Let’s see Chris on TikTok: Abundant and interesting culture clash

Lingsi Yang
3 min readApr 4, 2021

Recently, I saw a short video on TikTok, known in China as Douyin (Chinese: 抖音; pinyin: Dǒuyīn), is a video-sharing social networking service owned by Chinese company ByteDance in 2016. The content goes like this: three brothers wearing shorts and short sleeves were about to go out to play rugby when the eldest brother marveled: “Does the sun get that big in Norway?” Then he prepared to go back to the room to get an umbrella. The brothers thought this was strange because it wasn’t raining. However, the eldest brother joked that “another foreigner in the family”. Then the eldest brother wearing trousers, long sleeves, a hat and sunglasses, and holding an umbrella, while walking also taught the younger brothers you will grow old without preventing bask in the sun. The youngest brother immediately went under the umbrella. The younger brother looked surprised and said, “Are you still Norwegian?”.

Screen shot from Douyin app
Screen shot from Douyin app.

I was amused and attracted by their performance, because of the funny actions and language of the three brothers, as well as the cultural content is shown in this video: the cultural collision between Norway and China. The video was only 30 seconds long and got 1.015 million thumb ups on TikTok.

This user’s name is “Laowai Chris (Foreigner, Chris)”, and I was addicted to watching his video series called “Foreigners who stay in China for a long time go back to their home countries”, which has helped him gain a lot of fans. He uses some funny expressions and actions to show his “unaccustomed” life after returning to Norway from China. The behaviors and living habits he developed in China have produced interesting collisions and contrast with those in Norway. He made videos and posted them on TikTok. Chris, who has two younger brothers and his parents, brought Chinese “culture” to his home in Norway. His family all spoke Chinese and showed diversified kinds of funny reactions.

By the 19th century, Williams put forward three ideas of culture: a general process of intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic development; a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period, a group, or humanity in general; the works and practices of intellectual and especially artistic activity. Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, and arts. In Chris’s videos, culture is embodied in a variety of behaviors and habits, among which the most frequently expressed is that Chris cooks Chinese food for his family. Chris is a Norwegian who loves China very much. After living in China for one year, he is no less familiar with Chinese cuisine than Chinese people. He brings Chinese food culture to his home and lets his family experience and taste the Chinese cuisine. Chris not only leads the whole family to learn Chinese culture, but he also shares the daily life in Norway through his videos so that the audience can understand the life and culture of China and Norway through his funny interpretation.

TikTok & Douyin | SupChina

Besides Chris, there are many similar accounts and videos and interesting cultural content circulating on social media platforms like TikTok. The rise of digital platforms as the dominant sites for cultural and media audiences online has posed challenges for regulators and policy-makers. Governance needs to establish terms of service and community guidelines while ensuring net neutrality and the service consciousness of the media platform. By updating and improving the norms can create a harmonious ecosystem for the cross-cultural and multi-cultural digital media platforms.