It’s not uncommon for luxury car brands to try to convince men that buying a high-end vehicle will bring them extra luck with the ladies. It turns out that in China, they might actually be onto something, according to a controversial video that’s gone viral on Chinese social media.
In the video created by Tudou called “Nightclub women don’t care about their lives when they get into a tuhao’s car” that has clocked in at over 3.6 million views, a man drives down the streets of Beijing in an $800,000 Lamborghini asking strange women to get in the car with him (tuhao, 土豪, is a derogatory term used to refer to a crassly ostentatious member of the nouveau riche). His success rate is high: five out of seven women are happy to oblige. Just to make sure that it’s not his good looks and charm winning them over instead of his fancy vehicle, the same experiment is repeated with a cheap SUV by Chinese company Chery, yielding a zero-percent success rate.
The women who accept the offer don’t seem creeped out by the proposition—when the man asks one woman who gets in the car whether or not she’s worried he’s a bad guy, she responds, “I feel you seem like a good person.” He then asks whether or not she would have taken him up on the ride if it were a small Chinese car, to which she replies, “No, my legs are too long.”
The video’s popularity is likely due to the fact that it has hit a nerve with the middle-class Chinese public, which is increasingly disdainful of tuhao style, or ostentatious displays of wealth and crass materialism. “Most of these kinds of women place higher value on wealth,” one Chinese viewer told NPR in a recent interview on the video. “To put it bluntly, they are willing to sell their youth for money.” According to a Tudou commenter, “These women are sincerely vain.” Another one states, “this program is great at reacting to an ugly side of society.”
This is far from the first incident in which the Chinese public has railed against worship of wealth over love. In 2010, an uproar was sparked on Chinese social media when a contestant on a dating show said, “I would rather cry in a BMW than smile on a bicycle,” causing net users to lament what they saw as an excessive display of materialism in Chinese society.
While these types of incidents also have a disturbing gender dynamic that involves placing the judgment specifically on women for behaving like “mistresses,” the anti-tuhao attitude has manifested itself in other ways among the habits of the growing Chinese middle class. Trends such as the rejection of ostentatious, logo-heavy accessories, a focus on self-expression over social status in fashion, and an interest in independent, experiential travel over shopping-focused trips have been catching on among China’s affluent in recent years. While the country’s rapidly growing ranks of newly wealthy mean that there’s going to be a major market for nouveau riche style for quite some time, a growing contingent is also quickly rejecting the mindset that would make it seem like a good idea to get in an expensive vehicle with a random, creepy guy.