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TV Show Catches Flak for its Criticism of Contestants Who Have Lived Abroad

The gameshow Fei Ni Mo Shu (Only You) has a pretty straightforward premise: a contestant steps onto a stage next to the host and introduces him/herself to a panel of twelve bosses of major companies who sit in highly extravagant throne-like chairs. Much along the same lines as The Apprentice, or other gameshows, the prize for the winner of Only You is a job at one of the bosses’ companies.

Only You claims its strength is that the host, Zhang Shaogang, uses “wisdom and humor” to encourage the audience to approach job-hunting with a positive attitude, while interacting with his contestants with paternal and moral encouragement. However, clips of the show have gone viral because they reveal Zhang Shaogang and some of the judge/bosses to be aggressive and ignorant.

The first such video was of Liu Lili, a young woman who studied for three years in New Zealand. On January 9, 2012, an episode aired of Liu getting in trouble with the host and panel of bosses for using words in English and referring to China as zhongguo “China,” rather than as women zhe’r (or “us here”), an affectionate shorthand Chinese sometimes use for their homeland, or anywhere else they happen to be. Netizens accused Zhang Shaogang of intentionally creating emotional confrontations between the bosses and the contestant and called attention to his general hostility toward “hai gui” (“Sea Turtles”—returnees who have studied abroad are often called). A detailed account of the episode and related controversy can be read here.

The clip Liu’s appearence on Only You:

Recently, another contestant’s conversation in French with one of the panel bosses again triggered an explosive online reaction. On May 20, 2012, Zhang Shaogang and Wen Yi, a female panel member, questioned the experiences of Guo Jie, a thirty two-year-old man who allegedly had just returned to China after studying in France for ten years. Wen Yi questioned Guo’s French proficiency after conducting a conversation with him in French, but then netizens proceeded to criticize her own poor French as well, pointing out fifteen grammar mistakes in the sixteen-word sentence she uttered. This has led to accusations about the validity of her own claims to have studied in France. Perhaps the most dramatic moment occured when Guo got dizzy and fainted after Wen said his master’s degree was more like a degree from a vocation school. As Guo lay on the floor, Zhang Shaogang asked him, “are you performing?” Viewers slammed Zhang for lack of “basic human empathy.” Unsurprisingly, however, Guo failed to land a job from the panel bosses.

Guo’s appearance on Only You:

On the show, panel boss Wen Yi described Guo Jie’s alleged Bac+5 degree as a pre-college degree, infuriating Chinese students in France. The French Embassy reacted by tweeting on Weibo:

@法国驻华使馆: Bac+5: two-year program, can be granted a Master’s after obtaining 120 credits. Master’s in France has two different directions: Research Master (former DEA degree), which can lead to PhD programs; Professional Master’s (former DESS degree), which always leads to occupations. If one finishes a Research Master’s and hope to continue study and research, then he is in the PhD program (Bac+8).

Some other selected translated comments from Weibo:

岡工:I have watched three episodes of Only You, including this one of Guo Jie, two other haigui, and a local. I feel that Zhang Shaogang is intentionally hostile to haigui. At the same time, he really behaves very ignorantly when judging others as ignorant. He is indeed a villain.

小玉米-: The contestant is unqualified, the juries are pretentious, Zhang Shaogang is retarded, this show is poor to an extreme.

猫扑: Zhang Shaogang’s smelly mouth stirred up trouble and got the French Embassy to come out to clarify things. May 20 津卫视 Only You’s second job applicant, Shanxi’s Guo Jie, is treated with as much injustice as Dou E! Vipku.com’s CEO knows so little French and so little about French education system, yet she has the audacity to make the judgement that Guo Jie’s French is unqualified and his degree is fake…

@薛涌微博: reply@李北方: I think Only You just meant to find such a person to perform the heroic behavior of cracking down on counterfeit, as a way to save some reputation. But in the end, they still treat people like animals. That so-called beautiful CEO constantly talks about everything in France. She appears pretty civilized. But do you behave like that when seeing a person passing out in the streets of France? What did she learn from studying in France? We should ask her.

大Jing婧: Can Only You be more ridiculous… We struggle in France for two years or even longer to get a Bac+5 degree. Bosses like you, who don’t even speak French fluently enough, say that it is a pre-college degree… Well done you!

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Bo Wang (born 1982, Chongqing) is an artist and filmmaker based in New York. He holds a Master’s in theoretical physics from Tsinghua University, Beijing, and a Master’s in Fine Art from the School...

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