Would Your Favourite Celebrity be considered 'Socially Responsible?'
September 11, 2018 3:36 AM   Subscribe

Fan Bingbing: Vanished Chinese star 'not socially responsible' The 2017-2018 China Film and Television Star Social Responsibility Report, carried widely by state media outlets, ranks Chinese celebrities according to three criteria: professional work, charitable actions and personal integrity.

Chinese film star Fan Bingbing has been ranked last in a report judging A-list celebrities on how "socially responsible" they are, fuelling further speculation about the whereabouts of the actress, who has not been seen in public for more than two months.

Only nine celebrities were deemed to be socially responsible enough, however, with a pass requiring a score of more than 60%. The report stressed that celebrities had to do more to promote "positive energy" and hinted that they needed to be more aware of behaviour and actions that might have a "negative social impact".
- BBC News
posted by Faintdreams (17 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
> ...what is most notable is its 0% rating for Fan Bingbing, one of China's biggest stars, who hasn't been seen in public since 1 July when she visited a children's hospital.

Visiting a children's hospital would seem to beg the justification for a 0% rating.
posted by ardgedee at 5:20 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Being a celebrity in the PRC is a really unfortunate position, as you have all of the disadvantages of success (a wide audience for any errors, a long public record of statements that may retroactively become questionable, personal jealousies from powerful individuals in your social circle, instinctive resentment of your popularity from the state as a whole) along with absolutely none of the advantages (the limited measure of safety that comes from actual wealth, power and influence).

In addition to which, you’re in a relatively liberal industry and have much, much greater access to [extramarital] sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll than most. Unsurprisingly, all of those things are heartily disapproved of by the regime.

Poor Fan Bingbing.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 6:39 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]


She's missing?! Does anyone have more details on that? I'm reading articles that say she's being held by the government but I don't know how much is speculative.
posted by schroedinger at 7:40 AM on September 11


All the information I could find online (in English) about Fan BingBing's status as missing also covers the Social Responsibility Report.

It's perplexing and worrisome.

Do High Profile celebrities often become vanished persons in the People's republic of China?
posted by Faintdreams at 7:50 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


I have been a fan of hers for some time, for her incredible red carpet appearances as much as for her acting. I have been following this story through the BBC with concern, but the details are so scarce. The articles raise more questions than they answer.
posted by heatvision at 8:16 AM on September 11


This doesn't seem that much different from the way social media shaming of celebrities works these days in the U.S....
posted by PhineasGage at 8:37 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]


Except in the US the Government doesn't disappear you if you fall out of favor.
posted by happyroach at 8:43 AM on September 11 [16 favorites]


I'm reading articles that say she's being held by the government but I don't know how much is speculative.

There's no way to be any more than speculative, as the PRC is under no practical obligation to announce that they have detained somebody and normally only does so belatedly and/or when they are trying to make a point.

People go "missing" for various reasons in China, including motivations that most people around the world would find familiar: unpaid debts, mental health, physical health, complicated family reasons. Also, what most people in the West would consider to be kidnapping is both common and legal over business disputes (and another reason why someone might decide to voluntarily disappear if they were involved in an argument over debt).

However, being held in "administrative detention" is always a good bet, especially if friends, family and colleagues aren't making a fuss (because they know roughly what happened and don't want to make it worse for the person, and/or risk causing problems for themselves.).

And in the context of Fan Bingbing being awarded a 0% "social responsibility" rating by a state-adjacent body, it's not hard to sense a connection here.

Do High Profile celebrities often become vanished persons in the People's republic of China?

Sort of.

Detention of high-profile celebrities is often announced, because the point of picking on a celebrity is to make an example of a person that people are familiar with. Like the 2014 celebrity drugs crackdown, which netted Jackie Chan's son and various other celebrities.

"Vanishing" is usually reserved for more politically sensitive cases: activists of all kinds, lawyers, academics, religious leaders*, wealthy businessmen and sometimes politicians (politicians are another category of people who often become "examples"). They may go missing from other countries. They may or may not reappear. Even Xi Jinping vanished for several weeks before his coronation at the 18th Party Congress (he skipped a lot of important meetings, including with Hillary Clinton) and nobody knows if it was health related or a factional power struggle that his faction eventually won.

Is Fan Bingbing's case "politically sensitive"? Again, who knows! It's a black box. But she's accused of accounting shenanigans and missing taxes, and those are something that I would conservatively estimate 99.99% of China's elite are involved in. So sure, it could be seen that way.

*And of course more than one million Muslims in internment camps, several million more in reeducation camps.

This doesn't seem that much different from the way social media shaming of celebrities works these days in the U.S....

Er

Sure
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:59 AM on September 11 [33 favorites]


There's quite a bit of backstory behind Fan Bingbing's downfall. She is widely considered collateral damage in the vendetta between Feng Xiaogang the director of her new movie "Cellphone 2" and Cui Yongyuan, a former CCTV host. More info here: https://shanghaiist.com/2018/06/04/cui-yongyuan-apologizes-to-fan-bingbing-after-accusing-of-her-tax-evasion/

The first Cellphone movie was about a famous CCTV host who had a secret affair with his co-host. Many people who saw the movie thought that Cui, one of the most famous CCTV host at that time who happened to have a female co-host, is whom the movie was based on. Cui considers the movie libel. When Cellphone 2 promotion got underway, Cui publicly called on Feng the director to dispel the old rumors, but Feng stonewalled him. Cui then went nuclear, revealing Fan's ying-yang contracts on Weibo.

