Bart Baker is a YouTuber who specialized in vulgar videos and pop-star parodies, but his income withered when the site demonetized all the horrible things we didn't realize our kids were watching. So he's abandoning his 10m subscribers there to focus on conquering Chinese social media instead. Baker's even learned enough of the langage to pander to its nationalist vanities and bottomless consumerism, which Vice highlights in this 7-minute interview.
Now, Bart’s days start with live chat and song sessions with his millions of Chinese followers on Kwai, a Chinese social media app. Then, his Chinese manager sends him a Chinese song, which Bart translates into English, with the help of Google Translate. Hours later, Bart’s English version of the track is burning up the top ranks in Douyin (China’s version of TikTok).
Bart sees immense potential in the Chinese market, and has already announced that he is quitting YouTube. Meanwhile, his Chinese manager is concerned that Bart’s American persona could be trouble in China, if it isn’t properly handled.
I liked his boss in Shanghai, who knows two things: that westerners who can speak Chinese are a media gold mine, but also that it's likely they will eventually utter something offensive to Chinese authorities and get everyone involved in trouble.
Right now Americans are fascinated (and appalled) by how quickly the progressive ethics of large corporations (Apple, the NBA and Activision-Blizzard) are being switched off by Chinese power and money. But Baker is a sign of what's to come: American kids blathering in machine-translated Mandarin about the superiority of China, happy to humilate themselves for a little money and fleeting attention. Read the rest