Falling stars challenge sends China head over heels

A women in China taking part in the 'falling stars' challenge. Photo: Instagram

In a video posted online at the weekend, a young woman appears to have fallen out of the driver’s seat of a white car. Her sunglasses are askew and one of her red-soled heels has come off. Tubes of expensive lipstick, a purse, and a shopping bag lie strewn around her. A street cleaner passing by stops and asks: “Hey Miss, you still want this stuff or do you want me to clean it up?”

The woman in the video, posted from Xi’an in central China, was participating in China’s latest internet trend, the xuanfu tiaozhan, or “flaunt your wealth challenge.”

Also known as the “falling stars” challenge, the trend involves participants posting photos of themselves face down with their possessions scattered around them, after apparently having fallen down a flight of stairs or out of a sports car. In Russia, where it is believed to have originated, wealthy internet users have used the challenge as a way to show off their luxury goods.

In China, the trend has also taken off with wealthy millennials. In one post, a woman in Shanxi province lies on the ground in a parking lot, having apparently tripped while getting out of a red Ferrari. In another, two women in China’s eastern Zhejiang province lie prone on a pedestrian crossing, with their Gucci bags and make-up spilled onto the street.

The trend has expanded beyond flaunting wealth to ordinary Chinese from doctors, dentists to gym coaches, baristas and players of online games. The hashtag has gotten more than 2 billion views on the Weibo microblog. One woman posted a photo of herself, fallen out of her office chair, with packets of food scattered underneath her. “Others fall to flaunt their money. I fall with my snacks,” she wrote.

Others have posed falling out of the bath or in supermarkets.

Chinese state media have also weighed in, deflecting from the focus on wealth, a topic often linked to government corruption. Posting photos of ‘fallen’ emergency workers, firefighters, and repairmen, the state-run People’s Daily said: “The young generation dare to express themselves. They are flaunt their love for work. They are “rich” because they are committed.”

However, there are signs that the trend is starting to attract the wrong kind of attention. The two women in Zhejiang have been fined for disrupting traffic while posing for the challenge. In Shanghai, a woman who posed falling out of an Aston Martin was fined 200 yuan ($28).

And in Xi’an, it emerged that the cleaner who stopped to ask the woman if she needed help had been asked to intervene before filming began. His manager said he has since quit his job after getting a flurry of similar requests, which disrupted his working day.

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