America had The Dress, China has duang!

It's not real, man. It's duang de.

It’s not real, man. It’s duang de.

While the rest of the world was debating the colors of The Dress, people in China were busy popularizing a new word: duang.

Jackie Chan may have been the first to coin the word, but he used it as a sound effect, like “Boing!” in English. Chan used it during a commercial for a shampoo he endorses, saying it “Duang! Made my hair thick and fluffy!”

The word has gained a new meaning that’s gone quickly viral in the last few days. It now means something like “digital effects,” i.e., not real. There’s even a viral video spoofing the original commercial by editing it to seem as if Chan is rapping lyrics.

Tóu fa 头发, by the way, means “hair.”

Why the sudden popularity? It’s hard to say, but it’s probably because of duang’s association with Chan. His son, Jaycee, recently served time for drug offenses. And the “all natural” shampoo Chan extols in the ad is alleged to contain artificial ingredients and chemicals. Plus, Chan, a Hong Kong native, has publicly criticized his birthplace for being too wild and free. Many of his critics believe Chan dissed Hong Kong so he could make movies more easily on the more buttoned-down mainland.

Whatever the case, duang has now popped up all over social media in China. I noticed it yesterday for the first time, but by today it had become even more common in my QQ and WeChat timelines. So I could be one of the cool kids, I went online to find out about it.

Here’s one report and here’s a more scholarly approach.

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