August 12, 2008

Spain's Olympic basketball team, posing for an ad, making "Chinese" eyes.



The Guardian reports:
No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere. No offence was intended by the advert, but whether the Chinese see it that way is a different matter and it is likely to provoke more criticism at a delicate time for Spanish sport.
Oh, the problem of gestures that seem OK in one country but are terribly offensive in another! How are we to keep track of them all?

And don't make that OK gesture in Brazil, by the way.

UPDATE, August 13: The I.O.C. calls the ad "inappropriate."
“If anyone feels offended by it, we totally apologize for it,” the Spanish star Pau Gasol said. “We never meant anything offensive by it.”

Emmanuelle Moreau, a spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee, said in an e-mail message: “We understand that the Spanish team intended no offense and has apologized. The matter rests there as far as the I.O.C. is concerned.”...

The Spanish Coach, Aito GarcĂ­a Reneses, declined to apologize for the picture, which he said he had not seen. He did not appear in the picture. He said the intention was a joke.

49 comments:

Middle Class Guy said...

Ah, I see there is still a country in the world that allows free expression without the restraints of political correctness or the PC Police.

Truely distasteful, but it is expression. Will China now invade Spain?

Outis said...

Oh, the problem of gestures that seem OK in one country but are terribly offensive in another! How are we to keep track of them all?

Easy solution: Stay the hell at home.

Beth said...

Why tag Donna Brazile here?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'm channeling Mortimer Brezny:

RACISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hoosier Daddy said...

No one involved in the advert appears to have considered it inappropriate nor contemplated the manner in which it could be interpreted in China and elsewhere.

Athough suffice it to say that if that was the American team, we'd be hearing what a bunch of racist bastards we were.

vbspurs said...

When the Brazil National Team arrived in Seoul for the World Cup, they were greeted by some gracious Korean ladies. But Ronaldo returned their courtesy like this.

Look, America is incredibly politically-correct, but at least it's consistent in its social messages.

No slitty eyes gesture, but also no mocking other cultures for their distinctive features.

It didn't occur to Ronaldo that the Korean lady could've well made a monkey gesture back at him, because in his culture, it's "okay" to mock Easterners but no one thinks of doing that to blacks because they're too ubiquitous.

(Also, it would've shocked him for other reasons because in Brazil, Ronaldo is not considered black. He's a "mulato claro", in their phrase)

You mentioned the "Ok" gesture. That's this gesture, not this one.

The former means F-U, and it's not just vulgar in Brazil, but in all of South America, and other countries around the world.

So when you travel, stick to the thumbs up.

Oh, and in Greece, do not make the stop sign with your open-faced palm.

That means go to hell.

Cheers,
Victoria

SteveR said...

Careful HD, you'll be accused of being a Cecil Rhodes disciple.

Paddy O. said...

Athough suffice it to say that if that was the American team, we'd be hearing what a bunch of racist bastards we were.

Fortunately, Spain doesn't have a history of imperialism that lends itself to racist accusations and cultural insensitivity...

Ann Althouse said...

"Why tag Donna Brazile here?"

I saw that my attempt at creating a new tag "Brazil," was auto-completing to Donna Brazile, but I thought I caught it and stopped it. Really annoying! Fixed.

SteveR said...

Good catch Paddy, I checked out my History of the World (1950 to the present) and sure enough, they get a free pass. heh

Trooper York said...

If Mort were awake he would tell you it would only be racist if it is about African Americans.

vbspurs said...

Psst. Did I tell you my favourite Luis Aragones anecdote yet, on Althouse?

He's the manager of the Spain National Soccer Team.

He was trying to pump up his own player, Jose Antonio Reyes, who is of mixed Spanish heritage, ahead of Spain's match with France. He was telling Reyes that he's much better than Thierry Henry, who is black.

Problem is, in Spanish they have a phrase which is so common, that no blinks when it's used.

