Uncle Dashan

dashan.JPG

It’s Dashan and more Dashan today over at the Guardian. (Did you know typing his name into Yahoo China’s search engine turns up nearly a million links?) Dashan is to China what Jerry Lewis is to the French. Such phenomena say more about the audience than about the entertainer.

“Uncle Dashan! Uncle Dashan!”

In a smart bookshop in Chongqing city, deep in the humid heart of Sichuan, boys in new sneakers and girls with ribbons in their hair clamour for attention from the most famous foreigner on Chinese TV. Toronto-born Mark Rowswell – or, as he is known to a fifth of the world’s population, “Dashan” – does not disappoint, rewarding this group of his youngest fans with a beaming grin here, a self-deprecating quip there.

In fact this goofy, 40-year-old six-footer with pitch-perfect Chinese might just be the most famous Canadian in the world. For Rowswell is crown prince of a growing band of foreigners who have found fame on Chinese TV, often by accident – a bizarre experience by any standard, and one which forms the heart of a memoir to be published by Granta later this week.

Sometimes the opportunities come quite out of the blue. In 1988, the man who would become “Dashan” (literal translation – “big mountain”) was living in a foreign student dorm at Beijing University when he was first invited before the cameras to cohost a major student talent show. Legend has it that it was only when strangers greeted him in the street the next day that he realised it had gone out live – in fact 550 million people had been watching nationwide, and Rowswell had just become the first foreign host of a major event in Chinese television history.

These days Rowswell has become an institution – or at least his onscreen persona has. “Dashan is a cultural phenomenon,” says Conceison. “I knew about Dashan in the late 1980s when I first went to China as an undergraduate; diplomats in China from every nation know of him; Chinese children know of him; elderly citizens know of him; everyone knows of him.” Indeed, simply entering the name “Dashan” into Yahoo’s China search engine generates just short of a million hits – no less than four times the Chinese-language total of Brad Pitt.

There’s more, much more — if anyone really cares. Via CDT.

The Discussion: 56 Comments

Wow! With that photo you could paint his skin green and caption it:

“Now give me those ruby slippers, or you’ll never see your dog again!”

January 24, 2006 @ 12:38 am | Comment

Dashan is to China what Jerry Lewis is to the French.

oh god Richard. You just made me snort my Tempranillo…

January 24, 2006 @ 1:22 am | Comment

Somehow, I felt that the non-threatening geek look is one of the keys to his career success….

January 24, 2006 @ 1:24 am | Comment

He’s the White Step-N-Fetchit.

January 24, 2006 @ 2:30 am | Comment

heehee

January 24, 2006 @ 2:41 am | Comment

I’d like to see him devote an entire TV program to the words “June” and “four”

January 24, 2006 @ 2:44 am | Comment

Ivan, have fun in China. lol

January 24, 2006 @ 2:50 am | Comment

xin,

Am I in China?

January 24, 2006 @ 3:35 am | Comment

but now he is busy with advertisement for a junk product.

January 24, 2006 @ 4:18 am | Comment

Did you know that I look like Da Shan? So do Gabe Kaplan and Marlon Brando.

January 24, 2006 @ 4:41 am | Comment

In the above photo I think he looks like Eraserhead.

January 24, 2006 @ 5:02 am | Comment

God, it’s a good thing I’m not smoking any grass right now, or else that picture would make me start freaking out…paranoia…

January 24, 2006 @ 5:04 am | Comment

but he is just so handsome ๐Ÿ˜‰

January 24, 2006 @ 8:09 am | Comment

AGGH! Now I’ve had a puff of grass and that picture of DaShan is morphing into Hitler!

When I take some good drugs to open my mind, I can see, Da Shan is really HITLER!

Look at how he’s holding his hand up! With a few more fingers it would be a “Sieg Heil” salute!

EIN Weissevolk! EIN LaoWeiische Reich! EIN Fuerher, ahhh, mein Fuehrer, DA SHAN! Sieg HEIL, Da Shan!

