CHINA / SOCIETY
Online celebrities staging publicity stunts in Henan criticized for hindering flood rescue
Published: Jul 29, 2021 04:00 PM
Rescuers evacuate stranded people in the waterlogged urban area of Weihui City in Xinxiang, central China's Henan Province, July 27, 2021. Weihui City suffered from severe urban waterlogging due to the extremely heavy rainfall.Photo: Xinhua

Rescuers evacuate stranded people in the waterlogged urban area of Weihui City in Xinxiang, central China's Henan Province, on July 27, 2021. Weihui City suffered from severe urban waterlogging due to the extremely heavy rainfall. Photo: Xinhua



 As the Henan floods wreaked havoc, rescue teams from across the country have been sent to the affected areas to save lives and properties. However, some internet celebrities were found going there for publicity purposes.

A number of rescue teams have been quoted by the media as saying that some online celebrities have affected their rescue work. Some of the celebrities' teams even posted misleading rescue guidance messages online, the China Youth Daily reported.

In response to the report, short video platforms Kuaishou and Douyin issued statements, saying they will severely crack down on those who take advantage of the Henan floods as a means to attract attention.

When several internet celebrities went to the disaster areas, they attracted a crowd of followers who ended up disrupting rescue work.

The China Youth Daily revealed that as some celebrities were handing out supplies to people in the affected areas, their staff members were taking videos and posted them online.

"These people are extremely unprofessional," a rescue team leader in Xinxiang was cited by the report. "Many of them didn't even wear life jackets when trying to help people," said the rescuer who encountered some of the celebrities.

Another rescuer said some celebrities were carelessly going to some heavily affected areas with obstacles like fallen power lines in their way, where they could easily drown and thereby affect the rescue work. 

The incident sparked a lot of attention on Weibo and was one of the top trending topics, gaining over 1.09 billion views as of press time. 

Despite the outrage it brought, people were divided on the matter. While some people condemned the celebrities' "stage show," there were some who thought their presence was warranted.

One netizen commented that participating in the rescue work is not wrong, but it shouldn't hinder the process of trying to help those who need help. 

Zhu Wei, a Beijing-based professor, who closely follows internet communication, told the Global Times on Thursday that some online celebrities are taking advantage of the disaster to polish up their public image. The professor also noted that due to the rise in popularity of short videos, such publicity stunts can be a boost to their careers.

But we should not overlook the fact that some celebrities were there to really give help, the observer said. Rescue work should be headed by professionals, and celebrities can help by using their fame to mobilize people and resources, he said. 


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