The keywords of this month were unequivocally “General and I.” Wallace’s engrossing performance in this romantic ancient costume drama once again made him one of the most popular entertainers of the month on social media. He topped the Entertainer New Media Index in the Television Actors category by Vlinkage, an entertainment marketing service provider, on 13 days in January, and was among the top three on 23 days.
Three Weibos in One Month
To many fans’ surprise, Wallace’s weibo is not in hibernation mode anymore. He posted three weibos in the first month of 2017. The last time he updated his weibo three times in one month was last August.
A lonesome blossom is the unique you, is doing your best. 2017 together all the way. Happy New Year! @ General and I Official Weibo
As always, Wallace likes playing with words. “Together all the way” sounds like 1617 which means “from 2016 to 2017,” and “A lonesome blossom” is the title of his theme song for General and I.
One, one, always, one lonesome blossom General and I started airing! #Wallace Chung A Lonesome Blossom# #Wallace Chung General and I# @ General and I Official Weibo
Wallace seemed to be so pumped about General and I. He unprecedentedly added two hashtags in this weibo to promote his latest ancient costume drama.
The second intriguing image in this weibo also indicated Wallace’s enthusiasm for General and I…as well as his hobby of playing guessing games with the fans. What do those different segments of the Chinese character “lonesome” try to say?
The last time Wallace posted a drawing for his TV series was back on September 6, 2010 for Too Late to Say I Love You which was a milestone in his acting career. So, I think General and I also means a lot to Wallace.
Those characters and lines, seem like withered lily pads, but are actually proud and wild.
What I loved about this weibo is the enormous amount of beautifully written comments from fans. Some simulated the original weibo’s sentence structure, some explained the meaning of “withered lily pads” in traditional Chinese painting and the beauty of Chinese calligraphy, while still others condemned the scathing attacks against Wallace’s professionalism in General and I (which you will read a little bit later on).
On January 18, Wallace liked W Liang Family’s weibo regarding the “hurry and come into my [the king’s] arms” stickers. This is the first weibo he liked in 2017. Wallace usually doesn’t use the “like” feature on Weibo….
Another change I noticed about Wallace’s weibo is that he switched from traditional Chinese to simplified Chinese. The change first appeared last July, but since his weibos were rather short during that period, I thought they were posted by his staff members. Simplified Chinese is mainly used by mainlanders while traditional Chinese is predominantly used by the people in Hong Kong. In the past, Wallace used simplified Chinese to post weibos occasionally, mostly when he was invited to answer mainland netizens’ questions, but this time it seems like a rather permanent change to simplified Chinese, which might suggest that Wallace and his team decided to reach more fans in the mainland.
General and I: An Overnight Sensation
The following infomation comes from the show’s official weibo account, unless stated otherwise:
Only 24 hours after being uploaded on LeTV.com, General and I had been visited over 200 million times.
On January 8, General and I had received over 1 billion views on LeTV.com alone before reaching the 10th episode.
On January 13, General and I hit over 2 billion views on LeTV.com alone.
On January 16, General and I had earned over 3 billion views and 340,000 “barrage” comments or on-screen viewer comments on LeTV.com alone. Its CSM 52 Cities rating also topped the chart with over 1% on 7 days among the 14 days of airing on Hunan TV. Besides, weibo hashtag #General and I# had prompted 1,760 million discussions. This weibo hashtag topped the Realtime Trending Searches list in 10 days, the Trending Searches list in 4 days, the General Searches list in 4 days, and the TV Series list in 5 days. Another weibo hashtag, #Wallace Chung General and I#, had generated even more discussions—2,080 million!
On January 19, General and I‘s CSM National Network rating had soared to 2.11% with a 6.39% share. Its CSM 52 Cities rating had climbed to 1.571% with a share of 4.59%. Topping the lists of both the CSM National Network ratings and the CSM 52 Cities ratings is a milestone. Its official weibo proudly declaired, “A Lonesome Fragrance should be appreciated by all.”
The total number of views increased faster during the week before the lunar Chinese New Year.
On January 21, nearly 20 days after streaming online, General and I had been clicked over 5 billion times on LeTV.com.
On January 23, three weeks after streaming online, General and I had been clicked over 6 billion times.
On January 25, the official LeTV.com proudly announced that General and I had been clicked over 7 billion times.
On January 27, LeTV.com had witnessed over 8 billion views of General and I.
On January 28, the lunar Chinese New Year’s Day, General and I still topped the charts with a 1.079% rating and a 3.34% share, while the other TV dramas’ ratings dropped by more than 30%, according to TV critic @传媒第三只眼 on Weibo.
