Shanzhai CCTV Spring Festival gala to go online

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Shanghai Daily, February 5, 2010
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"I don't think competition and cultural diversity are bad. It's time for media tycoons and other TV stations to listen to the hearts of the grassroots people and present more creative and original programs - otherwise they will lose their appeal among Internet users," he adds. Shanzhai knock-offs, parodies Shanzhai, one of the latest buzzwords, refers to imitation, copycat, counterfeit, sometimes pirated goods, especially electronics, such as big-selling knock-off mobile phones. It can also mean tacky or inventive look-alikes and parodies.

It's a people's edition of high-end stuff.

Shanzhai literally means mountain village or mountain stronghold, referring to fortresses away from official control in ancient times.

It first referred to cheap, knock-off cell phones manufactured in the mountains of Guangdong Province in the past few years. They are exactly like branded genuine articles, sometimes with more functions and easier to use.

Today shanzhai has become a cultural phenomenon and can refer to people and events that are look-alikes, low-quality or improved goods, as well as parodies. It can mean copy or it can mean innovation.

It carries the connotation of challenging the mainstream. Local producers of shanzhai cell phones, for example, challenge domination of the market by multinationals.

The term suggests Chinese-style innovation with a grassroots mindset. It can imitate high-end products or events in which grassroots people do not share or participate.

Here are some well-known shanzhai products:

Shanzhai cell phones (such as Golden Apple Star Phone and Tianyu Cell Phone)

They look exactly like the original branded products but cost far less than the genuine article. They often have more functions than more expensive phones and are very easy to use.

Shanzhai TV drama

Hunan Satellite TV's "Meteor Rain" is considered a shanzhai Chinese mainland version of Taiwan's TV hit "Meteor Garden," which became hugely popular eight years ago. The new F4 "Superboys" in the instant-stardom drama include "Happy Boy" finalists Yu Haoming and Wei Chen. But the new copycat version was sharply criticized for too much imitation, poor acting and ridiculous dialogue.

Shanzhai stars

Last year a martial arts comedy film "Tracing Shadow" by Hong Kong star Francis Ng assembled grassroots shanzhai stars whose faces and builds were similar to those of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Andy Lau and Jay Chou. Viewers burst into laughter when they showed up on the screen all of a sudden.

Shanzhai stadium

Even the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games venues such as the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube have their smaller shanzhai editions, such as the Bird's Nest in Beijing's Ditan Park. Choosing among New Year shows Questions: What are you doing for Lunar New Year's Eve? What do you think of the CCTV gala? Will you watch alternative shanzhai shows on regional satellite TV or online?

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