Digital Asia- “People’s Republic of Desire”

影評】人民慾望共和國:直播、平台資本主義與力比多裝置(上) | 哲學新媒體

The documentary “People’s Republic of Desire” directed by Hao Wu in 2018 follows the lives of two streamers, Shen Man and Big Li, on a Chinese live-streaming platform called YY. The live-streaming platform offers these streamers an opportunity to showcase their talents and talk to their fans.

“People’s Republic of Desire” portrays both streamers Big Li and Shen Man earning significant amounts of money by doing live-streams. The documentary shows the work and efforts they put in to make that amount of money. However, I found that the documentary may somehow show a wrong perspective that live-streaming does not require much effort to make money. Big Li and Shen Man are considered as the top 1% streamers in China, the money they earn does not represent the amount made by all streamers. According to Hallanan (2018), an average top streamer earns around $5,000 to $10,000 a month, while the majority of streamers within the hundreds of thousands in China, actually earn less than $1,000 a month.

Although the competitive level of live-streaming in China is high, people are still willing to enter the live-streaming industry with a lot of them still being young or in their early 20’s. This is due to the fact that a lot of them are still living in rural areas or small cities in China. In these places, job opportunities are not as much and the salary is extremely low with less than $1,000 with a high level of labor. Thus, a lot of young people are forced to leave their families behind as they head off to larger cities such as Beijing or Shanghai to find a job that can earn enough to support themselves and their families. Live-streaming does not only give them an opportunity to make more money but also allows people to work from home and face much fewer hardships in a different city. In addition, the rise in popularity of social media production such as live-streaming and content creation gives streamers the flexibility and freedom they cannot find in other traditional jobs. According to Athique, “As a new form of work, social media production fits neatly into a regional labour market long characterized by piecework, mobility and precarity” (2019).

Overall, the documentary gives me an understanding of why people are obsessed with the live-streaming industry and are willing to spend countless hours live-streaming and interacting with their fans. The opportunity of making money and succeeding, while enjoying the creative nature of the job is what drives them the most.


Arthique, Adrian (2019). ‘Digital Transactions in Asia: Social, Economic and Informational Processes’, New York, NY United States; Routledge, pp.1-22.

Hallanan, L., 2018. ‘The People’s Republic Of Desire’: Truths And Half-Truths About China’s Live Streaming. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurenhallanan/2018/12/12/the-peoples-republic-of-desire-truths-and-half-truths-about-chinas-live-streaming/?sh=60fe71742e90&gt; [Accessed 28 July 2021].


Film: AlphaGo (Greg Kohls, 2017).

Electronic Sports is a Booming Global Industry which has transformed the realm of online gaming into a spectator sport (Chapman 2018). Over 380 million people watch Esports worldwide both online, and in person (Chapman 2018).  

‘Go’ is a two-player abstract, strategic board game that was invented in China more than 2,500 years ago. It is believed to be one of the oldest board games continuously played to this day. Like many old school games, with the rise of the internet, Go transitioned to an online computer program. Deepmind Technologies created a platform where players can compete virtually with artificial intelligence. 

Greg Kohl’s 2017 documentary, Alphago explores how the Artificial Intelligence Program AlphaGo eventually defeated one of the world champion Go players, Lee Sedol in 2016. 

I found this viewing to be mind blowing! It’s hard for me to even comprehend that initially the computer program was smart enough to play at the level of human amateurs considering the complex and technical nature of the game. According to Deepmind, there are an astonishing 10 to the power of 170 possible board configurations – more than the number of atoms in the known universe (DeepMind 2018). 

Not to mention how impossible it is to comprehend that AlphaGo eventually became the best Go player of all time. I enjoyed hearing about the actual science of how Artificial Intelligence was trained to play Go. AlphaGo was introduced to amateur games to develop an understanding of human play. It then played against versions of itself thousands of times, each time learning from it’s mistakes. 

I can barely fathom that in this gaming instance, AI was smarter than a human… yet humans created the AI in the first place. This viewing really prompted me to think about some of the ethical issues of AI, not just in gaming, but also in general. According to the World Economic Forum, human dominance and humans being at the top of the food chain is almost entirely due to our intelligence. Our ability to create and use tools to control bigger, faster, stronger animals is what makes us superior. Which begs the question; will artificial intelligence one day, have the same grip over us? If this does happen, “we can’t rely on just ‘pulling the plug’ either, because a sufficiently advanced machine may anticipate this move and defend itself” (World Economic Forum 2016). 

It seems it’s a very real possibility that one day human beings might not be the smartest beings on earth. SCARY!


DeepMind, (2018). AlphaGo. Available at: https://deepmind.com/research/case-studies/alphago-the-story-so-far

World Economic Forum (2016) Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/10/top-10-ethical-issues-in-artificial-intelligence/

Chapman (2018) Available at: https://www.toptal.com/finance/market-research-analysts/esports

Congratulations: New Hi Score

As a Vietnamese Australian kid, I was surrounded by a lot of peers who were huge fans of anime and self-proclaimed ‘otakus’. Whilst other peers of mine rave about Crunchy Roll and continually binge-watch their favourite series, I’m personally not familiar with the genre. I’ve traveled to Japan multiple times and seen a multitude of stores dedicated to anime and manga, yet, I’ve never had a strong appetite for watching Anime. When introduced to Hi Score Girl, I was keen to know what fascinated so many of my peers about anime and the insight it would give on everyday life in Japan. How would I find it and in what ways did it help me further understand elements of Japanese culture?

