Creating a New Chinese Cyber-Celebrity : A Cultural Analysis of Han Han's Blog as Web-based Media Spectacle

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract Novelist and race-car driver Han Han stars as the world's most popular blogger, boasting 595 million hits. China has emerged as the world's largest Internet population with 591 million netizens and a 44% penetration rate, rapidly increasing the number of Chinese citizens able to exchange information and opinions through non-official channels. Using Han Han as a case study, this paper aims first, to analyse how China's cybersphere creates a new type of celebrity; and second, how Han Han's blog constitutes a new kind of web-based media spectacle, negotiating the boundaries of government censorship while achieving both popularity and influence in China's new mediasphere, This research is important because it sheds new light on the tactics of China's unofficial opinion leaders using the Internet as an emerging public sphere 2.0. Analysis will focus on three main characteristics of Han Han's blog, examining first, how it thrives on the combination of his celebrity status and ‘everyman' image; second, how it contrasts ‘anti-intellectualism' in the tradition of Wang Shuo with elements of literati ideology including moderate loyal criticism and ‘crisis consciousness'; and third, how it negotiates the tension between commercial spectacle in a multimedia environment and the expression of socio-political concerns. Drawing on Tama Leaver's reflections on ‘the blogging of everyday life', this paper argues that China's blogosphere benefits from the credibility deficit of national mainstream news media as it attempts to influence and re-focalise public opinion. Contrary to online citizen journalism, Han Han's blog relies on editorial commentary rather than news and thus acts as a "safety valve' blog (Hassid 2012) featuring hot online topics rather than highlighting new ones. This paper aims to contribute to our understanding of a new type of celebrity in China's new cybersphere, merging the images of rebel, opinion leader and cultural entrepreneur.
Authors Berg, Daria & Strafella, Giorgio
Language English
Keywords Han Han, blog, China, cybersphere, censorship, public sphere 2.0
Subjects cultural studies
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area SHSS - Kulturen, Institutionen, Maerkte (KIM)
Refereed No
Date 23 July 2014
Publisher Braga and Coimbra Universities
Place of Publication Braga and Coimbra, Portugal
Page Range 2
Title of Book Programm of the XXth European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS) Conference
Event Title 20th Biennial Conference European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS)
Event Location Braga and Coimbra, Portugal
Event Dates 22.-26.07.2014
Depositing User Prof. Dr. Daria Berg
Date Deposited 05 Nov 2014 12:04
Last Modified 20 Jul 2022 17:22


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Berg, Daria & Strafella, Giorgio: Creating a New Chinese Cyber-Celebrity : A Cultural Analysis of Han Han's Blog as Web-based Media Spectacle. 2014. - 20th Biennial Conference European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS). - Braga and Coimbra, Portugal.

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