Now, still in my drugged state, I can hear the spirit of Da Shan giving me orders, and he tells me:

“Ivan, wir muessen ALLE Weisselaowai vernichten, als nur DASHANISCHEWEISSELAOWEI leben konnen.” (Sorry, Shulan, if I’m f—ing up the German grammar.) Loosely translated into English, DaShan’s higher spirit is telling me:

“We must destroy ALL white foreigners in China, except for those who are like me, your Fuehrer Da Shan! The perfect Aryan of CCTV!”

Yes, yes, mein Fuehrer, Da Shan, I know what we all must do. All lesser kinds of Whites must disappear from China, so that China will only have PURE White people who are just like Da Shan!

A day will come, when ALL White Foreigners in China, will make silly asses of themselves, like our Fuehrer Da Shan! Sieg Heil, Da Shan, Leader of all White Assholes of CCTV!

January 24, 2006 @ 8:46 am | Comment

(PS, actually I haven’t done any drugs tonight. Just pretending….
๐Ÿ™‚

January 24, 2006 @ 8:47 am | Comment

Now that I see the picture I understand why caucasian males in China tend to be so pissed off at being mistaken for Da Shan.

January 24, 2006 @ 8:53 am | Comment

Ach, er ist…

…ach, ich fuehle mich, ah, wie verschwindelnde Seele, nieder und nieder nach DaShanLand….

….Der Da Schan ist wie Wotan vom Osten. Und er sagt mir, vom Geisteslands (f—, sorry for my shitty grammar, Shulan):

“Ivan, Sie sind Richter und Dichter. Hoere mich, und schreibe:

Als ich Wotans Raben folgte,
Sah ich wie er fallen wollte,
Nur ein Blick, nichts zu betonen,
Nur mit schoen’ Gestalt’ zo wohnen,
Bei DaSchan,
Wotan,
DaSchan ist Wotan
in alle Weissen Herzen,
DaSchan ist Wotans Weisse Esel,
Fuer alle Esel, DaSchan ist Edel.

(Again, sorry Shulan, for my poor German, but I hope you enjoyed my attempt. ๐Ÿ™‚ AH, a suggestion: Shulan, can you outdo me here, with a GOOD German mystical poem about Da Shan? ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

Come on, Shulan! I think Da Shan deserves a GOOD mystical German poem comparing him to a ridiculous variant of the Aryan race! Please, Shulan? Please?

January 24, 2006 @ 9:02 am | Comment

What’s with the Kim Jong Il hair?

January 24, 2006 @ 9:03 am | Comment

(PS, oh f—, above when I wrote “Richter” I meant “Ritter”. Come on, Shulan, I haven’t written anything in German for over 20 years, so I need you to support me and give me good examples now…
๐Ÿ™‚

January 24, 2006 @ 9:04 am | Comment

Vaara,

Kim Jong Il is God, and Da Shan takes the appearance of any East Asian God who wants to use him.

Da Shan is just a vehicle, an avatar of any Chinese or North Korean God who chooses to use Da Shan to appear to us in White Man’s form.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:11 am | Comment

Da Shan is an avatar of how all non-whites want to see White people.
His appearance changes, according to what country he is in.

In China, he appears to his Chinese masters, like a silly harmless ass who has no real education. (And he can appear this way, because in reality, he IS like this! And this is how his CCP masters want to see ALL White People!)

In Africa, he would appear to have a small dick. (True again, see above.)

But among White People, Da Shan appears as he really is: Actually, just like he appears to the Chinese, except that all White people know this is really ridiculous and embarassing, and that’s why we all hate him so much. He represents a perfectly idiotic face to the Chinese people, exactly as his CCP pimps want him to do.

He is a White Nigger in China, the White Nigger of the CCP. He makes fools of all White foreigners in China, and yes that IS why we hate him so much.

He is the White equivalent of a stereotypical “Little Chinaman” in bad old American movies going around bowing and saying:

“No tickee, no shirtee, I am good little Chinaman, I make good laundry for you! I smoke opium now!”

THAT is what DaShan means to White foreigners in China – a horrible embarassment who shows the Chinese people a very false image of what White People are like.

