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The media circus when a celebrity dies

Cross-talk performer Hou Yaowen died of a heart attack in Beijing over the weekend. Hou, son of the even more famous cross-talk master Hou Baolin, was 59.

Hou's sudden, premature death has had domestic media - both online and off - following the story to a degree that prompted entertainment journalist He Dong to mock the media circus on his blog. Here's a translation:

The death of a celebrity, a festival for the paparazzi

by He Dong

A while ago, Huang Ju died. At that time I immediately wrote something up, but as soon as I posted it on my blog, it was automatically deleted. Then I received a system email: "We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused." I then thought that it must be great to be a comrade leader, you can die in peace, or at least the system controls by the higher-ups won't allow the general public to mourn chaotically - at any rate you can't say anything. Because there are norms, see.

But now as soon as the news of Hou Yaowen's passing reached the Internet, an entertainment editor immediately picked up the phone: "Do you have anything to say?" I replied, "There's nothing I can say at the moment." The editor said "Oh," and hung up.

Times change, so everything can change into something else. When celebrities are alive, the entertainment news will follow them every day. In the event of their death, then it immediately turns into a huge gossip festival! Websites, for example - they're the fastest! At the very first moment they post black-bordered photos and mini biographies. Later they make up a "memorial" page to allow the public that was unable to express their opinions on Huang Ju's death space to air their grief about the death of a celebrity.

But all this is a trap. In years past when people passed on, we wished them rest in peace, but now with entertainment gossip, there's no rest until the celebrity's death is hyped up into a big festival; what's critical is to dig up all sorts of significant and insignificant things to fill up pages to your own satisfaction and to satiate the public's desire to pry.

And sure enough, in addition to the magnificent, empty show of mourning, today saw the start of eye-catching gossipy, revelatory posts: "Hou Yaowen dies of illness leaving no will; how his tens of millions will be divided remains a mystery" - this is what the gossip pages are really concerned with, what they really want an "exclusive" on.

The news said that with his bank accounts, cars, and houses, "an industry insider estimated that Hou Yaowen's estate is worth at least 30 or 40 million." I estimate that this reporter is no ordinary warrior - he has an inside line into the Hou household and a man in the bank, and he also knows an "industry insider" who helps him "estimate." Son of a bitch! How much does he really have? Is his estate 30 or 40 million? How do you know? And have your "industry insider" do a further estimate: is it "30" or "40"? You could be off by 10 million!

But first they've got to make a scene for the living before the gossipers can happily rest at ease. And this is only the beginning. Under the pretense of "commemoration and mourning," there'll be even more gossip yet to come until the websites are ready to leap for joy! There's got to be a festival atmosphere! That celebrity clearly died at home, and it's already common knowledge, but the online news now all carries the special notice: "exclusive" - it's like the celebrity died at the website, and his corpse is "exclusively" held in their possession!

And just now a website put up a "last request" - didn't he die unexpectedly? How can there be news of a "last request"? That's real talent! The Internet can now broadcast live news from the netherworld.

* * *

The post was deleted late Tuesday afternoon. He Dong made a blog post Tuesday evening that included Sina's new, improved apology letter:

Deletion by system politics, which then express their deepest apologies

This afternoon I had a hard time getting on my blog. I tried a few times, but nothing worked, so I logged off. Who'd have thought that shortly I'd receive the following email:

Dear blogger:


I am a blog customer service manager. I am very sorry to inform you that, for certain reasons, we have temporarily placed your article "The death of a celebrity, a festival for the paparazzi" into the trash folder. You may find your article in the trash folder, please back up the contents!

We are very sorry for taking down your article without your permission, so let me apologize to you here! We understand the trouble you've taken to complete a blog post, and we understand your feelings on having your work deleted.

As blog managers, we sincerely hope to bring you more extensive, more finely-tuned service, and we hope for your sympathy and understanding.

We know that the success of Sina Blogs is due to the unspoken support of people like you; our future development needs your support and suggestions even more!

We look forward to even better cooperation between us! Thank you for your contributions to Sina Blogs! We express our deep apologies for inconveniencing you!

Then I logged on to my blog again to find that the system had terminated my post, and again expressed its sincerest apologies.

It's no use. Later I'll revise the original and post it again.

UPDATE: The revised post is here, with all occurences of 黄菊 (Huang Ju) changed to 橘惶 (júhuáng, "orange anxiety").

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There are currently 4 Comments for The media circus when a celebrity dies.

Comments on The media circus when a celebrity dies

I totally see there isn't freedom of speaking in China. Even in the internet!

I seem to recall Hou Baolin being one of Zhao Ziyang's favorite cross talk performers!

An BTV update

Last night at 10:05pm, a talk show hosted by bj satellite tv gathered 2 of the dead celeb's proteges, together with the woman-in-charge of the medical team which took care of the corpse transfer, paid their last tribute to Hou.

The interview revealed precisely to the minute when and where Hou felt ill and called for help in that late afternoon. The message was crystal clear that he was 'all alone' at the time someone next door came to the 'rescue', hence clearing the rumor that some secret woman who cried her eyes out has left the scene before the nearest 120 medical team arrived.

A psychologist (or nutritionist?) has warned all celebs at the talk show that 'ate too much may kill', as Hou was found ate a large bowl of noodle, and were turned out to be vomit, together with excrement due to incontinence while Hou was in coma, found all over the place in the death scene.

Hou's senior protege said that his master was as healthy as an ox, and he once even said he would live to 92. Li Xiang, the hostress, asked if Hou's sudden death was due to a recent 'bigmouth' rumor about his relative which upset him. The content of the rumor was never mentioned. I guess it could be the one that was bigmouthed by Wang Shuo. The MD lady replied that doldrums if not treated properly is hazardous to your health.

Ah, wonderful Beijing TV. Thanks, Absurdfool.

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