Debut of 9-and-under boy group Panda Boys criticized by Chinese netizens, agency responds
Published: Aug 22, 2021 06:01 PM
Idol group Panda Boys's debut in Chengdu on Friday. Photo: Sina Weibo

Idol group Panda Boys's debut in Chengdu on Friday. Photo: Sina Weibo

The debut of the Panda Boys, a new idol group formed by young Chinese boys all under 10 years old, on Friday has become the target of criticism on Chinese social media, prompting the band's agency to issue a statement on Saturday that netizens described as "sugar coating."  

The extremely young boy band's debut swiftly became a trending topic on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, with many netizens expressing concerns that while the boys - the youngest 7 years old - may be are gifted in music and dance, they still are too young to be thrown into the complicated arena- the entertainment industry.  

"Does this suggest that the next boy group that debuts has to include children in a nursery?" posted one netizen on Sina Weibo. 

The mountain of criticism may have been too much as the group's agency Asia Starry Sky Group issued a response on Sina Weibo on Saturday. Besides describing itself as a "children's education explorer that is full of passion," the agency also clarified that the company does not treat the young boys as "money-making tools" and that it requires the members to prioritize their studies over band training. 

Even though the statement attempted to address netizens' concerns, due to the agency's business nature and the fact that it has signed up school-age boys, discontented netizens said that while the company has "sugar coated" its intentions to make money, they believe the boys will likely be "exploited" because "young idol" is another word for "profit" in the current idol industry.   

"The extreme success of TFBoys alerted those who want to make money in the idol industry that they need to focus on young idols. It sounds absurd to me that the company claims it does not want to make money off of them. The act of choosing children who are even younger than teenagers to me shows that the agency is seeking out variety and gambling on a new route in the young idol market now that there are more and more bands like TFBoys being developed," Max Xiao, an industry insider, told the Global Times on Sunday, referring to China's most successful teenage boy group TFBoys, whose members debuted at the young age of 12-13. 

Other netizens called for young idols to focus more on education and reject the idea that an idol can just be good-looking performers who are good at putting on shows but lack culture. 

"My son is talented in drums, and told me that he wanted to become a star one day. But, I would not encourage him to chase fame when he doesn't know what it is. I would never take his childhood and the right to study away from him to make him an 'adult child' to fulfill my vanity and get compliments from others," Wang Xun, the mother to an 11-year-old boy in Chengdu, told the Global Times on Sunday.  

"As music fans, we should stop giving these young idols a crazy amount of attention so that the industry can calm down. We should follow quality stars so as to raise the bar for the industry," Cherry Xu, an idol fan, told the Global Times. 

On Tuesday, the young idol band's agency Asia Starry Sky Group stunned netizens by announcing that the group that had just debuted on Friday had been officially disbanded. 

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