'Happy playing a fool': Tourism chief wins over critics of 'ugly' promo videos

Xie said that he made the tourism clips because his employer couldn’t afford to pay a celebrity influencer and professionals to make them.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

A local government official in central China has won over mainland social media after he good-naturedly accepted criticism of his “ugly” portrayal of an ancient knight in a series of self-made films promoting local tourism.

Xie Wei, director of the Suizhou Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism in Hubei province, was criticised for his performance in the films he self-produced and directed, Jiupai News reported.

Xie said that he made the tourism videos because the bureau couldn’t afford to pay a celebrity influencer and professionals to make the videos and he felt confident he could make them himself.

Xie wore ancient costumes and role-played as an ancient knight at a scenic local site famed for its ginkgo trees.
PHOTO: Baidu

Since May, Xie has uploaded 23 videos on Douyin promoting the natural environment and culture of Suizhou, attracting 27,000 followers and 153,000 likes.

In the video that drew the most criticism, Xie wore costumes and role-played as an ancient knight at a scenic local site famed for its ginkgo trees. Xie is seen swinging a replica sword and then relaxing with a drink.

‘I think we need to publicise our hometown. As long as I can show off the beauty of Suizhou, I don’t mind making a fool of myself’, says Xie.
PHOTO: Baidu

“The first time when I saw the comments, I was very upset,” Xie said.

He said that later he felt the comments would help him improve his work, and he was also aware of many supportive comments as well.

“I think we need to publicise our hometown. As long as I can show off the beauty of Suizhou, I don’t mind making a fool of myself,” Xie said.

Xie acknowledged that making the most of social media has helped boost tourism with some visitors even recognising him from his videos which inspired him to keep going.

“They told me that they came to visit after watching my videos, and that made me very happy,” he added.

Xie’s candid response to the criticism has won him respect on social media, and at the time of writing, a Weibo news post on his reaction had 4.5 million views and 2,570 comments.

Chinese tourism officials have become increasingly creative in their promotional efforts since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
PHOTO: Baidu

One person said: “Please show more understanding and support to such a terrific official.”

Another said: “He is a politician, not an artist. He really deserves to get praise for his efforts in the videos.”

Chinese tourism officials have become increasingly creative in their promotional efforts since the Covid-19 pandemic began. In June, a director from the Culture and Tourism Department of Garze Tibetan autonomous region in Sichuan province, southwestern China, became famous from his social media videos for his “handsome” movie-star looks .

In 2020, a tour official from Xinjiang went viral after dressing up in a video in a red cape and riding a horse over snow-covered ground. Chinese internet users admiringly described her horseback riding as “valiant and heroic” and “too beautiful”.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.