And I’m ending this diatribe on that very serious note. And Da Shan, if you are reading this, then I say to you, go and disappear, and hide in your slave cabin with all the other “niggers” of ALL races. Da Shan, you are a sack of shit, and you are an embarassment to the Human Race, of all colours and all nations.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:25 am | Comment

Whatโ€™s wrong with DaShan? He just has the talent to master the Chinese language. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I donโ€™t see he insulted the white race in any way, shape or form. Make some people jealous, maybe. Not like one celebrity blond who can not distinguish between the tuna and the chicken. Now, thatโ€™s something to be proud of.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:45 am | Comment

The ultimate question is…why do foreigners in China hate Dashan? (And don’t tell me that you don’t, I’ve conducted informal polls among a pretty wide selection of expats. Also, Ivan’s reaction pretty much says it all.)

My personal theories:
1. Pure sheer jealousy. Because none of the rest of us are going to be as famous or as rich for, well, being a tv celebrity.

2. The sell-out factor (as mentioned above by rg). He doesn’t really seem to care which products he’s advertising: medicine, alcohol, those stupid little teach-your-child-vocabulary-to-pass-the-test-but-not-actually-to-learn-English electronic thingies.

3. Because he really is an embarrassing dork who makes us cringe every time we see him on tv. (I’ve heard the “shit-eating” grin muttered about before…)

Discuss.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:56 am | Comment

Dear Dishuiguanyin,
I have never heard of this Da Shan fellow before. He is not the phenom in Taiwan that he appartently is in Taiwan. I am familiar with what he respresents, however. I know that there is a long and time-honored tradition in Japan of the foreign celebrity who is famous for no reason other than 1.) being able to speak the language and 2.) put on a fairly decent post-modern minstrel show (an art perfected by Bob Sapp). I was unaware that China is getting in on the act as well now.
I would say that he is probably hated by expats because of how gleefully he embraces the talking-dog clown role (for further exploration of this theme see all of Ivan’s previous posts on the matter).

January 24, 2006 @ 10:24 am | Comment

Dish,

HEY, my friend! (Hope you don’t mind my saying that.) In reply to your well framed questions, here is why I hate Da Shan:

1. Your first reason does not apply to me – for reasons which I cannot tell here, otherwise I would out my identity. But at any rate, personally, I have been “seen” in far higher places than CCTV. My marginal connections with the Royal Family and all that. (Dish you know what this means, even if no other readers here do. ๐Ÿ™‚ (More, just to make it clear for Dish: One of my best friends was (until she died recently) a Countess, and I spent my last New Year’s Eve in London with her in the company of xxxx the filmmaker of the movie xxxx, and with others who are not so famous but who still rule ten percent of the world. And most of them had horrible body odour too, and most of them were certifiably insane, but that’s beside the point. The point is – just between me and Dish – that to me and my circle of friends, Da Shan is a vulgarian who has no prestige at all. Some of my friends are vulgarians of the highest rank, so, I do not envy Da Shan at all. I am a friend of the BEST vulgar psychotics, the ones who really matter! ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Dish’s SECOND point, really does apply to me. (And it is relevant to me for the aforementioned reasons in my point number one, supra.) Da Shan is a vulgar whore. No more need be said.

3. Dish’s THIRD point ALSO applies to me. Aside from everything else, his shit-eating grin just makes me sick.

So there you go.

January 24, 2006 @ 12:24 pm | Comment

The look is an interesting one, though. By combining the Kim Jong-Il hairdo with the gigantic Jiang Zemin glasses, he sends a subtle message of support for the brutal authoritian regimes of his adopted East Asia. This, no doubt, helped him land on television.

January 24, 2006 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

AND, more, just to make it more clear, why Da Shan embarasses any and all of us civilised people of the Anglosphere:

He represents to China, a very untruthful, misleading icon of what our culture is. Just like the CCP want the Chinese people to see – and they do NOT want the Chinese people to see all of the brilliance of the heritage of the English-speaking peoples. The REAL English language, and its people, is a heritage of classical genius which puts all of the 5,000 years of China to shame.

In all of world history, there has never been such an ingenious, flexible, expressive, logical AND romantic language as English. And Da Shan turns it into shit, like McDonalds.

