Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chinese Detergent's Racist Ad by Qiaobi (俏比)

Chinese Detergent Ad Draws Charges of Racism

A Chinese laundry detergent commercial has spurred outrage online, with many social media users accusing it of blatant racism.
In the commercial for Qiaobi laundry detergent, an Asian woman shoves a detergent pod into the mouth of a black worker and unceremoniously pushes him headfirst into a washing machine.

After a quick cycle, the machine is opened and a pale Asian man emerges with a wink, to the woman’s delight.
The advertisement, which has been airing in China at least since April, has been met abroad with a combination of anger and disbelief.
But in China, where racial stereotypes in popular culture are rampant, the commercial did not seem to provoke a great deal of reaction.
Xu Chunyan, an agent for Qiaobi based in the southeastern city of Suzhou, brushed aside the criticism, saying the ad was meant to be provocative. “We did this for some sensational effect,” she said. “If we just show laundry like all the other advertisements, ours will not stand out.”
Still, there were some critical Chinese voices. On Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, a user wrote, “My God, do marketing people have no sense of racial issues?”
Amid the controversy over racism, another accusation was tossed into the mix: plagiarism. As the website Shanghaiist pointed out, the advertisement’s concept is nearly identical to that of an ad that was broadcast in Italy nearly a decade ago — except for one significant difference.
In that video, a skinny, pale white man is placed in a spin cycle, only to emerge as a black man flexing his muscles with a hip-hop soundtrack while a tagline proclaimed, “Coloured is better.”
Westerners who visit China are often troubled by the country’s attitudes toward race, which are frequently manifested in a preoccupation with pale skin.
Elena Young, a mixed-race American who teaches kindergarten in Zhejiang Province, in eastern China, said on Thursday that she had “never been anywhere I’ve felt so discriminated against.”
“Their obsession with white skin is the most evident,” she said. “My first day in China, my school assistant ran from shaded spot to shaded spot when we walked to lunch together because she told me she didn’t want to ‘turn black.’ ”

Chinese racial biases have exploded into the broader global conversation several times in the past. In 2009, online commenters assailed a mixed-race contestant on a Chinese reality show, mocking her for having a black father, leading to a string of international news stories.
The episode set off a bout of soul-searching for some in a country where race is not often discussed in public. Raymond Zhou, a columnist for the English newspaper China Daily, wrote an article in response to the episode, reflecting on China’s issues with skin color:
“Much of China’s simmering intolerance is color-based,” he wrote. “It is not an exaggeration to say many of my countrymen have a subconscious adulation of races paler than us. The flip side: We tend to be biased against those darker skinned. It’s outright racism, but on closer examination it’s not totally race based. Many of us even look down on fellow Chinese who have darker skin, especially women.”
“It is high time we introduced some sensitivity training on races and ethnicities if we are going to latch on to the orbit of globalization,” he added. — Jonah Bromwich | The New York Times

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