Commercializing ‘Rebellious’ Culture in the Debate Reality Show of Qipashuo: China’s New Television Positioning between the Party and the Market

Ms Wan-Chun Huang1

1New York University, United States

This paper examines China’s media culture by researching Qipashuo (奇葩说, 2014), a debate show created by iQiyi. The show presents ‘rebelliousness’ that dwells on the ambiguous space between the party and the market. First, instead of broadcasting on a television, the show broadcasts on iQiyi, an online streaming platform. In doing so, Qipashuo successfully draws attention of the post-1990s generation and evades government regulation. Second, the show applies an editing style that does not follow a traditional television program. Rather, the show uses a lot of ‘parodic copy-and-paste’ editing derived from an Internet watching experience, presenting a show that is a hybrid of television and Internet culture. Third, Qipashuo highlights its ‘distance’ from the market and advertisement. While the show is sponsored by multiple advertisers, the show’s host often introduces these sponsors with ‘reluctance’, presenting a dynamic relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored. Fourth, Qipashuo censors itself to evade sensitive terms. Yet, since Qipashuo uses vivid images to tell clues of the ‘censored’, the self-censorship, in fact, emphasizes the sensitive issues. Therefore, Qipashuo walks on a ‘rebellious’ road—catering to neither the market nor the government—that represent a new television culture in contemporary China.


Wan-Chun Huang is a second-year PhD student at East Asian Studies at New York University, the United States. She focuses on debate shows—the show’s content and advertisement, the audience receptions and reactions, the government responses and censorships—to examines the emerging television culture in contemporary China.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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