Welcome, everybody, to the Spring Festival Gala (aka the CCTV New Year’s Gala) liveblog. For those who want to watch what’s bound to be eyebrow-raising, if not completely entertaining, but don’t have a TV or live in China – you can check out a streaming broadcast here.
12:00PM Happy Year of the Rabbit everyone! Youku says there’s apparently a whole bunch of stuff to go, but I’m not sure I can bear to watch it. The New Year’s song has some pretty crazy costumes behind it, but I’m just going to assume Youku will leave the video up for tomorrow. Also, Shanghai’s Zhou Libo didn’t make an appearance (maybe that’s supposed to happen later?), but I don’t even care anymore! I’ll be spending the rest of my night biting my fingernails over Egypt and then, maybe, sleeping.
11:35PM Zhao Benshan and Xiao Shenyang are on in a xiaoping about some man trying to connect with his long lost love. My mom’s loving it – so I’m assuming the general Chinese audience is too. I have to admit though, with 20 minutes to go, it’s hard to concentrate on these last bits of the Gala. Especially since there’s another huge world news story going on – tanks are now rolling into Tahrir Square in Cairo, which means… guess what… certain mentions of a certain OTHER clash between tanks and anti-government protestors are appearing all over the news.
11:23PM To be honest, I’ve been surprised by the lack of acrobatics in this year’s Chun Wan – has this been the norm in recent years? It’s a shame if that’s true. I think the Acrobatics tend to be the most fun. Sure, we’ve seen it multiple times before, but that doesn’t make the fact that women in purple spandex throwing dishes onto each others’ heads while riding on unicycles is most definitely an amazing feat.
11:19PM Boring xiaoping (about two kids trying to get married despite not having bought a house) just ended with them dancing to Shakira’s World Cup South Africa song. What. in. the. world?! Is this how the organizers make sure you’re still paying attention?
11:00PM The M.C.s are reminding everyone about how many people are enrolling in Confucius Institutes (a lot!) and guess who’s helping them explain how well non-Chinese people can actually speak Chinese? YES! It’s DA SHAN! And a bunch of other 外国朋友 (waiguo pengyou) schooling us all on how talented non-Asians can actually be at learning Mandarin.
I mean, look – there’s like, five whole Laowai who can not only speak Chinese, but do traditional Chinese singing and crosstalking! Including… *gasp* a BLACK girl.
I wonder if the people at her Confucius Institute call her their “Chocolate Girl” or “Black Pearl.”
10:54pm Just when you thought your eyelids were going to shut forever from yet another boring morality xiaoping (this one about how you shouldn’t think the bao an are trying to steal your money because they are actually all supremely honest poor people), OUT COMES CHINESE OPERA BABY.
10:28pm Oh, I see. It was to introduce the Taiwanese magician Ding Jianzhong (丁建忠). Ding is the replacement of other Taiwanese magician Liu Chun, who appeared in two CCTV galas in a row – too many, it seems.
10:24pm Well, this was unexpected. Who knew Lin Chiling would be… performing magic? WoooAAAoh.
10:17pm Jay Chou! Oh how I wish China hadn’t enacted laws against lip synching. But nice magic… and cello!
Also, how awesome are those ladies? Just watching them hold this pose is making my legs hurt. UPDATE: Oh wait. Right after the song, they showed what kind of tricks were needed to make it happen – the girls were wearing a leg brace. I mean, as neat as that visual effect was, I’m extremely disappointed it wasn’t through some kind of kung fu prowess.
Tweets of the Moment: @GraniteStudio Anyone know the over/under on percentage of back-up dancers plotting to make backstage sex tape with Jay Chou and/or the cello?
10:12pm Despite a strong start, this skit may be the most boring one so far. I know it’s hard to make xiangsheng 相声 interesting for a modern audience, but jeez… I bet CCTV’s wishing they paid for some canned laughter track right now.
