Anyone with an iPhone can live stream.
But in China, some young people have figured out how to turn their feeds into a career. In People’s Republic of Desire, we meet a “host” named Shen Man, who earns $40,000 a month singing pop tunes to her followers and uses the money to support her parents.
Big Li, another star, mostly just boasts about himself, while the uber-rich men who bankroll him and the other hosts wield a curious power over them. The film, like an all-too-real episode of Black Mirror, probes the meaning of internet fame amid limited social mobility, perhaps providing a glimpse into our future stateside.
People’s Republic of Desire airs 2/25 on PBS