'Duang': How Jackie Chan Helped Make the Chinese Word an Internet Hit

Jackie Chan

An old hair product infomercial and a parody of it cause a huge stir online.

Think that your hair is looking particularly good today? In Chinese popular culture, it's looking "duang."

A Chinese phrase that came out of nowhere, "duang" has taken the Internet by storm, even though many don't really know its origins.

We do know where "duang" started though. It was Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, who in 2004 was featured in a shampoo infomercial, where he spread his hands and described how his sleek dark locks would simply "duang" after a scrub with Bawang organic shampoo. A useful way of translating the word is as "boing," in the sense of "bouncy and vibrant," or even "ta-da!"

A parody video making fun of the old commercial recently hit the web, making the word a social media trend. It's been widely interpreted as "cool," and the word resurfaced again recently after Chan posted it on his Weibo page. It has become to Chinese slang what Kim Kardashian's rear end is to U.S. popular culture. It's breaking the Internet as Chinese pop stars are called "duang pretty" and the like.

Although it's a long way from featuring in a dictionary, it's been used millions of times on the Chinese social network Weibo and has been looked up 1.5 million times on China's biggest search engine, Baidu.

In case you're "duang confused," you just need to know that "Everyone's 'duang-ing' and it's great" or "This is so duang hot" are the kinds of comments you see on Weibo these days.

There have also been numerous mashup videos, and apparently during the visit of Britain's Prince William to China last week, he was greeted by some people saying "duang, duang," because the English gentry look is seen as cool in China.

Chan was a supporter of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in China, but in recent years he has become much more pro-Beijing. Last year, he spoke out against the Occupy Central democracy protests in Hong Kong, and he is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the ongoing National People's Congress, China's annual parliament.

Questioned outside the Great Hall of the People about what he thought of the "duang" phenomenon, Chan said: "It’s quite funny."

A former anti-drug ambassador in China, Chan was in the news most recently when his son Jaycee was arrested and jailed on drug charges last year. On release from prison, father and son spent some quality time together and Jackie gave Jaycee a haircut, shaving his locks and leaving his son a skinhead. Perhaps the previous mane was too "duang"?

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