As an entire generation has come of age on social media, virtual relationships are slowly replacing real-life human connections. And China has taken it to an extreme. Here, live streaming ...
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As an entire generation has come of age on social media, virtual relationships are slowly replacing real-life human connections. And China has taken it to an extreme. Here, live streaming has become the most popular online entertainment for hundreds of millions. People's Republic of Desire provides a vérité journey into this digital universe, where young performers earn as much as US$150,000 a month singing, dancing or doing talk shows to live, interactive audiences of tens of thousands. Their fans include China's super rich, who each night lavish virtual gifts on their favorite performers (40% of the money paid for these gifts go to the performers), and the dirt poor, many of them migrant workers in urban areas searching for a cheap way to be entertained, to feel connected. The film follows three young characters - a singer, a comedian, and a migrant worker - as they search for fame, fortune and human connection in live streaming. We also meet their families, those managing the ...
A Beautiful Documentary about the bizarre phenomenon of Chinese Live Streaming
People's Republic of Desire was well-received in its world premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary Feature Competition. The film follows the lives of a young male comedian and a young female singer who have become stars in China's world of live streaming where people are making immense amounts of money by marketing their often-meagre talents in ways that get thousands of fans to send them gifts and pay money to vote for them in competitions. It is a bizarre pay-to-play form of online American Idol competition. It is kind of like a type of mostly not sexual prostitution where people are selling dreams and fantasies to those who are willing to pay. Wealthy patrons often pay thousands of dollars to support them while poor people pay small amounts to watch as they yearn to connect to their favorite star's fame and celebrity. They hope for some glimmer of their reflected glory. The film also follows one of the migrant workers as he obsessively watches his favorite performer. The film is beautifully made and edited with excellent animated displays of the performers screenshots and interactions.
This film implies that life in China is becoming more and more virtual as lots of lonely people turn online in search of human connection in a world that is increasingly-driven almost solely by a dehumanizing search for monetary gain. Both the performers and viewers seem desperately lonely and isolated. Virtual reality seems to be triumphing over, well, actual reality. The obsession with celebrity seems reflective of a deeply unhealthy society, but then, again, as an American how can I really criticize? Our idiotic country elected an incompetent narcissistic reality TV star as our President.
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