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春晚 CNY Viewing 2018


Meng Lelan
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I don't think he's been a part of the show for quite some years now, but I might be wrong.

 

Also, and somewhat off topic, the Reddit-thread about the Africa segment was quoted heavily in a SCMP piece today, and now Reddit seems to have been blocked in China (at least I am not able to access it anymore).

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My wife (Chinese) and I (European) still can´t get over the African sketch. She was/is really angry about that one. Blackfacing  should not happen any more. And it is not only the blackfacing, she also said, come on Africa is not a country, why do they just say the whole Africa knows now when there are clearly so many countries in Africa.

If such a sketch would have been shown on western TV, the responsible would be sacked. It was outright racist.

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Yeah, I'm usually pretty sceptical when this kind of story pops up, especially if it's being primarily covered on the BBC/Guardian websites (interestingly The Guardian had nothing on this last time I checked), but I'm afraid this is a pretty shocking misjudgement.  Part of me wants to ask why we should be surprised if China makes the same mistakes as those that have gone before them, but I don't think that kind of attitude is going to cut it. 

 

Someone else shared the details of a different sketch about a man calculating that the value of his wife was just under 2 yuan a day and that this was justification for loving her considering how much it would cost to employ someone to clean their house.

 

The difference with China is that there is no free media to come out and say that this kind of thing isn't OK.

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Reddit is not blocked for me. The sketch went unnoticed here, today none even remembers it. Probably a sign of how ingrained the black person stereotype is in china. On the other hand, there is a black actor on CCTVs 喜剧之夜 right now in a 小品 and there is no such stereotyped treatment. I think sadly this is just appealing to the masses for 春节, not necessarily how the entertainment industry here wants to be portraying black people. I think it was a very poor attempt to make progress in the way of displaying 'African culture' to a large audience who have limited exposure in this area. Really sorry for those who have been hurt, as are many chinese people I'm sure.

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5 hours ago, langxia said:

My wife (Chinese) and I (European) still can´t get over the African sketch. She was/is really angry about that one. Blackfacing  should not happen any more. And it is not only the blackfacing, she also said, come on Africa is not a country, why do they just say the whole Africa knows now when there are clearly so many countries in Africa.

If such a sketch would have been shown on western TV, the responsible would be sacked. It was outright racist.

 

Honestly, the blackface is one of the least racist thing in that sketch! If it were only the blackface I could let the whole thing slide. It's the combination of blackface + ridiculously big butt + black man dressed as a pet monkey following the black lady + red indian hollering + "I love China because China has done so much for me!" //blackface-lady-who-is-actually-Chinese + Chinese savior trope.

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I don't know, maybe I shouldn't add this, but the ChunWan show seemed to increasingly embody more and more multiple issues I had with the Chinese culture in general, almost like a reflection in a mirror. The Africa skit shows just one issue that I could not accept. There are and have been other issues. That's why I eventually abandoned my interest in the Chinese language and culture and switched over to French after working in Louisiana where it's spoken still. 

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There were issues mainly in the Chinese culture itself. Nothing to do with the Chinese language itself, but there were issues that made me feel very uncomfortable. I used to watch ChunWan until around 2011, or whatever year it was when Da Shan did a performance in the ChunWan for the last time. I got into a very complex discussion with others about Da Shan and there were those who said he's great because he speaks great Chinese and there were those who felt there were sensitive issues involved with him performing whatever he's been performing for China, which evoked very contradictory feelings. There were many, many, many other problems too that I came upon, with and without the ChunWan. Discrimination was a very big issue but not something I really want to discuss in deep detail. Consequently I felt that it was time to move away from that mindset and go to a vastly different mindset, which happened around 2013 when I was sent to Louisiana for internship.

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5 hours ago, Meng Lelan said:

I don't know, maybe I shouldn't add this,

I personally really appreciate this kind of comment, as I'm sure it's a thought process many of us living in china go or have gone through. Coming in regular contact with these kinds of problems every day is really testing, and can totally understand your decision.

