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How <i>American Idol</i> Introduced Democracy and Tomboys to China

Over at Fandor, our own Kevin Lee has a piece on Jian Yi’s Super, Girls!, coinciding with the finale of American Idol Season 10, airing tonight and tomorrow. Here are a couple of excerpts:


Super Girl (once officially known as the Mongolian Cow Yoghurt Super Girl Contest, after its brand sponsor) launched in 2004, just a couple years after Pop Idol and American Idol. Originally a local TV production, the show took advantage of a newly formed nationwide satellite network to broadcast across China, and quickly became a runaway success. By its third season the show drew over 400 million viewers, exceeding not just the total number of American Idol viewers, but the entire US population. Whether due to this alarming display of voter mobilization or the runaway popularity of a show that glorified pop idolatry, the Chinese government shut down the show after three seasons (though it has since been revived). It’s apparent that independent filmmaker and one-man film crew Jian Yi was unable to gain inside access to the show behind the scenes, which turns out to be a blessing. By spending all of the film’s time with these aspiring singers trying to crack into the inner circle of superstardom, we identify with their charismatically underdog spirit. But the more time we spend with them, we sense dark shadows of confusion and insecurity creeping in. These kids, fresh out of high school or college, are facing an increasingly competitive job market and immense pressures from their families to succeed. When not practicing their songs, they obsessively check horoscopes and online messages, and talk at length about what it takes to make it big, emulating a roster of role models that includes not only Li Yuchun but Bill Gates

Both Super, Girls! and Zhao Liang’s Crime and Punishment are available to watch on Fandor, with many more dGenerate titles available soon.


#americanidol #fandor #jianyi #supergirls

dGenerate Films c/o Icarus Films  |  
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