Russian model Vladislav Ivanov, the man who joined a Chinese reality show on a whim over three months ago, has finally been voted out.
Ivanov was working as a translator on Produce Camp 2021 and was asked by the show’s producers “if I’d like to try a new life” per the Guardian.
Once entering the show, a boyband competition, Ivanov was forbidden from leaving without breaching his contract and paying a fine.
Young musicians and performers compete against one another to eventually form an 11-member boyband. Ivanov had been deliberately giving poor performances so that viewers would vote him off.
However, despite telling viewers “don’t love me, you’ll get no results” under his stage name Lelush, he made it all the way to the finals.
Fans took a shine to Ivanov’s reluctant attitude and called him an icon of “Sang culture”, a youth movement idolising apathy in China which subverts ideals of “hope, courage and dynamism.”
Several Russian bloggers took to social media to express support for Ivanov, with one writing: “It’s not funny any more, let Vlad go home! I am very sad and disturbed. It might have been amusing for some time, but the situation is becoming absurd.”
Это уже не смешно, пустите Влада домой!
Я очень опечален и возмущён. Это могло показаться забавным на какое то время, но ситуация приобретает всё более абсурдный характер. #свободулелушу#freelelush pic.twitter.com/fiWt9YEh4H
— 08HWO (@Yanh_Hyung) April 15, 2021
Vladislav Ivanov was finally voted off in the final, after eating a lemon on camera and saying he hoped people would stop supporting him. “I’m not kidding,” he added.
Blogger Ruslan Usachev said Ivanov’s appearance on Produce Camp had given the show a major boost.
“Suddenly a real live person appeared on this show and people started to vote for him,” Usachev said.
“Partially because he stands out [from the other contestants.] But mainly because it’s just kek,” which uses a term adopted by gamers referring to an amusing incident.