From “over-age bacon” to “age-appropriate fresh meat”, the ecology of domestic youth film actors

The return of the teenager, let the youth film rejuvenate “youth”

This year’s summer file may be summarized in three types: the main theme, cartoons, and youth films. 

In the centuries since the founding of the party, various main theme gift films have appeared on the stage, inspiring the audience’s strong sense of home and country. At the same time, entering the summer vacation, many cartoons aimed at the majority of student groups are also ready to go, greatly expanding the situation of domestic animation blooming. In addition to the two above, this week’s “burning wild juvenile Sky” and “two brother here how to do” and “Summer future” and “five-bashing water boy” several films next month, also common It constitutes a touch of youthful and beautiful scenery in this summer file. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

For a long time, youth films have been a genre with high attention in the market, and the development of youth films itself has experienced its climax and downturn, and has even fallen into certain controversy due to the routine plot. Not only that, over time, the actors who starred in youth films have also undergone changes in different periods, forming a unique type of actor ecology. 

Generally speaking, compared with other commercial types, the genre of youth films has stricter and special requirements for actors. Whether a youth film can impress people depends not only on the appearance and performance of the actor, but also on the age, temperament, personality and other aspects. Many actors often use youth films to open up the market and gain wider popularity. 

From the beginning, the actors born in the 70s and 80s became popular by starring in youth films, and then when the actors born in the 90s stepped onto the stage, now the young actors born in the 00s have begun to shine in the youth films. For example, Deng Enxi in “The Second Brother Is Here” was only 15 years old when he played the role; the newcomer Xu Enyi in “The Sky of Burning Wild Boys” was also 16 years old. This is exactly the age at which their roles are, and it has become a popular trend for actors of the right age to appear in youth films. 

Want to be red? Let’s play a youth movie!

Long before the youth film was fully marketed and became a mature type, it had already begun to appear in the field of vision of many viewers. 

If China’s fifth-generation directors are still concerned about the collective fate and grand emotions of the country, nation, and countryside; then the sixth-generation directors, and even the new generation of directors in the 21st century, are more concerned about the destiny of individuals. And development, the works also reveal a certain new outlook. 

Therefore, during the turn of the century from the end of the 1990s to the beginning of the 21st century, people sighed with history and missed the past on the one hand; on the other hand, they expressed expectation and confusion for the future. In such an era, the existence of individuals is often branded with the stamp of the era. And this formed a common theme in the earliest youth films. 

In the 1990s, the most famous youth film was Jiang Wen’s “Sunny Day”. Xia Yu, who played the protagonist Ma Xiaojun in the film, was 18 years old at the time, and she was a good young age. This is the first film and television work starring Xia Yu. With this role, he became the first Venetian actor in the mainland and the first mainland actor to win the Golden Horse actor. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “Sunny Days” (1994): Xia Yu (18), Geng Le (20), Tranquility (22), Tao Hong (22) 

With the exception of Xia Yu, several other actors in the film, including Geng Le, Ning Jing, and Tao Hong, basically relied on the film to fully open up their popularity. For example, Milan, played by Tranquility, is still a classic muse image that is hard to ignore in the history of Chinese movies, and has become a screen goddess of countless people. 

Equally impressive is Xu Jinglei at the end of the century. In 1998, mainland China’s first youth idol drama “Keep Love Through to the End” was born and quickly spread across the country. Xu Jinglei in the play was just 24 years old, and she became a hit with this play. Later, the old Xu began to develop towards being multi-sitting, acting as a leader, and becoming a “talented girl” by a large number of netizens. Other roles, such as Li Yapeng, Wang Xuebing, Liao Fan and other male actors, are also in their twenties and gradually become familiar to the audience and become popular. 

At the turn of the century, another temperament goddess Gao Yuanyuan also became popular with his youth films. First played in “Spicy Love Soup” where female students, opened the big screen debut, and later this year starred in “Beijing Bicycle” “Green Red” and other literary works, fresh and pure net image more deeply. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “Green Red” (2005): Gao Yuanyuan (26) 

Why do so many actors rely on youth films to become popular? Sir believes that it is mainly determined by the age and temperament of the actors. 

The popular entertainment culture of that era was far less developed than it is now, and the “star-making” ability of the entertainment circle is not as good as the current one. As mentioned above, these youth films, or the images of many teenagers in their dozens or twenties, can only be played by actors of this age. In this way, after graduation, students from the performance departments of major media colleges and universities in China naturally send a large number of talents to the industry, many of which are well known to the audience by virtue of their corresponding roles. 

Until now, many young actors in their teens and twenties on the market have also become popular on the basis of youth films. It’s just that, in addition to students from major performing schools, the sources of actors now include talents, scout signings, and development from child stars. Basically, these actors can play roles in their age group. Youth films are naturally the best way out. In addition, the rise of the age of traffic and the formation of a “cultivation culture” for fans, these various reasons have also made today’s idols show an increasingly younger trend. 

