The New Yorker Han Han/韩寒 Profile: China’s Bad Boy Blogger
Han Han/韩寒 is China’s bad boy blogger, pop star, race car driver, lady killer and political-dissident-dabbler extraordinaire. His personal blog has garnered upwards to half a billion hits, and he ranked second in the 2010 Time 100 Poll for the most influential people in the world (granted there was a viral movement in China to boost his rankings). This week Evan Osnos profiled him in The New Yorker and my portrait accompanied the piece (there is a paywall, but Evan posted two related blog entries). Photographing Han Han in Shanghai was surreal. I think he is inured to contrived studio locations so he seemed a bit surprised when I met him on the street and started dragging him around to dirty internet cafes just off the Bund. Still, Han Han went with the flow and fully cooperated despite the ad hoc nature of the shoot. Quite frankly he is really easygoing and always down for a joke. A few people recognized him on the street and at the last Internet cafe we visited where I shot the published portrait, the manager flipped out that Han Han was present and allowed us to do whatever we wanted. Still, his popularity is a double-edged sword. Some people were scared to let them into their establishments while others couldn’t believe their luck.
After shooting Han Han in Shanghai I got to meet up with him one more afternoon at the Zhuhai International Raceway, just outside Macau. He was in full race mode. Bantering with the other drivers and strutting in and out of the pit, Han Han seemed at ease in the air conditioned confines of his sponsor tent. I feel Han Han is actually rather crowd averse. He mentioned that he was working on a new book, but otherwise seemed a bit resigned to his current daily routine – keeping things subdued ever since the crackdown on other outspoken activists around China. There is a boyish air to Han Han, and he is just as pleased to hone his skills behind the wheel instead of injecting caustic commentary into the Chinese zeitgeist. Despite the whirlwind of cars and speculation, Han Han is in no rush and has plenty of time to devise his machinations.