The popular Chinese talk show “Spitting Image” has released a statement saying that the latest episode of the show will not go live as scheduled for some reason. The statement sparked an online debate. Chinese netizens have said that the show is off the air because in the last episode, former international footballer Fan Zhiyi went all out on the Chinese men’s basketball team, spitting too hard and causing discontent in the Chinese sports industry. Chinese netizens have come down to support the “Trolling Conference,” saying, “If criticism is not free, praise is meaningless.”
On March 21, “The Trolling Conference” issued a statement through its official account saying that the eighth episode, which was scheduled to go live at 8 p.m. on Sunday (March 21), could not be aired on Time due to “insufficient editing time,” but did not say when it would resume. The announcement caused a lot of debate on the internet, with Chinese netizens questioning the real reason, and discussing that the program’s revamp was suspected to be related to the industry’s dissatisfaction with the seventh episode.
The seventh episode of the fifth season of “Spitting Image”, which aired on March 14, was a sports episode featuring former national soccer captain Fan Zhiyi and CBA Liaoning men’s basketball head coach Yang Ming, among others. In the “Trolling Showdown” segment, Fan Zhiyi “suicided” on stage and said, “(Chinese men’s basketball) how bad they can be, can let Chinese soccer to save them.” He also said that the Chinese men’s basketball team “lost their faces.” According to the preview released by the fifth season of “Trolling Conference”, the eighth episode of the show, which was originally launched on Sunday, should be the next episode of the sports special, where basketball players Guo Allen and Zhou Qi will take the stage to counter Fan Zhiyi’s trolling.
Fan Zhiyi’s “outlandish remarks” in the seventh episode were well received by netizens, but drew criticism from the industry. Wang Shipeng, a former Chinese men’s basketball player, publicly shot back, saying he didn’t understand when the Chinese men’s soccer team could evaluate men’s basketball. In addition, in the face of the trolling of the Chinese men’s soccer team in the eighth installment of the program, which was originally scheduled to go live, the CFA issued the CFA Disciplinary Code on March 16, which stipulates that players or officials who use public media to incite hostility will be banned for up to 18 months and fined at least 300,000 yuan. Multiple reactions pushed the online discussion to a climax, with netizens saying that the Chinese men’s soccer team’s “sky-high self-esteem” was not reflected on the pitch: “The CFA used to at least be good at apologizing, but now it’s directly banned.”
As public opinion continues to ferment, this “mutual tear” was named by the Chinese official media in turn. Xinhua News Agency published an editorial on March 15, saying that Chinese basketball and Chinese soccer should not be “chicken and vegetable pecking”, but should inspire each other, the courage to introspect and know shame after courage. The official CCTV article commented that Fan Zhiyi and Yang Ming “killed each other” in the program, saying that the “Spit Conference” is a funny program, no need to get on the line at every turn. Famous Chinese sports anchor Huang Jianxiang also commented on Weibo, “If even spitting on Chinese soccer is risky and troublesome, can we expect them to dare to spit on more things than Chinese soccer that are more spiteful and more deserving?”
It is still unclear how the future of the talk show will develop as the eighth installment of “Tweets” is forced to revamp and air uncensored. In the face of the pressure on freedom of expression from all sides, the most famous line from “The Trolls”, which is commonly quoted by the public, is “If criticism is not free, praise is meaningless.”