From prosperity to decline, the rise and fall of youth films

In 2013, “To Our Dying Youth”, directed by actor Zhao Wei, created a wave of nostalgia throughout the society and set a number of box office records. After that, youth films began to formally become a mature type, and gradually moved towards the direction of marketization. 

At that time, the practitioners and the audience may not realize that although the film started the creative trend of youth films in the market to some extent, it also triggered some controversial discussions. 

In “To the youth”, the 27-year-old Yang Shan, Zhao Ting 29-year-old, 29-year-old Han, Jiang Shuying 27 years old …… this group has quick-connect nearly 30-year-old actors, but also to interpret Shiba Jiu just entered the university The young and young appearance, the age difference of about ten years old, it is impossible to say that there is no violation of peace at all. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “To Youth” (2013): Yang Zishan (27), Zhao Youting (29) 

If the age of 10 is still within the acceptable range, a group of adults with an average age of 30 in “The Year in a Hurry”, which will be released a year later, have to wear school uniforms to play high school students. This is really true. It’s hard to be convincing anymore. In addition, like the “same table for you” ” things grow ,” “My Sunshine” “Gardenia open”, “small time” series, etc., are huge fans of these famous and influential Ming to star star . 

It can be said that most of the youth films in those few years basically have such problems that are difficult to ignore. Adult actors appearing in high school/college students are jokingly referred to as “bacon re-cooking, forcing fresh meat” by netizens. 

Of course, theoretically speaking, the appearance of high school or college will not change much compared to the appearance of adulthood. Moreover, from the perspective of commercial box office, choose well-known adult actors, who have outstanding looks and have a certain strength foundation. The box office appeal to audiences and fans will be much stronger than those of unknown players who lack experience and strength. Actor, or a freshly graduated acting student. 

However, due to the age inconsistency between the actors and the characters, these films have lost their sense of reality from the beginning, and it is difficult to conceal the temperament of the actors themselves by relying on makeup. Therefore, although it is a youth film, it is a realistic nostalgic style, but the audience does not feel any feeling of youthfulness at all. It made the youth films that should have resonated with the audience look extremely exaggerated, and it also made the youth films lose their reputation while winning the market in those few years . 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “The Year in a Hurry” (2014): Peng Yuyan (32), Ni Ni (26) 

Not only that, the routine plot in the youth film is also criticized. Fights, cheating, abortions, and tortures, all kinds of dramatic plots flood the big screen, but they are far from the lives of ordinary teenagers. This can’t help but puzzle the audience: if the youth films are not about their own youth, who are the target audiences of these films? This is why, no wonder netizens say: “Only those who are good-looking have youth.” 

On this side, mainland youth films are caught up in the controversy of rising popularity at the box office, but one is not as good as one; on the other side, Taiwan’s youth films have blown a fresh and gentle breeze into the mainland. The film ” The Girl We Chased Together in Those Years ” became popular with Ke Zhendong, who was still in college, and made Shen Jiayi, played by Yanxi Chen, a goddess in the hearts of countless audiences. Although Chen Yanxi was no longer in her early twenties, it was not against her that a baby face made her play the role. 

After that, due to well-known reasons, Ke Zhendong gradually disappeared from the audience’s vision, and another Taiwanese niche, from Wang Dalu in “My Girls’ Generation”, became the new youth film “Male God”. However, apart from these two phenomenal Taiwanese youth films that have caused heated discussions in the mainland, some of the remaining films are not tepid. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “Those Years” (2011): Ke Zhendong (20), Chen Yanxi (28) 

On the whole, from 2013 to 2016, although most of the youth films sold well and gained the market, they also lost the trust of the audience to a certain extent. The sunshine in youth has all turned into melancholy. Various youth pain IPs dominate the market, the convergence of themes, the consumption of feelings, and the appearance of older actors. This series of problems finally made the creative craze of youth films from the beginning. , Quickly entered a certain trough. “Yes + IP” is no longer the king of the market, and the type of youth film reform is imminent. 

Actors of the right age starred, the youth film returns to “youth”

Although in those few years, the genre of youth films has gained some controversy, there are still some fresh and natural youth films that touch the audience with their true feelings and have won the audience’s approval. Among them, “Youth School” is an excellent representative. 

When starring in “Youth School”, the protagonist Dong Zijian was also a high school student. The role he played in the film was also a senior high school graduate who was about to take the college entrance examination. In the whole film, the ignorant student romance, the hard work and determination for the college entrance examination, the inner rebellion and the childishness that has not been shaken off, as well as the daily life of laughter and curse on campus, have deeply resonated with most domestic audiences. Everyone gave praise: “This is our youth.” 

