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‘Duang’ – The Meaningless Chinese Syllable that Broke the Internet

The Duang and Short of It

www.foreignpolicy.com

If there’s something to be gleaned from the recent chameleon dress fiasco, it’s that the internet can spiral into insanity at any time for any reason. If nothing else, the dress at least raised some interesting scientific questions about light and perception of colour. The same cannot be said of this new, Chinese brand of viral lunacy: ‘Duang’.

What does it mean? Nothing. It’s just a noise, it can’t be spelt with the Chinese dictionary, it’s a nonsense syllable, but over past few weeks Chinese social networks (particularly Weibo, their equivalent to Twitter) have blown up as a result of it. As of February 27th it been searched 8.5 million times on Chinese social media and continues to trend even now, despite nobody knowing what it actually means.

www.mashable.com (via Weibo)

How did it start? Duh, Jackie Chan. If a Chinese actor has made any kind of name for themselves in Hollywood, but still works at home, it’s a pretty safe bet that they do a shedload of advertising. Ziyi Zhang, Chow Yun Fat, Andy Lau, Jet Li, all the big Chinese names do copious amounts of TV advertising and Chan is no exception. He’s been the poster-boy for Bawang Shampoo for years now, extolling the joys of “very bright, very dark, very soft” hair.

At some stage during one of these odd commercials, Chan waved his arms around his glimmering mane and said ‘DUANG’. Presumably he was using it as an onomatopoeic term to describe the general bounciness that had been achieved by Bawang’s ‘Anti-hair Fall Shampoo’, but then some intrepid YouTuber took the ad, sliced it up and had Chan’s words recut to a beat, turning duang into the central statement of the video.


Now duang seems to mean both everything and nothing. The newly christened character has been popping up everywhere, used in a variety of contexts. Some are confused by it, others embrace it, but all obsess over it. Even Chan himself tweeted about it, thus bringing the entire phenomenon full circle. Duang can now, it seems, mean a few different things. To feel duang is to feel good, something can be ‘duang cute’ or ‘duang cool’, the list goes on. It will probably fizzle out by the end of the week, but it’s comforting to know that social media trends in the East are just as weird and random as the ones we get over here.


Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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‘Duang’ – The Meaningless Chinese Syllable that Broke the Internet Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, March 05, 2015 Rating: 5
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