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Dashan 大山 discusses why 老外 hate him


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but that CCTV went back to Dashan after his initial 1988 apperance and made him a star might not have been an accident.

I'm sure it wasn't an accident - it was because they recognised they had a really popular performer and they wanted to milk that as far as they could. According to Wikipedia, his initial appearance (hosting a singing contest) wasn't what made him famous - it was a skit a couple of months later on the Spring Festival Gala that propelled him to stardom, also meaning that CCTV had already gone back to him previously - some 6 months before the events of '89. I just don't buy that there was some overarching conspiracy here to develop a Chinese speaking foreigner to help act in some way as a counter balance what happened in Tiananmen :roll: . That's a little too tin-foil hat for me.

As for why Dashan and not other foreigners, well, the Spring Festival Gala has a way of making instant stars of certain people due to the audience connecting with their skit - just look at how 小沈阳's popularity skyrocketed after his first performance - how come other first-time performers at the Spring Festival Gala didn't become equally famous that year? Who knows, but I'm fairly sure it wasn't because 赵本山 had been tasked by Hu Jintao to groom someone to take the public's mind off whatever was troubling the nation at the time.

I also recall reading an article some time back where Mark Rowswell mentioned he didn't even realise that the skit he was going to be doing for the Spring Festival Gala was going to be seen by basically all of China.

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That first skit on CCTV was for a New Year's eve show at the end of 1988 (not yet spring festival).

Here is the video. His Chinese wasn't nearly as good back then. He still had a clear foreign accent. The pronunciation of the girl in the video was better than his. Both spoke very slowly. This was certainly work of a novice. I doubt that you can tell from this video that Mark Roswell would turn out to be the Chinese Superstar Dashan of later years.




2011年08月05日 14:02










拜师姜昆 情结王文泉


姜昆:我也是一点一点看着大山成长起来的,那么我有这样一个学生,也非常高兴。全国我有很多的学生,按照中国的传统学生都很孝敬老师的,可是他呢我 经常孝敬他,我要给他制造各种各样的机会,让他来接触中国文化,要制造各种各样的机会让他能够走入我们,或者是融入我们中国这个生活圈子当中,我觉得只有 这样才能够让他更好地去发挥作用。

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Yeah, the video of that skit performed at Beida was shown on a 元旦 CCTV show, not 春节 show. From the video, it looked like it was done in some gymnasium at Beida, with only a small audience in the bleachers. I can see how he didn't realized it would be viewed by the whole country.


天天新报 2010-05-21 09:22:16


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Funny thought, though why then create a character that would become known and loved only by a (mass) domestic audience? Sure no foreign MNC in the 90s invested in China because of a Canadian guy on TV doing xiangsheng. No defiant intellectual fell on the road to Damascus after seeing Dashan doing skits on 大年夜.

His own explanation makes more sense to me. He got lucky, and then gradually developed a persona that suited the needs of his newfound audience.

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If CCTV had a political agenda, it would be to show that "foreigners still love us, despite the killing of students." It obviously would entirely be for domestical consumption. It's just speculation based on the coincidence of the timeline. We don't have any proof one way or another. One thing for sure is that many things that the Chinese media does have a political purpose.

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pronunciation of the girl in the video was better than his.

I remember that skit too and always wondered what became of that girl later on. She might have been from South America.

foreigners still love us, despite the killing of students

Really, and it's almost like having Barney the Big Purple Dinosaur sing tunes like the "老外 love China, China loves the 老外" instead of his famed "I love you, you love me" signature tune.

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  • 1 month later...

A great read thanks a lot. He comes across fairly well. I don't think foreginers really hate Dashan, although it is boring and irritating when he is mentioned too much. Times have rather moved on, and there are now many more foreigners with good chinese around.

However, he is not completely honest with himself. Is there no harm at all to his persona and career? I have issue with at least one thing he says (probably more if I could be bothered to break the interview down further), which chimes with things I have held against his "persona", beautifully illustrated when he makes this defensive point:

"I work within cultural norms. This spills over into the political realm, because, to be honest, Chinese cultural acceptance of foreign political criticism is almost nil. In short, I don’t have to worry about what government censors might say because Chinese audiences would never let me get that far anyway."

Read this statement a couple of times. Its carefully crafted and that is reflective of something that he has probably convinced himself of. Maybe the statement is (possibly) true in the narrow circumstances where he has been allowed to be on television by a broadcaster controlled by the state. But otherwise it is absolutely not true at all that the Chinese cant deal with political criticism (its only the official state culture that cant). Does this statement attempt to reduce ordinary Chinese to mere cyphers? But if you don't know China, you might not realise this.

But I do note that DS's career has been very lucrative for saying the right thing. Personally I would not do his job for all the riches in the world and even to further improve my Chinese ;-).

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But otherwise it is absolutely not true at all that the Chinese cant deal with political criticism

So you think that, if the government had no problem with it, it'd be possible for a foreigner to build a successful widely-watched stage act full of criticisms of China? I rather think Mark Roswell has a better idea about the kind of response he'd get than you do. :D

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What's he meant to do, go round the Chinese people one by one?

it is boring and irritating when he is mentioned too much

Only if you let it be . . .

Taxi Driver: Your Chinese is good. Hey, do you know Dashan?

You: A) Yeah. You know he's actually from Xinjiang? Was raised in Beijing. Total government conspiracy.

B) Yeah. They do a great job of dubbing him.

C) Sure. I hear he's getting extradited back to Canada pretty soon. Gee, if they'd never dug up his garden to lay those sewers . . .

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But otherwise it is absolutely not true at all that the Chinese cant deal with political criticism (its only the official state culture that cant).

I doubt if it is absolutely not true. Criticism by the Chinese themselves, maybe they can deal with them. But criticism by a foreigner, hmmmm.

But some of the posters here know so much about China.

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