Dimash Kudaibergen gained international prominence overnight, so to speak. He rose to fame last year on China’s hit competition show “I am a Singer.” After his initial performance, Dimash became not only widely known, but internationally famous. His popularity exploded in the blink of an eye. Dimash’s performance in “I Am a Singer” became the proverbial snowball that set off an avalanche.
Within a week after his first performance, he had over 3 million followers on Sina Weibo, one of the most popular and largest social media platforms in China. The rest of his success story is already well known. There’s no point going over it. Wide coverage was given to his way to success through the Chinese and international media. It would be better to cite one example of this.
Global Times, in a last year’s article entitled “Dimash Kudaibergen newest symbol of Sino-Kazakh relations”, said: “Singer Dimash Kudaibergen became famous in China literally overnight after he debuted on the first episode of Hunan Television’s hit singing competition show Singer on January 22.
Kudaibergen didn’t just win first place that night, he also won the hearts of a great number of viewers throughout the Chinese mainland. Since then his incredible singing ability and handsome looks have made him the talk of the town.
Since he joined Sina Weibo in December 2016, he has accumulated more than 3.35 million followers on the social media platform. Many Chinese fans affectionately refer to him as “Jinkou Gege” or “imported older brother”.
Over the 10 episodes of Singer’s first season, Kudaibergen won first place three times, second place one time and third place four times. In the final competition, which aired live on Kazakhstan’s Khabar Television and China’s Hunan Television on Monday, he came in second place, only losing out to veteran Chinese singer Sandy Lam.
His current popularity in China has now propelled him beyond entertainment circles to become a symbol of cultural exchange between China and Kazakhstan.
“He has a very high register, and there’s no gap at all when he switches to another register”, music critic Deng Ke commented on Hall of Pro, a streaming show on Tencent Video that interviews experts in different professions.
“He is a natural talent that has trained hard. This has made him a very skillful singer”, Deng said”.
There is very little to add to what has already been said about what he had become through his joining the musical show produced by Hunan TV. It is also to be noted that Dimash Kudaibergen was received in audience by President Nursultan Nazarbayev after participating in “I Am a Singer”, and the Kazakh leader called the young performer “the face of Kazakhstan’s independence”.
It’s been more than a year since then. The period witnessed the rising personal popularity of Dimash Kudaibergen in China, Kazakhstan and other countries. And what, in this context, about Russia, the former “home country”, which still has a strong influence on the shaping of public opinion, including with regard to cultural activities, in our republic?! It seems lots of people in there have become Dimash’s true admirers. It therefore appears that the Russian public’s attitude to the inclusion of this Kazakhstani singer on international circuits is consistent with the overall trends. Just to give you one example.
Kazinform, in a report entitled “Dimash Kudaibergen takes New Wave Festival by storm”, said: “Kazakh crooner Dimash Kudaibergen has become a sensation of the International Singing Contest New Wave in Sochi, Russia, Kazinform reports.
Dimash performed his rendition of A’STUDIO’s hit song Greshnaya strast (Guilty passion) on Day 1 of the festival and got a standing ovation.
Dimash wrapped up his performance with the words of gratitude to composer Baigali Serkebayev for the amazing song, the audience for warm reception and invited everyone to Kazakhstan. Later he shared a video of his performance on his Instagram account. “A huge thank you to the audience. Welcome to Kazakhstan!”, he wrote.
Madiyar Zhunussov (aka Mad June) from Astana will represent Kazakhstan at the festival this year”.
But a closer examination shows not everything is as smooth as it seems. His appearance at the ‘New Wave 2018’ in Sochi took place on 5 September. It was shown on television at very late hours (Astana time). In Kazakhstan, it was well after midnight. But that is understandable – in such cases, the performance times have been defined by the event schedule.
Instead, let us turn our attention to other circumstances. What are we talking about? You only need to look at coverage for Dimash’s performance at the ‘New Wave 2018’ in Sochi by the Russian and Kazakhstani press to understand where we’re going with this. It is like comparing apples and oranges, when we compare media feedback on that occasion in Russia and Kazakhstan.
Here, there have been a lot of appropriate publications and media coverage. And there hasn’t been anything like that out there. It can fairly be said that the Russian mainstream print, radio, television and online media have overlooked Dimash’s performance in Sochi, although the audience at the open concert area, according to eye-witnesses, were thoroughly fascinated on his singing.
As one of the Russian online music magazines claimed, the Russians don’t know him as well as the Chinese do. That sounds about right. But it begs the question: how is it that the Russians tend to have limited knowledge of the person who is viewed by Western journalists and observers as “perhaps the world’s most recognizable Kazakh”, i.e. the most well-known representative of Kazakhstan, a “near abroad” country that is considered being the closest political ally and economic partner of Russia? So does that mean the Russian public has little interest in what is happening in that former Soviet state?!
There appear to be a number of reasons for this contradictory trend. Let’s dwell on two of them – the historical lack of readiness by the Russian public as whole to receive any person from among the peoples having East Asian features as their hero, and the persistence of certain preconceptions at the decision-making level in Russia – and start with the second one.
The Russian entertainment industry’s decision and opinion makers had only once contributed significantly to the emergence of a hero who looked (East) Asian. This case was connected with the name of Viktor Tsoi, a Soviet rock musician and songwriter who co-founded Kino, one of the most popular and musically influential bands in the history of Russian music. And until now, there have been no sequels to it. There have never been any TV presenters, or TV hosts from among the Kazakhs on Moscow’s mainstream television channels, although they were the largest (East) Asian nation within the Soviet Union and are the largest (East) Asian minority group in the Russian Federation today. Yet this was and still is not seen as a problem out there. So, it is hardly surprising that the organizers and hosts of the ‘New Wave 2018’ contest took the liberty of screwing with the famous Kazakhstani singer and making fun of him. The incident occurred during Dimash’s second solo performance in Sochi. What happened provoked resentment on the part of Dimash Kudaibergen’s numerous fans. There seems to have been an attempt to sabotage his solo performance in Sochi. More information can be found on social networks. But it is very clear that this incident will not have any consequences.
Now let’s talk about the first of the two above-mentioned reasons. Dmitry Bykov, a journalist, poet, critic, radio personality and novelist, who is generally described as “one of the few figures in contemporary Russia who can be called a public intellectual”, has become famous in Kazakhstan for his words about “the squint-eyed Kazakh guest workers”. Squint (also known as strabismus) is actually a physical defect. Thus, that can be perceived as seeing in the Kazakhs “people with physical handicaps”. In the Western Europe and the US, any public personality who said such a thing, would be condemned by their peers. In Russia, no one gets condemned for the same thing. “The squint-eyed ones” is a phrase in common usage in referring to those with East Asian (Mongoloid) features, including Kazakhs.
This means a lot to somebody who is able to objectively judge the situation with the non-Slavic, non-Caucasian and non-Mid-Eastern peoples, or with the racial minorities, so to speak, in Russia.
And here’s an example of another kind. China.org.cn, in an article entitled “Казахстанский певец Димаш Кудайбергенов участвовал в съемках телепрограммы “Хочу петь с тобой” – “Kazakh singer Dimash Kudaibergenov took part in the filming of the TV program “I want to sing with you”, said: “Soon, the “imported brother” Dimash Kudaibergenov will participate in the TV program “I want to sing with you”, it’s a news, that causes a lot of excitement among his fans. Not long ago, Dimash took part in the filming of the program.
According to information, he went into game with voice control on the site of filming, and, in doing so, he surprised the spectators to such an extent that one Internet user has even commented: “As for voice control, I bow to Dimash!”.
That’s an entirely different matter, isn’t that?!