Some years ago, when I was still teaching in China – teaching POSTgraduates, mind you – I did an experiment with them, after so many of them drove me mad with their presumptions about how THEY KNEW English like real scholars. So I recited to them, from the opening lines of Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fifth” (and I used to be a stage actor – surprise surprise – so….)

…and then I asked all of them to tell me what it meant. And they were dumbfounded, and one guy said, “It’s not English! It’s French!”

And then I wrote it all on the blackboard and I intepreted it all for them. And then I told them, that it was just a lesson for them, to show them that they are NOT “experts” in English, as they assumed they were.

And I told them, that TAXI DRIVERS in London CAN understand Shakespeare….

….so, my beef against Da Shan, is that he TRIVIALISES our English language. He is a whore, he is one of MANY Anglophone whores in China, who continue to make the Chinese people believe that the English language is nothing more than a business tool.

Our language was NOT designed just for the Chinese to do business in. It is a language of classics, and of sublime wisdom – even higher than anything which was ever said in Latin or Greek. And Da Shan and all Anglophone whores like him, carry on turning our language – THE BEST patrimony of Western civilisation today – into something silly and trivial.

Fuck him and all of his kind. And I believe the ghosts of Shakespeare and Poe and Melville and Oscar Wilde and Churchill – and the living Laureate, Alan Sillitoe of Nottingham – will all agree with me about this.

January 24, 2006 @ 12:43 pm | Comment

…and now I am imagining Shakespeare beating the shit out of Da Shan…….

January 24, 2006 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

Shakespeare: “Oh for a muse of fire, who would ascend the brightest heaven of invention:

Melville: “And wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic, and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God”

Da Shan: “Hey, that’s cool! Do you think it’s cool?”

May all of the ancestors of the English people send succbi to suck Da Shan’s vestigial brains out of his ass, and may all of my English ancestors – including King Alfred the Great and his ancestor Odin the God of Words – hear my prayer, to silence Da Shan from ever pretending to speak our divine language ever again.

And may Grendel and his Mother join with Beowulf in this Holy Cause to silence Da Shan, for the sake of our English Language.

January 24, 2006 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

Ok, Ivan, now you’re starting to sound suspiciously like the Anglo version of Hongxing… except with far more posts. Please be a little more rational. Please. Just because Dashan acts badly sometimes doesn’t mean you have to stoop to that level of clownheadedness.

January 24, 2006 @ 12:58 pm | Comment

t-co,

You fool. You accused me of “clownheadedness” after I made an appeal to think of the English language as the language of Shakespeare.

You are a typical ignorant Chinese Communist troll. You have no ability to think logically, or to think with any subtlety. And you have no real education.

And I’ll bet 100 dollars that you have no idea about what the first few pages of Shakespeare’s “Henry the Fifth” mean – the pages which I referred to above.

Just try, just try to tell me, t-co, WHAT was Shakespeare talking about in “Henry the Fifth?” I’ll bet that even if you consult some of your LaoWai friends, you will not be able to give me a good answer in the next few hours.

Not unless you copy and paste something from the internet of course. And even then you won’t get it right, because all you know how to do is copy and paste and repeat what you are told. So even if you copy and paste something about Shakespeare’s play, you still will not understand it.

And THEN, I challenge you to tell me: How is Shakespeare’s Henry the Fifth like Chairman Mao?

You can’t. You’re not able. Go fuck yourself, you vulgarian, barbarian.

Oh and THEN please tell me what this means: “Essentia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatum.”
All civilised scholars know what this means, AND tell me how it proves that Communism is nonsense.
(I know many of our friends here can do this.) Go ahead, t-co, you barbarian, savage. And meanwhile go fuck yourself with William’s Razor.

January 24, 2006 @ 1:42 pm | Comment

And may Grendel and his Mother join with Beowulf in this Holy Cause to silence Da Shan, for the sake of our English Language.

But it’s mostly the Chinese Language that Big Mountain is shitting on. Shouldn’t we be invoking instead the spirits of Qu Yuan or Su Shi? ๐Ÿ˜‰

In all of world history, there has never been such an ingenious, flexible, expressive, logical AND romantic language as English. And Da Shan turns it into shit, like McDonalds.

