The internet celebrity known as Pangzai released a tearful video on Tuesday in Twitter (since-deleted) saying farewell to his followers and making mysterious mentions to his own depression and perhaps going to jail.
“Pangzai” or “Hebei Pangzai” is popularly known as the guy with the unbelievable speed beer-chugging skills utilizing a “tornado” style. One video of him is shown chugging a giant jar containing beer, some type of flaming liquor, and an egg, all while smoking a cigarette.
It went viral some time last year, for obvious reasons.
His name apparently translates as “Chubby Dude,” or is “a kind of cute pun on “Pangzi,” or “fatty” — a farmer in his early 30s named Liu Shichao from Xingtai in the Hebei province. The videos were originally posted on the Chinese video app Kuaishou and Pangzai had no idea he’d gone viral on Twitter.
Pangzai gave an interview to Deadspin last November, who wrote:
Kuaishou videos tend toward the rural and the outrageous: a typical viral Kuaishou video might feature a guy playing two trumpets through his nostrils, or a man jumping into a frozen pond in his underwear. In this sense, Liu’s videos might be considered the apotheosis of Kuaishou content. They are full of eye-popping stunts, depict acts harmful to the user’s personal safety, and are without exception set to loud Chinese pop music.
A New Zealand comedian claims it was actually he who invented the “tornado chugging style” and not Pangzai, but that’s really neither here nor there and Pangzai is one of the internet’s foremost kings regardless.
In the video, a clearly sad and apparently crying Pangzai offered a farewell to his followers (through a translating app) and some have speculated that this was part of a Chinese government crackdown (all of which is speculation, it could be a publicity stunt, a platform switch, or just a guy dealing with a hangover).
The snippets of Pangzai’s monologue included:
“I’m talking to you now maybe the next day I will be in jail.”
“There’s no one in my family who likes me.”
“You can’t help me, you can’t help me, I’m talking to you and I’m already committing a crime.”
“I hope I can take care of my fish picture.”
I assume “fish picture” was a mistranslation of “fish tank” or “aquarium,” as Pangzai occasionally films himself tending to some fish on his farm.
In any case, Pangzai seemed very depressed and for a while I was worried we might be watching his live suicide note. Luckily it didn’t end in self-harm or cops breaking down the door. For what it’s worth, he simply signed off and directed followers to his YouTube account.
It’s hard to know whether Pangzai’s notoriety in the US endangers him in China, increasing the likelihood that he’ll be used as a political pawn in a feud with a country that Donald Trump was demonizing even before he started trying to blame them for COVID. (Is it bad to write about him, or does his fame protect him?)
However, it’s all speculation at this point, we don’t know if Liu is really in danger of going to jail or just having a depressive episode. I hope it’s the latter, and that fans like me can bid him a hearty “chug on, chubby king” for many years to come.