Blogging The Bloggers: King Tubby’s Inaugural Column About The China Blogosphere

King TubbyPeeping weekly at the best (and worst) that was, is, and will be on the China blogosphere.

If you were a late arrival to the Sino-English web world and entered via the wrong portals, you probably encountered a toxic mix of serious players, gunslingers with a veneer of academia, trolls, half-wits, cannon fodder and individuals burdened with monomania. And it’s pretty well a male universe with the testosterone meter ticking away and a vanity press to boot.

My first inkling of the possibilities of net scribble came thru a chance meeting with Ben Ross and his site. Despite his first teaching gig in Fujiang, arguably the most corrupt city in Fujian province, it reads like an optimistic and non-judgmental discovery complete with great pics of people and street life. And few blogsters can claim that their mother provided their first comment. Being a fan of the cheap local barber, a bit like young Master Che, his account of a month working in a hairdressing shop resonates.

Rachel Betairie used to have a site called Bendilowai before she went on to provide some great real-time reporting on the Wukan experiment. Simply cannot relocate the link, but it operated in a similar vein. Rachel wrote and photographed average families out in the boondocks, and you came away with the feeling that she became a temporary member. A sort of big sister with the language, a camera and a liking for a good old chin wag in the kitchen. No lense scrutiny of her subjects. All very unmediated and a reminder that race and cultural differences can be little consequence in the larger scheme of globalized travel.

Brian Glucroft’s photography site Isidorsfugue – the name alone arouses curiosity – also has a place in the Department of Goodness. Brian obviously has a job, something to do with technology and creativity, which involves constant travel. While he keeps his persona details well hidden, except for the fact that he is a glutton when it comes to Chinese food, he is definitely the visual recorder of street life in China today, with an occasional foray into traditional and modern Chinese architecture.

Yet to encounter a photo in which his subjects appear ill-at-ease. Commentary is presented in a neutral manner aside from the occasional complaint about his VPN. While his site doesn’t drown in comments, judging by his twitter account (the usual go-to suspects on Sino land), it must get pretty heavy traffic, and deservedly so. Worth a weekly visit, and even a comment if he captures locations which you recognise. Hint to Brian. Lighten up when you respond to a comment.

Let’s not beat around the bush. When it comes to really bloody awful sites, chinaSMACK edges out the competition and its clone China Hush. Three/four years ago threads would actually go somewhere in the intelligence department, and even the trollery and one-upsMANship was not without wit and humor. Then, the preceding sampling of remarks by the Chinese chatterati were not worth the effort expended at the keyboards. Today, the situation is reversed: threads are now populated by Western half-wits, fuck-wits and those with a long lunch break and time on their hands. It almost makes one want to sign up for a eugenics program aimed at the virtual world.

Really rat shit, murky layout. Predictable stories and an “as seen on” media list which includes every outlet in the known universe except my local community newsletter. (Western reporters must be really lazy bastards nowdays.) And the monetisation of this franchise knows no boundaries. Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Russia are now having this formula inflicted on their less intelligent net communities. I can’t wait till it extends its reach to Tajikistan and Afghanistan. While Fauna is no slouch when it comes to identifying market opportunities, I suspect one of the Three Amigos from ChinaDivide is playing a key role in the chinaSMACK boardroom.

While Charlie Custer’s site and The Peking Duck used to go head-to-head when it came to chatterati warfare, Custer is now simply going through the motions, sick of his own opinions, that of his followers, and with better things to do with his time. One thing about Custer is his political consistency, despite this ass-hole piece by a site called The Fourth Estate, by what appears to be a Canadian bilingualist. Custer’s film has been in the offing for about four years, and has now totally saturated Google search with that fact. The Global Times provides a good overview.

Heading for the third part of the title, and if you are wearing full body armour and enjoy a bit of trench warfare, The Peking Duck is the site for you. Richard’s MO. Post a serious piece of China, namely something on the Great Leap Forward, Mao or disputed islands in the Pacific Ocean, and watch the fur fly. Loawai cold war warriors duke it out with a posse of Chinese posters, most of whom live in the US. Some posts constitute a chapter of a book, and no i or t is left undotted or crossed in this take-no-prisoners, let’s-eat-the-wounded back-and-forth. Since I’ve rather blotted my copybook there lately, will return to this subject at a later date.

