Analysing ‘The People’s Republic of Desire.’ Are Human Idols Needed for the Future of Live-streaming? – Digital Asia Week 1

Emma Sloane


The People’s Republic of Desire (Hao Wu, 2018) is a documentary that follows live-streaming idols and competitions on the Chinese platform YY. To understand the social and financial transactions within ‘The People’s Republic of Desire,’ it is important to focus on one keyword, ‘desire.’

Fuelling the audiences to spend copious amounts of time and money on these platforms is their desire for the idols. Whether it be, the desire to look like these idols, to date these idols, or to be rich, and famous, and well-liked as the idols are.

“I feel like live-streaming is a mirror to a lot of people desires that are unmet in real life,’ Wu says.“A lot of the poor diaosi, they have no status in real life… If they are willing to spend just a little bit of money people will notice them. The live-streamers…

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One comment

  1. I love your analysis! In particular the point you highlight about Shen Man having to appeal to the patriarchy, it’s spot on! While all of the hosts face some level of scrutiny in the public eye, the other male hosts don’t receive the same commentary that she does. Her body and appearance are hyper sexualised. She’s a singer, yet it’s not her talent people are obsessed with. I also find it crazy that these fans feel so entitled to make such vile, derogatory comments to her. It’s like people lose all their morals when they can hide behind a keyboard. I doubt these people would ever say these things to someone’s face. Yet in the online realm, people seem to believe if you’re willingly putting yourself out there online, the vile criticism is something you must accept. It’s so out of touch.


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