Why are “blue movies” called blue in English and “Yellow” in Chinese?:confused:

Is that a translation, or is it just a way for English speakers to describe Oriental porn?

What we call blue movies, are called “yellow movies” in Mandarin Chinese, in Beijing.
I am wondering why we call these movies blue and why the Chinese call them yellow.

The Word Detective ays that blue spotlights were used in stripteases, but isn’t certain that this is the correct etymology.

Yellow movies are tougher. As I refuse to learn Mandarin, I suspect I’ll never know. All I could find was that yellow is associated with the Earth/China/middle (unlikely), virgin brides (possible, but unlikely), marrage matchmakers (possible) and luck (possible).

Did you ever try buying a dictionary on slang? You can usually get them cheap–in paperback form–in any book store.

They have a wealth of information in them–on all colloquial expressions, including slang. I got two of them.

BTW, have you considered all the various symbolic applications of the color yellow? My slang dictionary lists deceitfulness, treachery, degradation and “the light of hell” (whatever that may mean).


Yeah, but I think that those are European symbols, not Chinese (although that is based on a mere 10 mins searching).

Don’t suppose your dictionary has the answer to either questions?


Bromley, thank you for your reply.
For "blue’ I found the censorship of scripts etc. was carried out with a blue pencil and that cheap ‘back yard’ processing of black and white film was blue and white. Possible?
I am living in Beijing and learning Chinese but haven’t found anyone who knows the answer for ‘yellow’ .
BTW ‘yellow’ is also associated with the emperor…
Jim, I think a dictionary of slang would perhaps give me the answer for ‘blue’ but not for yellow as this is used only in Chinese. The associations you mention are definitely western.