Fake Designer Shopping Bags are a Thing in China

While a bill to ban the purchasing and selling of counterfeit designer handbags is being proposed here in the States, folks in China are on to a new label-obsessed craze: fake shopping bags. As in, paper bags that carry the logo of a luxury designer, creating the illusion that inside of the bag is an actual designer item purchase, but really the bag is either empty, or contains Radio Shack batteries.

According to China Daily, one of the most popular producers of these phony carriers is Wang Xuesheng, who is the owner of a paper-packing factory in Guangzhou. He claims that he sold over 600 fake Louis Vuitton paper bags, priced at 3 yuan (approx $0.50) a pop, within 30 days. He also sells shopping bags, boxes, and ribbons for Chanel, Prada, Hermès, Burberry, and Gucci, which is another top-seller. "I used to produce paper bags for people who had created their own brands for online stores, but later I noticed an increasing demand for paper bags with logos from high-end goods," Xuesheng told China Daily. "In the beginning, my clients were mostly people who sell fake handbags. Later, we gradually won more independent customers."

As for why consumers would want to fake-out their peers by carrying faulty packaging, shopper Yang Xiaoya explained the appeal to China Daily: "Paper bags with a famous logo are better looking than ordinary ones. I use them to carry things or to contain presents for my friends." While we understand the sentimental value of celebrated designer logos, we’d only be cheating ourselves if we totted around a cheap handbag or shopping bag emblazoned with Chanel. Plus, how pissed would your friends be if they excitedly opened a Prada giftbox from you, only to find a random book inside?

From Usher to Jellyfish: What’s New & Strange At This Year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

Fourth of July has its formula: for the day, your kitschy red and blue shorts make a comeback, a ketchup-drenched burger and baked beans make their way to your paper plate, and there’s no stifling the requisite oohs-and-aahs amid the explosive fireworks show and orchestral Macy’s music. 

But this year, NYC is igniting Independence Day with some unprecedented, surprising, and bizarre features that don’t really make much logistical sense, but are happening any way. And that’s just the way we like ’em. Take a look:

1. Usher is the show’s "curator."
For the first time ever, Macy’s is collaborating with "a major superstar" on the show’s design and 26-minute score. Since Usher is syncing the fireworks with each musical beat, you can expect every half-naked dancer’s jiggle to be on-point with the high notes of Rihanna’s "Diamonds," Kanye’s "All Of The Lights," and each Justin Bieber song.

2. The show’s theme is "It Begins With A Spark." Talk about foreshadowing. 

3. The fireworks come straight from China, Malta, Portugal, and Spain.

4. Even the Empire State Building is syncing with the fireworks, flashing with each corresponding, colorful firework in the grand finale. 

5. There will be a new winking-happy face firework and a new jellyfish firework from China. The jellyfish whistles as it explodes and bursts open with butterflies. 

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Chinese Film Director Could Pay Fine For Extra Children

Here in the U.S., having far too many children is the hallmark of the Hollywood elite—they can’t adopt the little red carpet accessories fast enough. But over in China, where not a few of these adoptees come from, there’s a price to be paid for excess reproduction, and I don’t mean in that struggling-teen-mom way: acclaimed film director Zhang Yimou is facing a fine of up to $27 million for allegedly fathering seven offspring.

The penalty handed down from family planning officials for violating the country’s one-child policy is not typically so severe as all that, but Mr. Zhang, who directed the films Hero and Flowers of War, would seem at the mercy of his comfortable income. Zhang also orchestrated the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which you may recall was marred by a different child-based scandal:

The investigation into this new matter, however, is ongoing, and sparked in large part by Internet gossip—which has always been the most reliable source of objective truth. Yes. Nothing but the facts over here. One hundred percent…not made up.  

China’s Two-Minute Bathroom Break Rebellion

A few hundred Shanghai factory workers are mad as hell and—well, it sounds like they’ll probably have to take it some more. But they struck an important, if temporary, blow for human dignity in their recent insurrection against that most unthinkable corporate stricture: timed bathroom breaks.

New rules handed down by the top brass at Shinmei Electric Company included an $8 fine for being late once (do it twice and you’re fired) as well as a two-minute limit on all bathroom business. It didn’t take long, under these conditions, for the Chinese and Japanese managers to become hostages.

This sort of thing wasn’t covered in the handbook! The resulting standoff lasted a full day and ended without injury when 300 police officers turned up. But I hope that in those 24 hours, the hostages were allowed to make use of the toilets according to their own needs and without threat of punishment. It would mean those protesters took the moral high ground in the lowest of territories, no?

