Back to the weeks of Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement in March, Hong Kong movie star Chapman To, to show his support, called his Taiwan celebrity friends to “ignore mainland netizens” because “they are barbarous.” He even challenged mainland netizens to have the guts to keep him from performing in mainland China.
Well…mainland netizens cannot really ban him, but they can boycott him. So they did.
“Let Go for Love,” a recent movie that hit the big screen during the last week of April where Chapman To is one of the leading roles, received a rating of 2.2 (out of 5) by mainland viewers on Douban.com, the go-to place in China for movie, book and music reviews. Among the thousands, if not millions, being reviewed by mainland netizens on Douban, no movie has ever been rated below 2.
Out of the 22,390 netizens who left a rating, 97.7% gave the movie just 1 star. Still, many of them commented: “I gave 1 star only because there isn’t an option to give zero or negative stars.”
Another movie “Aberdeen” by popular Hong Kong director Pang Ho-Cheung, which is scheduled to be released in mainland China next week, is also faced with boycott calls by mainland netizens due to Chapman To’s part in it.
“I’m a Chinese. I love my country. I firmly oppose speeches and behaviors that are intended to separate my country. I will never forgive anyone who humiliates and discriminates against my fellow countrymen. I refuse to watch ‘Aberdeen.’” Commented one netizen 烧伤超人阿宝.
Not everybody agrees with the boycott. Those who voiced support for Chapman To thought that 1) his criticism of mainland netizens isn’t entirely wrong; 2) being a Hong Kong native, his attitudes are understandable; 3) he has the freedom to criticize whoever he wants to criticize. For example, one netizen 王小山 commented: “I don’t think he did anything wrong in saying what he said, though not in the best way.”
The majority, however, think that they also have the freedom to boycott an actor whom they don’t like. “I’m not asking actors and actresses to become politicians. But if some of them have said something that annoys me, I have every right to boycott them. They have freedom of speech. I have freedom of choosing which movie to watch.” One netizen Miss糯米小丸子 commented.
Mainland netizens’ voices didn’t go unnoticed. Faced with terrible box office, the production company of “Let Go for Love” openly commented on their official Weibo account: “We made a big mistake by choosing an actor without ethics. We’ve learnt a lesson.”
Pang Ho-Cheung, though expressed on Facebook that he won’t kowtow to pressure from mainland netizens, explained on Weibo that his new movie “Aberdeen” is the fruit of many people’s hard work, including several extremely popular Hong Kong stars – Chapman To is but a guest star.
How this will play out is still unknown. But the lesson of the day is: don’t piss off mainland consumers, the hottest market that every company is going after right now. “You despise us mainland people, and yet craze for our money. It’s my money and I don’t want my money to become your profit.” Comented one pissed mainlander MIC-盈盈.