March 10, 2018
This is not Black Mirror; this is real life.
In an age where the power of technology helps us connect, are we as isolated as ever?
People’s Republic of Desire exposes the baffling reality of how virtual relationships are replacing real-life human connections through China’s video-based social network YY—a hugely popular gathering place for over 300 million people in China. From the super-rich, who lavish virtual gifts on their favorite live-streamers to the very poor, many of them migrant workers in urban areas searching for cheap entertainment and a way to feel connected.
Disturbing and provocative, People’s Republic of Desire explores the strange world of these live-streaming “showrooms,” where the most popular stars can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a month from adoring fans who “tip” them with digital gifts paid for with actual cash. Is this a virtual dystopia, or a chance for a second life? What are the consequences for all of us when human connections are put up for sale to the highest bidder?