Talking about literary products from Li Ziqi

Li ZiQi is on fire abroad.

As of Dec. 16, Li has gained 7.59 million followers on YouTube, with his last five videos reaching 6 million views.


Li began uploading videos in 2016, focusing on topics such as food and handicrafts, in an effort to create an image of the traditional idyllic life of an ancient reclusive celebrity.

She won a youtube silver medal back in 2017, when her overseas account had only been running for three months.

Some say that the idyllic life she represents is a promotion of traditional Chinese culture.

Some say that her overseas popularity is a sign of our cultural export.

Others, however, say she is a team producing content that deliberately embellishes rural life and loses its authenticity.

Others say that her "tradition" is not traditional, but a "modern fantasy of Tao Yuanming".

Some even criticized her for creating "stereotypes", catering to foreign audiences and "discrediting" China...

To this day, how should we evaluate Li Ziqi's actions? Are she and her team faking? Does it matter how far her videos deviate from "real tradition" and "real countryside"? To what extent is she "exporting" to the outside world? Is it good for the image of the nation? What inspiration can her story bring?

We need to observe Li Ziqi, and not only to observe Li Ziqi. 


An above-life literary product  

The main criticism of Li Ziqi is mainly her team.

It's true that Li Ziqi started out with her own independent work, but there is ultimately a ceiling for individuals. If you want to continue to improve quality and production, teamwork and capital involvement are the inevitable result.

The pioneers of video self media realized the importance of team a long time ago: whether it's the academic Luo Zhenyu, the papi sauce for the public, or the small intelligence Ji, all have raised the ceiling of self media through teamwork.

This should not be a point of blame.


Some say that the team has made her rural life less difficult and has embellished the finished product through various techniques, and that her videos are far from being "traditional" or "rural" - many netizens who have done farming work say that they are not as good as they should be. Many netizens who have done farm work say that rural life is not as easy as it seems. This is contrary to her self-proclaimed "artistic pursuit" of expressing rural life, which is "fake".


The Russian literary theorist Chernyshevsky said, "Art comes from life, but is higher than life". Li Ziqi's video is elegant, beautiful and interesting, with both aesthetic experience and personal expression, which is a good literary product. There is nothing wrong with some fantasy and above-life expression.

This "fake" is actually not a bad thing.


Some viewers, when faced with any literary product that is related to "traditional culture", seem to return the words of Mr. Che to the language teacher. In this case, it is not only Li Ziqi who has been criticized, but also the ancient style songs produced by electronic sound sources, the Chinese costumes that do not fit the "form", and the games and films that attack the "adaptation of history".

When traditional culture has become "ancestral law" and "one word cannot be changed", behind it is a lack of confidence in modern Chinese culture.


  Cultural confidence based on the present  

China's cultural background is very diverse. On the one hand, with a long history of 5,000 years and a strong cultural influence over a long period of time, we have rich traditional cultural resources; on the other hand, the humiliating history of the modern era has made us realize that the West has a great advantage and right to speak in modern culture.

Take Japan, which also belongs to the East Asian cultural circle, as an example. Japan has opted for total westernization in modern times, to a far deeper extent than China; at the same time, they have been making use of the classical output of traditional cultural products from China and Japan.

The idea that the East is traditional and the West is modern has almost become a deep-rooted one.


We cannot help but ask: Where is China's modern culture?

Is modern culture absent in a country with a population of 1.4 billion, an urbanization rate of more than half, the second largest GDP in the world, and a wide range of industries?

Are we too inferior to our modern culture?

This inferiority complex is evident. Some "traditional critics" sincerely want us to guarantee our cultural sovereignty, but lacking confidence in our modern culture, they have to dig up our ancestors. And then they do not believe that the present generation can grasp the profundity of the ancients, so they cannot adapt, but only copy.


In recent times, we have indeed been playing catch-up and are indeed less skilled than others.

But when the economic development, we gradually from catching up to parallel, or even beyond, to assume the responsibility of a large country, cultural self-confidence, began to be important.

