Swift commands a huge and powerful fan base in China, where her albums have topped charts and raked in millions of dollars on streaming services.
Last year, she became the best-selling foreign artist on China’s charts. Her 2022 album “Midnights” sold about 250,000 copies in China on its first day of release.
The re-recorded “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” sold as much in just five minutes, making Swift the best-selling artist on major streaming platforms in China in the first half of 2021, surpassing Taiwan’s “Mando” king Jay Chou. Even surpassed the mega star. pop. “
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News of the film’s impending release was greeted with jubilation and enthusiastic planning, drawing thousands of fans from across the country.
Swift is one of the few foreign celebrities to have amassed more than 10 million followers on Weibo, China’s anti-Twitter platform, and the online response has been breathtaking.
Ever since it was announced that the film would be released in China, social messaging platform WeChat has been flooded with groups from different cities keen to strategize on how to band together and buy tickets before they sell out. There is.
Kling Zhu, a 23-year-old who works for her family’s business in Jinan, the capital of smog-ridden northeastern Shandong province, told a friend she was planning a viewing party at a local theater. Word got out and her phone lit up. She has been contacted by over 1,500 people who want to join her group.
She is currently organizing a truly extravagant event with three viewing groups and a short play depicting the infamous drama between Swift, Kanye West, and his ex-wife Kim Kardashian.
Zhu dreams that her group’s videos might one day show how much Swift herself means to her Chinese fans. “I want her to see the power of the fans here,” she said. “China is a big market, but she has never planned a tour here.”
Jinan Swifties, many in their early 20s, are facing a slightly less bright-looking coming of age in China than was promised, as the country faces its first economic slowdown in its lifetime. They’ve been obsessed with Swift since she released “1989” in high school and find meaning and solace in her lyrics.
“All of her songs are perfect for different moments of my experience,” Zhu said. Her current favorite lyric comes from a song called “New Her Romantics,” where Swift sings about building castles out of thrown bricks.
“No matter what setbacks or challenges you encounter, you have to keep thinking that everything is going to be okay,” she said.
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In Beijing, people scoured IMAX theaters ahead of the movie’s release to secure souvenir popcorn cups and drinkware emblazoned with Swift’s face. In Chengdu, fans are planning outfits inspired by their favorite albums.
Sebastian Han, a 23-year-old interpreter from Jinan, has been preparing for this moment for years, regularly rehearsing Swift songs at karaoke with friends.
Han credits Swift with immersing herself in the English language through her music. He memorized the lyrics to each song. Currently he works full time as a translator.
Swift’s music has more meaning to people in China than pop songs about love and romance, and it has deeper implications, such as how society values women and its views on success, ambition, and betrayal. Han said he sings about issues.
“Singing is more than just hearing the melody,” he said. “They are also about exploring the deep social issues behind them.”
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There is a strict screening process for foreign films released in China, and not all American blockbusters make it through. In recent years, authorities have focused on promoting Chinese films, making it even more unusual for them to be among the few foreign films allowed into China.
While other American celebrities have also been banned in China for their political comments, Swift has managed to avoid scrutiny despite a product seemingly made for legal disputes.
After releasing her album 1989 in 2014, she sold merchandise with her initials and birth year TS 1989 written on it.
The arrangement of letters and numbers is a historical event that Chinese censors have been trying to erase from the public consciousness for decades: the Chinese government’s violent attack on protesters in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. It could also be interpreted as a reference to oppression.
Even vague references to this date have caused trouble for Chinese celebrities. But when it came to Swift, the censors seemed to turn a blind eye.
In fact, Chinese state media seems to have nothing but praise for Swift. Articles in the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, and the nationalist tabloid Global Times refer to her as “Mei Mei”, after the nickname of her fans. In Mandarin, the word sounds like a word that describes her beauty, but it can also be written as “unlucky,” which could refer to her romantic relationships or previously her track record on the Billboard charts. Some people say.
In 2019, before Swift performed at a shopping event for e-commerce giant Alibaba, the Global Times reported, “We sincerely hope that Mei Mei enjoys her stay in China and puts on a great performance for her followers to enjoy.” .
In 2021, People’s Daily headlined an article about Swift’s chart-topping album sales in China: “Taylor Swift’s ‘Fearless’ once again performs well in China.”
“Meimei has forever and always shined among Chinese fans and never seems to be running out of luck,” it read.
Vic Chiang contributed to this report.