Mediation of the Narration of Chicken Soup for the soul by Rural netizens: Urban netizens' transferring and watching of Kuaishou short videos


China has 854 million Internet users, among which rural Internet users account for 26.3%, with a scale of 225 million (CNNIC,2019). But for a long time, China's media space has been dominated by urban elites, while rural netizens are in a state of being unvoiced (Yang & Lei,2018). As it is difficult for rural netizens to obtain information, fight for rights, express themselves and seek identity in the mainstream public domain (Li, 2016; Qiao & Li, 2005), short video platforms represented by Kuaishou have gradually become an alternative media for rural netizens (Dai, 2007). The popular videos in Kuaishou are transferred to urban netizens through mediation, and many eye-catching exaggerated performances are teased and ridiculed by urban netizens. However, the chicken-soup videos produced by rural netizens have been welcomed by urban netizens, of which the symbols have even been adopted by the mainstream media, such as CCTV. This study will answer the meaning of the popularity of Kuaishou's chicken soup for the soul in the context that urban netizens are tired and disgusted with the traditional chicken soup for the soul (Harris & Dan, 2000; Zeng, 2012; Wang, 2017), and whether this popularity represents the gradual acceptance of rural netizens in the mainstream public sphere.

Accordingly, from the perspective of mediation theory, this study reviews the research on mediation theory by Couldry (2008), Pan (2014), Boltanski (1999), Li & Fan (2019) and other scholars. It adopts the research methodology of network ethnography, Through in-depth analysis of the narrative mode of Kuaishou chicken soup for the soul, we observes the characteristics of the producers and contents of this kind of chicken soup for the soul, the feedback of the receivers and the mediation mechanism. At the same time, it selects six popular video producers in Kuaishou and mainstream social platform bilibili for research so as to make a comparative analysis of the audience's preference for chicken soup videos on different platforms. The research finds that chicken soup for the soul in Kuaishou, which is popular among urban netizens, actually has many similarities with counter-css (chicken soup for the soul), that is now prevalent on mainstream social platforms. In the eyes of urban netizens, Kuaishou’s chicken soup for the soul is a kind of banter to express life with a dwarfed subject image. This kind of irony on traditional chicken soup for the soul is loved by urban netizens. However, such decoding is actually very different from what the producers of Kuaishou’s chicken soup are trying to express. This research will elaborate on it.

This study is conducive to understanding how the marginalized groups of rural netizens use their own media to express, and how they are constructed by mediation, so as to help us shed light on their entry into the public domain and find the obstacles that they may encounter when they enter the media public domain, and it is helpful to provide reference for establishing urban-rural identity and bridging the digital gap between urban and rural areas.