The Yang Liping team's performance of "Subject Three" has sparked discussion, while Zhang Yi declined to participate in the roadshow. Should artists embrace internet trends? How should we view the popularity of "Subject Three"?

To the extent that it blackens my eyes, seeing Yang Liping perform ‘Subject Three,’ the world has finally gone mad in the way I wanted." On December 21st, after the Yang Liping team’s performance, they returned to the stage to perform “Subject Three,” sparking discussion among netizens. Here, “Subject Three” does not refer to one of the subjects in a driver’s license exam but is derived from the internet meme “Guangxi Subject Three,” a catchy dance with flower-hand movements set to lively music, which gained popularity on the internet starting with Haidilao. On Douyin (Chinese TikTok), the topic of “Subject Three dance” has been played more than 11.3 billion times. Recently, the presence of “Subject Three” has appeared in some film and television roadshows and stage performances, with different artists and audiences having varying attitudes. Actor Zhang Yi, during a roadshow for the movie “Three Teams,” explicitly declined the audience’s invitation to join in the “Subject Three” dance, stating that he wanted to hear more about the audience’s feelings towards the film. On the other hand, when the Yang Liping team voluntarily performed “Subject Three” together, some people felt that artists could certainly put aside their pride to embrace internet trends, while others exclaimed, “My bottom line is that Yang Liping doesn’t dance” or “Our bottom line is gone.“During the Shenzhen roadshow of the movie “Three Teams,” after some audience members shared their thoughts on the film, they suddenly changed the topic and expressed a desire to dance the currently popular “Subject Three” with the creators. Although the host was already pushing for this activity, Zhang Yi firmly refused, saying, “I would like to hear the deep interpretations of this film by the Shenzhen audience during our leisure time. If we spend this time dancing, I hope we can spend our leisure time together. Is it appropriate for this occasion?” When he heard the audience below unanimously shout “inappropriate,” he said, “We really want to hear the audience’s feelings about this film, whether they are the same as ours or different,” and handed the microphone back to the host to continue discussing the movie.Most netizens expressed agreement with Zhang Yi’s actions. “Finally, someone has refused ‘Subject Three.’ This serious movie should not be turned into entertainment. Every roadshow’s interactive time is precious, and roadshows should focus more on the core of the film,” “Even dancing should be mindful of the context,” “To put it bluntly, why should I spend money to watch a dance that I can see on TikTok?” Yang Liping’s team dancing “Subject Three” and Zhang Yi’s on-site refusal, should artists embrace internet trends?” - Tencent News

The provided paragraphs are written in Chinese. Here is the translation in English:

“We should uphold the right of Yang Liping’s team to perform ‘Subject Three,’ and we should also protect the right of Zhang Yi to refuse to perform ‘Subject Three.’ If one wishes to jump, they should jump without being pointed at; if one does not wish to jump, they should not be forced or directed either.

The paragraphs are written in Chinese. Here’s the translation:

“Yang Liping’s team is originally known for dancing, and an encore performance of ‘Subject Three’ not only entertains the public but also shows their versatility and appreciation for both refined and popular tastes. Zhang Yi is not against ‘Subject Three’; the issue is that he is an actor, and at the time, he was discussing movies. Suddenly starting an awkward dance breaks the flow of the conversation. He wanted to continue sharing his experiences and insights about the movie with the audience without going off-topic. If he is easily swayed, it would appear unprofessional.

Therefore, I believe that neither party is at fault. Zhang Yi’s approach is commendable; he truly is an actor dedicated to the pursuit of cinema.

The paragraphs are written in Chinese. Here’s the translation:

“If we divide people into artists and laypeople, then artists need a means, a way, a mannerism to distinguish themselves from the laypeople. The question ‘Should artists embrace popular internet memes?’ itself separates people into artists and laypeople. According to the questioner’s narrative, Yang Liping’s team’s act of performing ‘Subject Three’ is deemed shameful and obsequious. Noble artists should elevate themselves to a lofty position, facing the sun, not the soil.