The elderly manager called Henry that "negro de m*erda", that black piece of sh*t.

A foreign journalist overheard it in training, and Aragones' remark hit all the British tabloids, raining down condemnation on him.

When he gave a press conference about the incident, he said he didn't understand what all the fuss was about.

"I was simply telling the gyspy he was better than the black"

...LOL. That gives a new meaning to clueless.

Cheers,
Victoria

MadisonMan said...

Look more like Japanese eyes to me.

ricpic said...

One from corumn A, prease.

Blue Moon said...

Victoria:

You stole my thunder. Spain does have an "interesting" approach to race issues. Especially for a country that loves to see itself as so enlightened.

Paddy O: Funny that Spain gets it from the west (Cent. and S. America) and the east (Osama's wish for reclaimation of Moorish Spain).

Zeb Quinn said...

The former means F-U, and it's not just vulgar in Brazil, but in all of South America, and other countries around the world.

That's because it mimics an onion ring. Duh-h.

PatCA said...

Paddyo,
Spain didn't have time to become an "imperialist" nation. Spain had its hands full killing and oppressing her own.

And what part of Europe or Asia did we imperially conquer in WWI or II? Besides the cemeteries containing the remains of our soldiers, that is.

vbspurs said...

Blue Moon, doh! I should've realised you would reply with a soccer anecdote.

(BTW, did you see Brazil's Cristiane with that amazing bicycle kick a few hours ago? AWESOME!)

Spaniards are fantastic people.

But folks have to understand that they are a formal people who set much store by etiquette and elegance, tempered by an extremely irreverent sense of humour. It balances the other, as it does in Britain.

They meant no harm by this photo and gesture. It was their way of comedically announcing, "Hey, guess where we're going to?!".

Also remember, the rest of the non-"Nordic" world is about 30 years behind in terms of political correctness.

I personally hate political correctness because it targets silly mistakes and transforms their intent into overt hatred, such as racism. Then when real racism pops up its ugly head, people are dismissive of it as being racist, because of the PC-crowd's previous knee-jerk reactions.

When black soccer players play in Eastern Europe, and indeed in Spain, the fans throw bananas on the pitch, and make monkey noises every time they touch the ball.

THAT is racism. THAT everyone should condemn.

This is just jocks being puerile.

Cheers,
Victoria

Paul Zrimsek said...

These guys do hail from the home of Conguitos, after all.

vbspurs said...

Paul, that's a great example.

Here is a non-racial one, highlighting that irreverent sense of humour I mentioned about the Spaniards.

In Catalunya, they have a tradition of "El Caganer", literally, a statuette called Guy Taking a Dump.

This is a Christmas-time tradition that the PC crowd are trying to do away with, to the consternation of all Spaniards, not just the Catalans.

The thing is, it's not just some random guy (or gal) shown having a poo. The Spaniards love taking the mickey of famous people.

Here are some Caganer statues you won't believe!

From right to left:

Their future Queen, Princess Letizia.

George W. Bush.

And...

The Pope.

LOL.

I love Spain.

Cheers,
Victoria

Hoosier Daddy said...

Careful HD, you'll be accused of being a Cecil Rhodes disciple.

That's ok, I've been called worse. Last week I gave homeless guy a dollar and my conservatve buddy asked me if I was becoming a liberal.

That cut deep. I almost cried.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Spaniards are fantastic people.


Tell it to the bulls.

Crimso said...

"When black soccer players play in Eastern Europe, and indeed in Spain, the fans throw bananas on the pitch, and make monkey noises every time they touch the ball."

So all the BDS sufferers who refer to Bush as a chimp are really implying he's black. One would assume that they think there's something wrong with that, but wait! That doesn't make any sense! There is no racism on the left!

vbspurs said...

One would assume that they think there's something wrong with that, but wait! That doesn't make any sense! There is no racism on the left!

