Quip of the Week: No Shortage of Money

Quip of the Week: No Shortage of Money

The Word of the Week comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

不差钱 (bú chà qián): no shortage of money


Still from the 2009 sketch “No Shortage of Money.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Sarcastic remark implying trickery, taken from a sketch performed at the 2009 CCTV Chinese New Year broadcast.

In the sketch, Zhao Benshan plays a poor farmer who hopes he and his granddaughter Yadan (played by Maomao) will win the TV talent show “Avenue of Stars” (星光大道). He decides to treat the show’s host to an impressive dinner at a Scottish restaurant. When they arrive, Yadan has forgotten to bring the money her grandfather had entrusted to her. The grandfather bribes the waiter (Xiao Shenyang) to say that anything too expensive is off the menu. When the show host, Old Bi (Bi Fujian), tries to order, the grandfather insists that he has “no shortage of money,” but practically everything they try to order has “run out.” The plan falls apart, but Bi offers to pay the bill, and the waiter teams up with Yadan and her grandfather to appear on “Avenue of Stars.”

While the sketch was one of the more popular New Year gala acts, critics found fault in the moral of the story—or rather, the lack thereof. The screenwriter Wei Minglun complained, “I think what this sketch is trying to say is that, for a single night of fame, nothing is off the table. A person can grovel and brown nose. […] I saw “No Shortage of Money,” but what it really lacks is morality. At the very least, Xiao Shenyang’s character is totally amoral” [Chinese]. (There was also controversy over Xiao’s negative portrayal of a gay man and of potentially homophobic undertones in the script [Chinese].)

Netizens use the sketch’s signature phrase, “no shortage of money,” when they perceive corruption or duplicity, usually on the part of the government.

Example of “No Shortage of Money”:

On December 28, 2014, Laowushiwenjian (@老武是文建) posted a photo of a banner in Beijing that reasd, “The capital’s masses welcome subway price hikes.” Miruirong (@米瑞蓉) replied, “No shortage of money?” The exchange was blocked and archived on FreeWeibo. [Chinese]

Watch the sketch (Chinese only):


cover thumbWant to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang. Available for $2.99 in the Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.

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