 

My personal solution was and is to delve into chinese music: I have a focus and a group of friends here that is largely unrelated to my status as 'foreigner speaking chinese language'.

Talking about freedom of expression in art is liberating, and most importantly not controversial. It gives not just me, but everyone making music a creative, expressive outlet in a society whose fundamental values appear to be orientated according to how beneficial something is to the economy.

 

One thing I find disappointing is the never ending 'foreigner circus' on some TV channels. Its not going to change any time soon, and that change cannot start from foreigners in china (even though many would like it to, thus making the decision to go on TV in the first place).

 

For others: switch off the TV, get onto weibo and read what real people think, its cathartic to find you're not alone. Then spend your energy on positive uses of your language abilities in other hobbies.

 

As probably goes without saying: Chinese culture is beautiful in so many ways, but you're definitely not going to see that in 春晚 or a chat with 二叔叔 at the local 小吃.

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7 hours ago, Tomsima said:

'foreigner circus' on some TV channels

Also in the news. For example just within the last month I have seen two articles, one 'analysing' why  foreigners do not choose to go on holiday in China (their explanation surprised me) and the other one was about why foreign women do not marry Chinese men very often (explanation was also alien). Reading these things if you are Chinese, is obviously going to highlight how different we foreigners are.

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11 hours ago, Meng Lelan said:

There were issues mainly in the Chinese culture itself. Nothing to do with the Chinese language itself, but there were issues that made me feel very uncomfortable. I used to watch ChunWan until around 2011, or whatever year it was when Da Shan did a performance in the ChunWan for the last time. I got into a very complex discussion with others about Da Shan and there were those who said he's great because he speaks great Chinese and there were those who felt there were sensitive issues involved with him performing whatever he's been performing for China, which evoked very contradictory feelings. There were many, many, many other problems too that I came upon, with and without the ChunWan. Discrimination was a very big issue but not something I really want to discuss in deep detail. Consequently I felt that it was time to move away from that mindset and go to a vastly different mindset, which happened around 2013 when I was sent to Louisiana for internship.

 

I've encountered some really ignorant people in China, but it was always tempered by the knowledge that it was just at a local level and not something that better educated people, or the people with real power, would necessarily believe in too.

 

After having cooled down a little (watching Black Panther helped - what an awesome movie!), I realised that there could be an alternative explanation to what happened. China has been pushing and promoting for their Belt and Road initiative, which as we all know will involve investing billions and billions of dollars into other countries, up to an estimated accumulated 4-8 trillion dollars in total for the whole duration. Meanwhile, a lot of Chinese people are still struggling to make ends meet, and seeing their government take their tax money and invest it on foreigners on the other side of the world is sure to have created a lot of friction. 

 

One way to alleviate this problem is to push for the kind of narrative we see in the video, that of the Chinese Man saving the primitive Africans, providing these disenfranchised Chinese with a smug sense of superiority and giving them some pride in themselves. To quote President Lyndon B. Johnson: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

 

Or maybe it's all just an honest mistake  :P

 

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4 hours ago, happy_hyaena said:

Or maybe it's all just an honest mistake

My wife and I were discussing the skit earlier today, I mentioned about the monkey part being in very poor taste. She was really confused, 扮演猴子有什么问题,孙悟空在中国人的心目中就是英雄!Its like a totally opposite view of the situation from a country that has a /different/ history of racism. Made me think of a podcast I listened to a while back by 罗振宇 on the origins of 'yellow' as a descriptor of Asian, and in particular chinese skin. His point was while the term yellow was used to represent 'dirtiness' and 'unevolved' in western countries at the time, it appears to have been (mis)understood by chinese people as a term of flattery, the symbolic imperial yellow being a positive label to identify chinese ethnicity.

 

Perhaps something similar is happening here in reverse...

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