OCN C22 The Inside Story

The three men from ‘Bright Yellow Water’ were especially motivated after they had been lucky for several days in a row. No matter how often they thought about it, they still couldn’t believe just how much luck they had had. It seemed more than they had deemed possible to have in a lifetime. After all, not only had their channel been mentioned by a national celebrity but they had also been reviewed by a professional that had made waves in the industry with his own rise just a couple of years ago.

The best thing was that these two incidents weren’t just isolated but all came in the wake of the announcement that their anchor would be taking part in a cooking show that would be shown on national TV. Thus, these two strokes of luck gave their already rising popularity more credibility. Now, nobody could say that they were just a small channel trying to get by. They had really made it.

Looking at Weibo or the video platform, while their channel and the affiliated news weren’t the type of topic that could make it into the trending list, there were still several discussions concerning them. Some people had followed in the wake of Ai Gui Jin and reviewed their channel, a couple of smaller gossip channels were speculating on Tao Jin’s relationship with them, and the channels that were discussing TV news in a more neutral manner were mostly focusing on the upcoming ‘Golden Spoon’. There were even some people who had started to think about meeting up and cooking alongside the live stream to learn and maybe register for the show.

The matters on Weibo were handed to Qian Huang as usual while Li Shui tried to help out and Xiao Ming just continued to focus on cooking. In any case, it would be good to come up with a few more dishes that he could present and maybe use the feedback that he had gotten from Ai Gui Jin for their next streams. That way, they could show that they were learning from what they were told and were willing to better themselves. It would leave their viewers with a better impression.

Qian Huang couldn’t have been happier. Even though only a few days had gone by, he felt like he could already see how their channel would grow further in the next few weeks. When ‘Golden Spoon’ finally started, the number of their viewers might explode. By then, he wouldn’t need to worry anymore. Or so he thought.

As it turned out, there couldn’t just be good news all the time. With more people keeping a close eye on them, there would naturally also be discordant voices. And one of them turned out to be quite loud.

On the day when the next live stream was scheduled, the link to an article popped up on Weibo. Seeing it, Qian Huang was happy at first but finally couldn’t help but raise his brows when he looked at the actual headline.

[“Breaking News: Onionman Saves Pretty-Faced Anchor”]

You could say what you wanted but this was the strangest headline he had ever seen and that was after reading an article about Nin Sha cutting and donating ten-thousand onions. Speaking of which … it seemed this was once again about that follower of theirs. At the very least, he had never heard about anybody else that would just casually chop up the number of onions needed to be dubbed ‘onionman’ in an article or was somehow linked to that vegetable in some other way.

He couldn’t quite explain the rest of the headline to himself save for the fact that Xiao Ming did have a pretty face maybe but he still clicked on it to have a look at least. What he saw … didn’t make him happy for once.

Directly below the headline was a prominent by-line that featured the name of the one who had written the article just in case the name of the website wasn’t a dead give-away. And, unfortunately, the person in question was none other than the infamous Misses Youya.

She was rumored to be an actual news reporter even though nobody knew her exact identity. There were some guesses but she had never entertained people who came up with theories and just went on to blog. In any case, it was rumored that this blog of hers was merely a fun project she did at the side. If she ever grew tired of it, she might abandon it but so far, it hadn’t happened which was a fact that quite a few people likely regretted deeply. After all, for the people that ended up in her articles, it was seldom a good thing.

Sometimes, Misses Youya would write wholesome posts where she would praise some good Samaritan or try to help an organization that was doing good but had somehow gotten in trouble because of outside circumstances. Most of the time though, she would stomp the people she wrote about into the mud. She would pull them to pieces and even if she mentioned something that might sound positive in other circumstances, her articles dripped with so much sarcasm that readers would still be left with a negative opinion.

In short, most of the time, if there was an article about you on Misses Youya’s blog, you would be ripped to pieces. And with an audience that was basically just waiting for the world to burn so they could have a good laugh, your misery would soon be spread everywhere. Some people might never be able to recover from this.

