Insults, insults, and more insults

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What's going on?  Lately everywhere you turn, especially in China, people are getting insulted — big league:

"‘Ask the Chinese people’: China calls for understanding in Dolce & Gabbana insult row"

  • Fashion house suffers high-profile resignations after ‘country of s***t’ storm
  • D&G attempts damage control as Communist Party weighs in to row

Zhuang Pinghui, SCMP (11/22/18)

"Dolce & Gabbana cancels show in China after celebrities and models boycott over founder Stefano’s ‘racist online outburst’ and controversial ad campaign"

  • Designer Stefano Gabbana says his Instagram account was hacked and apologised following screenshots of him apparently calling China ‘a country of s***’
  • That followed an ad campaign that featured a Chinese woman struggling to eat pizza, spaghetti and an oversized cannoli with chopsticks

Zhuang Pinghui, SCMP (11/21/18)

"Controversial adverts: racism, sexism, abusive relationships and disrespect towards chickens"

  • Insensitive and offensive adverts attract huge numbers of complaints online and in the mass media
  • Advertisers say they are easy targets and people will complain about anything

Elaine Yau, SCMP (11/20/18)

The story still has strong SCMP legs two days after it broke, and even after G & D offer the customary abject apologies.

"Dolce & Gabbana founders ask Chinese people for forgiveness after ‘racist outburst’"

  • Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce issue video in which they offer their ‘sincerest apologies’ to Chinese people worldwide and apologise for ‘misunderstanding Chinese culture’
  • Italian fashion brand has faced growing backlash after Gabbana’s comments describing China as a ‘country of s***’ were leaked

Zoe Low, SCMP (11/23/18)

"Lane Crawford, Net-a-Porter group drop Dolce & Gabbana as China fallout goes global"

  • Hong Kong-based luxury department store with big China presence, and Yoox Net-a-Porter, join Chinese online luxury retailers in dropping the Italian brand
  • Label courted fury in China with controversial ad campaign and Stefano Gabbana’s social media rant calling China ‘a country of s***’

Vincenzo La Torre, SCMP (11/23/18)

Alright already.  It seems that SCMP (South China Morning Post) is obsessed with the Dolce & Gabbana insult saga.  It's a veritable SHITSTORM.

Dolce & Gabbana co-founder Stefano Gabbana "allegedly" (so say the news reports) described China as “a country of s***”.  But Stefano says that someone hacked his Instagram account and that he loves China and Chinese culture.

No doubt about it, D & G are in deep doo-doo over the alleged "country of shit" remark, but methinks — so far as SCMP is concerned — there might be something still deeper in all of this.  SCMP is owned by Jack Ma, one of the richest men in China, who also owns Alibaba (the world's largest retailer) and Taobao, the world's biggest e-commerce website.  Could it be that there was some sort of spat between Jack Ma and D & G over the big fashion show in Shanghai that had been scheduled for Wednesday (now cancelled) or over a sales arrangement?

Anyway, with "shit(e)", "Scheisse", "shithole countries", "shitstorm", "shit mate" (GIFs), "bullshit", "batshit", "apeshit", "chickenshit", "dogshit", "horseshit", "dung", "merde", "gobar" (Hindi), etc. being flung about in all directions, how bad was Stefano's alleged insult anyway?


[Thanks to Mark Metcalf]


  1. meg said,

    November 23, 2018 @ 12:49 pm

    Oh, it was plenty insulting. I watched the whole thing in real time on Instagram (having been tipped off by a friend — I am no fashionista), and "shit country" was just the tip of the iceberg. Gabbano insisted that all Chinese people eat dogs while "we" love and protect them, etc. etc. He got increasingly worked up and immoderate in his language as people pushed back against the ad campaign, and I wouldn't be surprised if alcohol was involved (I think it was late evening in Italy).

    That doesn't mean you're not right about Jack Ma, of course.

  2. David Morris said,

    November 23, 2018 @ 3:02 pm

    I spent some time wondering what a ‘country of s***t’ is.

  3. blah said,

    November 23, 2018 @ 9:46 pm

    The post's obsession with SCMP says more about the author's media reading habits than media bias, a quick Google/Bing search for Dolce Gabana China shows stories from LA Times, NYT, Reuters, Wapo and many other sources not affiliated with Alibaba or China.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    November 23, 2018 @ 10:10 pm

    But did any of those other outlets publish four major articles on this topic in two days?

  5. Ricardo said,

    November 24, 2018 @ 12:39 am

    It's hard to feel any sympathy for D&G. They are like many other international companies in China: no genuine interest in the people or the culture, just here because of the market and the money. Every once in a while the mask slips from the face of one of their executives and they have to scramble to patch things up. Nothing all that new here.

    Without enganging in 'whataboutism' I do see a very teachable moment for all sides: i) other nationalities–especially, African onese–have complained about racist television ads and programs on Chinese televion; ii) there is an unhealthy obsession with foreign luxury brands among mainlanders, LV, Apple etc. What will happen when people here discover that these brands don't genuinely love them either.

  6. richardelguru said,

    November 26, 2018 @ 7:04 am

    David Morris said,
    I spent some time wondering what a ‘country of s***t’ is.

    When I was a teenager, back in the days when 'PC' was the guy who gave you a clip round the ear for sneaking into the gravel pit to muck around with the heavy equipment, we had a joke that involved Noah, the Ark, his elephants and their excrement, and Leif Ericsson's (or possibly Columbus') eventual discovery of the results.

  7. Mark Metcaf said,

    December 6, 2018 @ 8:50 am

    In case you're not keeping track, here's the latest "insult to China":

    Fu Manchu fury in China over Marvel’s Asian superhero origin
    = First Asian superhero planned for the big screen is son of notorious fictional villain
    = Character regarded as an offensive symbol of anti-Chinese discrimination

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