Word(s) of the Week: “Chicken, You Are So Beautiful!” (鸡你太美, jī nĭ tài měi )

People’s Daily Online breathed new life into a stale meme this past week with an opinion piece titled “We Cannot Let Vulgar Online Slang Poison Our Children” that railed against online slang and vloggers. The piece singled out for particular criticism the 2019 meme “Chicken, You Are So Beautiful,” a mondegreen born of an awkward video of boyband member Cai Xukun dribbling a basketball as his band’s song “Just Because You’re So Beautiful” plays in the background. In the video, the lyrics 只因你太美 (zhi yin ni tai mei, “Just because you’re beautiful”) sound exactly like 鸡你太美 (ji ni tai mei, “Chicken, you’re so beautiful.”) The article also attacked the phrases “Preee-sent, teacher!” (老师,报giao; lǎoshī, bào giao) and “You old six!” (你这个老六, nǐ zhège lǎoliù): the former, a nonsensical way of answering roll call, and the latter originally a criticism of video gamers whose playing style is perceived to be cowardly. The piece pontificated against “lame jokes” as an “invasion of children’s spiritual world that imparts unhealthy values” and called for further “purification” of China’s already heavily censored internet. The editorial did not go over well on Weibo, where netizens criticized the piece’s overheated rhetoric and questioned People’s Daily’s right to speak on their behalf

冰布鲁邦布鲁 :This meme has been around for a couple years and was getting stale fast. But here comes state media resuscitating it solely to criticize it in an effort to tag netizens with negative labels. Day in and day out they fritter time away without ever doing real work. 

每天都要好好生活吖咩:I feel like this hashtag has inspired even more of a backlash. 

遥远的星之国度:You don’t automatically win the people’s respect because you’re called “People’s Daily Online.” You get to be called “People’s Daily Online” if you deserve the people’s respect. 

莹宝在努力呀:“Work hard and life will only get better” hahahhahhahahahaha now THAT is the lamest joke I’ve ever heard. [Chinese]

People’s Daily soon censored its Weibo comment section due to an outpouring of comments similar to those above. On Zhihu, one user was quick to point out the hypocrisy of People’s Daily Online and other state media for frequently appropriating online slang in their Weibo posts. People’s Daily Online, for example, had used “cheer on” (打call, dǎ call), “Versailles” (凡尔赛, fán’ěrsài), “working stiffs” (打工人, dǎgōng rén), and “god forever” (yyds). People’s Daily Online and the Communist Youth League had both used “Chicken, You Are So Beautiful” in posts. The same Zhihu user asked: “Do netizens need the approval of state media to use their favorite memes? State media jokes around on Weibo all day, but only People’s Daily Online is allowed to post memes while we, the people, are to be prevented from raising our ‘Beautiful Chickens’”? 

The editorial is aligned with a broader campaign to combat the internet’s corruption of Chinese youth. In 2021, China passed regulations limiting children’s gaming time to three hours per week. The regulations have not quite worked. Earlier this week, state television outlet CCTV posted a cartoon to its Weibo account that noted a dramatic rise in 70-year-old grandmothers playing video games at one in the morning, an indication that some children have been using their older relatives’ ID cards to get around the gaming ban. On February 22, the National Radio and Television Administration met to discuss “enforcing the regulation of short videos and preventing underage users from becoming addicted.” Vloggers and slang seem a likely target of the new campaign, as hinted at by the People’s Daily Online article: “So we ask those oily-faced vloggers, would you say all this ridiculous garbage to your own children?” It’s unclear how effective that line of attack may be, because China’s falling birth rate means that today’s vloggers are statistically less likely to become parents than the previous generation was.


Subscribe to CDT


Browsers Unbounded by Lantern

Now, you can combat internet censorship in a new way: by toggling the switch below while browsing China Digital Times, you can provide a secure "bridge" for people who want to freely access information. This open-source project is powered by Lantern, know more about this project.

Google Ads 1

Giving Assistant

Google Ads 2

Anti-censorship Tools

Life Without Walls

Click on the image to download Firefly for circumvention

Open popup

Welcome back!

CDT is a non-profit media site, and we need your support. Your contribution will help us provide more translations, breaking news, and other content you love.