Words of the Week: Trust Han Han, Avoid Brain Damage

The  comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens or 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.

xìn Hán Hán bù nǎocán 信韩寒不脑残

"Believe in Han Han and you won't be brain-damaged." (Source: Weibo)

“Believe in and you won’t be brain-damaged.” (Source: Weibo)

Half-joke, half-invocation invented by fans of the writer-cum-speed-racer Han Han; derived from the saying “believe in Christ and obtain eternal life” (xìn Yēsū dé yǒngshēng 信耶稣得永生), itself based on John 3:36 (“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life“).

Han Han is a singer, director, race car driver, restaurateur, heartthrob, and for many years China’s most popular blogger. (He no longer actively blogs.) A wildly successful high school dropout, he is considered an icon of youth and nonconformity. If you believe in Han Han, the saying goes, you won’t be brain-damaged—i.e. a moron.

Han Han’s writing has been critical of the government, and has occasionally been blocked by web censors. He uses humor to reveal the hypocrisy of the Party’s propaganda and sheds light on social problems. He rejects the label “rebel,” however, and has also opined that China should strive for reform under the current regime, rather than full-fledged democracy.

The Problem with Me,” a collection of Han Han’s work translated into English, was published in August 2016.

CDT has translated several of Han Han’s essays, included “Let the Sunshine In” and “The Liberation of Shifang.”

See also believe in the god Ai and be resurrected on the spot and you understand.

Can’t get enough of subversive Chinese netspeak? Check out “Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang,” our ebook of dozens of new terms and classic catchphrases, presented in a new, image-rich format. Available for pay-what-you-want (including nothing). All proceeds support CDT.