Gu Donglin, a former soldier and hairdresser, has dyed bright red hair that has earned him his nickname “Red-Hair Emperor.” He lives with his teenage daughter and a group of young “apprentices” in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou. At the center of this tiny, overfull apartment is the tripod with the smartphone from which he regularly streams his live webcasts. Everything happens in front of the camera: dancing, singing and even arguing.
Red-Hair Emperor organizes events in parks and on squares in the city, where people dance in a style known as “awkward dancing.” As the name suggests, it features a collection of peculiar dance moves. The authorities try to suppress this craze, which they describe as “vulgar,” and break up the events, but thanks to the smartphone and the live webcasts, Red-Hair Emperor still manages to reach an increasingly wide audience. Nonetheless, there’s also a darker side to his popularity, in the form of jealousies and conflicts. The picture emerges of an eccentric man and a subculture fed by modern media, in a country where deviation from the norm isn’t tolerated.