What’s inside a talent and search show?

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Director Michael Bay’s upcoming film Transformers 4 announced its production agreement with government-run China Movie Channel.

This agreement will make the film the first Western project actively supported by the Chinese government.

In the agreement, Transformers 4 will be casting four Chinese actors by conducting a talent-search show.

Why does this famous Hollywood film need Chinese characters instead of Japanese characters or Korean characters or any other Asian characters?

Two weeks ago, an official of the production team announced the casting of Chinese actress Li Bingbing.

In the announcement, Director Michael Bay said, “I am excited to have Li Bingbing join our cast and to be shooting portions of the movie in her native China. I have always aspired to work with the best actors and this cast is especially exciting now with the addition of Li.”

Bay’s team is collaborating with China Movie Channel not only because Bay wants to shoot some scenes in China with Sid Ganis’ Jiaflix, the partner of China Movie Channel’s online subsidiary, but also to open a huge potential theater box market in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion people.

Suppose in the best case,  Li Bingbing will appear in the movie with the main actors for a quarter of the film.  However, for those actors who were selected from winning the star-search talent show, I wonder how long they will appear on screen and how long they will work throughout the film-making process.

I took a look at the star-search’s official website, m1905, where audiences cast their votes and follow along with their favorite contestants.

After looking at the various contestants, I found that there are several average-looking girls and boys ranking in the top 10, while those who competed with professional promotion photos ranked from 10 to 25.

I was surprised by the function of the star-search show and I kind of admire that they can bring more talented people onto the platform to be able to compete.

However, as I took another look at the fan pages of the top 10 contestants, I noticed that most of their followers are computer software generated “fake fans.” It seems as though the only way to suceed on the show is to manipulate the system and buy your way to the top.

From the earlier Chinese star search show Super Girls, to the current Transformers 4 star search show, most of the leading and finalist contestants are from rich families who can afford a  large amount of promotion fees.

But to tell the truth, unfair votes are not uncommon, no matter if the show is in Asia or America. They have become a common measure of promotion.

The popular group in Asia, AKB48, recently held a general election, which ranks more than 200 musical artists and actors by their CD and DVD sales.

Some extreme fans went as far as to buy hundreds of copies of the merchandise at one time in order to help their favorite idols rank higher in the general elections.

I can imagine the existence of the fraud-vote phenomenon happening even in the American TV show, The Voice.

In the current market and environment of talent searches, fraud votes seem to be almost unavoidable, but in China the corruption appears to be much more widespread and extreme.

Now, I wonder what the purpose of this talent search show is.  Is it a show to discover new talents or is it a show that is built to amuse its audience?

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