Browsing through Tianya forum, one of the most popular Chinese forums ( along with MAOPU, Xisi）has become a daily habit of mine to follow the interests and concerns of China’s netizens. I am always fascinated by the diversity of topics people take interest in, which range from exposures and rage over local governmental corruptions to experience-sharing about how to prevent your husband/boyfriend from having an affair. Two popular posts after the Chinese New Year celebration especially seem interesting to me, and I thought through them you might be able to have better a sense about what are the things grassroot population in China are interested in. But if you read Chinese, I seriously recommend you visiting the forum yourself. You might get a little overwhelmed at first, since most Chinese websites do not care much about user-friendly interface and regular visitors of the forum use all kinds of jargons and abbreviations ( some purely for fun, some to better evade censorship). Yet once you get use to it, you would surely be greatly entertained. And Chinasmack do provide full translations for some of the most hyped stories on those forums.
“Brother Sharp” is a begger that an amateur phogographer happened to take some street shots of in Ningbo. His pictures debuted in a photography forum, yet soon they gained immense popularity due to the his well mashed-up bohemian outfits and his melancholy yet unrestrained air. Netizens hailed himself as more stylish and avant-garde than Hollywood Celebrities and Korean/Japanese drama actors.
The sad-side story was also revealed through netizen’s “human flesh search engine“. One netizen from Hangzhou claimed that he interviewed “Brother Sharp” last year as part of his research project about homeless people who might be suffering from mental illness in Ningbo. “Brother Sharp” is clearly a victim of past emotional trauma, the netizen claims, because at times when “Sharp Brother” is sober, he makes comments that he wants to find a woman to love him, and is trying to make himself feel completed by wearing women’s cloths.
Thus suddenly, amid all the admirations of “Sharp Brother”s handsomeness and style, people are also calling for proper social care for those more out there roaming on the street suffering from mental illness. Potential for more activism? Let us wait and see. For now, let us see how “Brother Sharp” drove everybody crazy.