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For the Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons of the world, everyday is a battle for meaning. Unfettered by everyday constraints such as finite cash, lack of private jet or objective thinking, even the most extravagant of purchases can be easily brushed off.
It was French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who most aptly summarised the nausea of choice that arises when we have too many options at hand. What Sartre overlooked though was a very 21st century sting- the unlimited opportunities available to pampered elites tend to make the plebs slightly sick themselves. A case in point is Zhang Jiale, daughter of a Chinese tycoon, who has recently been whipping netizens into a frenzy of disgust.
Over the past few months this globe trotting party girl has been offering an intimate look into her Swarovski crystal encrusted existence through a series of snapshots sprinkled across various social media platforms. With her chic cropped hair and dapper white tuxedos, she resembles a Chinese Justin Bieber, posing with her female admirers and hangers on with all the brashness of an international rock star.
As with any unfolding car crash, it’s difficult to look away. To many Chinese, she represents the distillation of all the excesses of the younger generation. An apparent out and proud lesbian, she makes no attempt to hide her sexual orientation. Billing herself as ‘King’ at a recent birthday party, her lifestyle choices veer widely away from the homophobic discourses at large in Chinese society, and are a direct challenge to a generation of young men who feel strongly undermined by the dominance of their female peers in the boardroom and beyond. Ultimately, for all her excesses, naivety, and no doubt Verruca Salt tendencies, the fascinating peephole into the world of China’s next generation of elites she offers reveals a lot more than perhaps even Zhang herself realises.