The Han Han craze
Photo from Time magazine online
Observe: Han Han (韩寒). He’s a race car mini champion, author of China’s bestselling book of the last 20 years (a novel about student high school life in Shanghai) and one of the most read bloggers in China. What’s he blog about? Anything from his latest fling with the press to sarcastic social commentary.
Time Magazine obviously thinks he’s important: They nominated him to be one of the top 100 people of 2010 (201 people were nominated): “Han Han’s first novel… sparked a debate about the quality of the country’s rigid education system… [he has a] blog that pokes fun at prominent cultural figures and incompetent officials.” (See full article.)
The New York Times also profile him, highlighting his merits as a freedom fighting blogger: “If Mr. Han’s tongue is sharp, he is careful to deliver his barbs through sarcasm and humorous anecdotes that obliquely take on corruption, censorship and everyday injustice.” (See full article.)
ChinaGeeks highlights that we should not idealize him as the western media (above) seems to have. They’ve translated two articles to prove that he’s not as profound, deep or intelligent as the press would make him out to be:
- Xu Ben from Nanfeng Daily: “Han Han’s voice is a language game which defies common principles. It is quick, surprising, but not necessarily well thought through. This game will only exist in a society of lies. Because it is risk-taking and suppressed, it is exciting. What Han’s audience is looking for is a sense of excitement, or even entertainment, but not necessarily new knowledge or profound ideas.”
- Li Tie in Time Weekly: “If you know the problems, but are helpless about them, what will you do? Make a laughter and joke of it – how the weak expresses themselves… Han Han’s gags and naughtiness hit the sweet spot of our age.”
Yet another Nanfeng Daily author, Xiao Shu, believes this shallow quality is exactly what makes him accessible (translation by Tim):
“Just look at Han Han. He’s honest, happy and open. He speaks about his pain but he doesn’t need to wallow in tragedy… He speaks out. He speaks about a kind of salvation, about having dignity and health. We can be normal people like this too, sharing in his dignity and health. We can share a normal life.
This is the aim of civil society. It’s not about resisting, rebelling against, or subverting anything. It’s about treating and curing each and every person. It’s about the self regeneration of every cell in our society.”
Want to judge for yourself? Read ChinaSMACK’s translation of his blog post answering questions about the World Expo in Shanghai.