Thus, when Qian Huang saw that the article was actually written by her, he couldn’t help but gulp. He didn’t believe for a single moment that they would be one of those rare exceptions. No, glancing back at the headline, he could already see where this would be going. By the end of this article, their channel and maybe even they themselves would have been painted so black that they might never be able to wash themselves white again.

Usually, he would’ve called Xiao Ming and Li Shui over if he saw that somebody famous reported about them but he couldn’t bring himself to do so in this case. Xiao Ming was already nervous before each live stream. If he knew that Misses Youya had found them and published this kind of article, who knew if he would still be able to do his best today? And with the increase in audience these days, that would be a disaster. Whatever she had written might just seem more credible to the people watching them.

No, he definitely couldn’t let that happen. It was better to read it on his own. He had to keep it to himself so that Xiao Ming could focus on his actual task. There was no other way no matter how much he wished there was somebody to help. With a bad feeling, he started reading, this holding the faintest hope that maybe it wouldn’t be as bad. After all, they had never done anything they should be ashamed of. Maybe that would be reflected and they would at most be called bland? In any case, the article started out innocently enough.

[It has been just one week since the cooking show ‘Golden Spoon’ was announced on national TV. The show that is aimed at hobby cooks and is due to start next month, has managed to invite the famous Mister Yu, Yu Chang Jing, as one of its permanent judges, promising high-quality content. Surprisingly, the other fixed position was given to a small, almost unknown online celebrity called Xiao Ming.

His channel ‘Bright Yellow Water’ has been around five years and only slowly managed to gain an audience. Among the channels out there, neither does it gather the biggest crowd or showed the most progress over the past half a decade nor is the concept innovative enough to warrant this anchor to appear next to an authority on cooking like Mister Yu. It does make one wonder why exactly the producer would choose this Xiao Ming as the second representative. Could it be that there is some unknown inside story?]

Qian Huang took a shaky breath. The first part didn’t sound bad but especially because of that, he felt worse. With Misses Youya, there was usually a pattern in her articles: If she liked you, she would first start with the negative things. Telling her audience in what kind of bad situation you had gotten yourself only to then show the great reversal of how it wasn’t your own fault and how others had actually plotted against you.

On the other hand, if she started with something neutral or even something positive, she was sure to pull you down afterward. In this case, while she hadn’t praised them, she had still started with something that made them seem to be in a good position. But then, in the second paragraph already, she started to turn it around on them. This definitely did not bode well.

He glanced over to the kitchen where Xiao Ming was preparing for the stream and then leaned back, turning down the brightness of his screen just in case either of the other two would walk past him and glance at the screen. He couldn’t let them see this. Not now. Having prepared this way, finally continued to read.

[To answer this question, let’s take a look at who this Xiao Ming with his channel ‘Bright Yellow Water’ is. I could say you will be surprised but this is the kind of story you have already heard people whisper about a thousand times behind closed doors. At most, the details will differ a little.

This Xiao Ming is actually not the only person behind ‘Bright Yellow Water’. He is, however, the pretty face shown to the public to actually sell their content.

Other than him, there are two cheesy sidekicks that go by the names of Qian Huang and Li Shui. They both can’t cook, only know how to eat, and aren’t doing much in the live streams. For the most part, they are just there to pay lip service, praise the cook, and tell everyone how great his dishes taste.

That guy called Qian Huang will also read out some comments left by viewers to make matters more interesting. Strangely enough, the comments he reads are all praise as well or some harmless questions by the clueless. People who don’t pay attention to the comment section might think that this channel is the really hot stuff that is beloved by all.

Well, you might think that everybody wants to look a little better on camera and that it’s not that bad to just focus on the good sides. But if you think that this is the only thing that ‘Bright Yellow Water’ will do, you are too naive. Preview: This is yet another story of a pretty face and a golden thigh.]

Qian Huang furrowed his brows. This article was just as bad as he had feared. It was one thing to say that Li Shui and he didn’t work, in fact, he might even agree that the things they did might be negligible but to insinuate that Xiao Ming’s ability wasn’t real and he only seemed to be able to cook because they were talking him up … he wouldn’t accept this!