Woman Sues Movie Theater Over Commercials

The great advantage of press screenings is not, as most assume, bragging rights. Rather, it’s the environment. With the exception of major releases like Inception, these screenings are usually conducted in small theaters in midtown where distraction is at a minimum. Attendance is often low, people are reasonably respectful, and what’s more, there aren’t any trailers or pre-trailer advertisements. The latter are the bane of my existence. I’ll concede I’ve maybe been spoiled by my gig, but I nevertheless want to claw my eyes out whenever confronted with, say, Regal’s First Look. There are ways to get around this, mind you, other than showing up at the last second. In France, they actually list separate starting times for the ads and the feature, and in China, they’ll up and sue your ass if you show them too many commercials.

At a screening of the domestic box office hit, Aftershock, Chen Xiaomei was enraged at having to endure 20 minutes worth of ads. Now she’s suing the Polybona International Cinema and film distributors Huayi Brothers Media Corporation for wasting her time. Any shock that Chen is a lawyer?

The People’s Court in Xian has accepted the case, but it’s still unclear if it will be heard. For my part, I hope she wins, and that there are million copycat suits. Start your lawyers.

China Finally Overindulging Pets

Rare, often dangerously inbred puppies, dogs with blue-tinged coats, and K9s with cartoonish haircuts used to be the near exclusive provenance of Japan. Now China, with its massive growth economy and rapidly modernizing culture, is proving that it can embarrassingly overindulge its dogs just as well as any country. Case in point: a current Chinese trend that involves dyeing fido to look like a wild animal.

With the right treatment, a dog can be more than just a multi-colored freak. It can look like a super cute panda or a vicious tiger. Grrr! From 1999 to 2008, figures show that the money spent on pets in China increased by 500 percent. Take comfort. If China is going to take over the world, at least it’ll do so with an adorable pack of chow puppies that look like an endangered species.

Where Not To Go: Linfen, China

Earlier this year, we noted “10 Places Not to Go in 2010.” You can now add Linfen, China to the list. It’s been named the dirtiest city on the planet. Always up for a little self-abuse, the kids at Vice recently went for a visit.

Linfen is one of the most polluted cities in the world, 16 of which are located in China.There’s a thick, perma-haze in the industrial, coal-mining city of four million in the Shanxi, Province. A day spent breathing the city’s smoggy air is equal to smoking three packs of cigarettes; children play amidst a backdrop of endless factories belching dirty smoke into the air. (Take that, smoking baby.) According to Vice reporter David Feinberg, many of the city’s elderly have trouble speaking because of widespread emphysema. The city’s residents are aware of the pollution but, with no where else to go, most remain. Thankfully, we have no such pollution here in the ol’ U.S. of A. Oh wait…

Chinese Make Strides Towards Gender Equality with Mall Bra-Removal Contest

Bras, bra hooks, removing bras. They’re not really so complicated, unless you have a penis, the magnetic pull of which somehow affects man’s ability to open simple clasps. Man’s ongoing inability to conquer the bra clasp was recently proven at a Chinese mall, as it has been time and time again in the backseats of cars around the world.

Earlier this month, a shopping mall in Guangzhou, China, held a contest to see who could unhook a series of women’s bras the fastest. Eight women stood on a stage wearing only a bra, boy shorts, face masks, and heels, while the male competitors frantically tried to unfasten their bras. Yes, it’s an image that makes one feel good about being a woman.

But, ladies, all is not lost. In an ironic twist, it was actually a woman, not a stubby-fingered man, who won the contest. The female competitor, who wished to remain anonymous, undid all eight bras in just 21 seconds. “I didn’t expect to win,” she said. “Maybe it was because I get so much practice in my everyday life.”

A Lone Swinger Awaits Verdict in China

Please note: Undoing multiple half-dressed women’s bras at the mall is kosher in China, partner-swapping in the privacy of one’s own home is not. Last month, twenty-two Chinese swingers went on trial in the southeastern city of Nanjing. They were accused of “group licentiousness,” and all but one man plead guilty to the charge. A verdict is expected this week for that man, Ma Yaohai, who is fighting for his right to sexually party.

Ma is a 53-year-old computer science professor, and he’s arguing that there’s nothing wrong with consenting adults meeting in private places to do their thing. “What happens in my house is a private matter,” he has said. “I didn’t do anything that hurt anybody else. I didn’t force anyone else.” His defiance has sparked a deeper debate about sexual and personal freedom in rapidly-changing China.

Ma used his tech skills to setup an internet chatroom for swingers called “Traveling Couples” (his screen name was “bighornyfire”). He also sometimes held orgies in the apartment he shared with his mother, who has Alzheimer’s. A verdict is expected tomorrow in his case. If convicted, he could face five years in prison. Meanwhile, a woman in China who won a contest for quickly freeing scantily clad women from their bras in a shopping mall took home a gift certificate for $146. There is no justice in this world.