The Voice of China, a reality talent show adapted from “The Voice” in the US, is probably the most popular TV show this year in China. It has been shown on Zhejiang Satellite TV every Friday night since July 13 and is sponsored by Jiaduobao, a popular cooling herbal tea brand in China. The show’s popularity is phenomenal – everybody is talking about it; contestants become new national idols; and almost every single episode was able to dominate a few days of online discussion when aired. However, despite its super popularity, the show’s grand finale disappointed big time, as many netizens commented, “it opened like a miracle but ended like a mess.”
Why such a big contrast? It seems that many netizens were offended by the fact that Liang Bo, winner of the show, sang a patriotic song “I Love You China” as his final performance, while his competitor, Wu Mochou, sang a pop song called “Live by Oneself (一个人生活)”. Though Liang Bo’s “I Love You China” was a rock song written by Chinese rock musician Wang Feng, netizens still saw it as a Red song.
Such reactions are especially interesting considering the fact that Wu Mochou has long been a controversial contestant who has been dubbed by netizens as the “witch” who knew nothing but how to destroy a good song. Her unconventional performance at the semi-final even started a nationwide speculation of whether she was having an affair with the judge who voted for her and gave her ticket to the final. In one word, she is neither particularly popular nor seen as a super talented singer. On the other hand, Liang Bo, who ended up winning the show, has a considerable fan base throughout the show.
But all of sudden after Liang Bo finished his “I Love You China,” netizens turned their favor to Wu. As Walter袜子 commented: “It’s all done. Such a politically correct song. Good bye Liang Bo. Now I’m your fan, Wu Mochou!!!” 上海雷姐 commented: “I was so surprised that Liang Bo’s winning song was ‘I Love You China.” It was the right song at the right time. No wonder he won. He is the voice of Chinese characteristics.”
Chinese netizens’ reactions probably won’t be so drastic if the final wasn’t aired one day before October 1, China’s National Day. 63 years ago on the same day, Mao officially announced the founding of the PRC. Like Winston-Liu asked: “’I Love You China,’ was this a gift to the opening of the 18th national congress of CCP?”
Chinese netizens’ reactions also won’t be so drastic if the news of Bo Xilai’s expulsion from the Party hasn’t been released just a few days ago – Bo is famous for promoting Red songs and reviving Red cultures across China. 艾格吃饱了 commented: “A Red song wins? What does that mean? Allow me to call the attention of the show organizers here. It’s the wrong time to show support of Red songs now and it can be very risky. Huh”
It was actually not the first time when “I Love You China” stirred controversies at the show. At the earlier stage of the show when the judges were still choosing team members, contestant Ping An brought with him the traditional “I Love You China,” the real Red song. Though Ping An was seen by many as having a very talented voice, only one judge voted for him. One of the other judges even asked him why he chose such a song.
Nowadays in China, while patriotism is the official “politically correct,” to claim love of the country somehow becomes the “politically incorrect” among ordinary people. The Voice of China, after allowing someone who sang “I Love You China” to win, naturally becomes “the Voice of CCP”. panghurui commented: “Mainstream voice. Official values. Of course Liang Bo wins because it’s the National Day. Even entertainment shows are telling us: Please be politically correct all the time.” 企鹅看飞机还是小姜 explained further: “Liang Bo’s victory shows the official standard of aesthetics and value system in the current China. Hope Wu Mochou’s second place represents the choice of a future China. All analogies are appropriate here: From Made in China to Innovate in China; from one single official voice to a melting-pot culture; from dictatorship to democracy.”
Were netizens making too much political inference out of a reality show? Maybe. But the more important question to ask is when will the voice of China and the voice of the Chinese people become one.
Final round between Wu Mochou and Liaobo
The real Red song, the traditional version of I Love You China by contestant Ping An