Wang Shuo’s Media Complex

Wang Shuo‘s got another bad habit: the paparazzi.

Fighting the demons of sex, drugs and police scrutiny as he mounts a literary comeback, the foul-mouthed writer recently agreed to tape the late-night CCTV psychiatry show Xinli Fangtan(ÂøÉÁêÜËÆøË∞à) along with his 79-year-old mother. After a teary three-hour sitting focused on a tempestuous relationship between mother and son – due to air on March 16 – CCTV psychoanalyst Li Zijuan pronounced the dark humorist a normal but jealous person “armed to the teeth” with vitriol to repress his inner goodness. “I don’t take for a sick person,” Li told the Beijing Times (‰∫¨ÂçéÊó∂Êä•). “Right now all of his behavior only serves to show that he has a lot of pressure.”

So Wang showed immediately after the taping, chewing out a female Beijing Youth Daily journalist among the gaggle of entertainment press gathered at CCTV’s studios. The entertainment network caught the “saliva battle” on camera and uploaded it online on Thursday afternoon (Here’s another formatfrom Tianya). In the 13-minute video, Wang delivers the kid reporters a trash talking on the topic of “media responsibility”. (Note on the shattering glass: it’s merely sound effect.)

Wang Shuo’s latest tirade stemmed, ironically, from what happened at the scene of another talk show taping last week…

At one point during his studio session with Phoenix TV’s Dou Wentao, during which Wang confessed to doing drugs as well as prostitutes, he cracked that TV presenter Yang Lan had “married the wrong man” in media entrepreneur Bruno Wu (Âê¥ÂæÅ) and accused the cash-poor co-boss of the couple’s company, Sun Media, of jerking him around with empty offers to invest in a film project. Although Wang’s swipe at Wu and Yang was omitted from the final cut of the Phoenix show, reporters were on the scene of that taping as well. The Youth Daily journalist ran with the comments and a side-scandal broke out. Wang has since apologized to the couple.

During the CCTV taping, other media were locked out of the set at the request of Wang’s mother. But afterward, Wang went hunting for the BYD reporter. At one point during his outburst, Wang compares his situation to that of Dou Wei, the reclusive rock veteran who flew into a rage and burned a Beijing News journalist’s car last year after a binge of reports in the paper about his failed marriages and fading stardom. Wang says he wouldn’t mess around with exhuming autos. “I’ll just give you a whooping.”

Wang’s is indeed another shameless case of a mad artist and a frenzied media, wherein one scandal seamlessly spirals into another. Beside the overriding questions of where the boundaries of privacy and good taste lie, it shows that cherrypicking and cross-promotion are salient forms of collusion in the Chinese media market.

Seeking out mental help with the whole Wang Shuo episode, Biganzi called up one of Beijing’s avatars of positive psychology, Ni Zijun, also a part-time editorial advisor to Xinli Fangtan. She was not familiar with the details of Wang’s case or why the reporters were allowed to hang around the CCTV studio, but did have this to say:

In psychology we have a theory: familiarity breeds attraction. The more someone is exposed before the public, no matter whether it’s something for good or something bad, the more public will have a tendency to like that person. So you’ll see that no matter whether it’s a scandal or something else, a lot of stars are very willing to hype themselves…

Wang Shuo is not using this method. He may know it, but of course he is not using it. Instead it’s the media who is. That’s very easy to understand. The media just wants to sell its product. The more it sells it, the better it sells. Especially privacy and scandals.

Ah, clearer now. Ni added:

I believe the Chinese media should take a point of departure of using more love in their coverage. Use love to report.


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