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Chinese designer Zhao Bandi (赵半狄) held his fashion show “China, a Nation of Pandas” in Paris, March 20, 2009. In his Panda themed designs he presented 33 Chinese social classes and social issues. These subjects include “corrupted government official”, “city management”, “beggar”, “mistress”, “escort girl”…
This fashion show as well as his designs has stirred up heated online debate. Many netizens accused him being a traitor of the nation, betrayed his own country. He is called to be a disgrace to the China and he disrespected the national treasure – panda. Some also says he is insulting Chinese nation in order to insinuate himself into the French favor. Among the many debates, mostly criticisms but there are also a few voices defending him.
Some of the character designs:
From Sina blog by 人云亦云, he summarized the 6 reasons why Zhao is being cursed at.
1. Zhao Bandi betrayed his own country, and insulted China.
“Displaying art should give no cause for criticism. But in order to gain favors from different races and different nations he betrays fellow countryman’s interest, licking foreigner’s butt-hole. This kind of actions should be punished by both men and god. This guy is scum of the nation, scourge of our country.”
Of course, “every country and nation has its good and bad, if there are shortcomings, we should all work hard and overcome them.” But, “Zhao’s action is too extreme, he totally did not consider our nation’s dignity.” Therefore, using blogger’s words, Zhao worships foreign things and toadies to foreign powers, he is “the kind that will drink his mother’s milk to grow up and sell his mother at the end.”
Netizen “ 冷眼一丁”says, Zhao is “performing without sense of integrity, he does not have Chinese people’s strong spine. He lost all faces for the Chinese people. This kind of scum should be punished by the entire country and should be executed by all Chinese people.”
2. Zhao Bandi wags the tail ingratiatingly to win foreigner’s favor.
Zhao “ingratiating foreigners” is the most damaging to Chinese people’s feeling”. Netizens are very angry about that. “To belittle China in order to win French’s favor, this is really horrible. Any country will not be happy about being falsely accused. Being happy about when getting insulted is mentally ill.”
One netizen says “Which country does not have its bad side? But we have to have integrity, cannot do things without integrity for instance gratification.” “Always insult ourselves in front of the foreigners, other than to win their favors, let them belittle us, does not solve any problems.”
“I thinking, are you Chinese? We can overcome any shortcomings for our country. We also admit our faults, but we do not use our faults to ingratiate the foreigners. You think about it, foreigners looking at your work, how do they look at you?”
3. Zhao Bandi seizes a chance to fool Chinese people
Some netizen says, in the surface Zhao Bandi’s fashion show is a culture and art exchange issue. However its content displayed issues with people’s dignity and nation’s dignity. “This is damaging to our country’s image, a Chinese person who loves his country will not seize this chance.”
Remember when after the showing of American cartoon “Kung Fu Panda”? Zhao is in favor of boycotting it. “Using Panda as a shield, he is the one says ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is an insult to China.” Now, he is “ingratiating the French”. Netizens already see through him, Zhao’s fashion show a why for him to seize a chance for personal gains. He is “holding the flag of art”, but really seizing a chance for personal gain and tarnishing art.”
“As an artist, there are many ways to attract people, but you cannot uglify our nation. Using such way to ingratiating the foreigners, and to achieve business goals will be cast aside by the people.”
4. Zhao Bandi “washes our dirty linen in public”
As an old saying: do not wash your dirty linen in public. (The disgrace of a family should never be spread out) It is not wrong that Zhao Bandi uses art work to display corruptions in the real Chinese lives. “But he is displaying all the secrets to the foreigners, he does not understand the meaning of do not wash your dirty linen in public.” On the surface Zhao Bandi is “exposing family scandal,” but really he is “a traitor ingratiating”.
Therefore, Netizens calls him “a serious culture scum”. Many netizens believe, “if this show happens in China, everyone will be happy and clapping for it.” We all do not want to expose our faults to the outsiders.
5. Zhao Bandi insulted national treasure
Panda represents China in some degrees. Some netizens says. “Should not use Panda to commit a sin!” We also think “Why does it have to be related to panda?” Zhao has “insulted panda, and insulted Chinese people. He is not worth to be a Chinese.”
Not only that some netizen says “Zhao damaged panda’s image, should protest for the pandas.”
6. Zhao Bandi only wants to hype up himself
“Zhao totally is a clown who is very arrogant but who isn’t actually competent. What else can he do other than hypes up himself? Other people made “Kung Fu Panda”, he goes to protest. From what I see, talking about art, the film is so many times better than his work. Now he goes to foreign country with our panda, and puts shame on Chinese people’s face. Does he own the pandas?”