Unpacking Anime
When beginning the series, I was extremely overwhelmed with the information being hurled at me at a quick speed. Having never watched anime before…

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Cake: A Slice of Pakistan

Cake. Whether it’s the Great British Bake-off or Cake Boss, I’ve never really turned down any kind of cake. However, the Pakistani movie, Cake, is far from the sweet kind. Personally, I’ve never watched any South Asian movie or had much experiencing engaging with Pakistani culture. When introduced to this week’s viewing, I was unsure what to expect. Due to the unconventional storyline and the length of the movie, I found it quite difficult to keep up with the movie first. 

Eventually, as the film progressed, I came across a few themes that I was familiar with through my own culture and others that were new. Predominantly, there was some focus on the expectation of Pakistani women and the attitudes of society. Additionally, there was a strong focus on the family unit and the responsibilities individuals have to their families…

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Fast and The (Furie)ous

Although I grew up around my mum, grandma, and aunties continually watching Vietnamese movies, I had never encountered a movie like Furie. After the Vietnam war, many media and film production companies were owned by those within North Vietnamese communities, as they became wealthier. As a result, mainstream Vietnamese movies commonly watched by my family always reflected the experiences and stories of those from the North or were inspired by Chinese culture. With the times changing, Furie is one of the first films that I have viewed where it accurately depicts the lifestyle and setting of those in Southern Vietnam. Although I am of Vietnamese ethnicity, I seek to compare and analyse Furie against my own experience in order to see whether I can better understand my culture.

Reconstructing the role of a woman
In Vietnamese culture, there is a common cultural expectation that a mother will excel at…

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Love for Sale: Selling the Indonesian Dream

From my experience as a Vietnamese-Australian young adult, most Asian weddings can be more daunting than celebratory. You’re made to greet all of your elders and unsurprisingly they will bombard you with questions like “Do you have a boyfriend yet?”, “Are you married yet?” or “We want to see some kids!”. When introduced to the film Love for Sale and its plot of someone renting a partner for a wedding, I wasn’t so surprised. In fact, if I was the protagonists’ age and I had to attend a wedding, I would probably consider it because the interrogations from Vietnamese families can be BRUTAL. Throughout the Indonesian film, there are many prominent themes that underpin it such as the importance of family and the workplace.

Family influencing personal relationships
Throughout the film, we recognise that the family has a large impact on relationships and potential partners. Within Indonesian culture, it is…

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‘Let them speak Cake’


This week while watching Pakistani film Cake (2018), directed by London-based filmmaker, Asim Abbasi. Although slow-moving at the onset, the film presented global themes of love, loss, the carrying-on of time, and globalisation and the effects this his on smaller communities. Strong female leads, and the focus on their relationship was also a powerful drawing point of the film for me.

Mindful entertainer - Leisure News - Issue Date: Apr 23, 2018
Cast of film, ‘Cake’ (2018)

The movie had surface level similarities to Bollywood films I had watched, in that the length of the films really enables you to get a good understanding of the characters. However, there were also a lot of ties to the Hollywood romance genres, potentially aided by Abbasi’s familiarity with the Western film genre.

One of the thigs that stood out to me most this week did not necessarily produce an epiphany as was discussed in our lecture, but it did stimulate thought on…

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Ombak Bagus



My cultural background could not be more colonial and typically European if it tried. On one side my grandparents are English and on the other side my grandparents are Irish, so watching foreign language films wasn’t exactly a family pastime. Although as an adult I also haven’t put much effort in to watching foreign language films either, so ‘Love for Sale’ (2018) was pretty out of my film comfort zone.

I also have limited knowledge of Indonesia, having not consumed much media from Indonesia nor having travelled there. However, my best friend is Indonesian, and my partner has travelled throughout Indonesia extensively. Between the two of them, they make up pretty much my entire frame of reference for Indonesian culture. My friend probably provides me with a more accurate cultural insight compared to the surf-centric perspective my partner provides.

I really wanted to like this film. I really did…

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A Taste of Indonesian Culture, Through ‘Love For Sale’


Living in Australia, it would be a challenge not to immerse yourself in the plethora of backgrounds and cultures that populate the country. Those of us that live here are privileged with the surroundings of so many unique backgrounds, that with them bring unique experiences, ideas, lifestyles and much more. Asia as a whole is rich with culture, something I will be exploring further through my studies on films native to the continent. Beginning with Indonesia, and the film ‘Love For Sale’, I got an interesting insight into Indonesian culture, at least as it was represented within the movie. Something I engaged with alongside my peers with a live tweeting session, which I will now explore further.

Richard and Arini’s relationship was the focal point of the film…

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