Left: Su Wei; right: Liu Hongjiang (photoshopped, obviously; via Weibo)
Sports fans can be vicious, especially when given anonymity and — this is very important — assent from authority to unleash their anger. I mention this latter part because it seems that Liu Hongjiang, head boss of the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers, has instigated a human flesh engine search — an online manhunt — and offered 5,000 yuan to whoever finds the person who depicted one of his team’s players, Su Wei, in a funeral portrait.
Fans will have their fun, and so the photoshopping of Su Wei, in the larger scheme of things, doesn’t seem like a big deal. (Su was targeted because he was caught on national TV telling Stephon Marbury “fuck you,” a scene first brought to light on this website and my Youku video [promptly censored, but not before it spread to Weibo and Chinese sports media, then memorialized in a gif, seen after the jump].) To call Liu’s response — the appropriation of his position of power and prestige for the purpose of petty revenge — irrational would be too classy of an understatement, like saying John Wayne Gacy enjoyed leading an entertainer’s double life. It’s one thing for netizens — the vast majority of whom are essentially voiceless — to rally online in the purpose of, say, finding Li Gang’s son. It’s quite another for a public figure of some renown — the capo of a basketball franchise that has won seven CBA championships, including the last four — to resort to Internet vigilantism for the sake of abusing a fellow basketball fan. Something seems wrong here, to say nothing of outrageously reprehensible.
Here’s the most troubling part: they got the wrong person. Guangdong fans have been mercilessly harassing a poor Beijing woman who isn’t even a basketball fan. As Global Times reports:
Angry Hongyuan fans narrowed their search down to a few people, including this Beijinger, surnamed Fan, who barely watches basketball. “They found the wrong woman!” she said.
Fan had to deal with so many foul-talking callers on Saturday that her phone battery died within a short time. Most of the calls were from Guangdong Province.
In my previous post on this subject, when we watched Guangdong head coach Li Chunjiang tell his players to “sweep the legs” of Beijing’s (they promptly did, resulting in a hard foul on Stephon Marbury by Zhou Peng), I made an askew reference to Stanley Milgram’s famous experiment on obedience in which ordinary people gave increasingly painful and eventually lethal electric shocks to strangers at the behest of an authority figure. We should linger a moment on this thought. Because those experiments were not to admonish the fallible human condition, our pliable morality and facile put-ons of strength, but to show the world the responsibility that authority figures carry because of how dangerously influential they can be. In that regard, Liu is a failure — an utter, inexcusable failure. But in following in the footsteps of his coach and ordering this latest hit, he has further outed himself as the worst type of fan, a reactionary halfwit who guzzles beer or baijiu and screams “shabi (stupid cunt)” at anything that moves. This kind of behavior is halfway understandable in a paying patron, someone who needs sports as an outlet for real-world frustrations. But in the boss? A reasonable person should wonder about the type of operation he’s running, and the quality of the personnel who work under him.
Anyway, here’s the gif I promised of Su Wei telling Marbury off:
After last night’s Guangdong win, the series shifts back to Beijing on Wednesday with the Ducks holding a 2-1 series lead.