Monday, June 20, 2011

So my world travelers snap the following shot in China of a tshirt being sold there:

Kid Sandmich: "Ha ha, they're making fun of Obama"
Sally: "No they're not"
Mrs. Sandmich to Kid Sandmich: "shush"

Although, it appears that the Chinese authorities believe Kid Sandmich.


martissimo said...

What's the text read?

Evil Sandmich said...

From it means:
"serve the people"

...with rice, I'd imagine ;-)
Anyway, I think it's funny in a sense since if someone in the U.S. did up a foreign leader to look like George Washington it would seem endearing, while the Chinese communists themselves seem to know it's an insult to dress one up as Mao.

EK said...

I don’t think that your interpretation—or Kid Sandmich’s—is right. The Mao cult is long gone, but he is still a revered figure in China, officially regarded as a national hero. To this day, Mao's body is displayed in a mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, and his smiling face—well, maybe not so smiling—looks down from official portraits. So I’m inclined to doubt that casting Obama in the image of Mao is intended as an insult to Obama. In this case, I think “Sally” is right. Look at the picture of the Obama t-shirt guy in the NBC News article you linked to. He doesn’t look to me like someone trying to insult Obama—quite the reverse, it seems to me.

Evil Sandmich said...

Yeah and Lenin is still on display in Red Square, more as morbid curiosity than anything else.

I've no doubt that the Chinese authorities would only let the shirts exist so long as they didn't insult Mao, and the Chinese cover story for him seems to be something along the lines of "could have been worse" (which given some of the imperial ravages and horrid invasions throughout China's history, this thinking isn't completely without logic).

It’s still interesting though that the authorities sought to put the kibosh on the whole thing during Obama's visit. It may be attributable to the fact that such dictatorships are half deaf when gauging political speech, and just to be on the safe side they covered it up for a short period (though it was basically a 'Streisand moment' which drew attention to that which they were seeking to hide). I can't help but think as well that some part of them knows that foreigners like picking that stuff up not for any love of Obama or Mao, quite the opposite in fact.

The episode does remind me of a brief exchange I had with Sally on Obama (which I may have related before). She had asked me what I thought of him and I answered that I'm not a big fan (or something along those lines). She remarked somewhat puzzled that he was very popular in China. To which I said, "and well he should be, he's been very good for China, but not so much for the country that he's actually in charge of".