The general path to enter Liu Da'e's universe is as follows: click on the short film directed by Xiaoce and Phoenix Legend on the homepage, feel the popularity of Liu Da'e, the director of the Black Swan Square, in the barrage. After that, start "binge-watching" in Xiaoce's submissions. The simple and down-to-earth performances of the aunts and uncles, as well as the "classic adaptations," truly immersed me in an entire afternoon of home isolation.
During the process, I had some thoughts and tried to record them here.
The following comments are based on my own speculation and sociological observations.
What has Director Xiaoce brought to the "actors"#
In the shade of the willow trees in the village, or rather, in the Chinese countryside, there are many hidden talents. Director Xiaoce is the one who awakened these talents. Cao Yi, who has a background in Kunqu opera, impressed me greatly with her performance in the recent award-winning short film. Sanpao, a young man with a Northeastern accent, who is strong in his desire to perform and has a way with words, successfully portrayed a character similar to Liuneng. Er Gou, who runs a hot pot restaurant, with his "dance enthusiast" persona, played the role of a beaten-up gangster with a touch of sophistication.
Director Xiaoce and his new actors are mutually beneficial. Director Xiaoce enjoys the popularity of being the "number one director on Bilibili." So, what has Director Xiaoce brought to his "actors"?
It is easy to quantify online. Online, they are bona fide "superstars," and even have many derivative memes. With a quick glance, both Auntie Goose and Sanpao, the core characters of "Liu Da'e's Universe," have over 100,000 followers, a number that many young people aspire to.
But what about offline? Broadly speaking,
- It provides additional entertainment beyond household chores, farming, and mahjong chats. The value in terms of mental satisfaction may not be inferior to the shiny numbers online.
- Sharing the profits and improving their lives. Although we can only speculate on the income, it is believed to be quite good.
Afterwards, how do the "actors" feel about their own work? Objectively speaking, these works are targeted towards young people. Some of the scenes and references may be "difficult" for the "actors" to understand. In this situation, can the "actors" fully enjoy their performances? Or is it just a matter of reciting lines without understanding why the audience laughs, but being happy because the audience likes it?
A pot of porridge cooked by the elders#
So, with this train of thought, it's like how I like salty porridge, and every time my grandma cooks it for me, I never thought about whether she likes it or not. Maybe she's just happy when I have an extra bowl. I feel like I'm being overly sentimental, but I want to continue thinking about it.
It's an extreme and inappropriate analogy, but it reminds me of a performing monkey...
The monkey doesn't know where the funny parts of its jumps and tricks are. It just feels lively around it and follows the instructions of its master, and the audience laughs. The "actors" may not fully understand the lines they say, but they enjoy making the audience laugh with their delivery. In this situation, is it really important for the "actors" to fully enjoy their performances?
This thought is actually an extension. I have seen behind-the-scenes footage where Director Xiaoce carefully explains some internet memes to the "actors" on set. It's just my one-sided belief that some of these internet memes may be difficult for the older generation to understand, which led to this sentimental thought. But regardless of how the elders feel, the younger generation really enjoys this pot of porridge.
Clever and Opportunistic Scripts#
As a short film of about ten minutes, Director Xiaoce did a good job.
Several scripts follow a similar pattern: choose a well-known movie within the circle of young people, take the framework of its story, keep the "original character" intact or make slight adjustments, and create new plots through the collision between the characters and the original characters. For example, the first episode used many famous scenes from Liu Huaqiang's works.
From this perspective, I believe that the content of these short films is not much different from the editing and remixing of classic scenes on Bilibili. The only difference is that they are short films with directors, screenwriters, and actors, while the essence is still the consumption of classic scenes from film and television dramas. The so-called "famous scenes." The audience really likes this kind of short and quick content, without the need to exert mental effort to familiarize themselves with the characters. They only need to make simple connections between the new characters and the original characters to understand the whole story. This is what we call being clever.
And being clever is easy to understand. Due to the time constraints and the level of the screenwriters (not to deny the screenwriters, but it's difficult to attract the audience with an original story in a short time), using the framework and classic scenes of well-known stories can quickly make the audience understand the whole story. Once the audience sees the connection between the short film and the classic story, they develop a sense of satisfaction (I have a high level of film appreciation and can see the connection between the two), and thus lower their expectations for the actual story of the short film.
Creating an original story is very challenging, which is a limitation of the screenwriters' abilities. Telling a good story in just a few minutes also tests the director's skills. Obviously, this is quite difficult for Director Xiaoce's team. So, for some stories, they can only take a shortcut in the script, using classic stories and scenes. This makes it easier for the audience to enter the story and reduces the demands on the director.
I don't want, and I can't deny the value of these works. I hope Director Xiaoce can recognize his team's efforts among the many stars and understand that his team is taking a shortcut in these works. As for where this shortcut leads and how far it can support the team, no one knows.
After reading the interview with Director Xiaoce in Southern Weekly, he mentioned that he left Zhu Yidan because he found that he could easily write a script based on a formula. He couldn't feel the sense of creation. Therefore, in my opinion, Director Xiaoce has aspirations. He won't stay on the shortcut for too long.
I have no doubt that in the future, he will create more short films of the same or even better quality, with original stories.