Wu Zhengqiang walked into a salon in Hangzhou with a free facial care offer—and walked out with a bill for 40,000 RMB (5,851 USD), after being charged various add-on services. A video of his dismayed pout created a meme that would garner over 42 million views, 70,000 forwards, and comments on Weibo.
When Wu realized that he’d become known all over the web as 发际线男孩 (“hairline boy”), he claimed that he had no intention of “choosing the path of an ‘internet celebrity,’” but simply wanted justice. Soon, however, people discovered Wu’s account on Weibo and video platform Douyin, and even his appearance in several advertisements. Overnight, Wu became the latest (unwitting) celebrity to be dubbed 真香 (“really delicious,” zh8n xi`ng), a term mocking hypocrites and people who break their promises.
Its origin can be traced back to a 2014 incident on Hunan TV reality show X-change, in which urban and rural contestants briefly swapped lives. One pampered urbanite, Wang Jingze, refused to eat meals served to him in the village, vowing, “I, Wang Jingze, would rather die than touch your food!” Cut to the next scene, and Wang is filmed heartily tucking in, exclaiming, “So delicious!” Amused netizens made the contrasting scenes into a meme to roast those who fail to keep their word:
A: I don’t understand why he is so popular. All he has are his looks. W6 b& m!ngbai w-i sh9nme t` n3me hu6, t` ji&shi zh2ng de h1i x!ng. 我不明白为什么他那么火，他就是长得还行。 A: (Seconds later) Wow, he sings and dances so well! W`, t` ch3ngg8、ti3ow^ d4u h0n b3ng!哇，他唱歌、跳舞都很棒!
B: Hypocrisy alert! zh8n xi`ng [email protected]g3o! 真香警告! It can also serve as self-mockery:
I thought I would never watch that trashy show, but now I’m addicted. All I can say is: “so delicious!” W6 [email protected] [email protected]@ ju9du# b%hu# k3n n3 b& l`j~ di3nsh#j&, d3nsh# xi3nz3i w6 [email protected]~ng k3n [email protected] le. W6 [email protected] shu4: “Zh8n xi`ng!”我以为自己绝对不会看那部垃圾电视剧，但是现在我已经看上瘾了。我只能说：“真香!”
For people who repeatedly lie, pretend, or break promises, another expression to use when they’re caught in the act is 打脸( d2 li2n, “slap in the face”), which can be more embarrassing than a literal slap. For example, actor Jin Dong, who likes to cultivate a false air of intellectualism, once told media that he was reading a book by a “Nobel Math Laureate.” Since there is no such award, netizens commented:
He pretends to be so knowledgeable. What a slap in the face. T` b& d6ng zhu`ng d6ng, zh- xi3 b-i d2 li2n le ba. 他不懂装懂，这下被打脸了吧。
Being called out for hypocrisy can be a blow to one’s face (prestige), as well as a metaphorical slap, and netizens often like to pile on the humiliation with onomatopoeia— the sound of a cheek being slapped, papa (啪啪), can be used instead of, or in addition to 打脸 for emphasis, or simply added humor:
A: I think money is almighty and the rich can have anything. W6 r-nw9i qi1n sh# w3nn9ng de, y6uqi1nr9n m9i sh9nme d9 bu d3o de. 我认为钱是万能的，有钱人没什么得不到的。 B: Well here’s a slap in your face: Li Ka-shing is the richest man in Asia, but he still doesn’t have my Wechat number! M2sh3ng ji& r3ng [email protected] p`p` d2 li2n: [email protected] Ji`ch9ng sh# Y3zh4u sh6uf&, d3n zh#j~n d4u m9iy6u d9d3o w6 de w8ix#n!马上就让你啪啪打脸：李嘉诚是亚洲首富，但至今都没有得到我的微信!