China Daily Humor Fail

By now you’ve probably all heard that Google is planning to walk away from China. While that story — and it is a fascinating one — plays itself out, I’d like to direct your attention to this China Daily column, which I found via Lost Laowai.

It is, evidently, an attempt at humor from the sometimes-humorous Hong Huang, but it comes off as a racist, xenophobic train wreck. As Ryan from Lost Laowai put it,

Did you ever have someone tell an absolutely terrible racist joke, but with a complete conviction and passion that you couldn’t comfortably relieve the awkwardness with a simple groan? That’s what it felt like reading this.

The kicker is the final two paragraphs, a supposed-to-be-tongue-in-cheek admonition for foreigners to stay away from fireworks (of course, most foreign countries also have holidays that are traditionally celebrated with fireworks):

Now fireworks. It is strictly, strictly for us Chinese. We really don’t want you anywhere near fireworks. First of all, it is dangerous. You don’t understand why 1.4 billion people have to turn into pyromaniacs for one night. It’s totally beyond your comprehension. But we love it; we have been setting off these things since we were three and for 5,000 years. So let me just say that fireworks are not for barbarians like you. You don’t get it. On the other hand, we Chinese have great tolerance for fireworks; it’s one night when you can do some damage and get away with it. For example, you can burn a building down, a brand new building, with stuff in it. How can you comprehend that level of generosity?

And, don’t you dare try to do the same, we simply have no tolerance for it. You try to burn a building down, we will kill you, because, you were probably high, and we really don’t give a hoot whether you are mentally disturbed or whether your prime minister is going to make endless harassing phone calls.

Of course, the irony here is how much the piece reveals about Hong Huang’s understanding (or lack thereof) of the foreign community in China (not to mention English humor). That this piece made it through multiple editors in a paper that caters mostly to foreigners is surprising, given that many people are probably going to find it offensive. And if you don’t think people are offended, check out the comments.

Here at ChinaGeeks, though, we believe the real crime here was against humor, not foreigners. Yikes…

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0 thoughts on “China Daily Humor Fail”

  1. “Here at ChinaGeeks, though, we believe the real crime here was against humor, not foreigners. Yikes…”

    Clearly – and a view supported by the critical remarks from some of the Chinese commenters.

    That last paragraph was really ugly, though.

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  2. Attempt at satire… failed.

    But why aren’t we talking about Google’s decision to withdraw from China? It’s pretty darn important.

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  3. What surprises me is that people actually responded to that article in the comments saying, “no need to be offended, she’s just trying to be funny.” Honestly, there comes a time when everyone just has to own up to the fact that Huang Hung simply fucked up.

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  4. I think Hong Huang was trying do a Borat. The bits about the CCTV building (for example, you can burn a building down, a brand new building, with stuff in it. How can you comprehend that level of generosity?) and that British man (we really don’t give a hoot whether you are mentally disturbed or whether your prime minister is going to make endless harassing phone calls) are clearly directed at the Chinese who felt the CCTV fire was no big deal and supported the execution.

    But in the middle of the essay it was a trainwreck, logic-wise. I couldn’t follow her chicken feet stream of consciousness.

    Custer you are right the crime is against humor. Hong Huang is one of the more liberal figures out there. I don’t think she was intentionally trying to be racist. She studied in the US (international politics) and opened a company in the US. She must have known.

    This reminds me of a notorious essay by Tao Jie (Chip Tsao) from HK last year (or 2008?) in which he admonished his Filipina domestic help to respect China’s soveignty in the South China Sea of which the Philippines has no claim, a country he called in the essay “a nation of servants.” He was fiercely anti-Beijing and was actually trying to criticize China’s stance in the Sea, but 6000 Filipinas took it to the street and held demonstrations.

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  5. I would suggest Hong Huang read this and learn from it before writing another sarcastic column. This is one of my favorite NYT essays of all time.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/07/opinion/07mcallsmith.html?_r=1

    At the same time, like Josh, I am surprised by some of the people who simply say “lighten up,” but also by some who were absolutely sure the article reflects Hong’s true views – that she was not attempting at humor – and got extremely mad.

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  6. C.Custer… I know I know. We should… Now that the article isn’t accessible anymore… or maybe it is…
    I can’t wait to see her next follow up article.
    “Why More Foreign Investment in China is Needed.”
    By Huang “Freaking Joke” Hong

    I have to show this to MX and see what she says!

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  7. The column was not in the print edition. It was written for the website which is an altogether different operation.

    These types of columns are interesting (only) in that they peel away the facade and let some true feelings emerge. Shows how ethnocentric (there’s a word from my 9th grade sociology class!) people can be. Just a load of poorly written stereotypes. She shouldn’t dream about flattering herself with phone call from any prime minister, it’s safe to say.

    I think she can very well keep the chicken feet all right, and I have a few suggestions where she can put them — about 10 kg might do the trick. Either that or a good old sock.

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  8. Want a way to connect the Google leaving China topic with the ‘silly articles on China Daily’ theme?
    Read this article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-01/18/content_9334543.htm
    He does make the good point that the US and Britain, among others, are also benefiting from information from Google and other companies though. But really the purpose of the article is to find a way of covering the Google issue while still conforming to the Chinese government line.

    Like

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