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Professionalization of Amateur Production in Online Screen
Entertainment in China: Hopes, Frustrations, and Uncertainties
ELAINE JING ZHAO
University of New South Wales, Australia
The strategic pendulums of the online video space in China have swung between
amateurism and professionalism over the past decade.professional writing services near meCoevolving with platform
strategies is the expanding online screen ecology, where entrepreneurial creators have
become a considerable source of economic and cultural value. This article seeks to go
beyond the professional/amateur dichotomy and examine the professionalization of
amateur production in China’s online video space. It begins by tracing the initial
enthusiasm toward user-generated content (UGC), the subsequent frustration and
disillusionment, and then the resurgence and revalidation of UGC when platforms
attempt to professionalize amateur production with a dynamic perspective. Following
that, it analyses prominent productions by professionalizing amateurs, the creative
strategies and potential barriers as they negotiate creativity/commerce/community
relations, while navigating platform politics and the regulatory landscape. By so doing,
this article reveals cultural and political implications of the emerging form of digital
entrepreneurship found in professionalizing amateurs in China.
Keywords: user-generated content, entrepreneurship, amateur, professionalization,
online video, diaosi, positive energy, copyright, cultural policy, Youku, Tudou, Sohu,
UniMedia, rage comics, Dapeng, China
The collapsing boundary between production and consumption is evidenced in the hybrid terms
such as “pro-am revolution” (Leadbeater & Miller, 2004) and “produsage” (Bruns, 2008) in media
communications and cultural studies literature. An increasing body of research has emerged with the focus
on “amateur media” (Hunter, Lobato, Richardson, & Thomas, 2013), or the “informal” sector (Lobato &
Thomas, 2015). Optimists have championed “vernacular creativity” (Burgess, 2006) and “participatory
culture” (Jenkins, 2006; Jenkins, Ford, & Green, 2013). Although microproductivity occurring among
distributed individuals has become a source of economic and cultural value (Hartley, Wen, & Li, 2014),
pessimists have pointed to the mediocrity of amateurism and its potential effects in drowning out
professionalism (Keen, 2007). A more reconciliatory, while still critical, approach goes beyond the
dichotomy of professionalism versus amateurism and proposes the notions of co-creation, and ama

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