Groupon Tibet ad in questionable taste

Will Timothy Hutton (and Groupon) regret this Superbowl ad?

I’d say it’s not very sensitive to make light of the plight of many Tibetans. I know, their living standard has improved and there are schools and hospitals (believe me, I know), but to make light of their culture being in danger, and using the “joke” to promote Groupon….well, I just felt it was kind of hokey and maybe even borderline creepy. Even if there’s room to debate whether Tibetan culture is at risk or not. It’s just not a funny topic.

Reaction on Twitter has already gone wild, of course, so maybe it will end up being a net plus for Groupon, which must have known this would create a firestorm. But it smacks of insensitivity and poor taste.

Update: great post on the ad over here. Also here.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 30 Comments

As tacky as hell.

But look the bright side. Groupon may have achieved a miracle. Finally, Tibetan nationalists and Han Chinese nationalists will be able to agree on something.

February 7, 2011 @ 12:59 pm | Comment

Good point – the ad manages to offend everybody.

February 7, 2011 @ 1:03 pm | Comment

Wow. I knew I had something vaguely against Groupon – now I know why.

February 7, 2011 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

It is hugely offensive, but it is also the most honest ad I’ve seen in a long time.

Does it not perfectly capture the zeitgeist of our times?

“Who gives a sh*t about world problems, just give me my discount”.

February 8, 2011 @ 3:06 am | Comment

PB, you are right on the money.

February 8, 2011 @ 5:33 am | Comment

This ad actually got it half right. Needless to say that the part about Tibetan culture in danger is nonsense. But it came out just right to mock all this Tibet bullshit. The Dalai Lama sells books, the free Tibet activists sell T-shirts, so what is wrong with Groupon using Tibet to promote its website? It offends the pro-Dalai Westerners precise because it reveals their hypocrisy. If they really want to ‘free’ Tibet, why don’t they pick up a rifle and go fight the People’s Liberation Army? Going to a Free Tibet concert or protesting against the Olympic torch in London is hardly different from chasing 50% discount on ‘Tibetan fish curry’.

February 8, 2011 @ 11:49 am | Comment

What can you expect from these American sh*ts? Fish? Tibetans eat fish? Is there even fish in Tibet? Hahahahaha, too humorous, these sh*ts. What restaurant is this? Curry fish in Tibet, hahahahaha.

American Chinese food, is always basically a lot of sugar and salt, no Chinese ever has eaten American Chinese food before came to America.

February 9, 2011 @ 10:39 am | Comment

This isn’t the first time Chinese and Tibetan nationalists agree on something. Remember the Sharon Stone “Karma” fiasco?

February 9, 2011 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

@Jenny Chu
Yes, spot on.
@Groupon
This ad redefines crass.

February 9, 2011 @ 6:18 pm | Comment

@Red Star: Yes, there are fish in Tibet. They live in rivers, lakes and other watery environments that you may have heard of.

I get you on the curry, though… ha ha ha. Curry in Tibet would be like Mexican food in Texas – Unpossible!

February 10, 2011 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

There is a set of these Groupon ads running now in the states and, to me, the concept is not bad, but the execution is weak. Not enough zing in the punch line and not really funny enough to avoid confusion.

If I were writing them, I’d stick to tweaking liberalish causes that involved animals and other causes where feelings are not so easily hurt.

February 11, 2011 @ 4:47 am | Comment

Hurriya is Arabic for Freedom.

February 11, 2011 @ 1:02 pm | Comment

Off topic for Richard
http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2011/0118_china_savings_prasad.aspx

February 11, 2011 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

Hahaha! I thought the ad was hilarious. :D I think most people take life waaaay to seriously. Good stuff.

February 12, 2011 @ 4:56 pm | Comment

There is no fish curry in Tibetan cuisine. All of the “Tibetan” restaurants in the US serve northern Indian fare masquerading as Tibetan. They are also uniformly crap and overpriced. Genuine Tibetan food is bland and unapetizing. Sichuanese migrants have improved upon this.

February 13, 2011 @ 9:35 am | Comment

Tibet does have some good staples like the herbs and cheese though

February 13, 2011 @ 9:51 am | Comment

If biased Americans ask us Chinese any of the following questions, just answer them as such:

Q: Do Chinese eat dogs?

