Within less than a week, two scandals involving two Chinese stars respectively have set the Chinese Internet on fire: high-profile actress Zheng Shuang’s surrogacy abandonment scandal and music star Hua Chenyu’s secret kid scandal.
It all began when Zheng Shuang’s ex-boyfriend brought to light the fact that the couple did not only have two surrogate children but the actress also abandoned the kids after their breakup. Due to the controversy, Zheng Shuang didn’t only get dropped from her ambassadorships with major brands including Prada but also got her Huading Awards revoked. More than that, she has been banned from public platforms and channels, which implies her entertainment career is almost certainly over.
Hua Chenyu, on the other hand, shocked his fans by confirming that he indeed had a kid with Chinese singer Zhang Bichen. It was said that the two would raise their daughter together without any marriage or dating relationship. Hua eventually introduced his secret kid to the public without significant loss.
The Power of Public Relations
Besides the rumors floating around the Internet that partly prepared the public for the shocking news, post-Zheng Shuang’s scandal was the best time for Hua Chenyu and Zhang Bichen to openly admit the existence of their daughter. Netizens would definitely compare the severity of the two scandals and thus, would have a higher tolerance toward Hua’s case. Zheng Shuang’s children were rejected by their own mother since they weren’t born, and now got abandoned in the U.S. Meanwhile, despite not being in a relationship, Hua Chenyu and Zhang Bichen could work together to raise their child. The comparison was quite obvious.
During the scandal outbreak, Zheng Shuang’s case showed us all kinds of chaos – messy, uninterpretable denunciation between the two sides (Zheng and her father vs. her ex-boyfriend, Zhang Heng). However, many people ignored a powerful force that fueled the whole situation: the media. Marketing accounts (yxh) exaggerated Prada’s stocks dropping, rumored about Zheng’s secret sponsor, and made up stories about Zheng Shuang naming her clone accounts based on her boyfriends (lsy0001, yb0009, lzs0010, etc.) which dragged many male celebrities into the mess. Profiteers created numerous fake accounts pretending to be Zheng Shuang and Zhang Heng to attract followers and attention. Since Zheng was no stranger to controversy, her strange behaviors, questionable comments, mental issues, previous relationships, family problems, etc. in the past had also been reinterpreted and given meanings.
Meanwhile, Hua Chenyu’s situation seemed to be an “organized chaos.” His first Weibo post was brief and straightforward “Yes, I do have a kid,” followed by the “novel-like” story from Zhang Bichen’s post, which created a relatively good atmosphere. Hua’s second post showed his certain responsibilities as a father and how much he loved his daughter. At the same time, a lot of key information was obscured, such as how the child was born, why Zhang decided to give birth alone, whether it true that Hua really didn’t know about Zhang’s pregnancy, what the secret between the two was, etc.
Following Hua’s confirmation was a mess of rumors involving many Chinese superstars, including Hua himself, which diverted the public attention from his original story. There were up to 31 celebrity studios and fan clubs that issued denials of various rumors, including Zhao Liying, Feng Shaofeng, Zhang Yixing, Yang Zi, Yang Mi, Li Yifeng, Bai Jingting, Yi Yangqianxi, Zhang Zifeng, Zhu Zhengting, etc.
Marketing accounts (yxh) and their melons (gossips) were nothing new to Chinese showbiz. In the past, celebrities rarely clarified false melons unless their reputations were severely damaged, because there were too many melons floating around the Internet. However, the huge wave of denial showed that the timing was too sensitive – a melon just became true (Hua Chenyu indeed had a baby!), the general public’s skepticism over these melons had been significantly decreased which led them to easily buy any melon emerging at the time.
When Entertainment Gossips meet Social Issues
Public relations alone couldn’t decide the results. When a celebrity was associated with a serious social issue, it was out of the scope of entertainment gossip. Zheng Shuang and Zhang Heng’s surrogacy incident undoubtedly fell under the social issue category.
The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of CCP condemned Zheng’s behavior as “going against moral values and absolutely not obeying the law.” Since surrogacy was prohibited in China, she took advantage of a legal loophole between two countries to hire surrogate mothers in America. China’s National Radio and Television Administration issued an official announcement stating that they would not give those involved in wrongdoings opportunities to appear on any public platform and channel.
Zheng Shuang was definitely a qualified liuliang who attracted huge attention and economic benefits regardless of being controversial. Because of her popularity and influence, she had a social role to live up to. However, Zheng had to face all severe consequences due to the fact that she failed at being a qualified public figure.
When Zheng was involved in surrogacy and abandonment, she undoubtedly broke the social limits. Zheng’s behaviors could mislead as well as negatively affected the mindsets and values of young, immature people who lack the ability to discern and were forming values. At the end of the day, the “public figure” concept was constructed and given meaning by society. The public could form it, they could totally destroy it when the illusion was shattered.
In the latest details, Zheng Shuang defended herself that she sought a surrogate due to her health issue and showed proof that she tried to get the kids back from her ex-boyfriend. The public opinions were mixed – some people believed in Zheng’s words which implied the surrogacy was true but there was no abandonment, while most people no longer bought any claim from Zheng’s side.
Where is this issue heading to? Will Zheng Shuang be able to successfully reverse the public opinions and make a comeback despite the prohibition from the government representatives?
On the other hand, Hua Chenyu’s issue has relatively escaped the public eyes with the desired benefits and remaining questions. Will the answers to these questions ever be known?
Only the future can answer.