who cares if he is “er”
CNLive.com is an online video platform for mobile phones in China. Recently, a CNLive.com program titled Ziyue Dongxi interviewed Neocha.com-user Wang Xiaobei (王晓贝), an Beijing-based indie fashion designer originally from Shandong province who has become a Chinese Internet celebrity of sorts. Not too long ago we featured Wang and his brand (Odi Et Amo) on NeochaEDGE.
Wang Xiaobei is really something special, a truly unique specimen. He is exploding with personality, quirkiness, and passion for what he does and what he wants to achieve with Odi Et Amo. Below we’ve share the (very funny) CNLive.com interview in two parts, but first allow us to give some context.
The host of the program is actually Wang Xiaobei’s friend, so he knew how to push Wang’s buttons – or so he thought. Over the 6 months or so, Wang has become the subject of a Chinese Internet meme that has netizens characterizing him as the poster child for and epitome of “er” – a word in mandarin that normally just means “two,” but when used in slang (typically by Beijingers) to describe someone, it means “stupid / goofy” or “ridiculous” with a touch of cuteness / charm. For anyone that knows him, “er” is a spot-on descriptor for Wang. The interviewer brought up the Internet meme in the hopes of rousing Wang a bit, but he wasn’t phased at all. In fact, in his infinite “er-ness,” he took great pleasure and appeared proud to be the focus of so much Chinese netizen attention. He himself thought is was funny and simply laughed it off.
Beyond being the epitome of “er,” Wang Xiaobei also exemplifies an artsy Chinese hipster (文艺青年). He paints, he designs, he’s a photographer, he plays rock ‘n roll, etc. He’s even somehow established himself as a celebrity participate at China’s annual MIDI Music Festival, pulling random stunts like publicly proposing married and posing flamboyantly for photographs with his funky “mushroom head” hairstyle and brightly-colored t-shirts. A photo with Wang Xiaobei at the MIDI festival carries a certain cache among netizen music fans – it’s a must-have for online show and tell.
However, unlike most Chinese hipsters, Wang Xiaobei has distinguished himself by launching an indie fashion brand Odi Et Amo, whose goal, as we’ve mentioned before on NeochEDGE, is to become the #1 independent and original fashion brand in China. Wang chose a toad as the key visual in Odi Et Amo‘s logo. He said the toad is a memory from his childhood – something he will never forget. Wang Xiaobei also recently founded a promotion company that exclusively does online buzz / Internet hype for clients – something he is very good at without much effort.
We’ll be keeping an eye on Wang Xiaobei and his brand as it marches to #1 in China. We hope all Chinese creatives keep dreaming big dreams, but most importantly, that they take action to make them a reality. Let’s all learn from Comrade Wang. For more from Wang Xiaobei and Odi Et Amo on NeochaEDGE, link here. /// voiceweekly