The dream of becoming rich is universal, thriving especially in the social strata without great prospects or high hopes. In China, the digital generation’s hunt for millions has a better chance of succeeding than winning the lottery, but this demands constant effort and sacrifices. Director Hao Wu’s documentary, People’s Republic of Desire, follows the diaosi live-streaming hosts, virtual entertainers after their own rags-to-riches story. Their luxurious lives are paid for by millions of worker fans supporting their idols and the super-rich protectors. The monthly income for the most successful hosts of the YY platform may reach tens of thousands of dollars. Entertaining seems temptingly easy, but Wu also skilfully directs our attentions to beyond the glare of the spotlight. A virtual life where you can make 16,000 by crying is demanding, predatory and unforgiving. Obligations towards the millionaire sponsors are often stifling, and it is sometimes impossible to draw the line between online and offline worlds.
In China, virtual performing spaces are popular, the hosts becoming friends and idols to the lonely. Live-streaming makes a life of luxury possible to also those previously outside its sphere. Millions of dollars exchange hands, but in whose pocket do they end up and what is the price of getting rich?
Christa Åkerman (Translation: Liina Härkönen)
- Director: Hao Wu
- Country: China, US
- Year: 2018
- Length: 95 min
- Age limit: K12
- Format: DCP
- Cinematography: Hao Wu
- Editing: Hao Wu
- Music: Michael Tuller
- Production: Hao Wu for Tripod Media
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