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Kids are celebs’ secret new weapon to attract TV audiences  

2014-07-17 18:05:41|  分类: 我译 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Who are the most frequent stars of reality TV shows in China lately? Children - and not just ordinary children, either.

The latest example of the privilege enjoyed by "second generationers" - the fuerdai and red royalty who have come to dominate China's business and politics - may be the sons and daughters of celebrities.

The phenomenon was triggered by the enormous breakout success of Where are We Going, Dad?, a reality show featuring celebrity fathers taking their young children on road trips to remote parts of China. The latest brainchild of pop-culture hit factory Hunan Satellite Television (Supergirl, I am a Singer), Where are We Going, Dad? was the nationwide ratings sensation of 2013 - and now producers are convinced that children are the key element for touching a nerve with audiences.

Since the beginning of 2014, talent shows focusing on kids have been saturating the major channels, from The First Time and Dad Came Back on Zhejiang Satellite Televison to Mom, Listen to Me on Beijing Satellite Television and Mom and Dad, Look at Me on Qinghai Satellite Television.



Yang Wenchang, son of Olympic champion gymnast Yang Wei, appearing on the second season of Where are We Going, Dad?

Changing rules

The popularity of their offspring has prompted many celebrities to adapt their previous image to suit their audiences' taste: specifically, the public want to see a tender side.

For example, 53-year-old Hongkonger Francis Ng has made his name as a veteran actor playing cold-blooded killers in such villainous roles as Infernal Affairs 2. But appearing on the second season of Where are We Going, Dad? with his 5-year-old son in June, audiences got a chance to see that the famous tough guy could be warm-hearted and even cute sometimes.

The newfound craze for reality TV has meant that celebrities who wish to cash in must ditch the traditional penchant for keeping private and public lives separate. The Taiwanese actor and singer Jimmy Lin, one of China's most-popular heartthrob during the 1990s, is a typical example. As an idol, he married in secret to avoid the risk of losing his fans. But ever since he took his 4-year-old son Kimi on the road in the first season, TV audiences had the chance to see his private life for the first time.

In reality show Dad Came Back, cameras were set up, Big Brother-style, in every corner of celebrity participants' houses to monitor interactions with their kids. Whether their parenting skills were deemed as wise or woeful, whether their houses are well decorated or not, it was all under the watchful monitor of the viewing public.

Now such shows are gradually changing the "rules" between celebrities and audiences.

And being a parent, rather than just an actor or singer, means the renewed freshness of these veteran stars keeps them trending among Weibo's most-discussed topics.

Debates over education

The high ratings have even triggered debates over education.

In the first episode of Mom, Listen to Me, a mother unveiled her frustration with her 5-year-old daughter, who is deemed to be obsessed with makeup and demanding cosmetics, even though her mother doesn't use any such beauty products at all.

When debating with other kids and parents onstage, the girl demonstrated a remarkable eloquence, having picked up a string of phrases and talking points from beauty shows that teach girls about putting on makeup.

Some parents on social Networks expressed fear that these beauty shows are not appropriate viewing for children of all ages - prompting viewers to point out that parents are responsible for making sure that kids receive the right information, especially if that means monitoring their TV watching.

The public debate has prompted soul-searching about how modern parents are raising their children. If even celebrity parents are finding the process increasingly difficult, the argument runs, how can ordinary people be expected to cope? (sina)

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