He clenched his fists. If he could, he wanted to somehow turn things right but there was nothing he could do. Misses Youya was allowed to say whatever she wanted and leaving an angry comment wouldn’t accomplish anything. In the worst case, it might even seem defensive and would make people believe her even more.

He sighed and forced himself to read the rest of the article so that he at least knew what he needed to prepare for.

[We have already established that the so-called ‘success’ of ‘Bright Yellow Water’ relies on the anchor Xiao Ming. Now, this person has recently had quite a bit of luck. After being invited to and presented at the conference for the announcement of ‘Golden Spoon’ he was noticed by two big-shots in quick succession. Or dare I say three?

The first one will be known to everyone: The actress Tao Jin actually mentioned Xiao Ming and his channel in a recent Weibo post.]

She had included a picture of the post for good measure as if to prove that every single word she wrote in her article was the truth. Qian Huang pursed his lips, glanced over the post by Tao Jin without feeling the same bout of happiness that had always gripped him whenever he saw it mentioned somewhere before, and then continued reading.

[The second one might be a bit more obscure to those who aren’t highly interested in the who-is-who of culinary arts. The person in question is called Ai Gui Jin, a Michelin-starred chef who founded his own, highly-popular restaurant ‘Fifteen’ straight out of culinary school.

Contrary to Tao Jin who seemed more interested in the TV-show ‘Golden Spoon’, this highly-acclaimed chef actually went to review a live stream of ‘Bright Yellow Water’ and had quite a bit of praise for their anchor Xiao Ming.

This almost sounds a bit too good to be true, doesn’t it? A small-time food anchor is suddenly invited as a judge of a national TV-show, and subsequently noticed by big-shots both in his industry and outside, and makes the news on all the popular online platforms one after the other. This has to be a dream come true, right? The reward of the hard-working, wouldn’t you say so? After all, Xiao Ming has toiled for five years to finally reach this point with ‘Bright Yellow Water’.

Well, things suddenly stop looking all that flattering when looking at how all of these opportunities might have come about. Let’s take a closer look at the incriminating evidence.]

There was once again a screenshot of Tao Jin’s post inserted but this time, Misses Youya had underlined a few words for more impact. She went on to describe her deductions.

[The actress Tao Jin wrote that a good friend of her husband’s is a fan of Xiao Ming. We aren’t told more about this friend other than the fact that he ‘cut and donated ten-thousand onions’ and that he wants to participate in ‘Golden Spoon’ for Xiao Ming. A huge fan, isn’t he?

Now, looking at the Weibo account of ‘Bright Yellow Water’, there is a post from a user going by the name ‘Nin Sha’ who shows a picture of chopped onions. This seems to be that mysterious ‘friend’ actress Tao Jin mentioned. Unfortunately, this ‘Nin Sha’ doesn’t interact with anything but the posts from ‘Bright Yellow Water’ so it is hard to tell who this person actually is.

Maybe you are guessing that ‘Nin Sha’ is actually just another account of Xiao Ming’s used to hype up ‘Bright Yellow Water’. But think about it: If Xiao Ming had this type of connections, would he still need to rely on the praise of his two side-kicks or work for five years to get to this point? The answer is obviously no. ‘Nin Sha’ is a genuine fan of Xiao Ming. Whether he is a fan of his content or of something else, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

But who is this ‘Nin Sha’? Without answering this question, I am afraid we won’t be able to glean the inside story behind all these developments. The clues to this are subtle. First, have a closer look at the picture that ‘Nin Sha’ uploaded.]

Two photos followed this statement: One of the post Nin Sha had sent and one which was a close up of the corner with a red circle around an object.

[In case you don’t know your cooking ABC, let this older sister help you out: This is a knife from a well-known, national manufacturer that is usually used by professional chefs and everything but cheap. We can infer two things from this: ‘Nin Sha’ isn’t poor and he is either a professional himself or knows a professional that would use this type of kitchen utensils.

You might feel like these are just guesses and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. Originally, this was just speculation but as it turns out, there is some merit to them. To see how I arrived at this conjecture, let’s take a look at the third exhibit: The review stream of Fifteen’s owner and chef Ai Gui Jin. The video of this live stream gives us more than just one clue. This big sister has put together a highlight reel for you.]

