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Little Fatty Makes It Big
    2007-04-27 10:43:37     CRIENGLISH.com

An overweight teenager boy became a household name after netizens started pasting his image over photos of movie stars and politicians. His real name is Qian Zhijun, but on the web he's generally known as Xiao Pang, or Little Fatty.
From an anonymous citizen to a web celebrity with thousands of clicks, this 20-year-old young man has quite a story. Our reporter Yun Feng has more.

Like a teenager anywhere in the world, Qian Zhijun was worried about his appearance, particularly his weight. So when, at the highly sensitive age of 16, his portly features were posted online, he was terribly upset.

"I found my face on the shoulder of Batman and other cartoon figures. I was very angry and upset and just wanted to shut off the webpages and go home."

Despite his hurt feelings, Qian Zhijun has become a sensation in China. Described by media as "the face that launched 1,000 clicks," his chubby and expressive face has brought him unexpected fame.

Dubbed Little Fatty, Qian's pudgy face is everywhere as witty Internet users superimposed his large head onto a host of stars. You can see his sizable head on the shoulders of Tom Cruise, or as Jackie Chan, Marilyn Monroe, even the Mona Lisa. His personal favorite is his face on the body of Russell Crowe as the Roman general Maximus in Gladiator.

"I don't mind it if it's well intentioned. But I hate it when they place me on the shoulder of naked women or when the touch-up job is terrible."

The first fateful photograph was taken in 2002 when Qian Zhijun attended an open class. No one knows who took the initial picture, but it was in a cyber caf that he finally found an array of images of his face on the body of some of the world's best-known celebrities

Something about the Shanghai boy's face captured the imagination of China's Internet users, prompting an amazing outbreak of creativity as they got busy with photo editing software Adobe Photoshop and started putting his features on all kinds of images.

"Sure, I know him. He is a star on the movie posters like 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Gladiator.'"

"I like his face. It is so expressive. I have a lot of fun Googling his pics online."

"I cannot recall the specific image, but he is famous."

Now a legend on the streets of Jinshan, the Shanghai satellite town that is his home, Xiao Pang's initial reaction was not positive. But then he realized that fame; however it manifests itself, has an upside. People started to stop him on the street wherever he went to ask him if he was indeed the legendary Xiao Pang.

"People would stop and stare at me when they recognized I was the big face on the shoulders of movie stars. Some would ask for my autograph and take pictures with me. Although it was a little bit funny for me, I wouldn't say no."
With hundreds of fan clubs dedicated to his face, Xiao Pang's image has registered tens of millions of clicks. Whether he wants to accept it or not, Xiao Pang, the Little Fatty, has become a public celebrity.

Web designer Gao Feng discovered Xiao Pang when the boy contacted him on the website Gao set up to help obese people. At first, he thought Qian's email was just another hoax. He'd already been sent a number of emails by people claiming to be Xiao Pang. However, Gao soon confirmed the Internet legend was indeed trying to get in touch with him.

"I didn't believe him at first, as I'd had a few people claiming to be him and none had been real. But then he supplied me with photos of himself and so we met and it was him."

Gao Feng has now taken Qian Zhijun on as a partner and is using his website www.xiaopang.cn to help promote him. Gao says he knows how Qian feels and hopes his promotional efforts can help this young man improve his future opportunities.

"Maybe this will improve his opportunities for the future. He is still young and has time to make a long and careful plan. With some public appearance, Xiao Pang can travel and make new friends."

The convenience of the Internet has provided an efficient outlet for creative expressions and is a platform open to offbeat fads. Online wisecracks are emerging to show their talents and garner popularity in their own ways. However, different from other Internet stars who have emerged through Internet memes, such as the "Backdorm Boys," two Chinese college students who lip-synch Backstreet Boys songs with parodies and imitations, or Celestial Sister, who is famed for her chaste beauty and loyalty to her ailing father, Xiao Pang didn't choose to spawn his image over the net. It took him quite a long time to struggle with and eventually live with his Internet notoriety.

"It was not easy time for Xiao Pang at the very beginning. He was hurt and afraid of photo flashes and taking any pictures. It took him four years to shrug off the negative impact and look into the whole thing with a positive attitude."

"What we are happy with is that most of the feedback online about Xiao Pang is also positive. People are friendly and they care about his feelings. I hope that as the public becomes open to Xiao Pang in person rather than his pictures, there will be more people who think of Xiao Pang as their lovable friend."

Now working as an intern at a petrol station, Xiao Pang doesn't have a detailed plan yet on how to pull off stardom. However, he says he doesn't mind moving to the real stage. His idols are some renowned comedians.

"I like Stephen Chow and Jim Carrey. It would be nice to work as an entertainer, even though it'll mean I'll have to give up some of the pleasure of being a regular guy. I can't sing and dance very well, but maybe there will be something I can do to make people smile." 




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