Turning to musical matters. I know. I Know. General Tao has two Harvard law degrees and a social life most of us would envy. However, his musical selections are fucking awful. Do we really need youtubes of the Grateful Dead and the Doobie Brothers in 2012? Hairy ’70s behemoths who should have been taken down to the bottom paddock ages ago and put out of their misery. The Tao is not the only perp.

Patrick Chovanec, Tsinghua lecturer and owner of a site which explains the mysteries of the Chinese economy, also has issues in this department. Note: pride of place on his blogroll goes to China Hush, so we should not be surprised. A few months ago, I turned on the ABC and accidentally caught a current affairs program dealing with China’s economy. Before they got down to the nitty gritty – rebalancing, bank debt, SOEs, etc. – they began with this heavy-hitter kicking backing and enjoying a bit of quality me-time in some near-campus bar. There he was, dressed like a Rotarian nursing a small beer, and doing a pretty heavy head nod to some bloody ghastly local rock band. It didn’t inspire confidence in his words of wisdom.

King Tubby also blogs. You can find him here|Blogging the Bloggers Archives|

    32 Responses to “Blogging The Bloggers: King Tubby’s Inaugural Column About The China Blogosphere”

    1. Fiona

      Big words for a little blog who gets literally all its content from Shanghaiist (and vice versa) and regularly rips off Reddit (r/China) without credit (hey, that rhymes!).

      Also brave words from a blog who (admirably) started out by busting the China expat scene’s chops, but now kisses re-tweet ass on a daily basis with all the “serious players” you used to openly despise.

      Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy your blog for what it is. But hating on other China websites just because they get the scoop first (namely ChinaSmack) of which you later inevitably copy is trollerly and douchyness at its worst. Start coming up with ORIGINAL content, then your whelpy hate will be justifiable.

      • Anthony Tao

        I’m glad you brought this up. First, you’ll notice if you bothered to check that we actually beat Shanghaiist to most of our aggregated content, so your use of “literally” was bizarre. Second, not sure what you mean by “regularly,” but you will notice that we hat-tip Reddit more than every other blog combined. Third, King Tubby’s comments do not reflect this website’s (maybe this should come No. 1). Fourth, chinaSMACK hasn’t been first on anything for months, and even you have to admit that. Fifth: we produce more original content in a month than Shanghaiist does in a year. (Of course, they have MORE posts, so props where it’s due.)

        Let the mudslinging begin!

          • RhZ

            ChinaSMACK is garbage. But I think China Hush is worse. China Hush has been blocked here in Shanghai for forever, I always wonder why the one is blocked and the other isn’t.

        • James Griffiths

          This is the second time I’ve come across you attacking Shanghaiist in this way Anthony (the first was on Reddit), did we offend you in some way? You seem to have it in for us while we only have good things to say about BC.

          • Anthony Tao

            How was this an attack? I was replying to a comment that accused us of “literally” copping your content. The props is given in earnest.

        • Rumours

          Mr. Tao, you may or may not be aware of a rumour traveling among the Sinosphere that Kenneth Tan is YOU – in other words, Anthony Tao is just an alias for Kenneth Tan of Shanghaiist. As the rumour goes: in anticipation of Tan’s imminent shyte-canning (as a result of running Shanghaiist into the ground), Tan (aka Tao) started BeijingCream as his/your next venture, during which you will shyte-talk and siphon traffic away from your soon-to-be former employer so that you have a platform all set up once you become a free agent again. Now, considering how many Shanghaiist posts as of late are near-exact duplicates of BeijingCream, this seems like a very plausible rumour. Either way, nice work on the re-design Anthony, er., Kenneth, er, Cao Cao, er…

      • King Baeksu

        Hmm, do politically correct translations of Chinese news items count as “scoops”? Let’s not lose perspective here, m’kay?

        As for actual writing, I dare say ChinaSlack could learn a thing or two from the curdled General and the portly King.

        Keep on smackin’, y’all.

