Picking apart the 2007 Gala

How do people occupy their vacation time after the Spring Festival? By complaining about the CCTV Gala - that's half the fun of watching it (or maybe more this year, given the dismal appraisal it's received)!

· Bad Background
Here's "Going to the City" (进城), a dance number performed by a troupe from Northeast Normal University:

Where are these rural residents going to seek their fortunes? Tokyo, naturally. The backdrop is a manipulated image of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, designed by Kenzo Tange:

This BBS post has a more detailed breakdown of the images.

· Flubbed lines
Right before the midnight countdown was a less-than-polished moment: the hosts spoke out of order and interrupted one another. Embarrassing to those involved, perhaps, but not the end of the world in a live broadcast.

But a clip was posted under the title "The Black Three Minutes," and observers both online and in the print media dissected it in an attempt to assign blame for the catastrophe. Zhang Zequn, whose misreading of a couplet kicked off the mistakes, even apologized on his blog. An anonymous commenter to that post says:

Heh...I'm really grateful for A-qun's mistake and the "Black Three Minutes" for giving me something to remember about this Spring Festival Gala. At least it's something that can be discussed afterwards. Otherwise, I don't know what I'd have gotten out of this year's Gala.

· Plagiarism
Plagiarism remained an issue despite the cancellation last week of a musical performance by Phoenix Legend that was accused of copying the British band Blue (see this post).

Viewers have criticized Test (考验), performed by Huang Hong, Niu Li, and Lei Kesheng, for ripping off a routine from a Stephen Chow movie via a skit that was broadcast recently on regional TV. In "Test," a young woman tries to test her fiance's devotion to her by having him whack an old man over the head several times.

It's been accused of copying a scene from the 1991 Stephen Chow/Andy Lau comedy Tricky Brains. In the scene, (starting at 43:20 here), Chow's character beats a gangster over the head four times and passes it off as a case of mistaken identity. Of course, as a Wong Jing-directed film, Tricky Brains itself steals liberally from other movies, so it's not like the filmmakers have any right to complain.

More generally, there have been comments that this year's skits and crosstalk performances borrowed too liberally from famous Gala acts of the past. An op-ed in the Dazhong Daily points out echoes in Feng Gong and Li Zhiqiang's "Things in Our Hometown" (咱村的事儿) of "Eating Noodles", a skit performed at the 1984 Gala by Chen Peisi and Zhu Shimao - in both skits, actors suffer stomach trouble when their routines, which call for eating and drinking, go into repeated takes. It's not really plagiarism, since the gag wasn't even new in the Vitameatavegamen episode of I Love Lucy, but this sort of deja-vu, in the eyes of the columnist, is just another symptom of how far the Gala has fallen.

Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives