|(Illustration: GT/Peter C.Espina)|
Chinese folk wisdom holds there is gold under a man's knees, an admonishment that a male should not bend and bow easily, since a kneeling posture often implies damage to pride and dignity.
Du Haitao, on the other hand, who co-hosts the mainland's most star-studded, long-lasting variety show, is perhaps now wringing his hands after he knelt down to Korean pop icon G-dragon when presenting the singer with a trophy at a recent year-end event in Beijing.
The scene set China's Internet buzzing with critical comments and mockery. Accused of being flaccid and spineless, the dumpy Du seemed to have been dumped into a dusty dungeon, where netizens urged him to "Scram! Get out of the entertainment circle," and a planned bout of cyber attacks which saw the host's online forum submerged in salacious posts.
The fury may have been, in part, fueled by repulsion over the South Korean pop fad which has allegedly tainted young Chinese minds.
In what was called the "69 jihad" in 2010, Chinese computer geeks waged network wars against the official websites of Korean stars, due to a stampede by fans of a Korean orchestra at the Shanghai World Expo venue.
This time, however, it was the host's follow-up gaffe that threw gasoline on a raging nationalist fire.
Du used a sock puppet to post pictures of satanic spirits via Instagram, hinting he was being haunted by evil netizens, whom he referred to as undereducated juveniles. Moreover, he showed a photo of himself wearing a cap with an offensive four-letter word.
Such idiotic actions are reminiscent of many misdeeds, notably those from show business.
Historically speaking, entertainers like traditional opera performers were rated as underdogs on a par with prostitutes in a rigidly stratified society, akin to pets for theatergoers or royal attendees.
The turnaround came, though, in the wake of the founding of the People's Republic of China. There was an effort to empower art workers to fit into a broader campaign of cultural revival. As the nation yearned for more zing and pep, showbiz carved out a colossally lucrative niche.
It is upon this backdrop that mega stars appear to be more like cult figures, each with a large entourage in tow, a formidable fan base at their disposal, an ability to make millions in nanoseconds and even wield bigger clout than policy-makers.
Equilibrium dynamics suggest that with great power comes great responsibility. There is no such a thing as eating the cake and having it too - if one chews up social resources, he or she must shoulder a corresponding amount of accountability.
Therefore, these celebrities must mind their Ps and Qs, ready to be scrutinized by the prying eyes of media, for every word they say and every action they take may carry weight among the public, especially frenzied teenage worshippers.
Alas, some household names, easily swayed by much pomp and fanfare, have their egos bloated and heads swollen, putting their feet in the mouths and thus falling flat on their face.
Cautionary tales abound: Singers stood up the audience, actresses traded barbs over shady love affairs, comedians pointed the finger at others, an A-list movie star committed charity fraud, a leading vocalist from a rock band threatened to blow up a government agency, and an Olympic gold medalist drove without a license, not to mention the loads of fake products endorsed by public figures.
Kang Xiaoguang, a scholar of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, pointed out in an interview with the Southern Weekly that elites in China reap huge benefits but bear little responsibility. Their social conscience is far lower than those of celebrities in developed nations.
It is perhaps because foreign peers dare not risk losing their stardom for antics that may be publicized and cause a mass exodus of fans, jobs and endorsements.
But whenever they become enmeshed in scandals, domestic celebrities just need to make a soppy apology at a news briefing, issue a begrudging note on social media admitting their mistakes, or morph into a recluse at the lowest ebb and make a comeback afterward.
Most of the time, their mistakes will be tolerated and forgiven by followers.
Suffice to say that Mr. Du will surely get back on his feet soon after he got down on one knee.