When interpreting "cultural confidence", Xinhua's "Study in Progress" column mentions not only traditional culture, but also revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture. These two cultures are obviously the products of modern civilization. In this day and age, China's modern culture is developing at a rapid pace, and is comparable to that of the West, and has the strength to "renovate" traditional culture.


The touching thing about Li Ziqi is precisely the wonderful fusion of tradition and modernity.

It is a part of traditional Chinese culture to return to the countryside, but due to the low productivity, there is always a gap between the ancient life in the countryside and the dream of the scholar. Li Ziqi then fills this distance with modern agricultural and video technologies.

Modern people are often in big cities with stressful lives, and they also dream of being close to nature and retired to the countryside. As a modern person, Li Ziqi portrays a story of reclusion, replacing millions of modern youths living in the city to realize their dreams.

However, the "stitching" of tradition and modernity in this girl has inadvertently stung the most sensitive nerve in some people's hearts - the stereotype. 


Stereotypes, Social Fads and Cultural Exports  

Stereotype is a psychological term, which means a generalized and inherent view of things.

In short, it is a label.

There are many stereotypes of Chinese culture in the world. From the scornful "Fu Manchu" to the flying kung fu master, from the bun-headed cheongsam girl with a mouth full of alu to the sci-fi mute science genius.

Kung Fu, Chinese cuisine, pandas, as if Chinese culture only these elements.



Chinese people have always rejected Western stereotypes - it is certainly misunderstood and misinterpreted, and to this day, foreign students still hear jokes about being treated as "kung fu masters" by foreigners. More importantly, most Western stereotypes of China have been unacceptable to the Chinese people since modern China.


Among the criticisms that Li Ziqi has received, it has been pointed out that she presents traditional stereotypes, which are contrary to China's urbanization and modernization process and are digestible by foreigners.

Therefore rejecting all stereotypes is neither possible nor smart. Stereotypes are in fact neutral words, which in themselves go against the grain and serve as a weapon of cultural export.

Stereotypes are labels, but they are also the fastest in the spread and deepening of labels - and this is not just reflected in the various Internet content platforms that differentiate content by labeling words. Most contemporary social fads are labeled.


Bruce Lee starred in Hong Kong films back in the day, and later went to Hollywood to continue his acting career. His performances made kung fu the most ingrained stereotype of Chinese people around the world. His image also didn't match the current state of China at the time - after all, Chinese people basically didn't know kung fu - but that didn't matter - he showed the world a different kind of Chinese person.


While Li Ziqi certainly does not show the cutting edge of China's modernization process, her expression is also positive as a stereotype. She shows both a traditional oriental aesthetic and a modern flavor. A pastiche joke in the eyes of critics, but why can't this diverse image be a Chinese image?

The Chinese culture is supposed to be open and inclusive. 


Cultural export should carry forward the tradition, but should not be bound to it  

In ancient times, we were a powerful cultural exporter, radiating throughout East Asia and the world.

In modern times, we were deeply mired in absorbing modern Western culture and had to use traditional culture as a counterweight, with a generation of intellectuals both studying and studying abroad.

And in contemporary times, China has reassumed its mission as a great nation, and cultural export in the new era has become a new issue.

For a long time in the past, China's cultural export was still dominated by nature and tradition. From the sinology of foreign scholars to our official Confucius Institute, from the national treasure of pandas to the kung fu of successive generations of action movie stars, our modern culture has been missing.


Traditional culture is our deepest cultural soft power, but our modern culture wins with vigor and vitality.

The first to break out and take over the first banner of cultural export is precisely China's modern culture.

Modern cultural products such as online articles, short videos and games have taken up the role as the driving force of our cultural output. These contents resonate with people all over the world, and through this resonance, the core of traditional culture is exported.

Li Ziqi, is one of them.


Cultural export should carry forward the tradition, but should not be bound to it. It is difficult for foreigners who are immersed in other cultures to accept our traditions wholesale, and they are not "smart" enough. However, on the basis of cultural confidence, adding modern interest to the core of tradition or extracting some stereotypes is not wrong, but brings convenience of communication.

May more "Li ZiQi" come out of the country.


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