Chinese send clear message to D&G: insult our culture, pay the price

  • The fashion designers have a right to their opinions but must accept the consequences for their culturally offensive message
  • D&G ignored the fact that most Chinese hate having their culture ridiculed
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 5:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 6:00am

I refer to the controversy about a Dolce & Gabbana event in Shanghai being cancelled, after online commercials featuring a Chinese woman caused a social media furore over racism that soon spilled over into the real world (“China culture shock for D&G: a lesson for global brands”, November 25).

The Italian luxury fashion house has been trending on mainland social networks for the past week or so, and for all the wrong reasons. Their ads featuring a woman trying to eat Italian food with chopsticks made internet users react strongly and caused great controversy, even making retailers pull D&G merchandise. I think D&G did not use an appropriate method to promote their designs or to express their notion of art.

Regarding the video series at the centre of the storm, it is understandable that an extreme interpretation was chosen to attract public attention. However, D&G ignored the fact that most Chinese hate having their culture ridiculed. Presenting a Chinese woman struggling to eat Italian food with chopsticks presented a serious distortion of Chinese culture.

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It can’t be denied that artists have the right to express their own ideas and beliefs. Although those perspectives may be judged, an artist’s inspiration should never be limited. However, D&G should have considered whether their idea was decent and made sure it did not include messages that might upset people.

Some people claimed that the Chinese were being oversensitive regarding the incident, and that it was not necessary to vilify D&G just because of the advertisement, which did not even insult China directly. I do not agree. Chopsticks are extremely meaningful to Chinese, and they represent a deeply rooted symbol of our culture.

Chinese are trained to use chopsticks from when they are toddlers, and taught that their misuse is bad table manners. D&G broke the rules of engagement with China.

 Xie GE, North Point