Tuesday, May 17, 2005

$320 Pair of "Self-Suspicion"


Reader Bruce Spragg emails about a new line of Nike sneakers for Lebron James. This particular pair shown above is $320, and that is cheap! Since there were only 300 pairs of these made, sneaker pimps are selling them on eBay for as high as $9,000 according to news report (video).

So what do these four Chinese characters say on these "overpriced-toe-fungus-traps"?

= self; myself
= to doubt; to suspect; doubt; suspicion

The phrase means "self-suspicion" or "self-doubt". What a great way for Nike to rub "buyers' remorse" in these sneaker fans' faces and their empty wallets (except the sneaker pimps).

I am somewhat inspired by the latest trend of exclusive customized sneakers, Adidas has its Original Series, Puma has its Mongolian Shoe BBQ, and Nike has its NikeID, what about Hanzi Smatter?

Don't you worry, I have got that covered.

Presenting the HS Sneaker:

1. Buy a pair of sneaker of your choice
2. Download and print out the Hanzi stencils provided here:
"crazy diarrhea"
"inferior goods"
3. Paste the stencil onto a piece of cardboard backing
4. Trim out the black part of the characters
5. Place the stencil along with the cardboard backing onto any surface or the sneaker
6. Use color marker(s) and smear over the stencil, thus the design will be left on the sneaker

Congratulations, you are now a proud owner of HS Sneaker!


  1. Here's a report on Nike's rationale - the words ("Hype," "Temptation," "Haters," "Complacency," and "Self-doubt.") are things every athelete needs to conquer before he can win, according to Lebron James.

    I can't see the money-shoe going over well, though, what with the Chairman's face getting smashed in whenever you kick something.

  2. I was about to say, "self-suspicion" sounds much more forced a translation than "self-doubt".

  3. Wheres the bukakki sneaker?

  4. http://www.asianmediawatch.net/nike/

    View the whole commercial here. It's a pretty good-looking ad, and the words being used do make sense in it . . . but not quite so much sense when you choose that one example and stick it on a shoe. Not many people out there will understand it to mean "always push yourself and never grow too confident in your own skills."

  5. More photos of the shoe (including an interior shot with more characters) can be seen here.

  6. Is the idea that, by placing this phrase on his shoes, he is symbolically stomping on his own self doubt? If so, the phrase makes sense.

    It would more sense on the soles of his shoes, but then no would would get to see the characters...

  7. Did any one see Tian's previous posting about Nike's Lebron James promotion? The slogan is gibberish.

  8. Tian, I realize that the translation for "idiot" that you give is refering to male population only. You should give another translation for "female idiot"! :P

  9. Where's the stencil that says 'ben de yang ren'? =p

  10. Does this say what it claims to say? http://www.jlist.com/IMAGE/a4j20

  11. Angela: Actually, 傻子 can refer to either male or female, though it is slightly slanted towards the male. I think 傻瓜 or 呆瓜 is more gender-neutral. Personally, I would translate "傻子" as "fool" and "呆子" as "idiot."

    If you wish to be gender-specific, you can go with 傻女 (the male counterpart is 傻佬), but as far as I know the term is only used in Cantonese.

    Anon: Regarding the t-shirt, yes, it does say "looking for Japanese girlfriend" in Japanese. Doesn't make much sense in Chinese, but considering the text it should make no difference.

  12. According to an educated Chinese person (not me but I trust her info), the characters for "crazy diarrhea" can also be interpreted as "deluge". 狂=violent, 瀉=(of liquid) flowing down swiftly, as in rushing torrent. So 狂瀉 means violent rushing torrent, the equivalent of deluge.

    Although I guess if one does have "crazy diarrhea" one does get deluged...

  13. what a waste of money

  14. Especially considering the same sweatshop workers who produce these over-priced sneakers still make about less than 60 cents per hour.

  15. There was a series of TV ads by Nike featuring LeBron James mimicking Bruce Lee's going up the pagoda in "The Game of Death". Instead of a different martial arts practitioner on each level, LeBron is faced with a different challenge typical of a rookie sensation. One of these personified challenge was a monster named "Self Doubt".

    I don't see anything wrong with this particular pair of sneakers; an insider of the NBA and Nike ads would appreciate them.

    I wonder if the other personified challenges made their way to the back of Nike sneakers?