For those living under a rock (or those who simply don't care about celebrity relationships), my Huang Xiaoming got married to his long-time girlfriend Angelababy in a super-extravagant wedding on October 8. To no one's surprise, the gorgeous wedding ceremony was all over Chinese news sites and social media, with all sorts of opinions from everyone and their grandmothers. Which is totally expected and okay.
About a week later, Western media* picked up on the story, and after I recovered from the shock of my "Huang Xiaoming" Google Alert blowing up**, I began to observe an uncomfortably pejorative slant in the reporting. Almost all of the news reports from Western media outlets, which ranged from sites like Forbes and The Telegraph to Cosmopolitan and Daily Mail, focused obsessively on the wedding's price tag and the newlyweds' comparative celebrity status.
Take a look at the headlines, for example:
- This is what a €27 million wedding looks like
- Angelababy: the Chinese superstar and her £20 million wedding
- Inside Chinese Star Angelababy's $31 Million Wedding In Shanghai
- China's Kim Kardashian gets married - and this is what a £20 MILLION wedding looks like
Carbonated.TV tries to go for a more ~interesting~ perspective with the title $43 Million Wedding Highlights Severe Economic Inequality In China, but the URL and the structure of the article both suggest that the original title ran just like many of the others: "This is what a $$$$$$ wedding looks like."
Now, I understand that the cost of the wedding is easy clickbait -- "They spent HOW MUCH???" Even I, who can barely comprehend just how much "$31 million" actually is, would probably check out the article in hopes of seeing pretty pictures. Especially of the carousel cake and Angelababy's ring. And yes, the Chinese media had a field day with the wedding too, pressing Huang Xiaoming hard to reveal how much he'd spent on the whole thing.
The thing is, I don't think Huang Xiaoming ever told the media exactly how much the wedding had cost. Maybe he did and I just missed it, since I don't really care how he spends his own money, but the number seems to be mostly conjecture. Even The Straits Times, which posted a relatively neutral article about the wedding, wrote that it "reportedly cost nearly 200 million yuan" without stating who was supposedly reporting this amount.
A lot of Western media sites also pounced on the idea that Angelababy is suddenly China's Kim Kardashian. Basically, one day, The Telegraph started off their article with "You may recognise Angelababy from the odd Dior front row. An actress, singer and model, she is dubbed the Kim Kardashian of China." And suddenly, every news article after that started calling Angelababy "China's Kim Kardashian."
I don't keep up with the Kardashians, so I don't know if this comparison is positive or negative (I'm guessing the latter), but it bothered me a little that Western media felt such a need to define Angelababy by comparing her to a Western celebrity. I understand that this is a way to show readers unfamiliar with Chinese entertainment how hot of a star Angelababy is right now and how huge her wedding was, but as far as I know, Angelababy was never compared to Kim Kardashian before the Western media got their hands on her.
I'm not even an Angelababy fan, but it kind of bugs me that in the minds of hundreds of people, Angelababy has now been equated with some ditzy socialite when her entertainment career is actually on the rise and people should be focusing on other aspects of her. (And it sure as hell doesn't help that her stage name is "Angelababy" and that all of the other English-language news about her these days are about how she got her face examined in order to refute plastic surgery accusations.)
And last but not least, what bothers me most about the Western media's coverage about the wedding is that not a single article talks about Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy's charity work. And not just charity work in their normal lives, but charity work done in preparation for and during their actual wedding.
How come none of them talked about how Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy sent out wedding favors with cookies made by disadvantaged people? Or that the wedding favors came with cards urging their friends and family to support the disadvantaged? Or that Huang Xiaoming is now providing financial aid to 527 hearing-impaired children? Or that he invited five of those children to perform at his wedding and go sight-seeing in Shanghai afterward? Or that his wedding gift to Angelababy was establishing a charity fund in her name?
Nope, all of the Western media outlets took one look at the wedding's price tag and ran with it, conveniently ignoring all of the ways Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy tried to give back to society on their special day. Which is why you now see ignorant comments like "Sickening. Imagine what good they could of [sic] done if they donated to charity instead of wasting it on an over-the-top wedding." UM COUGH COUGH.
Was their wedding over-the-top? Probably, a little. But are they "disgusting" people who "contribute nothing positive to society," as one commenter put it? Hm, I don't know. Do I see you funding 527 children?
In conclusion, to those of you who know nothing about Huang Xiaoming and Angelababy, except what has been reported through the eyes of the Western media, let it be known: THERE IS MORE TO THEM BOTH. Trust me, I've been following Huang Xiaoming for more than seven years now. He's more than just a pretty face with money to throw around.
* A phrase which I'm using to refer to English-language websites that do not normally focus on Chinese/Asian news
** On average, I receive actual news from this Google Alert about twice a year. About 99% of the time, all the articles are about stuff I've already read and sometimes even translated myself. It's a good thing Google Alert doesn't look at Tumblr, otherwise I would just be receiving updates of my own updates.