Feng Nong, the author of the original novel of General and I, posted an essay on her weibo on January 24, explaining her understanding of love in A Lonesome Blossom Awaits Appreciation. The essay was titled “Love, Is Not a Lonesome Boat.” Her main arguments are that all the couples pay the price for love but love is worth the struggle. For example, Chu Beijie and Bai Pingting were torn between their love for each other and their love for the people. They were unwilling to ruin world peace just to be together, and all their struggles were meaningful. I guess Feng Nong posted this essay at this particular point because the audience were going to see Bai Pingting decided to leave Chu Beijie. The author wanted the audience to understand that Bai Pingting was not being timid or unfaithful, causing Chu Beijie unnecessary pains. Her decisions were justified. (What do you think? Well, after watching some of Wallace’s previous dramas, I am used to seeing Wallace’s characters being tortured in love…but dark twists always move to happy endings, so I am not worried. 🙂 )
Wallace’s fans also contributed to General and I‘s success by actively participating in online discussions. As of this writing, weibo hashtag #General and I# has produced over 4.11 billion views and over 3.516 million discussions; weibo hashtag #Wallace Chung General and I# has generated over 2.66 billion views and over 7.317 million discussions. Discussions have also been heated on Baidu Tieba, YoutTube, and Letv.com. Here are some of the discussions that I enjoyed the most:
- 笨蛋番茄烩土豆 wrote a hilarious drama review titled “The Adorable Routine and Anti-Routine Plots in G&I.” The review lists the creative plots in the drama. For example, Chu Beijie decided to save Bai Pingting not because of the common storyline of being attracted to her beauty but because he saw He Xia’s cloak. In many TV dramas, the female lead pledged to marry the male lead out of gratitude, but in G&I, it is the other way around. Many parents in G & I died, but their deaths have different impacts on their children. Think about Chu Beijie’s mom, Bai Ping Ting’s dad, Consort Zhang’s dad, Shuang Er’s mom, and He Xia’s dad…
- 墨浓书香玉琳琅‘s 5049-word analysis “Loving You Is Silent or Spirited Confessions” focuses on Wallace’s characterization of Chu Beijie through his lines, gestures, and facial expressions. For example, she contended that Chu Beijie’s line “Now that I saved your life, your life is mine. You must do whatever I say. Understand?” seems possessive, but it is actually equivalent to “Now that you saved my life, my life is yours. I will do whatever you say.” The author unraveled the implications of Chu Beijie’s classic lines and analyzed how Wallace brought the role to life through body language.
- 尺素红拂 compiled the ancient Chinese poetry that appeared in the drama and pinpointed the mistakes such as using poems that were written in a later dynasty. She also wrote six articles regarding Chu Beijie’s costumes. Honestly, I was taken aback by the fans’ knowledge, patience, and keen perception.
I love Wallace as much as I love his amazing fans!
Rumors and Controversies, Wallace and General and I Respond
Last year, it was rumored that while Wallace and Angelababy split nearly 100 million RMB for shooting General and I, they were on the set for only 10 days and heavily relied on stunt doubles.
After General and I aired on January 2, more criticisms centered on Wallace and Angelababy’s professionalism and the drama’s improper use of the green screen and CGI. The extensive use of Gaussian blur in the background made some viewers suspect that either the actors were filming in front of a green screen or the doubles were used because some actors did not make it to the set on the shooting day. In the early episodes, Chu Beijie’s and Bai Pingting’s hair were poorly cropped out, which deepened some netizens’ conviction that Wallace and Angelababy were filming those scenes separately. Those online discussions later got a little out of hand as some netizens derided the drama as Kou Xiang Bu Zi Shang (Cropped Images Waiting to Be Appreciated).
General and I‘s chief producer, Zhao Jianling quickly mollified the netizens with an open letter titled “A Letter to All the Friends Who Care about General and I“on January 5.
She thanked the media and the netizens profusely for their critiques and pledged to solve the problems. I found it pretty funny and adorable that she reminded the audience there would be more CGI-assisted scenes in future episodes. She wrote that she apologized in advance if those scenes didn’t meet everyone’s expectations. She also emphasized that Wallace demanded to act himself in equestrian and wire/pulley-assisted fight scenes. In the end, she pled with the audience to have more compassion for all the hard-working staff.
On January 6, another producer He Jing chimed in and denied the rumor that she had ever said that Angelababy and Wallace got hefty pay packets but did not work hard at all. On the same day, General and I‘s official weibo issued a Solemn Statement to defend Wallace and Angelababy’s professionalism.
Moreover, Wallace’s company, Shanghai Cornucopia Television Culture Media Co. Ltd., also issued a Statement through Wallace’s official fan club account @钟汉良W良家族 on January 6.
According to older fans, this was the first time that Wallace or his company issued such a statement. The statement denounced the defamers, urged them to stop spreading rumors, and announced that the company had sought legal help to collect evidence and contact the parties concerned.
