The difference between China’s xiaoqingxing and shamate ‘will never be bridged, no matter how many of their kidneys they sell’ says an article in China’s South Review.
The xiaoqingxing are well-travelled, educated, privileged youth of fine tastes – the types that pop up in European fashion magazines wearing Savile Row suits with no-socks loafers (male) or silk micro skirts and tottering heels (mostly female). Their sub-group titles such as Gongti or Ming Yuan are taken from the wealthy night club areas of Beijing and Shanghai.
Shamate is a Han translation of the English word ‘smart’, which is meant ironically. Its followers know that they will never be able to afford high quality garments or high maintenance lifestyles. Instead they combine the visual excesses of Punk, glam, Goth, anime and horror films producing giant blow-out hairdos in abusive colours arranged over thick slabs of paste-like make up.
There are estimated to be two million of them on the mainland and their doors are closed to outsiders. Hardly surprising, given the vitriol that has been thrown their way by their own media and the elite xiaoqingxing. One glance at Chinese social networks makes it clear how alien they seem to their well-heeled peers. Video parodies of their blue-collar glamor are very popular on Weibo. “Idiot shamate” is a catch-all insult for anything gaudy and outré. On Sina, there’s a slideshow of Totally Gross Photos Of Your Favorite Celebs As Shamate. Oscar Wilde never said ‘In the company of tossers, it is better to be despised than admired’ but he should have done.
Over the last few years several investigative bloggers have penetrated otherwise locked chat rooms by pretending to be shamate. The world of crude saucy poetry they have discovered would make a Western feminist’s blood run cold. Requests from males for ‘a sha weekend wife’ are matched by females ‘seeking take-home sha husband’.
These gaudy and venomous children consider themselves below all standards of ‘decency’ so why bother with courting rituals? Sex is just sex, disposable like costume and identity. They don’t need to seek out and build a well ordered family life as they are already part of a mutant family that has spread right across the Chinese mainland and is gradually edging into the poorer parts of Hong Kong.
One particular intrusive blogger, Blue Windmill, was staggered and hopelessly confused by the intricacy of the hierarchy inside the QQ Chatrooms. It seethes with people called Tech Officers, Opera Masks and Vampires arranged in many ranks: Chairmen, Tribe Leaders, Mysterious World Builders, etc. Something purposeful and stubbornly cryptic is obviously gathering pace inside the communist walls of the Middle Kingdom.
Outsiders like ourselves can only stand back and celebrate the fact that there exists, in the 21st century, a massively popular cult which simply cannot be penetrated by outsiders, particularly those who are the parasitic tentacles of big business.
Pop cultures, like laboratory cultures must sometimes be grown in filth and darkness. I suspect that over the next few years something vicious and truly radical will emerge from this secret society of scummy children, and like every other self-absorbed cult on the face of the earth that thumbs its nose at so-called ‘reality’, I bestow upon it the ancient blessing: ‘+like my photo dirt scum’.