Jackson Wang’s attack on Western media’s false China narrative shines a light on elephant in the room
Published: Jan 16, 2023 08:10 PM
Idol Jackson Wang Photo:IC

Idol Jackson Wang Photo:IC

On January 12, China's Hong Kong-born superstar Jackson Wang publicly rebuked Western media and defended his home country China as a "dope place" during a concert at the Eventim Apollo in London for his 2023-24 Magic Man headline tour.

While the foul language he used may be questionable, London fans nonetheless cheered on Wang to show their support. The star's statement shined a light on a long-standing elephant in the room: Western media's longtime rumor-mongering and the tricks it uses to twist people's perceptions of China. Everyone knows there are a lot of lies in Western media's China reports, but most cannot be bothered to burst Western media's self-deception bubble.

"I was also born in Hong Kong… He spoke out the truth for us. Our mother country is great," Mila Yip, a fan who attended Wang's show, told the Global Times. 

It should be noted that Wang's public criticism was not targeting Western people, but only the mental manipulations of Western media. This is the main reason why the star's Western fans headed to platforms such as YouTube to leave comments such as "I respect his patriotism" on the video clip from the concert.

As a global icon from China that is followed by over 7 million fans on Twitter, Wang's public speech did not seem choreographed, but it was indeed a deliberate tactical move, which effectively invited his Western fans, mostly young Westerners, to explore the real Chinese narrative.

"If you'd travel to China just one time, you'd feel like 'damn, this is a cope place,'" he said.

In the context of globalized pop culture, idols like him have become new "global cultural ambassadors" who "make full use of the international stage to promote his values and beliefs," Zheng Xu, a cultural globalization researcher, told the Global Times, adding that the power of these "pop ambassadors" can be very influential.

Wang's sharp-tongued criticism quickly became a hot topic on Sina Weibo. While an overwhelming number of people showed the star support, some criticized him as "trying too hard to depict a patriotic persona."

But how can it be a bad thing if a celebrity establishes a patriotic persona for the good of the nation? Should they not work to be positive role models for fans?

Born in the Hong Kong SAR and kicking off his career in South Korea, the idol has never changed his patriotic footing even when facing publicity issues such as being abused online after he posted his support for the Chinese national flag in 2019.

"I'm an artist, I'm an entertainer, I'm a citizen," Wang said during the concert.