Kung Fu Panda, Go Home!

Haiyan Lee – The China Beat

Copyright The China Beat
7/17/2008
It seems that boycott fatigue has finally hit the Chinese, in a year that has lurched from one boycott to another—against such entities as a French supermarket chain, a Hollywood star, and an American cable channel. When the latest clarion call was issued by a performance artist named Zhao Bandi赵半狄 against Kung Fu Panda, he was greeted with jeers and mockery. Zhao presented his case in a blog: Hollywood is morally corrupt for churning out loathsome personalities like Sharon Stone (who betrayed schadenfreude over the Sichuan earthquake as “karmic retribution” for Tibet) and Steven Spielberg (who quit his role as artistic advisor to the Olympics over Sudan). Therefore it should not be allowed to profit, in China, and so soon after the earthquake, from China’s most iconic “national treasure” (国宝)—the panda. And for Chinese to help line the pockets of the Hollywood reprobates would be tantamount to stripping valuables off the bodies of the quake victims.
The banner that Zhao strung up outside the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, telling Kung Fu Panda to go home (《功夫熊猫》滚出去!), was taken down within 20 minutes by plainclothes police (see picture above). The movie opened in multiple cities on June 20 as scheduled to huge mirthful crowds. But Zhao’s effort was not a complete failure: the release of the movie was delayed for one day in Sichuan—home of the panda reserve and site of the earthquake—over concerns about possible “misperceptions” and hurt feelings. For this minor victory, Zhao received a phone call from an irate Sichuanese who gave him a bank account number and demanded that a suitable sum be deposited into it. For what? To compensate for the psychological loss he allegedly sustained for being prevented from enjoying the movie simultaneously with his dear compatriots throughout the rest of the country (全国人民)!
Most of the detractors simply regarded Zhao as a clown and a hypocrite, asking tongue-in-cheek if he had come down with a case of “boycott disease” (抵制病), or if he was jealous of Hollywood’s high-tech virtuosity. Zhao has indeed made a name for himself (“the Pandaman” 熊猫人) with his panda-themed performance art, most notably a goofy line of black-and-white and furry fashion gear (picture below). Apparently his being Chinese not only entitles him to playful (and gainful) appropriation of his national patrimony, but also obligates him to guard it against profiteering interlopers.
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