30 Chinese female stars over 30 are making waves in China.
Idol survival shows are flourishing in China, as the public enjoys “producing” an idol group by choosing members from a pool of trainees. A recent girl group knockout reality show swaps teens and twenty-somethings for a cast of mid-career female celebrities who are all over the age of 30, with the eldest contestant aged 52.
Chengfengpolang De Jiejie, or “Sisters Riding the Winds and Breaking the Waves” in English, is produced by Mango TV, a streaming site backed by Hunan Satellite TV. The contestants, namely “sisters”, are all established and familiar names from different backgrounds. Within three-months training, they will sharpen their vocal and dance prowess and battle it out to secure a spot in a five-member female group.
The heated discussion online mainly centers around aging and ageism. In the notoriously ageist entertainment industry, female celebrities often confront the stigma that comes with age and suffer from the lack of job opportunities as they get older. The reality show instead offers the band of entertainment industry "has-beens" a stage where they can step back into the spotlight and “transcend time and reinvent themselves” as the show's manifesto-like preamble says.
While the reality show is widely applauded as a riposte to the society's rampant youth-obsessed pop culture, some viewers complain their aging anxiety has gotten worse after watching the show. It disturbs some viewers when the “sisters” in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s are still commended by some audience members and media for looking young as in their 20s. "My heart quivered as I heard 50-year-old Christy Chung say she still feels as young as 20 physically and would always be 18 at heart," reads a Weibo post by Tang Shuang, a senior fashion editor of Vogue China. She argues that "the show actually points out the predicament faced by women — a woman's actual age is neither acceptable for the public nor for herself."
To what degree the “sisters” will challenge discriminatory attitudes regarding age and gender remains to be seen. Whether Sisters Riding the Winds and Breaking the Waves can give rise to a continuing conversation over gender stereotypes and help spark real changes, but it’s certainly off to an interesting start.
knockout n. 淘汰赛
prowess n. 技艺
riposte n. 还击
rampant adj. 泛滥的