2021-07-07 08:14:55

Witty Sister Dang often shares choreographed dance routines on video site Bilibili, where she has amassed more than 6 million subscribers. Whenever she posts new content, compliments flood her channel.

But many of her followers turned against the vlogger over the weekend after she published a video of herself dancing in front of the Lüshun Museum in the northeastern city of Dalian. Many of her critics said Witty Sister Dang committed a faux pas by choosing to wear a Lolita-themed costume — a Japanese subculture influenced by Victorian-style clothing — for the performance, as the museum was founded during Japan’s colonization of the region after the Sino-Japanese War in 1894.

Lüshun, now a district of Dalian in Liaoning province, was at the center of the First Sino-Japanese War. Official figures suggest up to 20,000 Chinese were killed during Japanese occupation of the city, known as the Port Arthur Massacre.

“I ignored the profound significance of the Lüshun Museum in terms of art, culture, and history when selecting it as a venue,” Witty Sister Dang said in a remorseful post on Sunday following the backlash. “My ignorance led to such a serious mistake.”

Witty Sister Dang has since deleted the video in which she danced with five of her friends wearing similar outfits. In her apology, she said the Lüshun Museum was one of five landmarks in Dalian where they had shot videos for her channel on Bilibili. She was among the platform’s top 100 vloggers last year.

While social platforms have become an accessible means to gain instant stardom for many so-called online influencers and celebrities, they’ve also become a medium under intense scrutiny. While fans can be quick to put idols on a pedestal, one wrong move can see them fall from grace at lightning speed.

Earlier last month, award-winning singer and actress Karen Mok deleted a music video from the microblogging platform Weibo in which she wore a Dolce & Gabbana dress. She also changed her profile picture, which featured a screenshot from the same video. Her decision came after angry users slammed her clothing choice; the Italian fashion label remains brand non grata after being accused of racism for a 2018 ad showing a woman eating pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks.

Witty Sister Dang has also been inundated with disapproving messages on her Bilibili account, as well as other social media platforms. Many users refused to accept her apology, accusing her of deliberately wearing the outfit.

“Anyone who studied history should know about Lüshun’s past… Moreover, you went to university there, how could you not know the significance of the Lüshun Museum?” said a comment under the vlogger’s apology, which she also shared on Weibo.

Local authorities told domestic media that they were looking into the intentions behind Witty Sister Dang’s video. A staff member at the Lüshun Museum declined to comment, while the vlogger hadn’t responded to Sixth Tone’s interview request by time of publication.

Meanwhile, state-run Xinhua News Agency said that the Lüshun Museum “carries deep-rooted national pain and humiliation” and shouldn’t be a place for internet celebrities to harvest clicks.

“The internet celebrity apologized and said that she was ignorant,” Xinhua posted on Weibo. “Whether it was true ignorance or using ignorance as an excuse, we hope such things won’t happen again.”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A screenshot shows two women dancing in Lolita-themed costume outside Lüshun Museum in Dalian, Liaoning province. From Weibo)