English is indeed beautiful. But the Chinese language (classical/literary Chinese, not the vernacular, though that too is interesting in its own way) is not quite chopped liver, neither. While it doesn’t rival English in ease and colour, it makes up for in subtlety and concision.

Anyway, what’s the old quote? English is the invention of Norman invaders flirting with Anglo-Saxon barmaids?

Loves it.

January 24, 2006 @ 1:55 pm | Comment

Ivan’s words: “May all of the ancestors of the English people send succbi to suck Da Shan’s vestigial brains out of his ass…”

“Go fuck yourself, you vulgarian, barbarian.”

My words: “Ok, Ivan, now you’re starting to sound suspiciously like the Anglo version of Hongxing… except with far more posts. Please be a little more rational. Please. Just because Dashan acts badly sometimes doesn’t mean you have to stoop to that level of clownheadedness.”

o….k. And apparently I’m the ignorant, crude, pigheaded troll? I’m sorry, “clownheadedness” is such a bad, bad word compared to things like “go fuck yourself, you barbarian.”

Other than that: seeing as how your first question regarding Shakespeare’s Henry the V presents a double bind situation (I can answer it correctly and let you call me a plagiarist or I can answer it incorrectly and let you call me an idiot) I won’t answer it at all. However, I will answer your second question: How was Henry the V like Mao?

Both were bloody, authoritarian leaders. Both blindly pursued power. Eventually, both lost family, health, and life as a result.

If that answer isn’t satisfying enough, I suggest that you go and read Machiavelli’s the Prince for the tragic, amoral nature of politics.

Oh, and if you really loved the english language, you wouldn’t use it to sling mud.

Your latin phrase, “Essentials shall not be multiplied beyond neccessity”, is simply a restatement of Occam’s Razor. If you’ve ever read Das Kapital,ll understand that theoretical Marxism is actually quite condensed. You can’t criticize applied Communism, then, as bullshit because that adjective can only apply to the theoretical text behind Communism and not the actions it inspires (seeing as how it is used to describe something as “false” or “untrue.”)

So for these two reasons, your final claim is untrue.

Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to be thorough.

January 24, 2006 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

t-co,

Sorry to tell you, you failed in your reply.

My question about Henry the Fifth was a trick question. Henry the Fifth was not at all like Mao.

And Occam’s razor (which you looked up) teaches parsimony in philosophy, which neither you nor the prolix Marx have ever understood.

January 24, 2006 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

PS,

t-co, you owe me 100 dollars after you lost this bet. But as I am a man from a long family tradition of charity, I will ask you to give the 100 dollars to UNICEF, my Grandmother’s favourite charity which supports poor children all over the world. And you have my permission to send the gift in your own name, for your own credit and honour.

January 24, 2006 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

Heh.

Ivan is erudite, but he is also an intellectual bully and a serial ranter, with all the pugnacity of a bulldog.

Anyway,

Da Shan is an avatar of how all non-whites want to see White people.

This is an interesting comment, and I agree to an extent. What subconscious satisfaction there must be for the mainland Chinese (and I speak as a Chinese), for whom the encroachment of Western powers into China last century has always represented a humiliating cultural touchstone, to see a member of the Master Race (that Big Mountain is from Canada, a formerly colonized country that never swallowed more than it could chew, seems hardly the point) stripped of his White identity and the potency of his cultural legacy – in effect emasculated through reverse assimilation – so self-deprecating, so harmless, so eager to please his Chinese masters, like a monkey on a string.

(He is not even a “white nigger”, only a nigger, really.)

But, on the other hand…it’s not all that bad. On the other hand, it can be argued, Big Mountain puts a comforting, relatable, “human” face to the abstract, often threatening idea of “the Westerner”, he humanizes the West, even if it’s done clumsily and shoddily. In that sense, he is an ambassador for cultural understanding, a pioneer against xenophobia in China, even.

Anyway, hey, Da Shan’s shtick seems pretty darn innocuous when compared with the noxious skits of Bobby Lee or whoever.

