aidou / ài dòu / 爱豆 noun. Idol, a celebrity, usually an entertainer that one approves of and supports at high cost
A. My Aidou is the most handsome of all.
B. He is such a shallow human being. Nothing but a pretty face. At least my Aidou has talent.
A. He has to with that ugly face.
B. Get out.
Just admit it: Singles' Day was not long ago and you are already thinking about what to get for Double Twelve Day. You open your Taobao app and check for price drops on goodies in your shopping cart wish list on the subway. You look at the Feiyue brand canvas shoes in your cart and wonder if they show how hip you are or if they are passé now. China has finally become a full consumer society where everyone and their mom obsesses over which products best represent their distinguished tastes and what statement each purchase makes about them.
Consumerism and our endless need to express individuality via products has given rise to the idol economy, where we showcase our personality with what kind of culture and entertainment we consume. When you are done choosing jackets and shoes that best represent you, you must also choose an aidou.
It could be Kris Wu if you are edgy (but still glamourous), or Jungkook if you are hardworking and sweet, or the Backstreet Boys if you never got over the early 2000's, or TFBoys if you think it’s nice to be nice to someone no one’s ever heard of because you despise the mainstream.
Since your aidou choice accounts for a considerable portion of your individuality, you must be ready to defend and fight for them at all costs. You shall spend thousands of yuan on concert tickets and merchandise to make sure your aidou stays successful. You shall wait for hours at the airport when aidou arrives to make sure they have the biggest welcome crowd, because aidou's reputation is on the line. If aidou endorses a line of products, you must buy the entire line and boycott any product their rival endorses, because nothing is more humiliating and unacceptable than aidou being beaten by rivals. Since your aidou represents your taste, value and most importantly, your aesthetic, aidou's success is your success, and aidou's failure is your failure.
This competition aspect is where the aidou economy can get ugly. Fans of one aidou self-organize in hundreds or even thousands to attack fans of another aidou on social media. Aidou's Weibo accounts, Baidu Tieba and Wiki pages often become battle grounds where fans fight via negative comments, ugly photos of aidou's and mean memes. Offline, family gatherings over the holiday season are often ruined by fans of different aidou's refusing to be under the same roof.
Because we are humans, we will always need new ways to say "I'm different from everyone else." And so, our aidou will have to bear the burden of expressing our individualities for us beyond haircuts and outfits.
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