we were most impressed by in 2017 was Delusional Mandala, Lu Yang’s solo exhibition at M WOODS museum in Beijing. We were on hand for the opening, which was a bananas cosplay Halloween party:
On a more zoomed out cultural field, we were surprised and gratified by the strong response to our article on Chinese Vaporwave, which struck a nerve in certain strange corners of the internet. We even made a short sampler to soundtrack the phenomenon.
A niche sub-section, to be sure, but our editor Adan Kohnhorst hoofed it to a few buildings in Shanghai notable for their eerie ambience. One was the Abandoned American Dream, a deserted theme park on the outskirts of Shanghai that is a loaded metaphor for something, we’re sure:
Adan also gained entry to Wukang Mansion, a 1924 building by Hungarian-Slovak architect László Hudec that became (in)famous for the staggering number of suicides it accumulated during the Cultural Revolution, and the subsequent uptick in hauntings. We visited Wukang with Radii photo contributor Edward Evenson in tow, and captured some rare images of the mansion today:
Also not our main beat, but we kept our eye on how a few Western sports (and players) are setting designs on China. We watched Tom Brady and Russell Wilson compete for passing yards on the Great Wall, watched Steph Curry perform terrifying pushups at Beijing’s iconic CCTV tower, tracked Jeremy Lin’s dreadlock drama and (Beijing hero) Stephon Marbury’s football ambitions. We even gave you a hot tip on some sweet Golden State Warriors China merch.
One of the bigger sports events of 2017 was the official China launch of UFC, the Mixed Martial Arts league, which is making a big bet on China’s sports fans for its future. We were at the opening and caught up with a few fighters and fans:
Wrapping this one up with a few of our favorite holiday posts from 2017. We went all in for Mid-Autumn Festival, consuming a dangerous amount of mooncake to get to the bottom of this revered seasonal snack:
In fact, a few days later we had to balance out all that gluten with some seasonally fresh hairy crabs, a delicacy local to southeast China that’s best around late September and early October. We caught that on video (trigger warning: crab cruelty):
And, later in October, we were very happy to have UK-based writer Xueting Christine Ni contribute a guest post on one of her topics of expertise: Chinese ghosts. Just in time for Halloween, she compiled a list of 33 ghosts and ghouls, which adds up to a fine bestiary:
And with that, Radii wishes you a Happy New Year! We’ll be back in force with more great content and a brand new video series in early 2018, so stay tuned!