Today (July 24th) is the premiere day of a closely watched Chinese film – 后会无期 (literally means Never Meet Again but officially The Continent), which will inevitably cause a lot of controversy, just like the great disputes on its 32-year old director – Han Han (韩寒), who published his maiden novel Triple Door (三重门) at 17 and caused enormous social repercussions.
The disputes on Han Han occurred at the beginning of 2012, when Internet celebrities Mai Tian (麦田) and Fang Zhouzi (方舟子) accused Han Han publicly of ghostwriting. They insisted that all Han Han’s novels and blogs were written by one or several ghostwriters, and Han Han’s father is the biggest suspect, who is a writer himself.
At first, almost no one believed what Mai Tian and Fang Zhouzi said, but as more and more evidences emerged, many supporters of Han changed sides, angry at being fooled for so many years, while others stubbornly believed Han is innocent.
In the lyric of his new movie’s theme song Ordinary Path, Han Han writes: “I owned everything, but they disappeared like smoke suddenly. I was depressed and disappointed, losing all my directions, till I find the only answer of being ordinary.”
Despite of what he wrote, Han Han still has countless die-hard fans and supporters in China, that’s why his virgin film attracted 50 million yuan RMB investment and immense attention.
As for the disputes on him, it seems undoubtedly that Han Han used ghostwriters, proofs include prior release of Han Han’s articles (deleted soon but unfortunately crawled by a search engine) on his father’s blog, unusually tidy manuscript of his first novel on which some Chinese characters seems to be transcribed into irrelevant ones with similar form, abundant allusions in his works occurred before Han Han was born and during his father’s youth, as well as few signs of literary talent or rich knowledge shown in video interviews, in sharp contrast to his brilliant works.
However, to what extent did he resort to ghostwriters? In other words, how many of his works are written by others? Is he really a literature idiot only good at picking up girls, as Fang Zhouzi said?
These questions have become great mysteries, and a bigger question is, why the current mainstream of public opinions doesn’t mention a word about the “Ghostwriting Gate” anymore, as if nothing ever happened? Instead, people in China, especially young people are filled with anticipation at Han Han’s new film.
The reasons are surely complicated. I remember a middle-aged Chinese writer once introspected himself and concluded: if someone were brainwashed by an authority since he is young, when he grows up, he will instinctively show sympathy and preference to the authority even if he rationally knows that the authority is wrong. This may explain a bit the weird situation of opinions towards Han Han in China.