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Fanning the Obsession

Call yourself a fan of a Chinese celebrity? Not if you don't learn these phrases first


Fanning the Obsession

Call yourself a fan of a Chinese celebrity? Not if you don't learn these phrases first


If you have any interest at all in pop culture, you’ll have come across these folks: they’re loyal, they’re a legion, and they’re the best (or at least the loudest) champions that any celebrity could wish for. We are, of course, talking about fans. But apart from debating you on social media and injecting billions of RMB into the media industry each year, they’re also the fountainhead of a lot of internet slang.

You might already know that the word 粉丝 (fěnsī), literally “rice noodles”, is the Chinese term for “fans” (say it out loud a few times to find out why). These days, there is a new expression—迷妹 (mímèi), literally “obsessed sisters,” and its counterpart, “obsessed brothers” (迷弟, mídì), which are considered more accurate descriptions of the level of these individuals’ mania. To shore up your credibility as an adoring fan, there are certain phrases you have to master in order to you lavish your idol in praise, defend them to the hilt, and swear eternal fealty and love as needed.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder; for fanboys and girls, their idols are perfect. In the world of their fans, all pop stars are good-looking, have good acting or singing skills, work hard, and treat fans well.

Complimenting the object of your admiration usually starts with their appearance. First, you should learn the word 颜值 (yánzhí), literally meaning “face value.” The better-looking someone is, the higher the face value. Here are two phrases have been around for a while but can be very useful: 颜值爆表 (yánzhí bàobiǎo), which means “the face value has destroyed the charts,” and 颜值逆天(yánzhí nìtiān), meaning “the face value goes against the laws of nature.”

Sometimes you see the four-character phrase 美颜盛世(měiyán shèngshì), literally meaning “beautiful face flourishing era.” Don’t question the meaning; they’re simply four characters that are supposed to make you think of pleasant things, just like the beautiful object of your praise.

Even more confusingly, there is “the spring of the face dog (颜狗的春天 yángǒu de chūntiān).” 颜狗 literally means “face dog,” a somewhat self-deprecating term adopted by fandoms to describe fans who only care about pop stars’ appearance. So the logic goes, a face dog’s “spring” comes (i.e. they are happy) when they see many beautiful faces. If the whole cast of the film is studded with handsome mugs, fans will exclaim, “This movie is totally the spring of face dogs!”

You will also frequently see the word 哭 (kū,cry). In some cases is not used as a verb, but an adverb indicating a description of a high degree. For example, 帅哭 means “extremely handsome” or “so handsome that it makes me cry.”

Got that? Now that you’ve mastered how to fawn over appearances, it’s time to comment on the acting:


I am overcome by these acting skills!

Zhè yǎnjì wǒ fú!



I could feel the good acting even on the other side of the screen!

Gézhe píngmù dōu gǎnshòu dàole yǎnjì!



I couldn’t see any of the actor in the character! Too awesome!

Zài juésè shēnshang wánquán kànbudào běnrén de yǐngzi! Tài zàn le!



Or singing:


These singing skills have brought me to my knees!

Zhè chànggōng wǒ gěi guì le!



I’ve put the song on a loop! Totally can’t stop!

Yǐ kāiqǐ xúnhuán bōfàng! Gēnběn tíng bú xià lái.

已开启循环播放! 根本停不下来!


Some fans truly like the acting or singing; others just believe that as a fan, it’s their obligation to give positive feedback so their idol can bask in its light. This means, of course, they are also their idol’s staunchest defenders against any negative feedback.

To ordinary audiences, the most fanatical admirers of a celebrity are called “brain-damaged fans (脑残粉, nǎocán fěn).” Their favorite shot to fire is the all-purpose line—”Do you know how hardworking he/she is? (你们知道他多努力吗? Nǐmen zhīdào tā yǒu duō nǔlì ma?” When pop stars are criticized for their lack of skill, mocked for poor taste in fashion, or even caught for breaking the law, their fans will use their hard work as the catch-all defense.

But apparently, hard work can’t cover everything, even assuming it really works, especially when the star is involved in severe issues like drugs. In these situations, their loyal 脑残粉 will turn a different tack—everyone makes mistakes!


He’s still just a kid, why can’t we give him a second chance?

Tā hái zhǐ shì ge háizi, wǒmen wèishénme bùnéng zài gěi tā yí cì jīhuì ne?



The generally public doesn’t usually respond well to these excuses, but by that point most rabid fans too deep in their own reality to care. On social media, you can see as many declarations of love from fans to celebrities which show just how far the obsession can go. They range from the romantic and touching to the deluded and kind of creepy; on the other hand, they work somewhat as a declaration of love for someone in your own life.


It was destiny for me to love you.

Xǐhuān nǐ shì mìngzhōngzhùdìng.



I could not be a part of your past, but in your future, I’ll be accompanying you to the end.

Nǐ de guòqù wǒ wèinéng cānyǔ, nǐ de wèilái wǒ fèngpéi dǎodǐ.



It’s my lifelong wish to see you rule the world.

Yuàn wǒ yǒushēngzhīnián, jiàn nǐ jūnlíntiānxià.



Cover Image from Wikimedia Commons