Two recent news stories seem ironical and thought provoking. China's first natural science Noble Prize winner TU Youyou cannot even afford to purchase a living room with her Noble prize while a pop movie star Huang Xiaoming's wedding ceremony cost two hundred million RMB yuan overnight.
The 85-year-old TU has spent her whole life on extracting ingredients of a Chinese herb and even risked her life by first testing the drug on herself. Her medical contribution has saved millions of lives in the world. However, the news is not so well-known or popular as compared with a young star Huang Xiaoming's extravagant wedding ceremony, which are overwhelmed by all kinds of media and apps and relayed among his fans.
While it is acceptable for a star to show off his pompous wedding, many people start to ponder over a question why the Chinese society has witnessed such a sharp contrast. TU has made more valuable contribution to social development while a star is most of time just for fun and entertainment. However, their degrees of their social contribution do not correspond to their levels of their social respect and financial reward, which has thus triggered off a more serious question about the social values in contemporary China. Who is more valuable: a Nobel Prize winner or a pop movie star?
This question is important, especially for younger generations of fans, including Chinese students. If the ironical scenario persists in the Chinese society, then career dreams for most students might as well become rich movie stars overnight instead of hard-working but still less paid scientists. If this kind of social values continue to prevail, can we possibly expect the emergence of more Nobel Prize laureates among Chinese in the future?
Despite the irony, it should be admitted that the above social trend has been a natural and to some degree an inevitable outcome resulting from fast economic development in the past three decades in China, during which people are eager to gain and even dying for quick success and instant benefits, sometimes not in parallel with establishment of social values in a new changing environment. Such momentum is still on the go even nowadays. Therefore, we have the reason to predict that this kind of irony may be not the last case in China.
Of course, we can always offer many other explanations. But the irony may be more related with entertainment trend or orientation of Chinese media, particularly ceremonial TV media because it is a safe strategy to survive in the current media environment in China. Ever since a market policy was adopted for Chinese media system more than 30 years ago, China media have quickly swung to the market spin and resorted to entertainment and fun to attract more eye balls among younger generations for the sake of survival. As it is the case elsewhere, the trend can always swing to the other extreme even under the strict control of the government regulations. As a result, low profile entertainment starts to prevail and to make it worse, entertainment and pursuit for movie stars remain not only rooted in minds of younger generations, but also become a kind of hobby to chase after movie stars and/or their entertainment, no matter what.
It is good to notice that Chinese media are now documenting different opinions about this irony and have brought the comparative case to public attention. This kind of comparison can help the public to answer the question better: Who is really more valuable to the future of the Chinese society?
To some degree, the presentation and discussion of this ironical case among the Chinse public, both online and offline, are signaling some kind of positive social change in our public opinion sphere.