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Greater attention to stars doesn't mean less respect for heroes

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-16 07:51

Greater attention to stars doesn't mean less respect for heroes

Yu Xu, a female J-10 fighter pilot, died in an accident during a routine flight training on Nov 12, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]

Yu Xu, one of China's first female fighter pilots who could fly a J-10 jet, died during flight training in Tangshan in North China's Hebei province on Saturday. Reports say the 30-year-old and her male co-pilot ejected from the plane after it developed some snags, and while her co-pilot parachuted to safety she hit the wing of another J-10 engaged in the drill and died.

Almost all major media outlets have paid homage to Yu's spirit. People's Daily said: "She died for the peace and happiness of so many families ... The name of Yu and other heroes will be carved not only in stone, but also in the hearts of millions (of people)."

The loss of life and airplanes during training is unavoidable for any military, especially because pilots are assigned to test the performance and quality of new equipment, and their purpose is to find faults, if any, so that they can be fixed. Militaries across the world, including that of the United States, have many causalities in non-combat accidents.

In other words, Yu sacrificed her life during training so that other pilots can survive real combat situations. She deserves all the honor and tributes for that.

However, despite being a news hit, domestic social media platforms still pay much attention to pop stars, no matter their weddings, divorces or just datings. The day Yu died, she did not even make it to the top-10 hot topics on micro blogs.

Some netizens have criticized such people for being too cold to news about heroes who defend our country. They even quoted from the book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, to express their concerns over people being led astray by new media while referring to pop stars as "xi zi", a contemptuous term used for entertainment stars in the old days.

However, it is unnecessary to shame those netizens who were busy reading about film stars and other celebrities. We live in the age of social and new media, where the celebrities usually draw greater public attention than real heroes. This is partly because the agents employed by celebrities are adept at using social tools to project their clients, because it is part of their job to expand their fan base for commercial gains.

Military operations often involve State secrets, so defense forces prefer to maintain a low profile in the mass media, in order to ensure the nation's security and the safety of its people. This is not the first time some people have been criticized for paying too much attention to movie stars or singers. When Yao Beina, a pop singer, died in January last year at the age of 33, many people were criticized for paying more attention to her death than the contributions of a veteran senior general who died at the same time.

Of course, we should not deny the power entertainment exercises on people's minds and helps the media industry flourish. Pop stars do occupy a lot of our time, and especially many young people waste excessive energy on them, their new songs, new movies, even rumors about their love life and other scandals. The domestic media industry needs improvement, some entertainment stars should polish their public images, but it is not right to insult them as "xi zi".

The media may be enticing people to pay greater attention to celebrities than military heroes, but that does not necessarily mean people pay less respect to heroes than stars. The increasing coverage of the pilot shows the heroes deserve people's added attention, and they get it.

The author is a writer with China Daily.

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