From Disenchantment to Reenchantment: Rural Microcelebrities, Short Video, and the Spectacle-ization of the Rural Lifescape on Chinese Social Media

Han Li


Facilitated by the explosive growth in mobile devices and social media, the rise of rural China’s microcelebrities and the accompanying short videos of the country’s rural lifescape disseminated through various social media platforms have generated astonishing viewership figures and taken Chinese netizens by storm. These digital productions, despite a wide range of filming techniques and production quality, employ sophisticated narrative strategies and visual languages. This article examines the cultural politics behind the production, circulation, and consumption of these videos and the sociospatial dynamics reflected in the rediscovering and repackaging of rural life on Chinese social media. This article contends that these videos, rather than bridging the urban–rural gap, as they seem to, in fact reveal the predicaments of China’s urbanization process and suggest further (though subtle) urban–rural discrepancies.


microcelebrity, social media, short video, rurality, gentrification

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