The Super Girl contest, hosted by central China’s Hunan Satellite TV and the Chinese version of "American idol" has been baffled since birth by the question of "What the hell do the singers compete with".
Singing skill may not be the exclusive talent the super girls should have since Li Yuchun, the 2005 Super Girl winner, who fascinated quite a number of fans, nicknamed as "Yu Mi" by the fans themselves with her trans-gender appearance and "handsome" performing style.
As this year’s Super Girl contest is about to be concluded, another voice was heard. "For us, the singing contest was a financial catastrophe and the family had a bitter time during the campaign," said mother of Zhang Meina from Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Du Shi Bao reported.
Zhang’s family now owes as much as 90,000 yuan, according Zhang’s mother, who has already retired while her father is an ordinary worker with moderate salary.
Zhang was the fourth in the Changcha Division but got knocked out August 18 in a primary called "revival game", where the division runners-out competed for a few vacancies of the final.
Her mother couldn’t help but accept the result. "My daughter had earned enough fame in others’ eyes, for us however, it was really a hard time – we did nearly nothing but spending money on everything," she said.
Like every Super Girl contester, Zhang was bombarded with continuing hot tips for cashing votes during the campaign: some tried to buy the judges while others invested in short message services (TV viewers voted for their favorite super girls through cell phone short messages).
"It is unfair to do so and we nearly did nothing like that," said Zhang’s mother. But to extent Zhang’s Super Girl career, her father at hometown spent 45,000 yuan on 3,000 cell phone number cards, contributing possible 45,000 votes for Zhang before the Changsha Division final, which picked up the top three from the five finalists. (The organizer said each cell phone number may cast no more than 15 votes).
However, Zhang was the fourth.
The 45,000 yuan spent on cell phone cards was not the end. "All in all, we pumped out 110,000 yuan," the mother said. She spent 20,000 yuan during her Changsha stay, during which she gave her daughter’s fans meals and paid for their expense on soapbox trip to catch supporters.
Then Zhang’s father at hometown took the two Hunan Satellite TV staff, who went to shoot Zhang’s video for a three-day trip to Tianchi Lake, Nan Shan, both are big names of tourist sceneries in Xinjiang. But the video was never played on TV.
"We were very frustrated after my daughter lost in the Changsha Division, but we got geared up when the ‘revival game’ was said to be held," the mother said. She leafleted passers-by on the street to court supporters before the last-gasp. "We are salary-earners with no backgrounds," read the back of each leaflet.
"We made hundreds of poster, each of which cost 50 yuan and we nearly couldn’t afford to miss any single passer-by". The mother also visited nearly all the media in Xinjiang to promote the propaganda campaign.
"Nearly all of our relatives got involved in my daughter’s campaign, including my old mom, who cooked for us. We ran around every day, seeking votes and support," the mother said.
Now a music company is mulling cooperation with Zhang. But her mother said she hoped her daughter could have a professional job with singing as an amateur one.
"We support her to sing in the Super Girl, anyway, everyone has just one chance for such a show. But it was really a financial blow for the family," she said.