A: Yes.We eat a lot of dogs. And cats,too. Especially on your “Thanks giving” day. Besides, turkeys are our favorite pets. We regard turkeys as human’s best friends. In China only the most uneducated eat turkeys.

Q: China is becoming strong. Does your government want to take over the world?
A: Yes. As soon as we became powerful, we will invade Iraq and Afghanistan.

Q: Why doesn’t your government give Tibet back to its monks?
A: Because the monks want to help the Seminoles take back Florida.

Seminoles: (印第安人的)塞米诺尔族

Q: Are the products made in China very cheap?
A: Yes. If we were using black slaves, the price would be even cheaper.

Q: You have 1.4 billion people. Now what do you want to do with it?
A: Find a new planet. Kill the native people there, and move in.

Q: Why you are the only kid in your family?
A: Because our parents don’t fuck around.

February 14, 2011 @ 3:19 am | Comment

Hahahaha, HongXing, I always felt like your type was pretty much reading off a master checklist, but you kind of gave the game away. Your heart really isn’t in this fenqing thing anymore, this is just lazy.

February 14, 2011 @ 6:11 am | Comment

Dalai Lama’s nephew reincarnates in Florida:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/nephew-of-da

Did he eat curry fish for dinner?

February 16, 2011 @ 3:45 am | Comment

Red Star, I am so not surprised to see you mock the accidental death of an innocent person, whether we agree with their political beliefs or not.

February 16, 2011 @ 5:27 am | Comment

@MAC. Certainly agree with your # 18. Usually Red Star eats a few volumes of Thomas Hobbs and a fair portion of bear meat before he hits the keyboards.

Poor fellow. A shadow of his former self.

He used to show real form on CS and CD with his wild theories on the nature of civilisation, eugenics and real politics.

February 16, 2011 @ 5:49 am | Comment

@Richard
Red Star, I am so not surprised to see you mock the accidental death of an innocent person, whether we agree with their political beliefs or not.

If this had happened to say, Hu Jintao’s son, I’m sure we’d see comments flying all over youtube and twitter about “karma” or some other nonsense.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:00 am | Comment

Never, ever on this blog, and I’d either delete the comment or call the commenter out for being an ass.

Just as I’m now calling out Hong Xing for being an ass. Not that we didn’t all know.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:15 am | Comment

HongXing seems to be well-liked and popular, despite the good-natured ribbings

February 16, 2011 @ 6:23 am | Comment

You should see his comment history going back several years. Racist, ideological, crude and cruel. One of my favorites was from a couple months ago, “The true masters of America are the Jewish ruling elites.” But he’s popular.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:30 am | Comment

I did not mock him at all. I said he re-incarnated in florida, which part of this is mocking? Is reincarnation not in their belief system?

I asked if he ate fish curry? Which part of this is mocking? According to this restaurant in this advertisement, fish curry is a popular Tibetan dish.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:37 am | Comment

HX: Dalai Lama’s nephew reincarnates in Florida:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/nephew-of-da

Did he eat curry fish for dinner?

Then you say, “I didn’t mock him at all.”

Right.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:40 am | Comment

One of my favorites was from a couple months ago, “The true masters of America are the Jewish ruling elites.”

Is it not a compliment to say they are the true master? Then I’m anti-CCP too? Because I also said they are the true master of China.

I think there’s a lot in common between jewish and Chinese: both value education, both are good businessmen, both don’t care too much about sports, etc. Many American friends I make have jewish roots. There’s a very beautiful girl in my work place that is jewish (not totally traditional jewish, more Americanized), and she is the only one who is nice to me and talks to me and respects me, not like those WASP females.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:46 am | Comment

I’d say HX is expressing his values quite well.

February 16, 2011 @ 6:50 am | Comment

Here’s the bottom line, Red Star. When you say, “The true masters of America are the Jewish ruling elites” you may think you’re paying them a “compliment.” In reality, you are repeating the core philosophy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Never heard of it? Use google to learn more.

February 16, 2011 @ 9:46 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.