Though not widely known in the United States, Zhou Wei is one of China’s most famous actresses.
On occasion — perhaps when she is staring directly into a camera with a frank, unflinching expression — her gaze might be considered intense, mysterious or beguiling.
And if it were possible for a thespian to, somehow, cause harm to a viewer through a television or computer screen, Zhou might find herself in trouble.
However, even in the age of Oculus Rift, it is not possible for two-dimensional images to physically harm three-dimensional people. Despite this plain fact, a man in Shanghai has sued Zhou for “spiritual damage,” as the Associated Press noted, citing the Chinese language Legal Daily.
How had Zhou caused this “spiritual damage”? She had allegedly looked at the man too intensely through his TV set.
Zhou’s gaze came during her turn as the title character on the show “Tiger Mom,” in which she plays — well, a demanding tiger mom in the Amy Chua sense, the iron-willed, hard-charging parent driving kids to success.
The lawsuit, it seems, would not have been able to be filed before May 1. That’s when rules in China changed, making it tougher for courts to reject frivolous claims, perhaps contributing to a 29 percent increase in cases filed over May of last year. That’s 1 million additional cases, according to the AP.
The rule changes were intended to prevent corruption and make it easier for citizens to sue the government.
“Authorities are determined to put an end to obstructive behavior by courts and officials meddling in cases,” according to the state’s Xingua News Agency.
However, the rule changes may have created a bigger problem. Gan Wen, who works for China’s supreme court, cited the Zhou “spiritual damage” case as an example of bureaucratic time-suck.
“It’s not necessary to waste our judicial resources on cases like these,” Gan said.