▶ How China’s gen­eral pub­lic per­ceive D&G racism row

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Lin Luwen and Huang Yiran

“Iwas just be­ing a de­cent hu­man be­ing,” said Michaela Phuong Thanh Tra­nova on her In­sta­gram, ex­plain­ing that her in­ten­tion when she ex­posed the screen­shot of the racist and deroga­tory com­ments by Ste­fano

Gab­bana, co-founder of the fash­ion brand Dolce&Gab­bana (D&G). The stu­dent and model who stud­ies in Lon­don claimed on Novem­ber 24 that the mes­sage ex­changed be­tween her­self and Stan­fano Gab­bana was deleted with­out her con­sent and her pri­vate pho­tos were also re­moved de­lib­er­ately by In­sta­gram.

The Ital­ian fash­ion house has been un­der fire in the past week after its co­founder’s com­ments de­scrib­ing China as a “shit coun­try,” which later were de­nied by the brand, with claims that his ac­count was hacked.

The scan­dal started when a se­ries of the brand’s com­mer­cial videos were re­leased, in which a model was us­ing tra­di­tional Chi­nese chop­sticks to eat Ital­ian food clum­sily. Many Chi­nese au­di­ences point out that the model’s fa­cial ex­pres­sion was ex­ag­ger­ated and weird which in­voked be­ing of­fen­sive. Later, Tra­nova con­fronted Gab­bana about the con­tro­ver­sial videos and after the con­tent of their mes­sages got re­vealed, mil­lions of peo­ple have ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment of the brand, trend­ing top­ics and hash­tags such as “D&G, get out of China,” “D&G racism” and “D&G Not Me” have been read more than 530 mil­lion times on Sina Weibo.

After a mas­sive back­lash from China’s gen­eral pub­lic, two de­sign­ers of D&G posted a video, ex­press­ing con­tri­tion over the racism row, by say­ing “sorry” in Chi­nese. How­ever, many Chi­nese ne­ti­zens con­sid­ered that it was too late to sub­side China’s gen­eral pub­lic’s fury.

Both the Chi­nese and ex­pat in­ter­vie­wees ex­pressed to Met­ro­pol­i­tan dis­ap­point­ment and aver­sion against the cam­paign made by D&G.

“They chose a stereo­typ­i­cal-look­ing Chi­nese face as a model lack­ing re­fine­ment and cul­ture to un­der­stand how to eat Ital­ian food,” a 24-year-old Chi­nese fe­male in­ter­vie­wee who chose not to be named told Met­ro­pol­i­tan.

“When we use a knife and fork, we use them as culi­nary uten­sils, and it’s just nor­mal. But this video car­ries a hint of in­nu­endo and makes fun of the chop­sticks,” two women from China told Met­ro­pol­i­tan.

One Chi­nese man de­scribed the ad to Met­ro­pol­i­tan as be­ing “ in­sult of Chi­nese culi­nary cul­ture. It’s rather unac­cept­able.”

Some ex­pats liv­ing in China in­ter­viewed by the Met­ro­pol­i­tan also ex­pressed their dis­sat­is­fac­tion with D&G. A woman from Brazil who chose not to be named said the video is “rude.”

She said, “We need to re­spect ev­ery­one around the world.”

A male in­ter­vie­wee from Den­mark who chose not to be named said, “If some­one took some­thing from my home coun­try and made a video of it like this or used it in a funny way, I would be of­fended, too.”

Meir Rakocz, an Is­raeli pho­tog­ra­pher, said, “This is not cre­ative, I take it as a bad joke. They should go back home and do their home­work...”

Scan­dal flares

D&G has re­ceived blow­back for of­fen­sive state­ments. The run­way show that was planned to be held in Shang­hai was can­celed, and many Chi­nese e-com­merce plat­forms in­clud­ing and Alibaba-op­er­ated Tmall with­drew D&G’s prod­ucts and blocked the brand within one day.

“If I were Chi­nese, I wouldn’t buy their stuff any­more,” said a male in­ter­vie­wee from the US, who has lived in China for four years and chose not to be named.

The ma­jor­ity of China’s gen­eral pub­lic re­mains skep­ti­cal to­ward their apol­ogy, say­ing that the apol­ogy was too late and it avoided the real is­sue of racist com­ments but blamed cul­tural dif­fer­ences in­stead.

“Do you guys think those busi­ness­men re­ally make their apolo­gies sin­cerely? That’s not only for busi­ness. I would not ac­cept that, China and the Chi­nese de­serve more re­spect,” one ne­ti­zen named Mar­tial-SGYuheng said in com­ments posted on the Global Times WeChat plat­form.

Photo: VCG

A truck re­moves the Dolce&Gab­bana's Shang­hai fash­ion show la­bel on Novem­ber 11. The event was can­celed due to out­rage over the fash­ion com­pany's re­cent ad­ver­tise­ment and re­marks

Photo: VCG

The cam­paign made by D&G was an aver­sion to both Chi­nese and ex­pats in Bei­jing who were ap­proached by Met­ro­pol­i­tan. Dan­nielle Hill from the UK In­ter­vie­wees from Brazil An in­ter­vie­wee from Den­mark

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