Female stand-up comedian Yang Li, known for mocking men, was again caught up in ‘gender opposition’ controversy after appearing in Mercedes ad
Published: Oct 19, 2021 10:14 PM
Yang Li Photo: Sina Weibo

Yang Li Photo: Sina Weibo

Chinese female stand-up comedian Yang Li, who rose to fame by her sarcastic attacks on men during online gigs, has not yet escaped from her latest controversy “causing gender opposition” after more than one year, and was boycotted again when appearing in an ad for Mercedes-Benz, in a scandal similar to her earlier endorsement of Intel.

Mercedes-Benz launched an ad that was posted on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo on Thursday and? it was only available for its followers from Sunday, but the comment section had also been curated. 

The boycott began from the ad video uploaded on Thursday. In the video, Yang gets in a Mercedes-Benz car with many reporters all around her.

The ad video is a series. Besides Yang, other stars such as Chinese singer Lay Zhang Yixing were also involved, but the view and comment numbers of Yang’s video were both more than others.

Netizens were at loggerheads as soon as the video was uploaded. Many male netizens claimed that they will never buy Mercedes-Benz cars because of its cooperation with Yang, while other Sina Weibo users posted back supporting Yang, mocking that those who promised to refuse Benz completely cannot afford to purchase one.

“Fortunately, I bought an Audi instead of a Mercedes.” And “I think Mercedes-Benz choosing Yang to make advertising is to tell ordinary men like me to stay away from its cars.” Some netizens commented angrily.

“I firmly support Yang Li! Mercedes-Benz is a choice for independent women!” And “Comedians tell jokes. Some people are too narrow-minded.” Other neitzens stood in opposition.

The quarrel become increasingly heated and the debate edged from the ad to the larger issue of gender equality.

Similar to an incident involving the brand Intel in March, Yang’s opponents condemned her for profiting from stirring up gender opposition.

As tempers cooled, Benz’s official Sina Weibo account set the post as only available for followers on Sunday.On Monday, Yang’s studio published a statement on Sina Weibo, clarifying that she has not endorsed Mercedes-Benz and just shot the video for the brand. 

“Yang Li has always taken projects seriously. We will investigate and affix legal liability because of those defaming and insulting behaviors,” the statement said. 

Some vehicle industry observers noted that Benz in selecting Yang to be part of the ad had two considerations in mind. One is that Yang is popular among young people, and the other is that the brand has been longing to attract younger female buyers. Yang won good impressions in the group of young women through her comedy act. 

Stand-up comedian Joe Wong, who has lived and performed in the US for over a decade, also shared his opinions about Yang. Audiences should be more tolerant to performers such as Yang as they are just sharing their observations, which is part of comedy, he told the Global Times.

Yang, a former scriptwriter from Shanghai, joined the comedy circuit in 2018 and established her fame in Tencent's popular internet stand-up comedy show Rock and Roast, with the image of an outspoken young neighborhood girl confused over friendship and relationships, with men in particular.

The comedian appeared in an Intel ad in March. Soon after its release, the ad drew complaints from some male netziens, who commented under the post that Yang was not qualified to promote Intel laptops, most of whose buyers are men, after she became famous for "insulting men."

Intel then removed the comedian from their advertising.