On January 10, the W Liang Family weibo released a bunch of photos to prove that Wallace worked long and hard on the set. The caption was pretty poetic: “10 days in the human world, three months in Gu Fang.” “10 days” refers to the rumored 10 shooting days, while “three months” refers to the actual duration of the shooting period.
On January 13, Chief Director Ju Jueliang also responded to the controversies. He attributed the technical imperfections to the limited time, budget, and technology and wished to solve those problems in future projects. He also discussed the frequent use of slow motion in Wallace’s fight scenes, saying that he meant to highlight the storyline and the characters’ emotions instead of grand scenes or dazzling fight choreography. He welcomed critiques but pointed out that he didn’t want to follow the trend of hiring young but inexperienced actors and lowering artistic standards to cater to zealous yet tasteless fans. General and I, he concluded, is a “lyric Wuxia” drama created for “the cultured audience.” The interview gave me the impression that Ju Jueliang is an ambitious and insightful director who likes challenging himself at work (No wonder Wallace worked with him so many times…birds of a feather flock together. 🙂 ).
Based on my observation, throughout the first 10 days or so since the drama aired, Wallace’s fans were pretty emotional. Many were angered and saddened by the rumors. They defended Wallace with no reservation and praised Wallace’s team for the statement. The incredibly long reviews aforementioned are possibly part of the fans’ reactions to the controversies.
By late January, things had turned around. To many people’s surprise, General and I drew rave reviews from some of the most important state-own media outlets.
On January 20, People’s Daily selected two GIFs from General and I to accompany a weibo about “Why Some People ‘Look Better over Time.'” Although the weibo was about a brain science study, General and I and many fans took that as an implicit compliment that the drama had got more and more interesting.
The other media outlets were more clear about their appreciation of General and I. Check out the following headlines:
People.cn (People’s Daily): Wallace Chung Performs the Good Royal Highness of China, His Resourcefulness Praised by Netizens
“The Good…of China” is a catchy phrase that became popular after the The Good Voices of China (The Chinese version of The Voice) aired in 2012. Now the media often use the phrase to praise something or someone.
Youth.cn (China Youth Daily): Good Drama Does Not Fear Public Opinion, General and I “Looks Better over Time”
Huanqiu.com (Global Times): General and I Gets Better over Time, Netizens Say It Is as Well-Made as Movies
The official weibo of China News Week simply re-shared General and I‘s weibo and commented enthusiastically on January 19, “A lonesome blossom proudly bloomed. Shall appreciate it together in this new spring. Looking forward to #General and I#”
General and I: Behind the Scenes
For those of you who want to see the real man behind Chu Beijie, General and I and LeTV.com have very considerately released 29 clips of bloopers and sidelights and 9 episodes of a behind-the-scenes documentary. Following are the translated comments by or concerning Wallace from the documentary.
Episode One Highlights
Wallace: It has been quite a while since I acted in an ancient costume drama. But there has been more than one reason for that. Reasons for accepting ancient costume drama projects vary. Every time I pick scripts or roles, I would regard the role as something I had never tried before.
I am actually pretty lively. I am actually pretty outgoing. It is just that everyone tends to see me in an environment where I have to think a lot, and that probably gives them the impression that I am relatively quiet. I do have a quiet side, but noboby possesses only one facet. I have multiple facets in my body.
When I worked with Director Ju Jueliang for the first time, I learned how to ride a horse in his Windstorm. You can say that he witnessed my beginning stage in acting. He watched me change throughout the years. Gradually we developed this tacit mutual understanding at work.
Every time I work on a project, I will take the role very seriously. I will learn about him, read about him, and feel him…and then complete the role step by step.
There are always imperfections and pities. It is…very difficult to achieve the acme of perfection. But completing this project is still worth celebrating, because we have finished a project that represents a phase or stage in our artistic growth. I will just take those regrets with me to my next…uh…next journey.
Shao Jinghui, Director: His many peformances are actually electrifying. Many people may not be sensitive enough to notice those electrifying moments, but I know…he puts a lot of effort into every of his performances.
Episode Two Highlights
Wallace: At the beginning of this drama, Chu Beijie was going to…to put down some rebelion. He chose the Prince of Jing An’s Manor, aiming to bring peace to the people of Jin and Yan, but he did not set out to kill people. He actually wanted to stop wars and massacres.
Episode Three Highlights
Shao Jinghui, Director: Hanliang is good at acting. He is not an actor who purely relies on his appearance to succeed.
Sun Yizhou aka Sean Sun, Actor: If you go watch many of Zhong Hanliang’s previous dramas, you will discover that he never repeats himself.
Wallace: When I read the script for the first time, I thought he was a character with integrity. But when you read it more closely, he will show you another layer of personality. He has gentleness hidden deep inside his heart. That you will be attracted to.
