I recently received an email from a young Chinese friend who mentioned being inspired by amateur Welsh opera singer Paul Potts, who won a British idol singing contest last summer. I’d never heard of Potts, but a quick Baidu search turned up a wealth of Paul Potts videos on Baidu video and elsewhere. Apparently the story of the nerdly amateur with a heart captured the imaginations of the British and American press as well as the Chinese (it can’t have hurt that he sells mobile phones!). Here’s an excerpt from a blog post written by a Canadian Eastern European blogger:
with his hobbit-like pudgy figure, his crooked front teeth and his
misty-eyed sadness, he personifies everyman. His talent is not
propelled by surgically-altered, photoshop-ed good looks; his stories
of low self-esteem and being bullied in school ring true to all of us
who have been there. As a true underdog, he is one of us; he represents
the millions of average looking people who go about their mundane days,
secretly harbouring talents that they do not believe would ever take
Everyone loves an underdog, but as with many things from abroad that show up in China, the Paul Potts story lingers on in Virtual China as a cultural reference for Chinese netizens to explore their feelings about their own country. In this case, some of what the story is about is the horror of China’s popular "idol" TV talent contests and some distrust of how "open" a television show can really be in China today. As my friend wrote, "many Chinese expressed their recognition for Paul Potts and meanwhile disappointment toward similar Chinese shows, declaring that Paul can never make it the same way in China." Some online comments:
Now this is the real essence of a talent show. China’s talent shows are all based on background and what goes on behind the scenes.
China’s talent shows are determined by our national conditions. Someone like this could never emerge from them.
…They elect Paul Potts, and we elect Li Yuchun, what a difference!…If British people saw our Li Yuchun the only thing they’d think is that we Chinese have problems with our aesthetic standards and orientation.
Yes! THIS is what you call selection by the people. Because this is not taking place in China…
Who thinks that our Chinese contestants could compete against this "fatty"??? In my opinion, all the Chinese idol shows’ contestants all put together aren’t as good as him, not only in terms of sheer impact, but even more importantly it’s his spirit, that never give up spirit. Long live Paul Potts!!!