[Reading Tips]Hengdian “child drifting”
Guangming.com commentator:With the title of “Child Drifting” in Hengdian, some media have recently followed up on the minor track in the film and television industry. According to reports, among the films, online dramas, TV series and other film and television cultural works filmed in Hengdian in 2022, 230 will have underage entertainers participating, with more than 6,000 people participating. In order to catch up with the announcement, many families with “child drifters” need to interrupt work and study at any time and frequently travel to Hengdian. When asked about their ideals, the children interviewed unanimously answered “to be a star”.
The story of being on the road to becoming a star at a young age is no longer news. The industrial chain formed around the cultivation of child stars has actually matured. With the iteration of Internet media, this development model has seen some new trends, such as the rise of children’s Internet celebrities and the MCN organizations behind them, but the competition is still for a resource and is still essentially a logic. What is worthy of attention in this report is that more and more ordinary families seem to be involved in this gambling track, knowing that it requires high assets and high energy investment. As the report said, not only are “child drifters” unpaid, they even need to “bring money into the group.”
Things were more ridiculous than before, but the criticism was less intense. The footing of criticism from viewers and commentators seems to be loosening. Once upon a time, in addition to the so-called celebrity track, there was also the track for ordinary people, which was a channel that accumulated step by step and gradually ascended layer by layer, a projection of daily and healthy values. Taking such a channel as a dimension, criticism of speculation and gambling thinking can be targeted. Otherwise, would it be better to criticize parents who are “child abusers” for making their children become adults prematurely and who are caught up in the examination and advancement track? Criticism of “child drifting” compresses the time and space of childhood. Are the children running on the road to the training class different from this? The point is, there is no more certainty about the future of ordinary children.
The reason for the loosening of criticism also comes from a trend of changes in the social and professional structure. The general public is trying to figure out what characteristics of a way of making a living might allow them to gain some flexibility in their activities amid class rigidity. Of course, you are a “star”, but the probability of it is very small. Parents of “child drifters” are also well aware of this. The answers of some parents interviewed were very sober. They stated that their goal was to “become a second- and third-tier actor”, or they were not clear about it. The goal is just to learn acting first, or to gain popularity first. What they subconsciously value is the opportunity to be “seen” and the accumulation of virtual capital behind this opportunity.
Social life is undergoing a process of mediaization. Knowledge, ethics, and aesthetics must pass through the media as an intermediary. Various industries and tracks are either empowered or deconstructed through the scouring of media logic. “Being seen” is the fundamental aspect of media logic, through which opinions are conveyed, capital is multiplied, and ordinary people change their destiny. Think about the new groups that have emerged in the past ten years, or the professions that are on the rise, all of which come from the realization of “being seen”. What ordinary people have learned from such a wave of mediaization is to accumulate virtual (digital) capital as early as possible in addition to the assets in the physical space, including “raising accounts” and “increasing fans” on social media and short video platforms, and establishing people. Design, expand visibility, become a KOL in a vertical field, and continuously improve conversion rates.
Ordinary families squeeze into the “child drifting” track, perhaps staggering onto this path of virtual capital accumulation, and “stars” are just one of the possible forms of this accumulation. Even though the road ahead is still so vague and the direction of life and career is still so uncertain, just like buying a house in a first-tier city in the 1990s, it is indeed a turnaround opportunity for ordinary people. This opportunity is one of the few, if not the only one. This is probably the origin of people’s complicated mentality when facing families with “child drifters”.
(Please indicate the source “Guangming.com” and the author “Guangming.com commentator” when reprinting)
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