“One day in August 2021, Zhao Wei disappeared. For one of China’s best-known actresses to physically vanish from public view would have been enough to cause a stir on its own. But Zhao’s disappearing act was far more thorough: overnight, she was erased from the internet. Her Weibo social media page, with its 86 million followers, went offline, as did fan sites dedicated to her. Searches for her many films and television shows returned no results on streaming sites. Zhao’s name was scrubbed from the credits of projects she had appeared in or directed, replaced with a blank space. Online discussions uttering her name were censored. Suddenly, little trace remained that the 45-year-old celebrity had ever existed.
She wasn’t alone. Other Chinese entertainers also began to vanish as Chinese government regulators announced a ‘heightened crackdown’ intended to dispense with ‘vulgar internet celebrities’ promoting lascivious lifestyles and to ‘resolve the problem of chaos’ created by online fandom culture. Those imitating the effeminate or androgynous aesthetics of Korean boyband stars—colorfully referred to as ‘xiao xian rou,’ or ‘little fresh meat’—were next to go, with the government vowing to ‘resolutely put an end to sissy men’ appearing on the screens of China’s impressionable youth.”
Meanwhile, U.S. anti-maskers and vaxers have lost their freedom. Cry me a river.