I seem to have been trying a more understated approach to acting. And that approach works for Chu Beijie, coincidentally. He is mature. He needs to be carried out through understated performance.
When I am not filming, I often look like I am lost in thought, or other people may feel that I am lost in thought. So, you may see that I sometimes stroll all the way to the hill nearby. If you are willing to discuss the scenes with me, I might as well follow you wherever you go.
I learned dancing before, so that sort of helps me in fight scenes. Sometimes I feel I can be better, instead of always relying on the stunt doubles for most of the fight scene moves.
Wang Yu, Fight Choreographer: Actor Zhong Hanliang can be called a star, but when he is on the set, he never acts in a perfuntory manner. When I tell him something, he always gives me undivided attention and excutes my directions. I think he did pretty well in fight scenes. His moves were, honestly, really beautiful.
Ju Jueliang, Chief Director: We worked with Zhong Hanliang many many times. This year when I worked with him again, hey, I felt Zhong Hanliang changed a lot. He stressed many elements in acting to convince the audience about this character. Throughout this process, we saw that Zhong Hanliang had developed a deeper understanding of acting.
Episode Seven Highlights
Wallace: It seems like [Ju Jueliang, Chief Director] has a soft spot for Wuxia dramas. He likes the chivalrous spirit of the ancient times.
Episode Eight Highlights
Wallace: As long as I see [Sun Yizhou], I know there will be jubilant sounds.
Episode Nine Highlights
Wallace: [The drama] has many visual arrangments that did not exist in the script. It has a variety of images that make the audience experience different fields of vision.
The minute I entered [the set], wow, I really said “Wow!” because I rarely saw drama sets that wowed me. They really built an ancient house. They really wanted you to experience the time period and see what the royal hall should look like. The sets were bigger than any of the ancient costume drama sets I had ever seen. They were so big that I even wondered if the camera could capture everything in the picture. And, of course, grand drama sets have their own challenges. It takes a lot of work and human labor to build them, and it it not easy to film in them.
I think the audience can sense the effort put into the creation of those drama sets. I have rarely seen this level of craftsmanship in ancient costume drama sets. In some indoor scenes of other ancient costume dramas, the windows have only one side. and the other side…you probably have to make some compromises and avoid shooting the window from outside; but in our drama sets, wow, the window lattices alone are already…you can see they were designed. They are not the ordinary kind, and they don’t have just one side. They are the things that will look beautiful when shot from any angle.
I have filmed horseriding scenes for many years, but this time I had the craziest experience. Their horses were very fast, and we were shooting at Beijing’s Chaobai River—the outdoor filming location, a pasture which was wide and open. I had never tried a horse galloping at such a high speed.
Wallace’s First “Barrage” Comments
On January 21, Wallace appeared on LeTV.com and watched the 29th episode of General and I with the netizens. He also sent out several “barrage” comments or on-screen viewer comments. The following screenshots are from @我没你想得那么_坚强.
Wallace (Look at the highlighted comments in red with Wallace’s pic): Princesses, have you had dinner? I am trying hard to read everything, but I have been dazzled by your comments. This is my first time playing “barrage” and I haven’t got used to it.
Wallace: Do you still remember those classic lines? “What other tricks do you have? Show them all to me.” Why did you guys stop commenting?
Wallace must have been pretty proud at this moment… His fans are famous for causing server crashes in the past when they flooded to a website to interact with
Wallace Completes Liang Sheng, Must We Be Sorrowful
According to the drama’s official weibo account, the team rushed a little to complete the project by January 20 or Xiao Nian, a traditional Chinese holiday that falls on the 23rd day of the year’s last lunar month.
The following weibo from the drama reads:
#Liang Sheng, Must We Be Sorrowful# #Meeting in this life is already a reunion# @Wallace Chung completed shooting and took a photo with @Director Liu Junjie as a memento. Goodbye, the best Cheng Tianyou. Receiving your love is the biggest blessing. Miaopai video
In this clip, a delicate cake with Cheng Tianyou playing the piano on the top wowed Wallace. Director Liu Junjie thanked Wallace but our Mr. Curiosity was completely drawn to the cake, “You planned this…”
Later that day, Wallace was spotted at the airport getting ready to fly from Shanghai to Taipei.
More Wallace Videos
- The Making of the “Let’s Date” Commercial
- “General and I” Chinese New Year Greetings
- Behind “General and I” Dancing Battle
- General and I Visits Happy Camp Trailer (the episode will air on February 4)
- Xiang Piao Piao Milk Tea New Year Greetings
- Ecovacs New Year Greetings
- Ecovacs Lunar New Year’s Eve Ad
Thank you for reading this long news update. Happy Lunar New Year to all the Chinese blog readers. Let’s continue watching General and I and enjoy more great performances by Wallace in the Year of Rooster.