Why do people in China fall for animated characters like LinaBell and Bing Dwen Dwen?

(People's Daily Online) 16:32, March 23, 2022

Several cute animated characters, including Bing Dwen Dwen, the official mascot for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, have captured the hearts of Chinese people of all ages across the country. The fact that they can help relieve some of people’s many pressures in part accounts for the craze, experts say.

Six-year-old Li Jiahang (R) and seven-year-old Zheng Yutong (L) show ceramic wares made in the images of animated characters Bing Dwen Dwen and Shuey Rhon Rhon at a ceramic factory in Dehua county, southeast China's Fujian Province. (Xinhua/Wei Peiquan)

Bing Dwen Dwen, a fluffy panda clad in a full-body spacesuit-like icy shell, and Shuey Rhon Rhon, the red lantern-shaped mascot for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, were all the rage during the Games, and still enjoy great popularity on China’s mainstream social media platform Weibo even now. They were so highly coveted and sought after that people were queuing for hours at brick-and-mortar stores just to buy them.

Shi Qinghao, a Bing Dwen Dwen lover, will always spend time watching some videos about this cute panda before she begins a full day’s work. Her favorites are videos about when the superstar of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games falls down and picks itself up in a huff of anger. “It once stumbled and fell down in a snowball fight,” said Shi. “It also kicked a fence angrily after being criticized. It was so hilarious,” Shi added. She explained that after watching videos of Bing Dwen Dwen, her unhappy attitude about having to work was suddenly all gone. “It marks the start of a beautiful day,” she said. Another fan named Zhou Zhou said that the enormous popularity of the mascot among foreign people also gave her a strong sense of national pride in the Chinese nation.

Another example is LinaBell, a pink-colored fox character which became an instant hit after it was introduced by Shanghai Disney Resort to the receptive applause of Chinese visitors to the amusement park. Many adults will try to talk to it when they go through a breakup or resign from their jobs. “It is a very good listener,” said Hao Dayue, a fan of LinaBell. “We grownups need to take a break from life,” she added.

The reason behind the frenzy is that animated characters can be a source of psychological comfort. According to Chen Wu, a professor at the Research Center of Developmental and Educational Psychology of Wuhan University, the characters are more accessible than actual human beings in real life. Moreover, it is easier to interact with these fictitious characters than it is to interact with people. Chen added that people today live in an age of high pressure and stiff competition. The characters therefore offer adult individuals opportunities to remain childish for a certain moment in time, which helps them to alleviate some of their everyday pressures and anxieties.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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