After 2016, the youth films on the market are also quietly undergoing changes. 

First of all, one of the biggest changes is that youth films have begun to use actors in their youth to play corresponding roles, instead of being obsessed with finding well-known actors who are familiar with them. Although the stereotyped routines still exist, to some extent it still gives youth films a new lease of life. 

For example, the movie “Who’s Youth Isn’t Lost” used a group of relatively new young actors. This is the film work of the male protagonist Bai Jingting and the female protagonist Guo Shutong starring Liang. The two actors contributed a fresh and natural performance. Although the film did not arouse much market response, at least it did not continue the path of painful youth in the past. The choice of actors was also an innovative attempt. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “Whose youth is not lost” (2016): Bai Jingting (23), Guo Shutong (24) 

Secondly, later youth films also began to try to incorporate more genre elements, and not only revolved around the youth pain literary IP, love no longer became the only theme in the growth of all boys and girls. Youth comedy, youth suspense, and even youth films with realistic themes have also begun to emerge. 

For example, “Flash Girl” is a good combination of the “burning” and “blood” in the youth story, magnifying the comic-style second sense, and more emphasis on dreams and ambiguous feelings, and has achieved a good reputation. Peng Yuchang was also popular. For another example, “Dog Thirteen” directed by Cao Baoping went the other way, entering from a small incision in real life, so as to observe the stimulation and pain from the family experienced by the girl in the process of growing up. It is cruel and realistic. At the same time, it also has a strong practical significance. The starring Zhang Xueying was only 16 years old when he played the role, which fits well with the age of the role. 

In addition, in recent years, there have been some youth-themed films with a smaller volume and a more literary temperament that have begun to gain attention at major film festivals. These films have not brought much box office revenue to the market, and more importantly, they serve as a kind of diversified content ecology. For example, “What’s in the Dark”, “My Heart Jumps”, and even in recent years “Carnival”, “Passing Spring”, “Hannah Summer” and so on. Most of these films are based on realistic themes, and the leading actors were not well-known actors at the time, but many of them have achieved better development in the future, such as Wen Qi, Huang Yao and so on. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “Over the Spring” (2018): Huang Yao (24) 

On the whole, due to the influence of the reputation of the youth films in the market in the past few years, the youth films after that have rarely appeared in the youth roles of older actors. At the same time, under the integration of different types and the individual expressions of many authors, youth films have also begun to have some anti-routine settings, but the overall market enthusiasm is not as good as before. 

In recent years, youth films have also begun to gradually develop towards small and medium-sized scales, especially in the entertainment industry where newcomers are born , youth films still have great market potential. A series of films like “The Best of Us”, “Sadness Goes Against the River”, “If the Voice Cannot Remember”, and “Your Wedding” have all achieved good box office results in their respective schedules, and also let a group of youthful actors begin. It has been of concern to the market, such as Chen Feiyu, where blue funny, Ren Min, acrid cloud , if Nan Zhang and so on. 

Nowadays, with the younger audience of the market and the mutual influence of traffic stars and fan culture, for a period of time in the future, youth movies will still be an important type in the market, and they will always have a certain market potential. . Moreover, youth films should also enter more young audiences to explore the true inner world of teenagers, and should not stop innovating in the integration of genres and the expansion of styles. 

From "over-age bacon" to "age-appropriate fresh meat", the ecology of domestic youth film actors

▲ “Your Wedding” (2021): Xu Guanghan (31), Zhang Ruonan (25) 

In addition, the actors of youth films are also experiencing rapid “renewal”. The life span of an actor can be very long, but a person’s youth is only a few years. Therefore, it is also a reasonable career plan to star in a youth film at the right stage. But the premise is that while having popularity, a certain strength foundation must also be guaranteed, otherwise the controversy and discussion surrounding the youth film will not easily stop. 

Similarly, actors who have suddenly become popular because of youth films should also get out of the “comfort zone” as soon as possible, try to broaden their play paths and explore more possibilities. After all, the showbiz, which has a large number of newcomers, cannot sustain it for long by eating the age bonus. 

Moreover, even though some actors are relatively young because of their temperament, which is often referred to as a “juvenile sense”, they can still act as “high school students” or “college students” for a few more years. But no one will stay young forever. If you play the same type of role for a long time, it will also have certain limitations for the actors themselves, which is not conducive to the overall development of the future. 

The youth films that met with the audience this summer also gathered a group of young actors who are both popular and powerful, such as Zhang Zifeng, Wu Lei, Peng Yuchang, Hu Xianxu and so on. Youth can be expected, youth is invincible! With the help of these films, will this summer add more youthful vitality? We will wait and see. 

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