    2. Tinariwen

      Ah yes, this is just what Beijing Cream needs, a column on English blogs by King Tubby, a pseudonymous bore who spends too much time with his head in his rectum, who has no apparent understanding of anything except Word Press, but has a taste for reggae and African music and who writes an incoherent blog and is famous only for his passive aggressive comments on The Peking Duck.

      Way to go!

    3. brackishwater

      Saddened to find that one of the first entries on the gorgeous new BJC is a a navel-gazing rant from this famously semi-literate troll.

      A pointless paragraph about music?
      Opinion-based attacks on other blogs?
      “Chatterati warfare”?
      “It didn’t inspire confidence in his words of wisdom”?

      Tao, you’re smart and you write well, which is why we care about what you have to say. You need to demand the same standards of your contributors. Regretfully, I’ve just checked King Tubby’s blog – one of his most recent posts is basically this.

      Yes, you’re miles ahead of Shanghaiist. Please don’t become shit, like they did.

      • peppermint butler

        very much the same as my reaction to this post, though i can’t comment on to OP’s previous contributions or overall quality as a blogger. i also second whoever responded “I have no idea what this post was about,” because that’s what i felt most the time while reading it.

        for me this post was just a bunch of vitriol and judgment, though he did give some recommendations at least? but then who has the gall to presume to hold the keys to the “Department of Goodness”?

        bizarrely negative, rambling, incredibly self-important…really did not enjoy this, hope it isn’t indicative of BJC’s new direction.

          • King Tubby

            24 photos of female subjects, half of which are distance shots where gender appears indeterminate.

            38 other images which incl. surf art and photography, big wave location maps, wave report sites like magicseaweed, etc.

            Thrown in the links from surfing photography competitions and you have another 100 plus images totally unrelated to bodies.

            Furthermore, “those Japanese women in bikinis surfing” (plus Taiwanese and Mainland women) are taken from latest Professional Surfer rankings, and they are earning a living in a highly competitive industry, competing against the best from Peru, Brazil and elsewhere.

            What’s your real issue?

            • Japanese sufing chick fetish

              Oh I see, you just care about the sport! No worries mate, we can all understand!

    4. Queeny Pubby

      Have to agree with the above. King Tubby is a jerk off whose opinions are mainly of interest to himself. Waste of screen space.

    5. t_co

      FYI, the best blog, by far, in the Sino-English blogosphere is Sinocism. Light on editorializing, and heavy on content, with loads of Chinese-language sources to boot, plus an extremely credible author.

    6. t_co

      One other thing KT, I think Chovanec’s enjoyment of rock music is because he’s at Michael Pettis’ bar. Expat professors flock together

    7. Gay Chevara

      I am a big fan of /r/chinacirclejerk.

      I used to like ChinaSmack back in the old days, Shanghaiist too, but they became kind of stale.

      I like Beijing Cream for it’s tabloid style and Chengdu Living for it’s ‘we really understand and love Chinese culture’ style.

      I hate my fucking blog, the people there are arseholes.

    8. cr8ive

      Just sayin’ thought it was a “Fauna” and not a “Fiona” !
      KT: waste of space
      CSmk: Was good until lets moderate and start painting a rosy pix.
      Shist: ’nuff said.
      and the list goes on.
      BC my current coffee break read.
      Btw: I hate the makeover.

    9. Sam

      With everyone reading the same stuff these days on Weibo, Twitter, Reddit etc. it’s very hard to get original content, and/or avoid covering the same news as everyone else. I still like both BJ Cream and Shanghaiist for the opinions and writing of their respective editors though. Anthony Tao and James Griffiths keep up the good work I say, and ignore the rantings of the rabble in the comments.

    10. KopyKatKiller

      Wow! Quite the thread created here! I’m glad Mr. Tubby King has become a new focal point for abuse. While BJ C has been quite good for me, other sites CSmack, ChenduL, and even SinoLicious or [my own sites] have at times become lets attack KopyKat-KalanStar shit-slinging festivals. I’m glad the heat is off me =0D

    11. Jessica

      Aw, I emailed Ben Ross almost five years ago when I was writing my undergraduate thesis and stumbled upon his blog to ask him some questions and he was super nice! ~ADDING HIM TO RSS READER~


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