Item shows fake news never takes a holiday
Reaction of internet trolls to Lunar New Year post by model Liu Wen is simply not funny and portrays Chinese citizens as patriotic freaks
Now this is fake news if there ever was. Chinese supermodel Liu Wen has apparently been targeted by patriotic internet trolls for writing “Lunar New Year” instead of “Chinese New Year” – in a celebratory Instagram post.
She has reportedly changed it back to the nationalistically correct version.
The “news” has been reported as “a row” in major British and American news media, and my very own South China Morning Post as well. First of all, we don’t even know if the trolls actually meant it or were just trying to stir the pot and upset people. That’s what trolls do online.
When has their bile become legitimate news stories? Apparently, three or four trolling quotes of dubious origin are good enough these days to make a news story, especially if it’s something negative about the mainland. Now if the trolls are identifiable as famous or important people, that would be a legitimate story. But we don’t even know who they are. You can find crazy or nasty people to say anonymously anything online about anyone.
The offending caption involved a photograph of Liu with her friend Wendi Deng Murdoch, the former wife of the Australian-American media mogul.
For most Asians, including yours truly, the two phrases are practically interchangeable. This is mostly because many Asian countries traditionally follow the lunar calendar.
Do we really want to get into an absurd my-national-holiday-is-better-than-yours contest over Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean New Year?
The latest news item is in the same fake news category as reports about China having “banned Christmas”.
In December, several mainland universities, cities and government departments were instructed not to celebrate Christmas excessively.
Somehow, they were reported as Chinese trying to kill Christmas. An editorial in the communist Global Times confirmed there was no such ban. All you had to do was to visit Shenzhen and Shanghai to find that any self-respecting shopping centre there had more lavish Christmas decorations and bigger Christmas trees than those in Hong Kong.
You could write the same story about the United States and Britain, where some corporate offices, universities and government departments have discouraged excessive Christmas celebrations to be more “culturally inclusive”.
Every country has its excesses and crazy people. That’s why context is important. But while pretending to be just for laughs, the subtext of such malicious fake holiday news is to portray a government as mindless and Chinese citizens as patriotic freaks.