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New still of Zhang Ziyi from Mei Lan Fang, which has nothing to do with the rest of this post

While Zhang Ziyi fetches around 1.5 million RMB for an ad, lately ads have been appearing of advertising for a brand of cell phone, which netizens pointed out was not well-known and looked like a local band. Was Zhang Ziyi also a victim of the financial crisis? A reporter asked if she took a pay reduction for this ad, and a spokeswoman said, “Zhang Ziyi voluntarily offered to take a pay cut, in order to support local brands but the details of how much she received won’t be disclosed.”

Warning, this post goes horribly on tangent below from Hu Jintao to Janice Man to Chinese celebs having English names.

While normally I would call BS on the “I did it because I want to support Chinese domestic products”, Zhang Ziyi has always seemed extremely patriotic. When Hu Jintao went to the US for the first time as president of the PROC, she stood in line with all the other Chinese/Chinese-Americans waiting to greet him outside the white house with a little American and Chinese flag, camera in tow.

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There was also that incident at Cannes where she got pissed people didn’t know about the Sichuan earthquake although people like Sharon Stone apparently did. Oh, and for people who know who she is, HK model/actress Janice Man recently gave her own “karma’ take as well. Didn’t feel like that one deserved its own post. Zhang Ziyi eventually got not only her billionare boyfriend to contribute to the cause, but also Rupert Murdoch’s wife, Wen Di to pledge a million dollars as well.

But out of everything she’s done, the one thing that I think I really appreciated her saying, is her refusal to choose an English name, which is kind of a pet peeve of mine regarding Chinese entertainment.

“At Cannes, all those media, they call your name… And as a Chinese person, they call you by your Chinese name… I was pretty emotional about that. I’ve never thought about changing my name, changing it to an English name. I’ve never thought about using an English name for them, to make it easier for them.

My father and mother gave me my name. It’s mine, and to remember me, you have to put some thought into how to pronounce it. That’s me, so I felt very moved.”

I can see where she’s coming from. I saw one video before of Andy Lau at Cannes, where all the western reporters called out “Andy, Andy!” to get him to turn around to pose for them and it was very awkward hearing that.

I understand where the English name thing came from: Hong Kong, the first Chinese-speaking area to have a full-fledged entertainment scene was a British Colony and it seems natural for everyone there to have one. Taiwan’s entertainment scene came later, and thus it just followed the footsteps of Hong Kong, even thoguh this English name thing wasn’t really necessary. Now as the Chinese entertainment scene is rising, some people are choosing English names and some aren’t, especially some of the bigger named, more reputable stars such as Zhang Ziyi, Liu Ye, Zhou Xun, etc. Even some of the more respected actors from Taiwan do not have English names such as Chang Chen and Guey Lun-mei.

So obviously, English name =/= more success. So should they have English names? What’s the point?

Despite being hypocritical here, since I have an English name, I personally hope that gradually as mainland Chinese and some Taiwanese decide to buck the trend, that this particular custom of Chinese entertainers will die out, but that’s just my personal preference. How do you guys feel about English names?

Source…kind of. I don’t remember where the original article was, so this will have to do.

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6 thoughts on “Zhang Ziyi being patriotic again”

  1. I totally agree with you, my last name is extremely hard for them to pronounce but you dont see me changing it to facilitate the euro’s, some ppl i know has changed the spelling, it looks really ugly…

  2. S. Korean entertainers do…but their fans often drop them.

    think Super Junior, Wonder Girls, SNSD, Rain, Se7en, DBSK’s MIcky, Hero, U-know and Max.

  3. Japanese and S. Korean entertainers don’t adopt English names either, and that hasn’t deterred their popularity outside their countries. On the other hand, far too many Chinese entertainers follow the English name trend. So hooray for Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Lin Chiling, Hu Jun, Zhou Xun and those who buck the trend.

  4. I kind of feel to get an English name just to make things easier for the Western audience is a bit like lowering yourself. Like you’re not good enough for them to make an effort to pronounce the names. Russian names are hard to pronounce, but you don’t see them chaning their names.

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