September 23, 2018

Fan Bingbing, China’s Most Famous Actress, Has Disappeared

Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing—the country’s highest-paid actress and one of its most famous celebrities, with more than 62 million followers on Weibo—has reportedly not been seen in public for more than two months, sparking rumors about her whereabouts and concern that she could be in the custody of the Chinese government, after she was caught up in a tax-evasion scandal. China’s Securities Daily newspaper reported last week in a since-deleted article that Fan was “under control” and “would accept the legal decision,” and alluded to other crimes, but the article never specified those. Best known in the U.S. for playing Blink in the X-Men franchise and appearing in advertisements for brands like Guerlain and De Beers, Fan hasn’t been seen in public since July 1 or been active on social media since late July.

In an attempt to curb what it views as the excesses of the entertainment industry, the Chinese government has recently begun capping payoffs for leading actors at not more than 40 percent of the total production costs. Fan’s sudden disappearance from the public eye comes after she was entangled in a public scandal earlier this year over “yin and yang contracts,” in which stars receive one contract with their actual salary and another contract with a lower wage number to submit to tax authorities. Documents were leaked in July by a “disgruntled TV host,” The Hollywood Reporter said this week, “demonstrating an alleged tax-dodge scheme by an unnamed major star—instantly identified online as Fan.” The actress’s representatives denied she was the one implicated in the documents, which claimed to show a star reported $1.56 million for work on an upcoming Chinese film when he or she was in fact paid $7.8 million.

Adding fuel to the fire: Fan received a 0 out of a possible 100 rating on the recently released China Film and Television Star Social Responsibility Report, a joint survey by a Beijing university and the “state-affiliated” Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Corporate Social Responsibility Research Institute. The report seeks to monitor celebrities as part of the government’s crackdown on “promoting money worship” and “distorting social values.” Fan, a glamorous, highly paid star—and one who has served as a spokesmodel for ultra-luxury brands—could be perceived as out of step with her native country’s socialist principles.

Read more

JJ Best Of The Web

China's massive and rapid investments in Africa have been criticized by some as a form of economic colonialism. Others are just wondering why the West is missing out on the opportunity.

"For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 attack — hacked emails, social media fraud, suspected spies — and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax. The Times explores what we know and what it means."

Twenty-five years after Oslo, Israeli-Palestinian peace remains elusive. A mix of Leftist idealism and PLO rejectionism are to blame for taking the "process" out of the Peace Process.

"In recounting the life of alleged Mossad agent Ashraf Marwan, Ariel Vromen's disappointing film leaves the most interesting parts of the story off screen."

The tax cuts signed into law by President Donald Trump will add to the national debt. But they did succeed in one area: making rich people even richer.

"As Seen On TV" gadgets like the "sock slider" or a banana peeler are often mocked for being useless wastes of plastic. But for some individuals with disabilities, these gadgets make all the difference.

If SJWs often resemble religious fundamentalists, bell hooks is their highest prophet. Her work on gender and intersectionality have redefined American campuses, and her ideas are being put into action with religious fervor.

"It strikes me that we’re now suffering collectively from a “tyranny of the virtual,” since we find ourselves unable to look away from the screens that mediate not just print but, increasingly, reality itself."

Parents see it all the time. Young girls, confident and full of joy, become timid and shy around their tween and early teen years. A new book explores the sociological explanations for the loss in confidence.

How did a Chinese citrus fruit become the central symbol of one of Judaism's most important holidays? According to a new book by Rabbi David Moster, the Etrog wasn't always so important. For ancient Jews, any old fruit would do.

If IQ tests are any indication, Americans are getting stupider. Some think environmental factors could be to blame. Others say that it's our culture which is to blame for making us stupider.

According to a new book from Jack Wertheimer, American Judaism is embracing universalism in an effort to stay relevant. But this focus on universalism may threaten to undermine the vitality of the Jewish faith.