The Real Story of Tianxian MM (天仙MM)

In the case Furong Jiejie (also known as Sister Lotus or Sister Hibiscus), the marvel was how she ever got so famous.  In this previous post, The Real Story Behind Sister Lotus, I wrote:

She is popular and renowned, but nobody seems to really like, appreciate or respect her.  Actually, there is a genuinely interesting and important story in the case of Sister Lotus, but it is not about her at all.  Somewhere out there, there are a couple of anonymous and faceless people who enabled Sister Lotus to become such a public figure.  On her own, Sister Lotus could never have achieved these heights.  The gatekeepers at the key BBS's were the ones who promoted Sister Lotus, and they had the ability to feature her repeatedly at the home pages of their tremendously popular BBS's (with millions of visitors per day).  I have to wonder if these anonymous people deliberately chose an unlikely figure precisely to test if they have the power to sway popular preferences.

In the case of Tianxian MM (天仙MM) (which translates to something like Young Celestial Goddess), there was also an active promoter.  But this was not the gatekeeper of any super-BBS.  This was just a young male wanderer (浪迹天涯何处家) who was going through rural China, stopped at a village, spotted a young girl in the dress of a Qiang () minority and took some photographs.  When he returned home, he vowed to make the girl whom he dubbed Tianxian MM famous.  So he went around posting those photographs and asked others to do the same.  At least, that was the story.  Here are some of the Tianxian MM photographs.

So far, this seems to be the photo album of an encounter with an extraordinary beauty living in the middle of nowhere.  Ah, not so fast.  Look at this next photo -- her fingernails are not those of a farm girl.  And the photo after one shows that she watches television and plays mahjong.

In the absence of further details about Tianxian MM, Internet citizens could afford to go around saying all sorts of things about her.  Is she really a Xiang minority?  Did this encounter actually take place?   Unverifiable arguments are precisely the ingredients needed to fuel the explosive growth of a legend.

But, alas, it has just been reported that the real Tianxian MM has been tracked down by an intrepid mainstream newspaper reporter (see Huaxi Metropolitan News via Wenxue City).

The story began when a reader called the information hotline at Huaxi Metropolitan News in Chengdu and reported that Tianxian MM was in Chengdu.  In fact, just yesterday, she was observed to be crossing the street outside a hospital while escorting an old man.

The news reporter called up the self-appointed promoter, disclosed the details of what he already knew and asked to be put into contact with Tianxian MM.  Eventually, the promoter gave a telephone number and told the reporter: "I'm giving you her number.  It is up to her if she wants to be interviewed."

So the reporter called up immediately, "Are you Tianxian MM ...?"  Before even the reporter could finish the sentence, there was a stiff voice from the other side: "What Tianxian MM?  You are ... "  

After the reporter identified himself, the other side became silent for a while and then said, "I'm very busy today.  I'm at the hospital.  I've read your report."

"Can you spare a few minutes?"  The other party fell silent again.

Seeing that this big opportunity was slipping away, the reporter rushed down to the hospital named in the hotline tip.  There were not a lot of people in the hospital on this day, so the reporter called the telephone number again and hoped to find his target by following the ring.  He saw a young girl walking out while turning off the telephone, so the reporter and the photographer went chasing after her. 

When the reporter caught up to her, she said: "I'm accompanying my father to see the doctor.  He does not know about what has happened on the Internet and I don't want him to be worried about me.  Let us talk again this afternoon."

At 5pm, Tianxian MM finally called the reporter and they met.  She said: "Don't call me Tianxian MM.  I am really not interested in what he is doing.  I have never wanted to be an Internet idol!  My name is Erma Yinuo (尔玛依娜).  You should call me by my name.  All the women in my home village call me Erma Yinuo."  She paused.  Then she complained: "What is this Tianxian MM ...?"  For the next hour, she continued to repeat that phrase, indicating her displeasure.

What about those famous photographs?  She recalled: "The first time that I saw him was at the beginning of August.  This man passed by my house.  About a week later, he came again and said that he wanted to take photographs of me.  I thought that this man was very strange."

After that time, the man came again and said that her photos have been posted on the Internet and caused a sensation.  He said, "The ethnic clothing that you had were too new.  You must find some older clothes."  So her mother went through the chests and found a set of Xiang clothing that were at least a hundred years old.  Then the man was pleased.

One week later, the man appeared again.  He surprised her with some blown-up photographs.  He also brought a notebook computer and showed her what he had posted on the Internet.  She said: "At that time, I found out that I was the Tianxian MM on the Internet."

Half a month ago, the man came again.  "You are famous on the Internet.  I was not interested in what he had to say.  Some people on the Internet said that I am a fake, but that does not concern me.  Also, some people said that I was making use of him.  What use do I have of him?"

At the moment, Erma Yinuo is in Chengdu to accompany her father, who has degenerative hip bones and can barely walk.  She used to work in Chengdu, but returned home to take care of her father.

Do you think the whole case is solved?  NOT FOR ONE MOMENT!  This is just pouring oil on the fires of rumor!  Could you have managed this publicity stunt any better?  And will Erma Yinuo disappear into obscurity?  Or will she reluctantly accept the burden of fame?  Enquiring minds want to know ...