Thursday, July 01, 2021

Photos show China's most surreal tourist spot— a fake Instagram-worthy town full of pretend farmers and phony fishermen

By Cheryl Teh of INSIDER

I have done a number posts on these fake enterprises or products (they are listed below). Maybe the first time I became aware of this kind of thing was with an article called The Myth of Authenticity by Alicia Clegg. Excerpt: 

"What do brands like Häagen Dazs, Baileys Original Irish Cream, Bombay Sapphire and Kerrygold all have in common? Each stretches the myth behind the brand to promote heritage and authenticity

For example, there was no Irish person named Bailey that started the Irish Cream company. The owners wanted a name that sounded just a bit Irish. Also, they will only use ingredients from Ireland to stay "authentic."

As I show below, the famous psychiatrist Dr. Van Pelt asked "how can you tell the phonies from the realies?"

Excerpts from the article by Cheryl Teh:

"An idyllic sunrise dawns over Xiapu County, a rural town in Fujian, China. From Xiapu's beaches, you can see a lone fisherman rowing his boat toward the endless horizon. And venturing deeper into the county, you might catch strains of a buffalo lowing and spot chickens scurrying about the lush farmland. 

Photos of these scenic spots in the county abound on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

The catch? Most of them are manufactured.

Like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, Xiapu reminds one of what rural China was like in its bygone days. It is still a largely agrarian town, but much of its picturesque landscape — and the people within it — is created by teams of photo crews masquerading as fake farmers and fishermen."

"For the right price, Chinese and foreign visitors alike can get the perfect shot for their social-media profile, complete with "special effects" courtesy of local businessmen angling to facilitate photo shoots [which people post on social media even though they know they are fake].

According to The New York Times, the promise of awesome pictures from staged photo shoots is what really draws crowds to Xiapu County. The Times detailed how hordes of photographers lined up in a neat row along a bridge to catch a staged snapshot of a model in a traditional hat rowing his boat toward the bridge. 

The model was paid $30 for his troubles, The Times noted.

The Times spoke to Liu Weishun, 40, who manages an attraction where gigantic, unused fishing nets are deployed for staged photos. Liu told the outlet that some 500 visitors come to his site every day and pay him $3 each to take photos of people casting the nets. Some even fork out an extra charge for a model wearing a straw hat to row by — directed, of course, by Liu, who gives him stage directions via a walkie-talkie."

One person on Weibo said "Not sure what's real or fake anymore" 

Related posts:

Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings Are Still a Problem for Amazon

The Myth of Authenticity Or The Story Behind Products 

Fake Authenticity

Students: Make a mistake on purpose, its good for you!

A fake job reference can be just a few clicks away.

Fake Economist Fools Portugal.

Slave Redemption in Sudan. (Fake slaves are sold to those who buy slaves and then give them their freedom)

Can A Product Work Just Because It's Expensive?. (fake medicine)

If It Pays To Have Friends, Can You Pay To Have Friends?. (you can hire fake boyfriends)

Study: Half of American Doctors Give Patients Placebos Without Telling Them.

Saudis grapple with fake street sweepers .

Rent a White Guy: Confessions of a fake businessman from Beijing (by Mitch Moxley in The Atlantic Monthly, excerpts below)

Can adding a phantom third story to their homes help families find a wife for their son?

Why do employers pay extra money to people who study a bunch of subjects in college that they don’t actually need you to know? Signaling

Mexicans buy fake cellphones to hand over in muggings
Conspicuous Consumption, Conspicuous Virtue, Thorstein Veblen (and Adam Smith, too!)

How does a company selling used luxury goods spot fakes? (signalling and conspicuous consumption).

Why do stores sometimes pay people to be fake shoppers? 

What if companies can't afford real models for their ads? Use AI generated fake pictures 

Excerpts from "Rent a White Guy"

"Not long ago I was offered work as a quality-control expert with an American company in China I’d never heard of. No experience necessary—which was good, because I had none. I’d be paid $1,000 for a week, put up in a fancy hotel, and wined and dined in Dongying, an industrial city in Shandong province I’d also never heard of. The only requirements were a fair complexion and a suit.

“I call these things ‘White Guy in a Tie’ events,” a Canadian friend of a friend named Jake told me during the recruitment pitch he gave me in Beijing, where I live. “Basically, you put on a suit, shake some hands, and make some money. We’ll be in ‘quality control,’ but nobody’s gonna be doing any quality control. You in?”

I was.

And so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: “Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.”

Six of us met at the Beijing airport, where Jake briefed us on the details. We were supposedly representing a California-based company that was building a facility in Dongying. Our responsibilities would include making daily trips to the construction site, attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and hobnobbing. During the ceremony, one of us would have to give a speech as the company’s director. That duty fell to my friend Ernie, who, in his late 30s, was the oldest of our group. His business cards had already been made."

"For the next few days, we sat in the office swatting flies and reading magazines, purportedly high-level employees of a U.S. company that, I later discovered, didn’t really exist."


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