Fan Bingbing is a long time collaborator of Feng, and the first Cellphone movie partially made her name. A couple of years ago they made a critically acclaimed movie "I'm not Pan Jinlian" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Not_Madame_Bovary) about a rural woman who was accused of having affairs and went all the way to Beijing to appeal to officials there to clear her name.
posted by em at 11:33 AM on September 11 [10 favorites]


This is really of a type with reporting on China. This pads the shit out of the core issue, which was suspicion of tax evasion. I mean hell, Wesley Snipes also argued that state repression was the reason he got done on tax charges, but unlike Fan, the BBC didn't report as if Snipes was right.

This happens all the time in Western reporting on the PRC. Like the "social credit" travel block, which works out to people being denied preferred or luxury travel if they do things like default on their debts, which is kind of like when . . . people default on their debts elsewhere. Or when the story about Xi Jinping is about "seizing power," and denigrates some big speech he made, when said speech, which announces a change to the 38-year premise of China's political-economic management system, is literally one of the most important news items on Earth.
posted by mobunited at 12:19 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


nice to keep in mind the next time someone in europe or the US complains about how hard it is to get anything done here, and how much more efficient china is at everything.
posted by wibari at 12:22 PM on September 11


Like the "social credit" travel block, which works out to people being denied preferred or luxury travel if they do things like default on their debts, which is kind of like when . . . people default on their debts elsewhere.

Are you suggesting that people are barred from traveling in the US if they default on their debts? People in the US can in fact still get on a plane just fine even with the worst possible credit score, if they can find a way to pay for the ticket. Wesley Snipes got tried for tax fraud, but he never unaccountably disappeared for any span of time that I'm aware of.

I do think that the news should report more on the substance of what's going on in China and not just the form thereof, but... no, it's not at all just like it would be everywhere else.
posted by Sequence at 12:46 PM on September 11 [12 favorites]


which works out to people being denied preferred or luxury travel if they do things like default on their debts, which is kind of like when . . . people default on their debts elsewhere

What? I'm no fan of the US credit agencies, but last time I checked, Equifax can't get me bumped back to steerage the next time I try to fly Delta.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:56 PM on September 11 [9 favorites]


Are you suggesting that people are barred from traveling in the US if they default on their debts? People in the US can in fact still get on a plane just fine even with the worst possible credit score, if they can find a way to pay for the ticket.

No, people can be barred from traveling in the US if their name appears on a mysterious list, or if they have various court-ordered restrictions. With low credit scores it becomes impractical to buy tickets on the most desired means of transportation. China lacks unified credit reporting and this does something similar, since it isn't a travel ban, but covers higher end transportation methods. For the most part it is literally a government-run version of a smattering of systems Westerners put in the hands of private enterprise.

Wesley Snipes got tried for tax fraud, but he never unaccountably disappeared for any span of time that I'm aware of.

I don't know whether any interviews with the IRS were in the media before his arrest. If they didn't make the news, would that be "unaccountable?" Anyway, non-sensationalized news sources make it pretty clear Fan was arrested for tax evasion. For example, in the link below, it says she was arrested, then re-arrested. The disappearance is "mysterious" in the "Fan Bingbing didn't release a statement to the press about going to prison for cheating on her taxes," sense.

https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3524674
posted by mobunited at 6:35 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Anyway, non-sensationalized news sources make it pretty clear Fan was arrested for tax evasion.

I’m not sure why you object so strongly to the reporting around this case, which is basically: “international movie star is accused of tax evasion by professional rival; goes missing for several months; state-run media briefly seem to fess up to imprisoning her; now state-compiled rankings of film star ethics rate her as 0%”. All of that is accurate and has not been sensationalised to be any more suggestive than it already is. “Movie star disappears into vast unaccountable carceral system in secretive authoritarian dictatorship” is good copy, regardless of whether the star is innocent or not - which of course we’ll never know, and isn’t really the point of the Chinese justice system in the first place.

That said, your “non-sensationalized news source” contains no original reporting and relies on two sources itself: the swiftly recalled Securities Daily piece that stated Fan was “under control and would accept the legal judgement”, but did not state details of the charge or verdict (although yeah - we all know what the verdict will be) and some unsourced assertions from a small Taiwanese online gossip magazine, which is where the “arrested / rearrested” stuff comes from.

Why did Securities Daily recall their reporting? Probably because the Fan Bingbing case is subject to blanket government censorship.

The interesting suggestion here is that the Ying-Yang contracts (assuming that they actually existed and were not a smear in the first place) might well have been designed to avoid a politically motivated industry pay cap, as much as to avoid taxes. Like I said in my first comment, it’s not a great time to be a popular celeb in a state with an increasingly forceful cult of personality, whether or not you’ve been fiddling your finances.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:21 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]


Or when the story about Xi Jinping is about "seizing power," and denigrates some big speech he made, when said speech, which announces a change to the 38-year premise of China's political-economic management system, is literally one of the most important news items on Earth.

Also, as gently as possible, your instincts as a newshound may not be all that sharp. Assuming that you’re talking about Xi’s three hour speech at the beginning of the Party Congress last October, his introduction of “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era” was quite important - it was a named ideology that rhetorically put him on a par with Mao, and was widely expected to be written into the constitution at the next meeting of the Central Committee.

Let’s fast forward to Central Committee meeting of February this year.

Yep, as expected, Xi Jinping Thought gets written into the constitution. He’s up there with Mao now, except... Mao wasn’t constitutionally mandated to retire at the next Party Congress in five years’ time.

But wait, what’s this? A further amendment to the constitution scraps term limits? That’s quite the story! So now China’s authoritarian government is now an authoritarian dictatorship, with one man controlling the lives of one and a half billion, indefinitely.

Who could have seen something like this coming, say, back in October?
posted by chappell, ambrose at 11:53 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]




« Older Most excellent   |   Wanted: One Kraken, 8-10 tentacles, no clothing Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.