When Zhao Bandi is boycotting “Kung Fun Panda”, “he is shouting like a man with moral and integrity, now he is someone who is arrogant but not competent!” Does he really care about our national treasure? No! In fact, he only uses panda to hype up himself.
He also talked about an article written by “青林”Defending Chao and his panda fashion.
In the article, “these kind of criticisms are already went beyond fashion, art itself. Many of them are coming from our patriotic emotions and big nation’s emotions in our hearts. However, it is lack of tolerance, lack of manner. This is only a performance. We did not lose anything, did not lose to anyone. There is one thing we cannot deny, these images displayed by the fashion show really exist in our lives. Even if the French do not come to China, these things still exist; once foreigners come, are we going to hide the 200,000,000 peasant workers? When the president of France comes, the ‘nail household’ will move?”
This author also thinks “if you think exposing China’s dark side is always same as ingratiating the foreigners, you are being too narrow. Now days the economy is being developed in a high speed, people do not have to worry about hunger or clothing, people are calling for high level of culture and art work. But first we have to give more tolerance to the new forms of art. Art development is also takes time, it needs time to validate itself. If Panda fashion is really just hype and a trick, then time will give its death sentence. If it really has inspiration and value, then Zhao Bandi will work even harder to bring forth new ideas. How does this provoke anyone?”
Zhao Bandi’s held a press conference and responded in his blog:
Recently, I held the panda fashion show in France sparked a national controversy, mostly is the criticism of me being a “traitor of the nation” a “disgrace to China”.
April 8th afternoon, in 798 Art district Bandi Panda House, I have made my responses into 5 points to the related accusations, I also answered all the reporters’ questions.
1. I have been called “traitor of the nation, disgrace to China”, but it actually warms my heart.
The reason Panda fashion show in France sparked so much national controversy, is because Chinese people are very patriotic. Understanding this, any of my speeches and writing is feeling the warmth.
Putting Fashion show together with “patriotic”, “disgrace the country”, this has never happened in the world before. In this big family (China), listening to family members being angry, listen to family member talking about my good and bad, I am not angry, just listening.
I sympathize with all the good people calling me “traitor of the nation, disgrace to China”, they have an honest but rigid mind.
I want to say, a challenging new world is in front of us, how to be patriotic cannot be explained in the text book.
I will find the answer using my own actions.
2. I have no interest to show the five thousand years of culture, my art’s starting point is today.
I think nostalgia is sign of weakness. Feeling of nostalgia comes too easily, too casual, too civil and too carefree.
I believe, only if we touch today, then we can crab today. My panda fashion show is a work of realism. It is a mirror reflecting today’s Chinese society.
Over thirty social classes composed the wonders of today’s Chinese society. It is a stirring feeling.
“Escort service girls” “mistresses” “corrupted officials” etc. etc. showing up on stage in my fashion show, a lot of people cannot accept and cannot tolerate.
It’s true this is my insightful art, not a synonymous of “vulgar”.
Part of my Panda fashion is also romanticism work, because it is brilliant, and not depressed, because it is the surging passion. Perhaps, the fashion show cannot be summed up using any existing so-called “doctrine”, because it is the new work of art marked with “China’s creation”.
It contains many qualities: Insightful humor, serious and wicked, ridicule and self-ridicule, simple but amazing.
These words may seem not appropriate for me to say, but since people with “culture speaking rights” all chose to be silent, I as a pioneer, should put it directly.
I also admit I feel a little lonely because I walk in front of the art.
3. Some people say I put shame on Chinese people’s face. I think I put pride on them
I admit that I have very good feelings toward France, because I have once amazed and infatuated with their arts.
In my heart, Paris is the world capital of fashion, art. London, Tokyo and New York all have approached me, but my first choice was France, yes it is Paris.
My work opens a new window in world’s art and fashion. I feel I am winning more honor for Chinese arts.
4. Many people still cannot rationale my protest against Kung Fu Panda. Frankly, I don’t buy Unit States’ culture hegemony. Because of my angry feelings, I have mistakenly set it out, which is understandable.
5. Some people said I disrespected Panda, if Pandas can speak, I really hope they can come out and talk, about my art, about my fashion. Maybe they like it, they think it’s interesting, they don’t have to be worshiped by people all the time, they can maybe like to live a normal life more. They also want to be naughty, they maybe hope to not only live in the cute cartoon, they want to ditch school, wrestle, rolling in the mud… throw a fit. Maybe they like to be Zhao Bandi’s friend.
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