China-focused Satire, Social Commentary, Comics and More

CRIMES AGAINST POSTERITY: Exhibit D

Foreign-er Education

It was a hotel in Xi’An, home of the world’s most famous doll collection. The television fired up to the usual stuff, each click leading us around the carousel of tolerable news and soap operas…

Wait! What’s this? No emblem in the corner, but that was not so odd – most eye-catching, most strange, was the presence of a portly, mustached white man leaning from the window of a heavily-modified motor vehicle, speaking in some slow Midwestern American drawl about his plan to launch his car into a barrel roll over a line of junkers in an arena packed with screaming spectators. His name, we quickly learned, was Spanky Spangler.

Had it been late night TV in some divy motel along an interstate highway, we may have kept watching, but we wouldn’t have been so amazed or even thought much of it at all – but being where we were, we couldn’t help but wonder: Why, of all the foreign television produced every single year, would this inane 70s relic of a daredevil stunt by a man with the name of a patriotic porn star be aired on a Chinese network?

Clearly, there was more going on than a mere embrace of America’s glorious culture. And there was not – as in those highly-popular overdubbed Japanese game show programs – any mockery in it. The exploits of Spanky Spangler were, we had to conclude, on display purely for educational purposes.

Of course! Other instances in our memory suddenly reappeared – not only that strange poster we had seen, but countless television screens – on subway trains, in stations, and other public places – which, we realized, almost invariably were showing either tacky, fraudulent magic acts; wacky home videos of nut shots; or fashion shows – all with foreigners. And then, only days later, we found an informative deck of cards in a popular stationary store (“Foreigner Woman”).

So many images, all just lingering subliminally from monitors and walls. Foreigner, foreigner, foreigner… Why would the government allow it? Why not plaster the walls with local bimbos? Why not air comic replays of Chinese men getting their nether regions injured? The answer reveals a rather clever mode of thought: What better way to quell unrest, to stoke national pride, to improve moral, than to repetitively portray the people of other countries as a bunch of maniacs, buffoons, and brainless bimbos? As the citizens of this city, and other cities, enter into their mindless daily routines of subways, shops, and screens, they will find themselves the unwitting recipients of a carefully orchestrated barrage of imagery, all meant to educate them on the true nature of foreign peoples. After all, a well-informed public is vital for a harmonious society.

3 Responses to “CRIMES AGAINST POSTERITY: Exhibit D”

  1. MAC says:

    The Global Times seems to have a “pictures of foreigners being freaky” trawling the internet for nutty foreigner pictures every day. The galleries often have no coherent theme, or if they do, it falls apart after about three pictures. I mean, where did they find this, and what is their point in posting it?
    http://photo.huanqiu.com/interesting/picture/choiceness/2009-04/431912_9.html

  2. MyLaowai says:

    I met Spanky once. I had no idea he was still alive. Good for him and all he represents. Sort of.

  3. Editors says:

    Sorry, it’s not clear. This was Spanky in his glory days, mulleted newscasters and boxy sedans circa 1980 or earlier.

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