Picture of the day: Netizens amused by Katy Perry’s dress with Chinese characters at American Music Awards

November 23, 2011Jing Gao9 Comments, , , , , , , , , ,

From QQ and Sina Weibo

Singer Katy Perry wore a gown printed with Chinese calligraphy to the star-studded American Music Awards. The show-stopping dress might have blown western minds with its Oriental elements, but Chinese netizens took her red-carpet outfit very literally.


Katy Perry in a Chinese sequin gown from Vivienne Westwood’s Spring/Summer 2012 Gold Label collection

The four Chinese characters, which translates to English as “Green Economy,” are more than exotic icons. They echoed the political rhetoric often heard in state-controlled media outlets and top leaders’ public statements together with slogans like “Sustainable Development” and “Scientific Growth”. Some netizens asked, “Why not write directly ‘Give birth to fewer children and plant more trees’?!” Another said, “I know that all characters looked alike in your eyes. But as a designer, would you please at least look it up in the dictionary first?”

It is said that the Vivienne Westwood-designed gown Perry wore is from Westwood’s Spring 2012 Gold Label collection, which drew inspiration from Chinese calligraphy and ink wash painting.

Selected comments from Sina Weibo:

大脸撑在小胸: Green Economy…The ink wash on the Kate Perry’s dress with the four characters is really a highlight…But why not “Three Represents” or “Harmonious Society”?

smile_L:“Three Represents” or “Harmonious Society” would be too esoteric. Foreigners will not understand even if they are  translated into foreign languages.

小迪maimai:Every time I see this kind of thing, I will come to wonder if the English words on our clothes look similarly “囧” (Jing: “Jiong,” emoticon for silliness, awkwardness,embarrassment) to Europeans and Americans…

不能发芽的种子:What the hell was the designer thinking?

小哈你能消停会儿不:Pooh…Even if “The Eight Honors and Eight Shames” was vetoed, at least write something like “Serve the People”~ Was it because they ran out of fabric?

耳朵小小:[哈哈] This curtain is still being used at my granny’s home.  // @狷小姐 :Dear, isn’t it the kind of curtain in our childhood?

吐一个豆:Hahaha, maybe it is a protest to China’s high energy-consuming industries.

爆hua的一户剩人:Can also try “Fish for the moon in the sea” and “Blossom up on the branch” (Both are terms used in Mahjong game)

俞昌斌: A trouble caused by not knowing Chinese.

五世荏飞:I bet the gal has absolutely no idea what the four characters mean…

宇宙威武不二熊:Hahaha, Green Economy…Katy Perry is quite politically correct.

宁儿宝贝是小笨蛋:So funny…I remember the story that a foreigner not understanding Chinese characters had a tattoo of “Eunuch” on his body…

潘帕斯草原的风雪微博达人:Haha, Chinese characters are gonna come into vogue~

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9 comments to “Picture of the day: Netizens amused by Katy Perry’s dress with Chinese characters at American Music Awards”

  1. RyanMCFC | November 23, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I think it is funny they even comment on this when half of China wears clothes with English on them and have not a clue what it says. Even my English majors here in China wear clothes without reading the English first. A couple months ago I saw a middle aged lady wearing a hot pink hat that said “Fuck the Paparazzi.” China definitely is going to need some perspective on this one.

  2. Ivan | November 23, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Well, then we should make fun of the myriads of t-shirts with English writing which doesn’t mean anything or is plain funny or ridiculous.

  3. Alex | November 24, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I am in Shanghai right now, few weeks ago I noticed a boy with “I am an idiot” written in French on his T-shirt, that made my day.

    You can not imagine how many brands use french (or english) words on their clothes and most of the time they make no sense together. It appears to me they are picked randomly and there is no problem as nobody can read it…

  4. Augis | November 27, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    And this is why people shouldn’t get tattoos with Chinese characters…

  5. Terence Noone | November 30, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Katy Perry doesn’t know or care what the characters mean She (like many international celebrities) is a plastic person who is solely interested in self-promotion. This dress has two purposes: to make her look appealing and if the design causes a little international controversy, all the better! She gets publicity and her photo splashed across the international media. Forget the dress, forget the characters, forget Katy Perry.

  6. Chris | December 3, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I will echo RyanMCFC. I’m an teacher at a university here and my students are “majoring” in English. I make it a point to ask them “What does your shirt say?” when I see something in English. Not ONCE has the student answered anything but “I don’t know.” I can’t stand Katy Perry. However, I’m quite sure she has not been studying Chinese for more than 10 years, like my students have.

  7. Gin | December 3, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    Given Vivienne Westwood’s strong commitment to environmentalism, I’m sure she, as the designer, did look the words up in the dictionay first…

  8. [...] And this is what happens when Westerners misuse Mandarin and Chinese calligraphy without understanding it (and in a far more public way than getting embarrassingly mistranslated tattoos). Know thy source materials. Come on, Vivienne Westwood, you’re better than that. [...]

  9. [...] some of the comments at the Ministry of Tofu, which is a website that translates stories from the Chinese press into [...]

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