Tweet of the Moment: @relevantorgans New Labor Laws to Be Enacted During the 两会 Will Increase Funding to Dance Academies for Migrant Laborers #CCTVGalaFacts
10:00pm Whew, halfway through. We’re in the middle of the People’s Choice Awards. As sweet as it is to see the girl singing in the Beijing subway wave hello to her family in Hubei, two migrant workers sing and play guitar, and even more migrant workers dance their butts off… this guy caught our attention the mostest:
Nice flag placement, guy!
Migrant worker break dancers may be my favorite bit so far though. Here’s the Youku vid:
9:46pm Magic! No wait… is this a magician or is he a… GOLDFISH WHISPERER?! Also: the first New Year’s pun – 年年有余(鱼) indeed.
9:29pm Whew, another xiao ping (小品) to give me some time to recap. After the crazy TRON acrobatics, we were treated to kids singing… and usually I wouldn’t care too much about kids singing except this one featured two special child celebrities: Lin Miaoke of the Beijing Olympics controversy and Wang Yiming, the crazy awesome toddler Michael Jackson impersonator.
9:15pmTRON LEGACY as an acrobatics show!
9:12pmOh man, as long as that telephone sketch went on, it didn’t go on as long as this ridiculous morale “comedy” – hey, if you help your brother choose the winning numbers of a lottery ticket and helped him pay for the ticket, would you take the money? OF COURSE YOU WOULD. Maybe your brother shouldn’t be such a deadbeat that he can’t pay for a lottery ticket.
The actress is the one from Narrow Dwellings, a highly controversial television show about “house slaves” in Shanghai that was taken off the air. Guess this is a way to earn her way back into their good graces.
9:00pm Thank goodness I’m not actually doing a drinking game – that would’ve been five shots in a row.
Tweet of the moment: @ShanghaiTattoo I’m trying not to shout “dance minorities, dance!”
8:43pm What would be some good rules for a CCTV Spring Gala drinking game, do you think? Here’s one idea – every time a minority comes on screen? How many of China’s 55 will be represented in the next three hours?
That having been said, Mongolian throat singing is super cool.
8:36 The longest telephone comedy of errors ever. A young lady is waiting for her husband to call. A really local kinda guy is waiting for his wife to call. Of course, when everyone does call, there’s a big misunderstanding!
8:24 After watching Miao singer Song Zuying (宋祖英), allegedly one of ex-prez Jiang Zemin’s favorite performers, we got a good ten minutes of xiao sheng (笑声). If xiao sheng is supposed to determine what troubles the Chinese people, apparently it’s the fact that experts are always trying to get their money. Ain’t that the truth.
After the xiao sheng, an old guy is constantly asking “Did everyone get home yet?” For some reason, it reminds me of the “Are we having fun yet?!” line from Party Down.
8:05pm And so the Spring Festival starts with a song telling everybody to go home (and watch the gala, I guess). We’re greeted by a CGI rabbit who pulls the curtain up on a bunch of people dressed in pastels. Look! THERE’S ex-Super Junior member (and their only Chinese guy) Han Geng. OMG! EVERYBODY LOVES SUPER JUNIOR! Oh! And there’s the frickin’ high speed train! CHINA’S SPUTNIK MOMENT APPEARS THREE MINUTES INTO THE SHOW! And then the two main characters from Zhang Yimou’s wildly popular treatise on chaste romance, Under the Hawthorne Tree. It’s like they took a poll of pop culture this year and shoved it all into the first five minutes.
I’ve already watched a good half hour of propaganda leading up to the actual program, which included, amongst other things, Hu Jintao visiting a village, members of the PLA how awesome the country is (pictured), a lot of cooing over how the Year of the Bunny is the CUTEST YEAR EVER! and
NASA astronautsRussian MARS 500 Kosmonauts wishing us all a Happy Chinese New Year in broken Chinese.
Apparently (and not surprisingly, considering the amount of viewers), advertising rates for this program are much higher than for any other – so we’ll also get to see who’s spending the cash and how. With any luck, there’ll be some entertaining Super Bowl-like ads.