Further on the subject of what piques the interest of the evolving Chinese blogosphere, my colleague in the Time bureau Nicole Qu points out that what REALLY gets netiziens stirred up is actually exactly the same as what seems to preoccupy most webheads in the U.S. and elsewhere: which movie star/celebrity is doing what with whom. In China though this preoccupation is occasionally leavened with an unpleasant streak of xenophobic insecurity, at least when it comes to female stars. The last few days it has been the turn of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Zhang Ziyi. This picture of the movie star at an NBA game appeared on the web a couple of days ago and prompted a frenzied hunt for the identity of Zhang’s canoodling partner.
He has been variously identified as a 54-year-old, third-rate French actor in Hollywood;
a Texas businessman who is a neighbor and political supporter of President Bush; and a 41-year-old Israeli millionaire. Whatever his identity, the fact that Zhang is apparently dating a non-Chinese man set off a flood of juvenile vitriol, most of it totally unprintable. One much viewed blog post entitled “Zhang ziyi betrays Chinese men again” drew some 1,400 reader comments, almost universally criticizing Zhang. “Chinese men are always being blamed for being small hearted and self-contemptuous,” one said. “I am so hurt, she makes me disappointed again. Aren’t Chinese men good enough for her?” said another. Sorry stuff.