Tag: human flesh search

Woman in Black: A Chinese Internet Tale

Posted on December 4th, by matt_schiavenza in China Culture, Chinese Internal Affairs, Current Events. 1 Comment

On November 16 US President Barack Obama held an American-style town hall meeting with a group of university students in Shanghai. During the event, the camera panned toward a pretty female student dressed stylishly in black who was seated near the president.

Naturally, the identity of thisĀ  girl elicited the attention of the Chinese internet community, who immediately commenced a ‘human flesh search’. Before long, the ‘Obama girl’ was identified as an MBA candidate named Wang Zifei at Shanghai’s Jiaotong University. Like many of her peers she kept a blog in which he discussed her life and posted photographs of herself.

Following an intense period of attention and scrutiny Wang addressed the matter on her blog, stating that she made no special effort to attract attention during Obama’s speech and that her celebrity- now international- was entirely accidental. To underscore her humble nature she highlighted a photograph of herself playing with a kangaroo. Just another pretty young Chinese woman lifted to fame, it seemed.

Or does it? Now ESWN presents information that Ms. Wang’s sudden celebrity was in fact carefully premeditated. Apparently her boyfriend- a businessman- paid 100,000 RMB to a Beijing-based internet public relations firm to ensure her placement near Obama in order to jumpstart Wang’s entertainment career. (link via Shanghaiist)

I’m still unconvinced. The dress Wang wore was flattering but in no way revealing or inappropriate for the occasion. She removed her coat slowly, yes, but she did not look at the camera or make any movements that could possibly be interpreted as seductive. Her denial struck me as more plausible than this incident, for example. It just seems unlikely to me that a public relations firm could have pulled that off.

We’ll see how this plays out, I suppose. In the meantime I find it fascinating how quickly determined netizens uncovered her identity and how, if the ESWN-highlighted story is true, how savvy people are these days with using the internet as a self-promotion vehicle.…