When dozens of foreign models dressed up as Spartan warriors on July 22 to promote a salad restaurant, a few ofmy female friends posted photos on wechat immediately with the icons of red hearts, applause. Even though I live in Sydney, seeing similar promotional events often here, it was hard to miss such eye-catching photos. Without doubt, it would be the most popular wechat post on that day. Considering the numerous subsequent media reports, it certainly makes this salad restaurant more famous than the owner expected.
With shock, I soon saw the photos of the People’s Police in blue and black uniform started a real battle, and took down Spartan warriors at a pedestrian bridge. They certainly showed them who the real ‘worriers’ were.
Have we lost a good sense of humor? How often does the public get the chance to enjoy a free themed fashion show, performed by western models? Why can’t we just have a laugh and enjoy it?
It reminds me of the 1980s, when disco was firstly introduced China, how Chinese society reacted and how much courage it required the young Chinese women to put on colorful clothes when the others were still in grey Mao suit. I would not be surprised, if the arrest happened in any other secondary cities, or the countryside in China. But it is hard for me to believe it happened in the trendiest area of Beijing in the 21st century.
Some people say the ‘Spartan” promotion is another publicity stunt to challenge our social moral bottom lines. I wonder how could those western models in capes and loincloths become a challenge, when almost every Chinese commercial website frequently appear pop-up porn advertisements, and our country does not even have a film classification system to protect our children from adult films. Perhaps, to increase males’ click rate, it is the privilege for only women to appear in bikinis with sexy look, but not the other way around.
It is pathetic to see when the public confuses the bounds of entertainment, culture and obscenity. I understand it has been sensitive time for the officials to control the social order, since the sex clip shot in Sanlitun Uniqlo was released online merely a week ago. Seriously, how many of Chinese purposefully, sleazily looked for the video to watch and share even after it has been taken down? I saw a wechat post from a primary school mate saying that he traveled from anther city to Beijing and took a photo of the Uniqlo, and boasted he has been there as scandalous site.
It is even sadder to read the comments by some racist Chinese under the news on the English site of The Global Times. They insulted the western models as ‘monkey’, westerners as ‘White Devil’, and said ‘they belong to the Beijing zoo’, and ‘zero tolerance for those foreign trash.’ Considering their English literacy, I believe those Chinese netizens accepted decent education with some understanding of western culture. It is shameful that they do not even realize they are racists, neither their uncivilized behaviour. Their rude and bitter words even scare me by reminding the similar time we had as North Korea.
Meanwhile, I also wonder whether the criticism is coming from xenophobic nationalism. I have noticed that the resentment against foreigners has been growing in Beijing since 2008. With extreme jealousy and lack of confidence, some Chinese men accuse westerners of stealing money and women from China. I remembered once I was walking crossing the road with my male British colleague on Xingdong Lu, a Chinese young guy threatened me by suddenly stopping his orange Lamborghini next to me. He shouted at me from the window, ‘Is laowai (foreigner) better than Chinese man?’
I still cannot find proper explanation for the strange behavior of this rich, not-bad-looking Chinese guy. However, my friends who run bars and restaurants in Sanlitun, the entertainment quarter in Beijing, told me Chinese men tend to pick fights with foreigners more often than before.
It is true that foreign models are more favored by businessmen in China because they believe hiring foreign models labels their products ‘high grade’. I fell out of my chair laughing when I read that Slovakian model, Luis Javo, said that the Chinese audience had poor taste for foreign models and as long as they had fair skin and hair, the Chinese would like it.
I have to say the salad restaurant had better taste in choosing western models for their “Spartan warriors”. Sadly, the police terminated their task before the public could get better sense of what good models are.
If the reason for the arrests was that the organizers did not have the right license, it is definitely not fair to make the foreign models pay the price.