If we believe in Baudrillard’s saying that ‘it’s not the disappearance of art but the saturation of aesthetics,’ then art has long vanished into repetition and replication. Art and internet memes are the same; art is an internet meme, and an internet meme is art.

Under this perspective, whether Yang Liping performs ‘Subject Three’ or the Peacock Dance, she is essentially performing the same thing. Those who distinguish between the two in terms of superiority and inferiority are merely perpetuating a stale and rigid system of hierarchy.

If we believe in Duchamp’s statement that ‘art is the lifestyle of the masses,’ then Yang Liping’s ‘Subject Three’ cannot be called art because it’s not performed well enough, far inferior to the master of ‘Subject Three,’ whose performance might qualify as art revered by the masses.

These three different interpretations of art correspond to three different evaluations of Yang Liping’s ‘Subject Three,’ with the narrative shaping the news rather than objective facts.

Of course, there are fourth, fifth, and sixth interpretations of art, which can correspond to the fourth, fifth, and sixth evaluations of Yang Liping’s ‘Subject Three.’

For instance, if we consider all current art as postmodern, then neither Yang Liping, ‘Subject Three,’ nor the master of ‘Subject Three’ represent art. The true art is the camera— a grand artifact that turns everyone into an actor.

Cultural self-confidence is the most fundamental, profound, and enduring force in the development of a nation and its people. Many times, being willing to change one’s perspective can reveal an entirely new world.

I’ve always felt that the movements in “Subject Three” were familiar until I saw Aaron Kwok’s romantic cherry blossom MV, and I realized that some of the movements might have come from here. The whole set of movements actually requires a high level of coordination, as it demands an interesting soul and flexible limbs.

Its global popularity is a vivid manifestation of the continuous enhancement of China’s cultural soft power, the deepening of international cultural exchanges, and the continuous consolidation of national cultural self-confidence in recent years.

It’s a simple truth. Do you think singing a Christmas song by a Western artist like Cow Sister is stylish? Abroad, it’s like singing “Congratulations and Prosperity” by Andy Lau during the New Year. Does not understanding it make it stylish? It’s just for fun. If you don’t like it, change the channel. There’s no need to make a fuss about it.

Korean songs also repeat “saranghae” over and over again, and when you translate the lyrics of “Gangnam Style,” they’re no different from “shocking thunder and sky-reaching cultivation.” Cultural self-confidence means maintaining rational judgment, not devaluing something just because you don’t personally like it.

Although different people have different tastes, many people don’t particularly like this kind of down-to-earth spirited young man’s hit song. But their lyrics, dance moves, and actions are all normal. They’re not suggestive, violent, or offensive. How does that make it vulgar? It’s much fresher than horse-riding dances. Why should it be embarrassing? It’s great that it’s become popular.

There’s no need to impose so much meaning on it. Yang is just using viral dance to heat up the scene, just like the Russian Royal Ballet performing “Subject Three.” “Subject Three” has already achieved a significant global outreach and has a legitimate presence in the world.

The people dancing are happy, and the people watching are also happy. Isn’t that great? I don’t understand why some people look down on it. Is disdain just a way to make oneself seem noble and refined? You can only accept the art of “elegant simplicity” but not appreciate the “vulgarity” of folk art? Forget what it means for art to be appreciated by both the refined and the common.

The global popularity of “Subject Three” shows that, indeed, the simpler and more accessible something is, the easier it is to gain widespread liking and dissemination, even transcending national borders and ethnicities.

Respect for artistic diversity, respect for the different tastes of different fields, different groups, and different audiences, and the existence of things must have their rationality. If you like it, join in the fun, and if you don’t, just move on. Standing on a high ground and belittling others while fostering a culture of disdain is pure harm.

When a country becomes strong, its culture will also become stronger. Whether it’s the essence or the flaws, they will be imitated by people all over the world. It’s not that the world has gone mad, it’s that we have become stronger.

I’ve talked about this before in related responses, the popularity of “Subject Three” and other internet trends, in my view, is actually a grassroots response to the lack of a cultural trend-setting mode.