January 24, 2006 @ 4:44 pm | Comment

If you are Chinese and do not understand why laowai do not like da shan, consider this:

Imagine every time — YES, EVERY TIME — you met an American, they said to you: “You look like Bruce Lee! Do you know Bruce Lee! Bruce Lee speaks great English! Bruce Lee is very famous! I like Bruce Lee! Do you know Bruce Lee?”

After you hear that 1,000 times, you would get sick of being compared to Bruce Lee simply because you are both Chinese.

It is even worse in Da Shan’s case, because he’s a friggin’ Canadian.

Also, how come he can speak standard Mandarin but he speaks English with the thickest Canadian accent known to man?

January 24, 2006 @ 4:47 pm | Comment

Ivan why are you comparing Da Shan to Shakespeare?

Da Shan is not a representative for Canada or white people. He is just a shrewd guy making a shit load of cash. Insert any celebrity or probably even your rich and powerful friends here. He isn’t killing babies man.

January 24, 2006 @ 5:40 pm | Comment

Why does Da Shan being Canadian make it worse?

What is a thick Canadian accent? Which part of Canada is he and presumably his accent from.

Oh yeah, Da Shan is a huge loser and I’ve had to put up with being compared to him for over fifteen years now.

January 24, 2006 @ 5:47 pm | Comment

>Why does Da Shan being Canadian make it worse?

Because 98% of the people he is compared to are not Canadian. They are simply white. Like someone comparing a Japanese person and a Chinese person soley because they are both “yellow.”

>What is a thick Canadian accent?

A Canadian accent that is thick. ??

January 24, 2006 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

I think dishuiguanyin got it right. There’s an element of jealousy at his popularity and success. But why resent him “selling out” ? Plenty of other laowais are selling rubbish on Chinese TV. Personally I can’t stand him because he comes across like a complete dork. There’s something very weird about a foreigner who becomes so completely over-the-top “Chinese” in their mannerisms. In fact, he comes across more self consciously “Chinese” than many young Chinese are. I think that’s why the Chinese love him: he has become their fantasy foreigner – someone so impressed with Chinese culture that he has chosen to become Chinese himself. The ultimate flattery.

January 24, 2006 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

Why would people be jealous of someone who can speak a language? This is his only claim to fame. He is not the only foreigner in the world who can speak Chinese.

About “selling out,” when people apply this phrase to Da Shan they are not talking about hawking toothpaste. They mean he’s a paid lackey and monkey boy of the CCP — particularly in the early 90s.

January 24, 2006 @ 7:39 pm | Comment

Jim,

Everytime in an american movie if we see any chinese are playing a role that look stupid, we just give him/her one comment: SB=sha bi.

But we never said they are anything like “monkey of imperialism”. Don’t you think your “CCP monkey” is too “cold war”?

Dashan is just a performer. When China was JUST open to the world chinese were still afraid western don’t like us or don’t know what the outside word gonna be. Then Dashan came. He was brave because I still have his very early show in which his chinese were still not good. Everytime he was on TV, people were happy. They were happy not because he was losing white people face, because he was brave and friendly!

And at that time, he WAS the ONLY ONE there! Withou him, people would still think you are evil imperilsm for 3 or 4 more years.

BTW, personally, i don’t see bruce lee chinese. I can’t track his kongfu to any school of chinese.

January 24, 2006 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

Hey guys,
Thanks for all the great comments “abut” me! Wasn’t that cool when I showed up on the Chinese New Year show after a certain massacre, when every other civilized person in the world would not have touched that opportunity with a ten foot pole? As you know, cash rules everything around me, CREAM, get dat money, dolla dolla bills, y’all. Be sure to give me a call sometime if you wanna practice “xiangsheng.”
And don’t forget to always use Hao Ji Xing!
Regards,
Da Shan

January 24, 2006 @ 10:29 pm | Comment

P.S.- Oh, all my “waiguo pengyou,” I almost forgot to tell you that I am going into a new field of business.
I’m interested in starting up a search engine in China. From what I read on your site, it seems like the perfect line of work for me!
Love,
Da Shan

January 24, 2006 @ 10:40 pm | Comment

>BTW, personally, i don’t see bruce lee chinese. I can’t track his kongfu to any school of chinese.

