Friday, March 03, 2006

let a thousand blogs bloom

From BusinessWeek:

Given the recent uproar over Google, Yahoo! , and Microsoft making concessions to Chinese Internet censors, you would think the disruptive, establishment-toppling power of blogging would be pretty muted on the mainland. Well, think again. Consider the bizarre tale of an internationally renowned Chinese film director, his ex-wife, and a hitherto unknown young Chinese blogger, who has suddenly emerged as national celebrity.

Hu Ge, 31, is a Shanghai-based blogger who never expected to be a household name in China. He spends his days doing freelance video editing for animation and advertising companies.

But all that changed after this movie buff went to see acclaimed director Chen Kaige's latest offering: The Promise. Chen is probably the closest thing China has to a Steven Spielberg. And this epic fantasy about an orphaned girl granted incredible beauty from an enchantress in exchange for the promise that she can never be with her true love cost a cool $35 million to make. While chump change by Hollywood standards, that makes it one of China's most expensive productions ever.

Late last year, Hu plunked down 10 bucks to see the flick and thought it was a mediocre piece of work -- as did Chinese film critics. He then crafted a 20-minute video satirizing Chen's creation and e-mailed it to a few friends as something of a lark. "I decided to do this for fun. And also to practice my video-editing skills," says Hu.

End of story? Hardly. Hu's spoof on Chen's work is entitled The Bloody Case that Started from a Steamed Bun. It basically takes Chen's poignant mythic drama and ridicules it by refashioning the story line into a mock legal-investigative TV program. The video ricocheted quickly around the blogosphere and e-mail networks at the turn of the year, becoming one of the most downloaded video clips on the Chinese Net, according to Chinese press reports.

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