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Helen He: Nothing wrong with marrying for money
The trend for Chinese female pop stars to marry rich businessmen is a practical solution that fits their lifestyles
Within a day of the weibo posts from celebrity insiders saying that Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu is pregnant and has married Wang Xiaofei in Beijing, the star and her bridegroom made headlines on every major Chinese news portal.
Though no one really knows whether Hsu is expecting or not, Wang Xiaofei and his mother Zhang Lan, as well as their restaurant and club chains South Beauty and LAN Club, got immediate press coverage across mainland China and Taiwan.
No matter what the motivation behind this marriage between Hsu, a female pop star, and Wang, a rich second-generation (富二代) businessman is -- love or just the need for some good PR -- their engagement has sent the media into overdrive.
Hsu isn't the only one to hitch her star to China's rich second generation. Taiwan actresses Jia Jingwen, Chinese TV host Li Xiang and Chinese actress Huang Yi have all paved the way in recent years.
This news has gotten me and just about everyone on the Chinese Internet asking, are Hsu and Chinese female pop stars like her marrying rich second-generation men for love, or they just looking for some good press and deep pockets?
It appears to me that these women are more than just gold diggers -- they're reacting practically to their situation.
“Try to put yourself in their shoes, in the context of current social environment and their pursuit of a higher quality of life," says Li Weimin, director of Chinese Association of Social Psychology (CASP) and a sociology professor of Sun Yat-Sen University in an interview. "Though being slightly demanding, a woman who desires to marry a rich man is doing nothing wrong.”
Are Barbie Hsu and Chinese female pop star like her to marrying rich second generation men for love, or they just looking for some good press and deep pockets?
Ordinary women aspire to marry rich men, so who can blame celebrities, rich in their own right, for seeking out the same types of mates?
In today’s love and marriage market, rich, single men are great catches. Therefore, targeting rich second-generation men is a cost-effective option for celebrities.
Going for the rich second generation just makes sense
The rich, single young men in possession of a good fortune and good sense are ideal husbands for female pop stars.
In contrast to rags-to-riches billionaires who started from scratch and built up their fortunes themselves, rich second-generation young men are born to be wealthy and privileged.
Most are well educated, even if they failed to pass entrance examinations to Chinese universities, with more than enough money to afford studying abroad.
Being young, energetic and fashionable, the rich second generation are socialites, personable public figures who lead affluent lives similar to those of of the celebrity women who catch them.
The rich second generation are also, on the whole, open-minded; specifically they won’t ask their female partners to give up their entertainment careers once married, as second-generation rich themselves are fond of the media limelight.
For female pop stars, love and marriage with the rich second generation will not be any obstacle to their careers, it will generally help get more media attention. And what star could argue with that?
Throw a rock, hit a rich second generation
In terms of the nature of their work, female pop stars are more likely to associate and have relationships with the rich second-generation men.
Rising Chinese actor Sung Honglei in an interview once described an embarrassing blind date that never even got off the ground when his date, a doctor, stood him up because she was "scared by Sun’s social status."
Similarly, female pop stars are seen as unattainable for ordinary men.
The chance that a female pop star will encounter an ordinary white-collar worker of marriageable age is slim, while the chance of meeting a rich second-generation single man is good.
Pop stars and rich second-generation men frequently turn up at various business events, fashion shows, parties, charity dinners and award ceremonies. Consequently, female pop stars easily mingle socially with the children of China’s powerful and rich.
Easy to get along with
For female pop stars, it’s easier to meet the standards of a rich second-generation man than that of an ordinary man.
For female pop stars, love and marriage with the rich second generation will not become any obstacle to their carriers, but also it will generally help get more media attention.
A rich second generation man wants a gorgeous, pretty girlfriend. Simple as that. Since female pop stars aim for physical perfection as part of their careers, those check boxes are easy to fill.
Secondly, the rich second-generation men are known for being fickle lovers, and need a mate who will roll with the punches.
Since female pop stars spend a lot of time with actors, male film directors and male TV producers, relations between these celebs and a next generation rich guy requires both partners to be considerate of the other -- and ensure they both stay in line.
Lastly, since a family’s wealth will be inherited by the next generation, compared to killing themselves to keep fit and in PR wars, motherhood is a comparatively easy and lucrative route for Chinese female celebrities. Female pop stars will become rich and influential by being mothers of the next generation upper class.
For all of these reasons, it’s cost effective for a female pop star to hook a rich husband among the rich second-generation men -- it probably will be a marriage with a high return on investment.
And I don’t blame them one bit.
Although we’ve seen sad tales of failed marriages among female pop stars to rich second generations, such Jia Jingwen and Li Xiang, who would be willing to bet that if these female pop stars didn’t marry rich second generation men, they wouldn’t have suffered from the same domestic violence, abuse, divorce and unfair property settlements?
Since even marrying a nice guy is no sure bet that a marriage will have a happy ending, it’s no surprise the Chinese pop stars are going for the flashier set with the deep pockets.
Even when stars choose the wrong guy and the marriage ends, it’s just another PR opportunity. Divorced female pop stars always gets strong public support and sympathy by the blog full.
The opinions of this commentary are solely those of Helen He.