Right. Tell it to Condi Rice and Michael Steele. ;(

In Hispanic South America, Hugo Chavez is commonly called El Mono (The Chimp). In the US, Obama has been likened to Curious George, the kiddie cartoon. The Leftist parties roundly condemned these things.

But the Left have had 8 years of spearheading the "Chimp-Bush" allusions.

The first two are considered below the belt and thus racist, but the second is not.

What the Left refuse to realise is that they are using confused, even racist logic themselves by saying that it's below the belt BECAUSE Chavez and Obama DO look closer to these primates than Bush does, who is white and therefore is fair game.

The Left always send out conflicting messages about their positions and that's why they often fail.

Cheers,
Victoria

Middle Class Guy said...

Fortunately, Spain doesn't have a history of imperialism that lends itself to racist accusations and cultural insensitivity...



What part of world history did you sleep through? Their conquering of Mexico, Central and South America, and the murderous rampages and ethnic cleansing they went on- we call it genocide today- in their quest for gold, conversion of the indigineous people left, and world power?

I would called that imperialism that let it self to racist accusations and cultural insensitivty.

Or are the history books wrong?

vbspurs said...

MCG, I think Paddy was being sarcastic, hence the ellipses. :)

Unless you were being sarcastic too, and I've made myself look like a Caganer.

ricpic said...

Victoria loves Spain.

Whew, Spain just breathed a sigh of relief.

Hoosier Daddy said...

What part of world history did you sleep through?

MCG, I'm pretty sure that Paddy had his sarcasm hat on when he said that.

Then again, looking at the curriculum in our colleges today, he could have slept through world history and not missed anything.

I'll never forget an American History class I took in college (US History from WW1 to Vietnam) and after a particular US slamming lecture on the US in Vietnam, I commented to a fellow student after class once that I wondered how he can talk about our involvment in Nam without ever mentioning France.

She looked at me deadpan and asked: What does France have to do with Vietnam?

I settled on just admiring her body from then on out.

Paddy O. said...

Their conquering of Mexico, Central and South America, and the murderous rampages and ethnic cleansing they went on- we call it genocide today- in their quest for gold, conversion of the indigineous people left, and world power?

Well, sure there's that. But, as has been mentioned, the last fifty years they've not been doing anything. And they did have a successful revolution themselves, right? That's culturally cleansing, so we're told.

And really, Spain is on the Atlantic. China is all the way on the other side of the world, next to the Pacific. That's a whole different ocean! Spain wouldn't know anything about Asian culture, it's unfamiliar and new to them.

Spain: being fantastic around the world for over 500 years.

ricpic said...

It's way overdue for the Spanish parliament to apologize to the Incas.

ricpic said...

And make reparations to the Aztecs.

MadisonMan said...

Spain introduced a disease. Nature killed the Aztecs.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well, sure there's that. But, as has been mentioned, the last fifty years they've not been doing anything. And they did have a successful revolution themselves, right? That's culturally cleansing, so we're told.

But they're still mean to bulls. I always cheer for the bulls in Pampalona.

Middle Class Guy said...

Paddy O. said...
But, as has been mentioned, the last fifty years they've not been doing anything…

Man, you are asleep! Spain, for the past fifty years has eroded and finally conquered the false French Claim to great food. Spain will soon overtake the French as the food capital of the world. Of course the French being the French will gladly surrender. Then the Spanish will pillage and plunder all of the Four Star restaurants and the little bistros and ethnically cleanse them into Tapas joints. I do not know if anyone could cleanse the French.

Middle Class Guy said...

Hoosier Daddy said...
She looked at me deadpan and asked: What does France have to do with Vietnam?

I was talking to some guys about the Civil War in a bar one night. Some nurse over heard our somewhat loud conversation. She then asked us what the American involvement in the Civil War was. I just paid my tab and went home.

Paddy O. said...

Then the Spanish will pillage and plunder all of the Four Star restaurants and the little bistros and ethnically cleanse them into Tapas joints.

