Is Katy Perry moonlighting for China's government or merely modeling a dress from designer Vivienne Westwood's Spring/Summer 2012 Gold Label collection? Maybe both: the Chinese calligraphy on her form-fitting AMA frock spells out “Green Economy”, a popular catchphrase oft-spouted by China's official media.
Does the buxom celebrity know (or care) what's written on her dress? Most likely not, and that not only puts her in the same boat with many of those who sport Chinese character tattoos but also with countless non-English speakers in Asia whose t-shirts and handbags display English, Engrish and Chinglish jargon.
At least “Green Economy” makes sense as a two-word (or four character: 绿色经济) phrase. In official Chinese government and government-controlled media circles, the term is used along with other similar slogans such as “Sustainable Development” and “Scientific Growth”, either of which would look equally out of place on Katy Perry's dress. All things considered, it could be worse: the characters could have spelled out “Imperialist Running Dogs” or “Capitalist Roaders”.
China's newshound netizens noticed Perry's inadvertent propaganda via photos snapped at her American Music Awards appearance on Sunday, November 20th, 2011.
Naturally, the outspoken netizens are somewhat amused (to say the least) by her unconscious parroting of the Party line. “What the hell was the designer thinking?” commented one, while another wrote “Hahaha, Green Economy… Katy Perry is quite politically correct.”
Let's not rush to judge Perry one way or another; she's as oblivious to the meaning of the words on her rent-a-dress as Jessica Simpson is regarding the origin of Buffalo Wings.
Vivienne Westwood should know better though: it took a conscious decision to place those four particular Chinese characters onto sequined fabric styled to simulate traditional Chinese ink-wash painting – an art form much, much older than the Chinese Communist Party's latest trendy slogans. (via Ministry of Tofu, Chinanews.com and Association & Brand)