To put it bluntly, since you’re not coming down to understand it, people will build a Babel Tower and climb up.

Therefore, this kind of trend naturally comes with rough and unrefined “rawness,” but its strength lies in having undergone the scrutiny of a large and diverse audience.

The fact that Yang Liping’s team danced “Subject Three” and Zhang Yi’s refusal to do so are two different things, two different concepts.

Zhang Yi, as a film actor, wanted to focus on the film during promotional events and refused to dance “Subject Three,” which is quite normal.

But Yang Liping’s team, as a professional dance group, seemed completely unaware that this trend was a satirical response to their lack of grassroots cultural understanding. They didn’t consider using their expertise to refine it; they simply followed the trend, which is somewhat embarrassing.

Why did dances like the Guangxi “Subject Three” become popular on TikTok?

This is nothing; people in Taiwan dance it even better!

This is indeed worth applauding for Zhang Yi.

“Subject Three” is not “Xialiba Ren,” and the Peacock Dance is not necessarily “Yangchun Baixue.” There’s no hierarchy here.

However, if certain individuals believe that it’s right to dance “Subject Three” according to their preferences, that it’s a reflection of people’s nature, and that it’s good, but they feel uncomfortable, unhappy, unsupportive, or even derogatory when others don’t dance “Subject Three” according to their preferences and demands, then it becomes a tyranny of the masses.

I don’t believe Yang Liping genuinely enjoys dancing “Subject Three,” just as I believe Zhang Yi definitely doesn’t like to dance “Subject Three.”

Zhang Yi’s refusal to dance “Subject Three” sends a clear message: I have my values, and I won’t compromise my principles for popularity, for selling movies, or for money. I won’t sacrifice my values just to please you. This is the backbone that an artist in cinema should have.

Today’s internet and the world within its reach have become a realm of “tyranny of the masses.” Everyone has the power to like, share, and comment. When they come together, they can create a powerful emotional and public opinion wave. Anyone caught in this wave, regardless of who they are, will be engulfed. They have to go with the flow, or else, this wave will destroy them.

However, countless individuals are using this wave, catering to popular emotions and preferences, gaining likes, shares, and comments from these people, and then gaining traffic, which leads to money.

Whether the emotions and preferences of the masses are good or bad, reasonable or unreasonable, destructive or creative, corrupt or noble, they cater to them shamelessly and go all out to flatter the masses.

There are numerous examples of this, too many to list.

The common emotions and preferences of the masses gathered on the internet have formed an unstoppable force. They can lift someone to stardom in a day, make them rich overnight, and at the same time, ruin someone’s life overnight.

In the face of this powerful wave, countless people shamelessly flatter and cater to it without restraint. They make every individual in this emotional and public opinion wave feel invincible. They become increasingly arrogant, self-righteous, and unwilling to listen to any dissenting opinions, thinking that the entire world and all mighty figures must bow down to the weapon of their attention, likes, shares, and comments.

They also love to use these weapons to mindlessly praise those they temporarily like or ruthlessly attack those who don’t satisfy their emotions and preferences, refuting the opinions and emotions of those who dare to oppose them. They want to crush anyone who doesn’t conform to their will.

At this moment, I deeply miss the true scholars in history. They could stand firm in the face of supreme authority, such as the emperor, as well as the raging anger of the masses. They could uphold their moral principles, never lose their integrity, and do only what they believed was right, without compromising their values under the uncertainty of interests and the coercion of power.

Zhang Yi once said tactfully that he is not good at entertaining the masses and doesn’t participate in any variety shows. Today, his refusal to dance “Subject Three” reflects the attitude of a pure movie artist:

“I enjoy acting in movies, and I just want to make good movies; this is my pursuit of value. If you like it, come and watch; if you don’t, you don’t have to. If you want me to wag my tail and flatter you, twist my hips to please you, and beg you to watch, then just go to hell.”

Doing only what one firmly believes is right, not compromising one’s values under the cloud of doubts about interests and the coercion of power, this is the true essence of a scholar and an artist.

