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BEIJING — The “Vagrant Master” has been offline for more than a week.

北京——这位“流浪大师”已经下线一个多星期了。

The last time people saw him, the scrawny 52-year-old known

人们最后一次见到他的时候,这个骨瘦如柴的52岁男子已经小有名气

as Shen Wei was being escorted into a white Mercedes-Benz by a -middle-aged man in an orange jacket.

当沈巍被一个穿着橙色夹克的中年男子护送进一辆白色奔驰车时。

When asked where he was going, Shen replied, “To seek refuge.”

当被问到要去哪里时,沈说:“去避难。”

But even before he could get into the car, a man in his 20s ran up to ask for an autograph. Shen turned to sign the fan’s notebook.

但就在他上车之前,一个20多岁的男人跑过来要签名。沈转身在这位粉丝的笔记本上签了名。



This unlikely viral star was discovered by social media when clips of him quoting Aristotle, Confucius and Dante began to surface on Douyin, a short-video platform. To the surprise of many, this homeless man — with uncombed hair, soiled clothes and unwashed beard — turned out to be well versed in literature and philosophy.

当他引用亚里士多德、孔子和但丁的片段开始出现在短视频平台抖音上时,这位不太可能走红的明星被社交媒体发现。令许多人吃惊的是,这个无家可归的人——头发没梳,衣服没洗,胡子没剃——竟然精通文学和哲学。

Viewers were intrigued.

观众感到好奇。

“Extraordinary hair worthy of a Taoist priest, eyes brimming with radiating vigor, and the deportment of a real gentleman,” read a top comment on Douyin. “This is what a true master should look like!”

抖音里的一条评论这样写道:“一头道家道士般的秀发,一双炯炯有神的眼睛,一副绅士的派头。这才是真正的大师应该有的样子!”

Shen quickly became an antihero for those tired of trying to climb social and economic ladders in a country obsessed with youth, novelty, education, fame, wealth and good looks.

对于那些厌倦了在这个痴迷于青春、新奇、教育、名望、财富和美貌的国家里攀登社会和经济阶梯的人来说,沈很快就成了反英雄。

But Shen’s virtual fame became all too real in mid-March.

但在3月中旬,沈的虚拟名声变得太真实了。



Short videos are huge in the world’s second-largest economy. China has nearly 830 million -Internet users, and more than 70 percent of them now use short-video or live-streaming applications, according to the state-run China Internet Network Information Center. By 2020, the short-video sector is expected to exceed $5 billion in market value.

在中国这个世界第二大经济体,短视频的体量是巨大的。据官方的中国互联网信息中心统计,中国有近8.3亿互联网用户,其中超过70%的人现在使用短视频或实时流媒体应用程序。到2020年,短视频行业的市场价值有望超过50亿美元。

To attract more traffic, established media apps such as TikTok, Kuaishou and Vigo Video seek out pop stars, artists and big names from other social media sites.

为了吸引更多的流量,抖音、快手和火山小视频等老牌媒体应用会从其他社交媒体网站上寻找流行明星、艺术家和大牌明星。

Starting on March 17, the name “Shen Wei” topped searches on the Chinese search engine Baidu, and Weibo posts related to #Vagrant-Master were read by tens of millions.

从3月17日开始,“沈巍”这个名字在中国搜索引擎百度上的搜索量就超过了“流浪大师”,与“流浪大师”相关的微博帖子被阅读了数千万次。

Every morning when the vagabond opened his door, he would find dozens, or even hundreds, of people already waiting at the doorstep of his temporary shelter — a deserted office storeroom. Each time he opened his mouth, dozens of phones and cameras were ready to record. As soon as he finished a memorable quote, people would respond with thunderous applause and cheers.

每天早晨,当这个流浪汉打开他的门时,他会发现几十人,甚至几百人,已经在他的临时避难所——一个废弃的办公室储藏室门口等着他。每次他一张嘴,就会有几十部手机和相机随时准备记录下来。他一说完一句令人难忘的话,人们就会报以雷鸣般的掌声和欢呼声。

Shen quickly came to think he was being exploited.

沈巍很快意识到自己被利用了。

“I know people are treating me like a monkey,” Shen said in a 25-second video on March 19, more to himself than to a full room of smartphone-wielding spectators. “Nobody came to see me with a pure heart. You did this for money.”

3月19日,沈在一段25秒的视频中说,与其说是对一屋子拿着智能手机的观众说,不如说是对他自己说:“我知道人们把我当猴子看待。没有人带着一颗纯洁的心来看我。他们这样做是为了钱。”

People who hung around Shen sought various rewards: A woman in a leather jacket who claimed to be Shen’s girlfriend attracted 400,000 followers within four days after setting up a TikTok account. A jobless young man in a red coat, purporting to be Shen’s child, became a regular guest on popular live-streaming channels. A 10-word piece of calligraphy Shen wrote on a piece of scrap paper was reported to have sold for more than $13,000 at an online auction.

围着沈巍身边转的那帮人这千方百计从沈巍身上获利:一位自称是沈巍女友的皮夹克女士在开通抖音账号后的四天内就吸引了40万粉丝。一个身穿红色外套的失业青年,自称是沈的孩子,成为热门直播频道的常客。据报道,沈在一张废纸上写的10个字的书法作品在网络拍卖会上以1.3万多美元的价格售出。



After that, he was hospitalized twice. In 1995, he decided to live as a full-time garbage man, local newspapers reported.

之后,他两次住院。据当地报纸报道,1995年,他决定做一名全职清洁工。

“I was destined to be a trash collector,” Shen told the Red Star News. “I admire Gandhi and want to live an ascetic life like him.”

沈在接受《红星新闻》采访时表示:“我命中注定要成为一名垃圾收集者。我钦佩甘地,想要像他一样过一种苦行僧式的生活。”

By March 19, Shen’s cult -following on social media had a cult following on social media.

到3月19日,沈在社交媒体上的粉丝已经有了一群粉丝。

A widely shared photo on Weibo shows smartphone-wielding young people surrounding him, drawing comparisons to -Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

微博上一张广为流传的照片显示,一群年轻人拿着智能手机围在他身边,俨然是听耶稣在山上的布道。

Citing safety hazards and the disturbance to neighbors, police cordoned off the area around Shen’s squatting space and set up meter-high wood fences. But his fans remained undeterred, with some gathering before 7 a.m.

警方以安全隐患和扰民为由,封锁了沈巍蹲坐地周围的区域,并设置了一米高的木栅栏。但他的粉丝们没有被吓倒,有些人在早上7点之前就聚集了起来。

Shen took extreme measures.

沈采取了极端措施。

He showered and got his hair cut. Of course, videos of him with a trimmed mustache, combed shoulder-length hair and a brand-new black blazer appeared on multiple live-streaming sites within minutes.

他洗了个澡,剪了头发。当然,他蓄着修剪过的小胡子,梳着齐肩长发,穿着一件崭新的黑色西装的视频在几分钟内出现在多个直播网站上。

Before long, there was a note on his squat that read: “Mr. Shen is exhausted, both mentally and physically, and will be away for a while. Thank you!”

不久,他蹲着的地方贴了一张纸条,上面写着:“沈某身心俱疲,要离开一段时间。谢谢你!”