An online Chinese drama about a military-style college for the treatment of Internet addiction, with a grotesque caricature of its founder, unearthed painful memories in thousands of children who suffered brutal treatment during a decadent controversy.
The figure of the psychiatrist on the TV show “CrossFire”, previewed on July 20, remembers many viewers of Yang Yongxin, known for having supported electroshock therapy to treat Internet addiction. Also known as “Uncle Yang” – a moniker coined by the media – his Internet addiction school has left an indelible mark on millions of netizens who have come of age in the last decade, when eSports have been labeled “electronic heroine”. and military-style training camps were established to prevent children from becoming slaves to their screens.
“I am deeply saddened after seeing this,” read a comment under a related post on the Weibo microblogging platform. “Most parents in China want an obedient and docile child, but make no parenting effort and leave the responsibility to other individuals and institutions. It is devastating. “
Based on a popular South Korean tactical shooter game of the same name, “CrossFire” tells the story of two generations of e-sports athletes – the stories unfold after 11 years – fighting for recognition and success. The 36-episode series has become immensely popular with Chinese audiences, drawing 100 million views in four days on Tencent Video, while a related hashtag on Weibo has accumulated over 3.5 million views on Tuesday.
Wang Xiaohan, the show’s co-writer, told Sixth Tone that he was impressed with the recovery ability of the esports community after spending three years interacting with them while preparing for the show. He decided to incorporate Yang’s version of the character into his script after “hearing his hair straight” as he watched a video clip allegedly shot outside Yang’s clinic, where a distressed boy can be heard screaming at his mother late in the day. night.
The detention center story “encapsulates the hostile attitude that many parents of previous generations had towards online games and the Internet in general,” Wang said. “How did eSport athletes manage to swim against the current and still thrive on the international scene at that time? It is wild to think about. “
Yang received national attention in 2008 after a documentary from state-run China Central Television praised him as the savior of some 6,000 Internet addicted teens. However, other media soon revealed that he was using shock therapy on children without anesthesia or muscle relaxants, a technique that many called unsafe and inhumane.
Although the Chinese ministry of health banned Yang’s cure mark the following year, his loyal customers were not discouraged. Parents who have been unable to stop their children from spending hours and hours playing have seen Yang’s treatment as a last resort and continued to support the unorthodox clinic until it closed in 2016.
Although gambling addiction remains a challenge for both parents and children, attitudes towards eSports have changed and is now considered more than an insignificant pastime. In April last year, the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security officially recognized two jobs related to eSports for the first time, while over 20 universities teach eSports as part of their curricula.
Despite the changes, Wang believes it is imperative not to forget the past and bring Uncle Yang’s story to the television screen as an important reminder of the traumatic story of the Chinese eSport community.
“People nowadays have short-term memories,” he said. “I am glad that Yang’s story has returned to the center of the discussion. These days, if something isn’t mentioned for a while, it’s soon forgotten. “
Publisher: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: a screenshot of the “CrossFire” online series, 2020. From Weibo)