Imitation is Rebellion

WSJ: 'Mr. Shi's planned do-it-yourself variety show will eschew celebrities, flash and, in some cases, talent. Broadcast only online, on the same night as the big TV event, it will feature common people recorded with handheld cameras or whatever else might be handy. Performers will include amateur singers, a dancing troop of monks imitating an eight-armed Buddha and a man who can pedal a bicycle with his hands. Its overriding theme, says Mr. Shi: "If you can do it, then I can as well."

His show also marks a new high point for China's "shanzhai" culture. Shanzhai, which literally means "mountain fortress" and implies banditry and lack of state control, refers to China's vast array of name-brand knockoffs. Shanzhai versions of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, for example, include the HiPhone, the SciPhone and the deliberately misspelled citrus-themed iOrgane.'


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