Is Mandopop's boyish-faced Dance King finally growing up?
After more than a decade of gamboling, twirling and doing his "I'm-so-cool" posturing to vapid up tempo songs about beautiful girls, flamboyant Taiwanese singer-actor-host Show Luo is moving away from his usual shtick.
In the 36-year-old's 11th studio album, Reality Show?, out on iTunes on Nov 20, Luo presents himself as a more serious, thoughtful and socially- conscious artist.
His self-penned lead single, Let Go, tackles the issue of cyberbullying and how prevalent online vitriol has become in the Internet age.
Its music video boasts stylish, dark undertones and features three characters - an overweight boy, an effeminate gay man and a female model - aggressively persecuted and physically abused by hordes of masked figures, a metaphor for nameless, faceless keyboard warriors.
Luo himself is not spared.
In the same video, he is caged, tied to a pole and forced to kneel at gunpoint. On closer inspection, the "guns" turn out to be computer keyboards.
Sharing his thoughts in a press release sent via his record label, Universal Music, Luo said some of the scenes come from a very personal place.
"Growing up, I was a fat kid and I was bullied," he wrote in Chinese.
"So I can empathise with the victims of online hate. I know how miserable they feel inside."
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
He continued: "The Internet should be used for sharing and spreading happy thoughts. However, increasingly, more and more people are hiding behind their keyboards to make malicious, irresponsible comments.
"Those who blindly follow the cyberbullying herd are 'accomplices' too. The scariest thing is the anonymity of it all. You don't know who are the people attacking you, not their gender, nationality or age."
In a separate interview with news portal Sina Entertainment, he said: "I hope that my high-energy song will be a force of positive change. The message I want to bring across is: Enough is enough! It's time to put down our keyboards."
Luo's lyrics for Let Go are powerful and straightforward: "We don't have much time/ Don't you have anything else to do/ You only dare to create fires in hidden spots".
The track has been a hit on YouTube for Luo, who admitted in June that he is dating 27-year-old Beijing fashion blogger Zhou Yangqing.
Within a week of its release, Let Go's music video has garnered more than 2.6 million views.
Reality Show? comes two years after Luo's last album, Lion Roar, and fans can expect to see a more mature, reflective side of their idol in his latest material.
"It's a collection of my feelings and emotions over the last couple of years as I jet-set between Taiwan and China for work," Luo said in a recent article on news portal Tengxun Entertainment.
"I watched (1998 Hollywood flick) The Truman Show several years ago and the concept for Reality Show? is a little inspired by the movie."
He added: "I turn on my TV and computer in the morning and reality programmes are everywhere. It's hard to tell the difference between what is genuine and what is just for show any more."
That said, Luo stressed that he enjoys watching reality TV programmes.
Earlier this year, he even took part in Shanghai Dragon TV's Go Fighting, which featured Luo and other celebrities such as Chinese actor Sun Honglei and K-pop boy band EXO member Lay taking on a series of difficult challenges.
"In our lives, there are genuine elements, as well as elements of performance. That's what makes being human interesting and fun," he said.
"If life is a stage, all of us are trying to play our characters to the best that we can."
This article was first published on November 4, 2015.
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