At the next Paris Olympics the basketball team will all put on cute little berets and sneer.

But they're still mean to bulls.

Well, everyone has to have someone to dominate. Spain has fallen so far all they could find was bovines. Once the bulls start to win a few, I'm sure there will be an attempt to culturally conquer house cats.

Blue Moon said...

!Viva paella!

madman said...

Much love Victoria, much love...

Really impressed with you football knowledge. Am a big time Arsenal fan. Knew about the incident and was a big deal in Brit papers anyway. Both of the players are not with Arsenal anymore but we still did quite good last year. Can't wait for the new season to start!

PatCA said...

"I settled on just admiring her body from then on out."

Hoosier Daddy,
You made me laugh out loud.

papa2hapa said...

Race is and has been a problem in Spain. Particularly considering the soccer fans' monkey chants and banana throwing when Thierry Henry played against them.

To say that the country allows free expression is one thing. To have a company sell that racist image is another.

chickenlittle said...

"Ah, so! You are surprised I speak your language. You see, I was educated in your country at U. C. R. A."

Coplas!

chickenlittle said...

"Ah, so! You are surprised I speak your language. You see, I was educated in your country at U. C. R. A."

Coplas!

Chip Ahoy said...

My deaf friends used a gesture that had me stumped. It think it was unique to the group I was associated, an inside joke. It was a "C" shape except only the index finger and thumb formed the "C", the other three fingers curled in and not all four fingers shaping a usual "C". Finally I asked what it meant. The answer was "Ummm, let's see, ummm, [wow on you.]" It depicted a dropped jaw, at something. It was formed first then harshly flicked with a robotic wrist motion directly at a person or a thing or event.

In Tokyo they used the "F", or "0" or "OK" sign brought up underhanded from the hip and sharply directed at a person. I meant, "ass hole! you!"

The best made up gesture I've ever seen was a driver who made a stupid and dangerous mistake directly in front of me. Indicating his regret he contrived a new movement. Keeping his eye on the road, he pantomimed pounding himself in the head as if he was bludgeoning himself in self-punishment. My anger evaporated immediately. It was quite effective.

This concludes my gesture related anecdotes.

I imagine that Spanish team intended no harm. They probably thought they were being cute. Americans are more sensitive to multiculturalism than the rest of the world would have us believe. Our innate reaction to this proves it. It's the sort of thing we correct children about.

Ken said...

Ah, I see there is still a country in the world that allows free expression without the restraints of political correctness or the PC Police.

I've never quite been able to grasp why "free expression" should mean "privileged to act like a dick without anyone pointing out that you are a dick." Maybe people who like to make sophomoric and/or arguably racist statements and gestures are particularly sensitive, and there is a pressing need to protect their widdle feelings from criticism, or something.

Chip Ahoy said...

There was something about Japanese restaurants that automatically brought out the silliness in me. I'd make Japanese music sounds ending with a gong. Speak haltingly with all the usual cartoonish characterizations. In a beautiful restaurant in Honolulu we were laughing so hard we couldn't eat. Finally, finally I grew out of it. I recall the moment, at a tremendously authentic Japanese restaurant in Vancouver I automatically slipped into my customary satire, our table, all my senior, was laughing like hell, the sots, and I thought, "I. have. got. to. stop. this." So I did. It's a phase.

vbspurs said...

Right back atcha, Madman!

blake said...

They're gonna be pretty ronery in China, those Spaniards.

Middle Class Guy said...

The Spaniards are real foodies. They were only throwing the bananas because they felt that soccer player needed some potassium. They also make great wines and, again, wil soo surpass the French.

All this nonsense about racism is nuts. I would bet that those dirty commie chinks make round eyes and have pitures taken and distributed all over the land.

Beldar said...

I actually watched the Chinese and Spanish basketball teams play each other early this morning. It was a great game that the Chinese led throughout the second half, but the Spaniards tied them at the end of regulation, and then won decisively in overtime. It was a terrific game.