There was the link to a video in the text. Qian Huang got up and went to get his headphones. Putting them in and taking another glance at Xiao Ming who was still standing in the kitchen and humming faintly while he cooked, he finally clicked on the link.

The video that opened made his stomach churn. Misses Youya had indeed put together a highlight reel. She used a few scenes to illustrate how the live stream had happened but mostly cut the video off after just a sentence each and followed it up with a summary of the points she had deduced. Each of them seemed more biting. Qian Huang hurriedly closed the video and went back to reading the text. Not that it was any better.

[For those of you who can’t watch the video right now, let me give you a summary: At the beginning of his own live stream, Ai Gui Jin explains that he was ‘not too aware of the existence of food anchors’. Later on, Xiao Ming’s side-kick Qian Huang ‘coincidentally’ picks out a comment to read and then finds out that this person is a professional chef and currently reviewing their channel in his own live stream. The three men from ‘Bright Yellow Water’ are naturally well-equipped to handle this ‘surprising’ situation and set up a kind of joined live stream. Ai Gui Jin comments on this with the observation ‘The people I’m watching have noticed and have come to watch me watching them’. A round of applause for this joke, please!

In any case, Ai Gui Jin soon gets caught in some small discrepancies. Remember how, at the beginning of his own stream, he said he didn’t know about these food anchors? Well, he suddenly changes his tune at this moment and explains to ‘Bright Yellow Water’ how he found out about them: ‘A good friend of mine has been watching your channel for a long time.’

His good friend has been watching this channel for a long time but Ai Gui Jin doesn’t know about this line of the industry? Very odd! But much more interesting is what else he tells us about this friend: ‘The other day, he suddenly approached me, asking me to teach him how to cook’. So this friend of Ai Gui Jin’s is interested in learning how to cook. And he asked a professional chef for guidance. Any guesses who this might be? Well, it doesn’t matter if you don’t because Ai Gui Jin does us the favor to add another tidbit of identifying information: ‘Well, at the very least, he knows how to chop onions now.’

I’m sure you get it now. Just like Xiao Ming’s annoying side-kick Qian Huang. For those who are just as intellectually-challenged as him, let me spell it out in his own words: ‘The fuck?! It’s Nin Sha again?!’ Yes. It’s the very same ‘Nin Sha’ who was cutting an alleged number of ten-thousand onions with a knife usually used by professional chefs. You see, we’ve come full-circle here.

‘Nin Sha’ is not only acquainted with Tao Jin but also with the star chef Ai Gui Jin. He sure has a lot of interesting connections. You won’t find that strange though after you find out just who this ‘Nin Sha’ actually is. Thankfully, Ai Gui Jin is so helpful to provide us with a last piece of wisdom after Qian Huang’s outburst when he says the following: ‘I can’t say for sure but that does sound like the kind of name that Si Jin might choose online.’

So this mysterious onionman ‘Nin Sha’ is actually called Si Jin. When you try to find out who this is, you’ll realize that his real identity isn’t much less elusive than his alter-ego though. There are no pictures of him to be found online and even as little as a biography is asking too much. This is quite curious considering that this person should, by right, appear in public quite often. After all, he is actually a very successful businessman!

You don’t believe me? Well, have a look at this then. It took some digging but I was able to find out that this man is actually on the board of directors of two very well-known companies that operate both nationally and internationally. Most likely, he also has affiliations with other businesses. In any case, is it really still a wonder that a small anchor like Xiao Ming from ‘Bright Yellow Water’ can suddenly make his channel advance by leaps and bounds after attracting this kind of ‘fan’? I’d dare say no but you are welcome to make your own judgment.]

There were another few screenshots attached but Qian Huang didn’t even care about them anymore. He angrily took off his headphones and closed the website. They had always joked that Nin Sha might be attracted by Xiao Ming’s face more than his cooking skills and there was no denying that his gifts had gotten them through some of the harder months especially when they started out. But hadn’t the opportunities they had gotten still been achieved by them? In any case, Xiao Ming had never accepted any bribes or promised this guy anything. So why … why was this Miss Youya suddenly making up this kind of inside story?

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