Monday, September 05, 2005

The Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest

Who would have thought eight little words could bring such joy to 400 million people? (Actually, make that 400 million and one, as I find myself pretty tickled by them, too.) But what is The Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest, you ask?

Though I'd like to tell you it's a battle royale among Superheroines, involving daredevil antics, invisible planes, lassoes of Truth and big cuff bracelets, really it's just the Chinese version of American Idol. (The show is sponsored by Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt.) Still, the competition has taken China by storm. According the NYT, the number of people who tuned in to watch Li Yuchun, a student from the Sichuan province, become their very own Kelly Clarkson "eclipsed the population of North America." (And, ironically enough, like our own Kelly, apparently Li can't really sing, either.)

But what's more, Li is no traditional pageant winner-type. Described as "boyish" or "androgynous" by Chinese commentators--and oh-so-kindly referred to as "tall and gangly, with a thatch of frizzy hair" by the New York Times--she's possibly even, GASP, a lesbian.

It seems that the impact of the "Super Girl" show is rippling out to the broader Chinese culture, causing at least a few of those 400 million to question the offerings of China's Central Television, an arm of the Communist government's propaganda machine. And once that starts happening, Wang Yao, bar the door!

So even if this show's success means China will start producing similar dross to what we see on our networks here, I have to admit, I think that's a great leap forward.


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