China’s pretty boys find a new gig: propaganda films

BEIJING — Commissioned by the government to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, China’s latest propaganda film was meant to be a patriotic tale about the young soldiers who served their country in its earliest days.

But when it came time to find actors to play some of the Communist Party’s most venerated military commanders, the filmmakers behind “The Founding of an Army” made an unusual — some say disrespectful — casting decision: They piled on the “little fresh meat.”

Known in Chinese as xiao xian rou, “little fresh meat” refers to Chinese teen idols and boy band members, famous mostly for their manicured looks and sculpted physiques.


Since the movie opened in the last week of July, at least one descendant of a figure portrayed in the film has taken to social media to criticize the filmmakers.

“Who is this effeminate boy who can hardly stand up straight playing my grandfather?” Ye Daying, a grandson of Ye Ting, a Communist military commander, wrote on Weibo, a microblogging site. He was referring to Oho Ou, a 24-year-old actor and singer who plays the army officer. “Who are you trying to humiliate?”