Ma Baoguo is a traditional martial arts practitioner who claims to be a "master of Hunyuan tai chi". But when his skills were tested in May, he was knocked out three times by an ordinary fighter. He has gained famed on social media for his odd and rambling monologues.
“The farce must be terminated,” wrote the People’s Daily editorial.
“His popularity has risen after that failure as he delivered a short address to audiences via video and some of his words were picked out and spread on social networks and he has become something of a social media sensation.”
“If it’s just a performance, no one has to pay special attention to it,” wrote the People’s Daily’s editorial, “But when it becomes a ‘phenomenon’ and is frequently discussed in public, it’s necessary to examine what’s behind it.” “Ma is far from being a traditional martial arts ‘master’. On the contrary, he is harming traditional martial arts and he is a liar. He blamed his younger competitor for lacking the martial arts virtues, but he is the one that lacks them.”
“What do the people behind Ma really want? It is all about business,” People’s Daily wrote. “Some social media platforms are fueling the hype and it’s all about profit.”
“Some said this is not a problem because people can tell what sort of person Ma is and just treat him like a clown. But it is a problem because others seek to profit from it. Worse than his own deeds are what has happened around him. Obviously there are some who seek commercial profit by hyping up Ma's case, among which are the online platforms and speculative capital. Young people who are not mature enough to distinguish right from wrong might really worship Ma as a ‘master’. That's something we must be alert to.”
“It would be wise for Ma to stop his wrongdoings of hyping up himself, and wise for those behind him to give up. The social network platforms that have allowed all this to happen in the public eye should stop providing a stage on which Ma can perform. There must be stricter supervision of social media networks so as to prevent cases like Ma's from happening again.”
Bilibili published an announcement on Saturday, vowing to “strictly rectify, review, and manage” content related to Ma, which the platform claimed was an act of “assuming social responsibility.” “The criticism and ridicule of Ma is gradually becoming entertainment and values are being diluted.” Bilibili wrote, claiming that some people were taking advantage of the ‘Ma Baoguo phenomenon’ to hype and harvest traffic for profit.”
One of Ma’s catchphrases “Mouse Tail Juice” has been registered as a trademark and a company with the same name was registered on Monday. Hundreds of items relating to Ma are for sale on Taobao, China's largest online shopping platform.
Claiming that he “never intended to become a web celebrity,” Ma announced on November 15 that he was retiring from martial arts and would “stay away from the farce.” But in the following week he received interviews from media, accepted offers to appear at events, and even announced that he would be playing a Kung Fu master in a movie which he said “will break box office records.”
Social media platforms and media organizations are the weathervane of public opinion and changes in public sentiment, and they ought to have the right outlook and “keep the bottom line of values”.