China’s entertainment industry must focus on substance over style to stay healthy

Live performance of INTO1's album

 INTO1 Photo: Courtesy of WAJIJIWA Entertainment

A little-known Hong Kong actor has frequently trended on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo recently after he appeared on a variety show named Memories Beyond Horizon. While audiences have been impressed by his skills and dedication, this has also sparked debate as many netizens feel that many Chinese mainland entertainers don’t come anywhere close to his level but are even more famous and well paid.

Actor Che Biu-law used to play supporting roles in Hong Kong TVB’s classic dramas and he has always been careful to his work. To attend the variety show, which aims to train young Chinese entertainers, Che said he has worked hard to improve the pronunciation of his Putonghua (Standard Chinese). It seems his hard work paid off as audiences were stunned by the fluency of his Putonghua. However, even though the actor is clearly very dedicated, he has been paid far lower over the years than some entertainers in the mainland. 

In recent years many entertainers, especially younger entertainers, have been getting by on their good looks instead of their actual ability to act and perform. There have been numerous stories of actors refusing to remember lines for films or TV dramas, showing up late for work and spending more time on taking in sponsor deals than on actually trying to improve their performing skills. And yet, these entertainers still manage to accumulate huge fanbase and earn exorbitant salaries. While this path may be profitable for studios, it is a shortsighted move that will negatively impact the overall health of the industry in the long run.

To fix this issue that has been twisting the proper development direction of the industry, studios should focus on finding actual talent who have good work ethics, instead of pushing the newest “fresh meat” onto audiences.  

Hopefully, the praise that Che has been receiving can be a starting point for a positive shift in the industry, so that more actors and actresses with good acting skills but few fans can have more opportunities to be recognized and rewarded.

The author is an editor of the Global Times. [email protected]

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