Cartoon Stereotypes of "Fat, Promiscuous" Americans Used to Promote Video Game
A well-received online marketing campaign that incorporates race-baiting and cultural stereotypes has attracted a lot of online attention by asking: "Do you know how 'evil' laowai think Chinese are?"
The promotional campaign for the game, A Chinese Odyssey 2, enlisted the help of cartoonist Feizhi (肥志) to explain why Chinese are so feared and hated.
Using cute cartoon figures, Feizhi explains that China has been the victim of cultural misunderstandings perpetrated by the rest of the world; but, as times change, so does the way China is perceived.
For example, Marco Polo was impressed with China's prosperity during his visit 700 years ago, describing an "imperial palace made out of gold." But since then, "the West" has systematically believed that all Chinese were "cunning and malevolent" people who "abandoned their babies in rivers" due to their new status as an industrial civilization.
As seen in the cartoon, Feizhi said "the West" believed that "Chinese culture was inferior and that Chinese people were not cultured" (shown below), offering the Fu Manchu novels by Sax Rohmer, Iron Man arch-nemesis the Mandarin, and the Yellow Peril scare as evidence.
"Europeans thought Chinese to be intelligent, but feared the size of their population," wrote Feizhi in the cartoon. The cartoon explains that "this prejudice did not change until China became an economically strong country," as depicted here:
Although Western countries changed their impression of China, Feizhi said their understanding was limited (as shown below: "just a little").
This knowledge gap is evidenced in Chinese-inspired comics like DC's The Great Ten as well as a Chinese version of Superman named Kong Kenan. But whereas Feizhi finds the former to be staffed with awkwardly-named superheroes like "Accomplished Perfect Physician," the cartoonist said the naming of the Chinese version of the Joker had gone too far.
Inspired by a profane Chinese internet meme from ten years ago, "Grass Mud Horse" (草泥马) is taken as personally offensive by Feizhi who asked: "Just what kind of misunderstandings do you hold against China?"
Sure, cultural stereotypes are bad, but Feizhi hasn't yet had a chance to smear China's detractors.
Feizhi finally gets some satisfaction of his own by saying "the West" suffers from poor math skills, a preference for bland food, obesity, and promiscuity. But even if all the previously-mentioned biases against Chinese are purportedly wrong, these prejudices against the West are held to be just, if not accurate.
According to Feizhi, cultural stereotypes are, in fact, acceptable because they are part of social identity, and because they're just so easy to adopt. As weird as an explanation as this is, there's a reason behind all of it – this is an advertisement for a video game, and Feizhi eventually gets around to selling the goods.
Feizhi suggests that because differences between people are inherent, readers should celebrate them. And the best way to do that is by holding a national video game tournament, to be held later this week in Guangzhou.
Yes, that's right: race-baiting and cultural stereotypes were used to sell a fantasy RPG video game, all depicted using cute cartoons. Maybe there's some connection between xenophobia and mashing the melee button, but we don't see it. And as much as it is true that elves and dwarves don't get along, they can still put aside their differences to offer quests and merchandise to each other.
In just one day after being published, Feizhi's post received 21,000 upvotes and nearly 17,500 forwards, possibly because readers are incentivized by a lottery offering a cash prize.
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