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A star is falling, Icarus-style

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2015-01-29 06:58

Part of the reason some are eager to see Zhao's fall complete with enhanced drama is his high-profile lifestyle just a couple of years back-and his easy rapport with politicians, politicians who have since fallen from the pedestal. He comported himself in grand style, always surrounded by a large entourage. He bought a private jet. He remodeled a culturally significant homestead in Beijing to build and reinforce government connections, it was reported.

If Zhao is legally guilty of anything, he should be prosecuted. Assuming the façade of a godfather is a sin shared by many of the country's nouveaux riches, but it's not a crime. Maybe it is a case of meeting the people on the way down, people he rubbed the wrong way when he was ascending to cloud nine. Maybe it's just schadenfreude of seeing the powerful in disgrace.

Nevertheless, the logic is warped to judge an entertainer's popularity by his proximity with the powers that be. Certainly Zhao benefited from that-to the point that he was untouchable, exempt from criticism and from the regulation that no dialect be used on television. And now he is tasting the bitter side of that same logic.

There is no denying that Zhao's folksy art has a large and genuine following. It should be judged on its merit alone. Its detractors, who accuse him of vulgarity, should be given voice whether or not he is in political favor. Ideally, art should keep a respectable distance from politics and stand on its own.

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