The center position is not a new concept to C-biz followers, especially those who are familiar with idol survival shows such as Youth With You or Chuang. Before the survival shows, the significance of center position has already been an implicit truth in Chinese showbiz.
What does the center position mean to celebrities? Why do so many people want to be in this position? And why are many people at the risk of being criticized for standing in this powerful position?
A visible form of power
Center or C wei (c位 – lit. C position) refers to the center position in a group of people. In survival shows, when a trainee makes his/ her debut with the highest number of votes, he/ she is undoubtedly the center of the final group. Everyone fights for this important position because it is the most visible and impactful to the audience which can greatly influence the group’s overall performance.
The center position concept isn’t exclusive to survival shows or stage performances. It has been widely used in various aspects of the entertainment industry including group photos, film posters, etc.
Generally, the center position is held by an individual with the greatest qualification and the highest status among the crowd. The center position is a visible form of the power a celebrity holds, an important proof of a celebrity’s status in the entertainment industry. It’s another means of power display besides “fan wei” – the name order in film posters.
Therefore, it’s no wonder that everyone wants to stand in this powerful position.
Celebrities and controversies
Celebrities’ sitting and standing positions are usually arranged by the event organizers to avoid controversy. Nevertheless, many debates regarding the center position have never stopped coming.
The most classic case of the center position dispute is the 15th anniversary of Bazaar Charity Night in 2017. The night was stressful since there was a clash of the top actresses such as Zhang Ziyi, Fan Bingbing, Li Bingbing, and Carina Lau. In the group photo session, the stage was such chaos when the crowd couldn’t decide the center position.
Yao Chen smiled awkwardly when standing between Li Bingbing and Fan Bingbing. Angela Chang, who was inexplicably pushed among a group of big names, was obviously distressing. Accidentally standing in the most important center position, between Li Bingbing and Carina Lau, Angela Chang was heavily criticized by netizens for “seizing the C position” and “not knowing her position” since she couldn’t compete with the others in terms of popularity or status.
What was even more disturbing was that Su Mang, former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar China, requested Angela Chang to squat down right in the spot. Many netizens thought it was unfair to Angela Chang, and she was brought into controversy for nothing. Su Mang later posted an apology on Weibo using six “sorry” words but no one knew if any of them was directed to Chang.
Besides that, there are many other cases where celebrities were criticized for impolitely occupying center positions.
During the 2018 Marvel Studios’ 10th Anniversary Film Festival in China, the guest singers Eason Chan, Zhang Jie, and Jane Zhang caused dissatisfaction among many netizens for standing in the middle of the final group photo while Marvel’s leading protagonists standing aside.
Yang Yang was once scolded for taking the spotlight at the film press conference of “I Belonged to You,” blocking the main actor Deng Chao from the center position.
Zheng Shuang was also criticized for nonchalantly standing in the center of the group photo in the “Wukong”’s press conference, while Eddie Peng and Ni Ni were the main actors.
Crystal Zhang was accused of being impolite when she rushed to the center position in the 2017 Shanghai International Film Festival.
An unhealthy obsession
The center position is somewhat important, but it has escalated to an unhealthy obsession which has caused many celebrities to purposely avoid approaching the C position. That doesn’t only protect them from netizens’ rage but also shows the awareness of their position and humble behaviors toward others.
However, celebrities’ statuses are always controversial and hard to comprehensively evaluated. When the top stars encounter, issues arise. People always expect these legendary encounters not only because they rarely happen but also because of the dramas possibly taking place due to implicit power displays.
At the end of the day, the center position is just another way of showing off status and popularity. Celebrities’ works and talents are the core values that decide whether they eventually deserve the center-worthy level.