Best Served Cold

Chinese netizens actually bought out every other ticket to a Valentine’s Day romcom so that couples couldn’t go.

Fair use/Sina Weibo
Fair use/Sina Weibo
Fair use/Sina Weibo

Love can conquer much -- but not, it appears, the ire of some jilted Chinese singles. According to the Shanghai Morning Post, on the evening of Feb. 13, some lovelorn Shanghaiers converged upon a movie theater in the megalopolis' popular Xintiandi shopping district to purchase every odd-numbered ticket for the Valentine's eve showing of Bejiing Love Story. (The movie is a spin-off of a popular TV series which the Hollywood Reporter declared an "awkward mish-mosh" of "humor, poignancy and melodrama.") Since movie theater tickets in China are reserved by seat number, the move effectively made it impossible for couples watching the romantic film to sit next to one another.

According to the Post, the operation was conceived and organized on a crowdsourcing website called "Dream Cube." (Crowdsourcing websites allow users to organize and fund collective projects.)  Such spiteful, albeit clever, behavior is not the norm on Valentine's Day, a holiday now widely observed among young Chinese. And no one relishes the prospect of spending Valentine's Day alone. But being single in China is particularly tough, with the country's stigmatization of "leftover women" -- slang for unmarried women over 27 -- and tens of millions of "bare branches" -- slang for excess men resulting from China's massive gender imbalance. And widespread social pressure to get married doesn't help. In response, jilted singles 20 years ago claimed Nov. 11 as their own holiday; but in 2010, e-commerce providers co-opted that date, and it now functions as China's version of Cyber Monday. For lonely Chinese with a rabble-rousing streak, crowdsourced mischief may be the start of a new tradition.

Love can conquer much — but not, it appears, the ire of some jilted Chinese singles. According to the Shanghai Morning Post, on the evening of Feb. 13, some lovelorn Shanghaiers converged upon a movie theater in the megalopolis’ popular Xintiandi shopping district to purchase every odd-numbered ticket for the Valentine’s eve showing of Bejiing Love Story. (The movie is a spin-off of a popular TV series which the Hollywood Reporter declared an "awkward mish-mosh" of "humor, poignancy and melodrama.") Since movie theater tickets in China are reserved by seat number, the move effectively made it impossible for couples watching the romantic film to sit next to one another.

According to the Post, the operation was conceived and organized on a crowdsourcing website called "Dream Cube." (Crowdsourcing websites allow users to organize and fund collective projects.)  Such spiteful, albeit clever, behavior is not the norm on Valentine’s Day, a holiday now widely observed among young Chinese. And no one relishes the prospect of spending Valentine’s Day alone. But being single in China is particularly tough, with the country’s stigmatization of "leftover women" — slang for unmarried women over 27 — and tens of millions of "bare branches" — slang for excess men resulting from China’s massive gender imbalance. And widespread social pressure to get married doesn’t help. In response, jilted singles 20 years ago claimed Nov. 11 as their own holiday; but in 2010, e-commerce providers co-opted that date, and it now functions as China’s version of Cyber Monday. For lonely Chinese with a rabble-rousing streak, crowdsourced mischief may be the start of a new tradition.

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a journalist covering China from Washington. She was previously an assistant editor and contributing reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @BethanyAllenEbr

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