Chinese’ nonsensical answers to “Are You Happy” baffle CCTV and amuse netizens

October 9, 2012Jing Gao2 Comments, , , , , , ,

Video and photos from Sina Weibo

During the past eight-day Mid-Autumn and National Day holiday, China Central Television, the state broadcaster, aired a nine-part special series, titled “Reaching the Grass Roots: People’s Voices From Within”, featuring interviews of ordinary men and women in the streets by asking them if they feel happy. It is said that altogether 3,500 Chinese citizens living in all over the world were approached.

The special series, with one subtitle that reads “In Joyful Anticipation of the 18th Party Congress,” was also made as a prelude to the coverage of the Party’s meeting set to begin on November 8 where China’s new leadership will be announced.

If the producers of this project expected their news subjects to gush about how satisfied they are with their status quo, they must have been somewhat disappointed, as it appears many simply shunned the question. Some even gave answers that made no sense or were downright ironic and funny, making these answers, alongside the question “Are You Happy”, a viral topic on China’s social media.

Video: Collection of Amazing Answers to “Are You Happy”

One answer in particular has been upheld by the online community as the most amazing one and even the standard answer to the question. “My last name is Zeng” came from a migrant worker living in Taiyuan, Shanxi province who mistook the question “Are you happy?” for “Is your last name Fu,” as the two sentences sounds exactly the same in Chinese. Although the migrant worker looked totally guileless, net users believe that instead of either being dishonest by answering “Yes”, or being honest and yet reckless of possible political troubles by answering “No,” “My last name is Zeng” answers the question best.

While Chinese netizens cheer over the fact that the propaganda machine have bitten the dust this time, some pointed out that, the fact that the state broadcaster aired the interviews anyway that didn’t fit their agenda is itself a marker of progress toward free speech and free press.

In March, when a television program in the city of Jiaxing, East China’s Zhejiang province, interviewed people on the streets for their thoughts on the latest gas price hike, the response from a bespectacled college boy, who said to the reporter, “Can I use profanity?… I can’t? Then I have nothing better to say,” became an online hit and an internet meme.

Highlight 1:

In a village administered by Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi province,

Migrant worker: I am a migrant worker from out of town. Don’t ask me.
Reporter: Are you happy? (“Ni xing fu ma?” Sounds exactly the same in Chinese as “Is your last name Fu?”)
Migrant worker: My last name is Zeng.

Highlight 2:

In front of a train ticket office in Zhengzhou, Henan province, talking to a 18-year-old college student studying in Zhengzhou

Reporter: What do you want the most?
Student: A girlfriend.
Reporter: What’s the worst thing (that has happened to you in the past ten years)?
Student: The worst thing is, while I was talking to you, I got bumped from the line.”


Highlight 3:

In Haining, East China’s Zhejiang province, talking to an elderly man who was scavenging through trash bins to collect recyclable bottles for sale.

Reporter: Grandpa, how many bottles have you collected this morning?
Old Man: I am 73.
Reporter: So you are 73?
Old Man: Ten cents for each bottle.
Reporter: How many bottles have you collected so far?
Old Man: I am now depending on the government, feeding on the government’s subsistence allowance. 650 yuan (US100) per month. Good government.
Reporter: Are you happy?
Old Man: My hearing is bad.


Highlight 4:

In Tsinghua University, Beijing

Reporter: Are you happy?
Student: My gosh, am I going to be seen on your primetime news? I am not happy today. My girlfriend just broke up with me.


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2 comments to “Chinese’ nonsensical answers to “Are You Happy” baffle CCTV and amuse netizens”

  1. Blacksoth | October 9, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Thanks for translating the video – very entertaining.

    My favourite was the little boy.

    “How old are you?”
    “Where are you from?”
    “My mommy’s tummy.”


  2. maxiewawa | October 17, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Quite possibly the funniest thing ever in the history of humankind.

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