These ads feature an Asian woman in a
red garment in front of a backdrop perhaps best described as
pseudo-Oriental, eating Italian food with a pair of chopsticks. This
could have been an innocent stab at merging two cultures, but the shoddy
execution of these videos proved otherwise. Vaguely Oriental music,
complete with high flutes and the stereotypical gong, plays in the
background as a male voice mansplains in Chinese to the woman how to eat
a pizza, cannoli and spaghetti with chopsticks.
With an intentional mispronunciation of Dolce and Gabbana to mimic a
Chinese accent, the man refers to chopsticks as “stick-like objects”
while depicting Italian food as superior. The line specifically
translates to “figure out how you will use these little stick-like
objects to eat our magnificent Margherita pizza,” followed by the model
stabbing the pie with single chopsticks as though she has never seen a
chopstick, nor a pizza, in her life.
Delving into the nuances of these ads
reveals the layers of ignorant prejudices and sentiments of supposed
Western cultural superiority. Though the “eating instructions” are
spoken in Chinese, it could not be clearer that the script was written
by a non-Chinese individual, or perhaps a team of non-Chinese
individuals. The effect of hearing a Chinese voice speak out these
insensitive comments, with appropriately mocking inflections, is
surreal. It speaks in the internalized voice of cultural inferiority and
self-negation, fuelled by someone else’s words in Chinese mouths…
Aside from the offensive ads and the outright racist comments from Stefano Gabbana’s Instagram account immediately after the Chinese outrage, there also lies a subtler form of racism in the Western media’s portrayal of the event.Reading through coverage of the
scandal, I have found a common thread, with articles focusing on the
projected economic loss and consequences of these ads. As McKinsey reports, the Chinese market makes up a third of global luxury expenditures.
It implies that Dolce and Gabbana should apologize because of the
monetary losses from Chinese consumers and fails to address that the
real apology should be sincerely directed to the racist acts. The
articles focusing on protests, returns and decreased sales misattribute
why companies should be culturally aware and sensitive. If China did not
contribute a third of sales, would its misrepresented citizens not
warrant an apology?
Priced at RMB 199 (about $29 per lipstick) the lipsticks, available
in six colors, received more than 1,000 orders in a single night.
to the swift success, apparently, is the fact that they are made by a
local company, Beijing-based Bloomage Biotechnology Corp. Ltd., rather
than imported like most cosmetics in China. Further boosting the
national connection, the announcement noted that each of the six colors
is inspired by an object in the Palace Museum collection; for example,
the most popular lipstick, “Lang Yao Red” is inspired by an ancient
ceramic bottle and already has more than 600 orders…
“Today Chinese consumers seem to reward local brands for interpreting
its (national culture), in contrast to Western luxury brands’ attempts
to interpret that culture,” said Tanguy Chen Laurent, the U.S. managing
partner of Creative Capital.
After fans repeatedly asking for an original makeup line, The Forbidden
Palace Museum has finally delivered with two beautiful makeup sets and
two single items inspired by the Forbidden Palace itself and the
museum’s collections. Each piece costs between 66 – 160 RMB and can be
brought on their taobao store (which now takes foreign credit cards and ships abroad).
I illustrated for Disney’s MULAN book “Mulan’s Lunar New Year”, (you can see the book here!) a children’s book about little Mulan spending Lunar New Year with her family.
It’s my first book and I want to share some illustrations 😀 [*will also have this book at my table at CTNx 2018 this year on display at T55!]
Looking back, there are lots that I want to improve on the crafting of my drawings for this book, but overall… I’m really glad I get to illustrate and to remember the joy and excitement I had celebrating Lunar New Years and lighting fireworks with my parents as a kid.
It was pretty magical.