According to unverified online rumors, this year’s Spring Festival Gala might also have “Subject Three”…

It reminds me of Auntie, who ties her hair in a ponytail and speaks standard Mandarin, Dad who shows off his awkward dance moves, Big Brother who ignores teaching and plays games like Arthur, and the trendy relationship between a young woman and her puppy…

It’s a bit funny, a bit heartwarming.

When you try to act young, you appear the oldest;

When you try to use the so-called humor of young people, it’s the most boring.

But what’s wrong with them?

They just want to feel young, be with young people, and have fun like them.

Although I think the “Subject Three” dance moves look awkward,

I quite like the harmony and synergy that arises when the music plays, and everyone immerses themselves in joy.

It’s like a secret code for ceasefire; it’s time for happiness now;

It’s like an invitation to a gathering of friends; we’re all brothers.

No one acts like an expert, pointing fingers at who’s dancing wrong, whose limbs are stiff, who’s not as good as who, full of hierarchy and mockery.

That’s a play for the exclusive few.

No one elevates it with a sentimental story, placing it on a pedestal as an untouchable classic, making it a badge of honor for some and a threshold for certain things.

That’s a pompous attitude.

It doesn’t mind if you lack dance skills, education, or money;

It doesn’t care where you’re from, what you do, or how you look;

When you hear the music, you dance along, and you’re all family.

Why shouldn’t it be considered a form of popular art?

I bet a bag of pumpkin seeds that there will definitely be someone from my class dancing to this at the New Year’s Eve party next week.

My understanding of cultural inclusivity is:

Any public or non-public figure has the right to express or not express themselves in any artistic form that does not promote pornography, terror, or antisocial behavior.

They also have the right to express their likes and dislikes.

However, there is no right to mock, insult, or berate performers, non-performers, likers, or dislikers.

First of all, there are some dancers or artists who engage in attention-seeking behavior. Artists may do this to survive or adapt to the promotion of the internet era or the preferences of the general public. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stay grounded in reality and not always pursue highbrow concepts.

It’s normal for some people not to want to participate because they may not be willing to accept the current reality, as long as it doesn’t affect their normal work or livelihood.

As for the popularity of this dance, it’s also normal. It might be a temporary phenomenon aimed at attracting attention and viewership in the short term.

Jumping this controversial dance in public places is a way to relax and harmlessly enjoy oneself.

For a performance group, an occasional dance may be acceptable, but making guests participate in it for the sake of popularity seems unnecessary, especially considering the controversy surrounding it.

People tend to follow the crowd. If “Subject Three” loses its appeal, there might be a “Subject Four.” Speaking from the perspective of someone who occasionally attends such events, it’s clear that those who feel awkward or out of place are in the minority. Most people join in the atmosphere.

We should be tolerant, but within limits.

Refusing to be held hostage by “Subject Three,”

Many people like to use “Subject Three” as a test of compliance,

It’s like when elders ask you to drink at the dinner table,

Dancing is for the sake of face, but not dancing shouldn’t invite attack.

Not everyone enjoys internet memes that have become stale.

Have you ever considered how others feel when you make them spend money to watch TikTok dances? It lacks aesthetics, and not everyone thinks dancing “Subject Three” is a mark of populism.

Freedom goes both ways. While others respect your online revelry, please don’t bring it everywhere.

Too much dancing is genuinely off-putting.

Finally, let’s give our applause to Zhang Yi.

It doesn’t always take courage to say no, but resisting vulgarity is the most commendable.

Common, it’s fine, but there’s no need for everything to be common…

Even Wang Jing knows that in his career, he should make a few arthouse films as pursuits.

I go to a state banquet, and then you recommend stinky tofu to me, telling me that what’s popular and down-to-earth is good. If I don’t eat it, am I pretending?

Okay, I can tolerate it once.

But after that, every restaurant I go to recommends stinky tofu to me.

This is like a horror story.

Ballet, the sensual dance that noblemen once had performers dance on their tables when they were full;

Jazz music, the music once played by Black people begging on the streets of New Orleans;

Hip refers to the hip, Hop is a one-legged jump, hip-hop is the earliest form of Black street dance, now called “world trend culture.”

