China’s Latest Cancellation Catapults TikToker to Fame

What Happened: China’s unconventional TikTok or Douyin star Guo Laoshi — also known as “Teacher Guo” — has been removed from Chinese social media. The government’s entertainment crackdown is showing no sign of slowing and Guo is the latest figure to have her accounts suspended. Whereas the outspoken figure has seven million fans, the hashtag #allofGuoLaoshisaccountshavebeenbanned or #郭老师账号全平台封禁# has over 800 million views. Born in Hubei province in central China, Guo gained a following for her rejection of the so-called trappings of femininity, such as makeup. Her video content ranged from the sublime (lip-synching to pop songs) to the ridiculous (smelling her feet).

Guo Laoshi is known for her unfiltered humor and unpredictable onscreen behavior, which includes burping and loud cursing. Photo: Screenshots, Little Red Book

The Jing Take: On the face of it, Guo’s status as an “anti-celebrity” and her relative lack of fame mean her cancellation was unexpected. A Weibo poll on the news showed supportive comments; of the thousands of responses one said: “I don’t think it’s right. Can’t people entertain themselves?” 

Still, given her rejection of standard beauty norms, this move is not that surprising. Yesterday, a TV ban of “sissy men and other abnormal esthetics” was announced, as broadcasters were encouraged to “promote excellent Chinese traditional culture” instead. Netizens have called out Guo’s often vulgar content, which can be seen as a move away from the cultivation of a strong, moral character. In response to the same poll, her detractors said: “She’s always insulting others; serves her right,” and even more scathingly, “Why do we even call her a teacher?”

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Even so, this news has catapulted the uncompromising influencer to fame meaning her antagonistic demeanor is even more talked about online. In recent times, big swathes of Chinese society have been working hard to push the goalposts for women: Inclusive champion Yang Tianzhen’s plus-sized women’s clothing brand celebrated its first birthday this week while the Chinese TV presenter who described Olympic shot putter Gong Lijiao as a “manly woman” faced severe backlash.

While this it good news for diversity, which fashion aims to promote, this move muddies the waters from a luxury perspective: it further tests their ability to endorse more diverse idols. But it far  deeper than influencer choices. It relates to the behavioral mores of luxury’s biggest consumer group moving forward — those who hold up half the sky.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.