We all come from humble origins. What can’t be imitated by foreigners is called “high art” and “trend culture,” while what’s ours is called “vulgar and boring.” Let’s not play with double standards.

Donnie Yen’s meme picture went viral, and when he personally changed his profile picture, this meme became even more popular.

In a twist, netizens lifted Louis Koo into the air. It’s truly crazy.

While it may seem like entertainment and revelry, the underlying issues are actually quite insane…

What is national is global.

It’s okay for a country like South Korea to have horseback riding dances that become popular worldwide, but can’t our great China embrace something like “subject three”?

Is our cultural self-esteem so low?

Everything is fine~

Yang Liping should have the freedom to dance Subject Three.

Zhang Yi should also have the freedom to refuse to dance.

People should not oppress people.

Artists can choose to embrace or distance themselves from internet trends in their personal lives, but when it comes to promotion, maintaining professionalism is essential.

This isn’t moral coercion; it’s a basic professional requirement.

Just as doctors should do their utmost to treat patients, whether or not they personally like them, the same principle applies to professional dancers who performed Subject Three a few days ago.

—Even artists should fulfill their responsibilities rather than solely focusing on their own prestige.

As performers,

Both grassroots and high-profile teams like Yang Liping’s can dance Subject Three for the sake of the audience.

I don’t understand why Mr. Zhang refuses to engage with the real world and won’t do the necessary work during promotional events.

When I saw this news,

I suddenly recalled the tension between the Fast & Furious production team and Mr. Zhang; there’s no smoke without fire. Either don’t come out for promotion, or if you do, respect the live event.

Even actor Tang Guoqiang can participate in talk shows and recreate bizarre videos live. How can Mr. Zhang believe that a dance routine diminishes his own worth?

Personally, I’m not a fan of Subject Three either,

To avoid live events, I’ve been avoiding Hai Di Lao recently. But this is for my personal enjoyment rather than work. If it’s work, shouldn’t one be diligent and responsible?

Subject Three,” as a hot internet trend, has become a convenient means of communication. Various levels of planners use this common trend in event marketing. Some scenarios yield good results, while others end up in chaos. Regardless, there are no royalties involved, and negative publicity is still publicity.

Creating a “trend” is difficult and has become somewhat mystical. Even with investments, it may not gain popularity as the TikTok algorithm doesn’t always favor it. Many businesses with high advertising demands use common trends, but it doesn’t guarantee effectiveness. At the very least, it minimizes costs. As for reputation? Who cares?

Perhaps this is the secret of the viral spread of “Subject Three”—safe, ineffective, but with potential benefits, similar to over-the-counter miracle drugs heavily advertised on TV.

Yang Liping dancing is a trend, and Zhang Yi’s refusal to dance is also a trend. “Subject Three” is indeed intriguing!

As for the results? Only those who foot the bill would know.

When various singing styles are used in singing the Tanshui River, do you think it’s not artistic?

When Dao Lang expresses himself through various forms in his songs, do you find it lacking in artistry?

When Psy does his horse-riding dance, do you think it reaches a certain level of artistic height?

For any form of art, holding onto your uniqueness while interpreting and creating your own works related to hot social topics, is there anything wrong with that?

Don’t consider it a condescending compromise. If you don’t want to participate, then don’t. But if you do, it’s your role as an artist to showcase your strengths and bring out your unique charm within this basic framework.

I’m not specifically referring to Yang Liping; I’m addressing the audience who can’t tolerate this. Let’s be honest, for the vast majority of people, there’s something considered “common” in every aspect of your life. Can you admit that?

Because so-called sophistication has a threshold, and that threshold isn’t free. Here, “free” doesn’t just refer to money; it’s about being willing to elevate yourself to that level of appreciation.

Lastly… The more common something is, the better it suits cross-disciplinary enjoyment. It’s more enjoyable to share than to enjoy alone. What’s the problem with that?

Why bother being so rigid? You can go up or down as needed, and with ease, showcasing everyone’s style.