See, you are already annoyed with someone comparing you to Bruce Lee. After 1,000 people compared you to Bruce Lee in this manner, what will you say about Bruce Lee? ๐Ÿ˜‰

January 25, 2006 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Xin,

>And at that time, he WAS the ONLY ONE there! Withou him, people would still think you are evil imperilsm for 3 or 4 more years.

Why was he the only one there? Because of six f0ur. After that “incident,” most people in the West viewed the CCP as plain evil and didn’t want to deal with them in any way. We can debate that issue some other time. My only point is that that is one reason why some people hold a grudge against Da Shan and call him monkey boy of the CCP. The CCP used him as a laowai posterboy in that period. And he knew they were using him.

If i said “monkey boy of communism,” then I would agree with your point. “monkey boy of the CCP” is different, mainly because the CCP has little to do with communism.

January 25, 2006 @ 5:42 am | Comment

Hmm, some very interesting thoughts. Fascinating ideas.

Jim thanks for sharing DaShan’s history. I had no idea that he appeared on the 1990 Chinese New Year Show. That does indeed shed a certain light on his reputation, although, in all fairness, since the CPC has never officially admitted that anything happened in that famous square in Beijing, we could accuse all the foreigners now appearing on CCTV of having the same moral standards.

The “performing monkey” routine mentioned by Liu Yixi and others also makes sense. I’ve been forced into the performing monkey role plenty of times in China, as I’m sure have most foreigners living here. It’s excruciatingly embarrassing, and possibly part of the cringe factor involved in DaShan is he reminds us of how stupid we frequently look here. What nausicaa had to say about emasculation through assimilation also makes sense, as does Michael’s point about how some of the dork factor comes through the use of Chinese mannerisms.

However, Jim, I’m afraid that we aren’t allowed to hate him just because he’s Canadian. In fact, the laowai I knew who hated being compared to him the most was a fellow Canadian. Also, I’ve met several Afro-Americans, as well as plain Africans, who are compared to Michael Jordan every day of their lives in China. Does it annoy them? Yes. Do they turn around and blame Michael Jordan for it? Ah….no.

GWBH, saying he’s a huge loser just totally smacks of sour grapes, since he’s obviously a pretty wealthy, popular and famous huge loser.

There are many things I’d like to say to Ivan, but as he’s just announced his departure from Peking Duck it’s probably not appropriate.

(And t_co, personally I think Henry IV – the historical rather than the Shakespearan propoganda model – would make a slightly better comparison for Mao than Henry V. Not that it matters really.)

January 25, 2006 @ 6:51 am | Comment

>>However, Jim, I’m afraid that we aren’t allowed to hate him just because he’s Canadian.

Why not? Canadians and many Europeans hate being mistaken for Americans so much that they wear their frickin’ flags on their backs wherever they go. They regard it as an insult and just plain annoying to constanstly be compared to/mistaken for Americans.

I’m sure Chinese would be annoyed to be compared to some random Japanese guy all of the time as well.

And since Canada is secretly plotting the overthrow of the entire world (there is more going on up there than people putting maple syrup on ham, you know), I don’t like being compared to Canadians.

January 25, 2006 @ 7:31 am | Comment

On the Canada note, I think that Da Shan is a fine role model for his countrymen in that he has bothered to learn to speak Mandarin. In my experience most Canadians in China and Taiwan presume that they don’t need to exert themselves and learn the language of the country they are living in. As Jim has noted, they seem to think that plastering their clothing in maple flag patches is enough to make the world fall at their feet in admiration for that boring patch of tundra they call home

January 25, 2006 @ 10:47 am | Comment

I kind of understand why Da Shan is so unpopular amongst Americans/Canadians living in China. I agree that he does serve as an “over-simplifier” and “caricature maker” for Chinese, and he gleefully enjoys that role.

There are similar oversimplifiers and caricatures in America/Canada as well. I sometimes turn on my local education/pbs channel, and there stands a cantonese guy and says “When Chinese meet each other, we say ‘Gong Hee Fa Choi'”. Everytime I hear that I want to point out two things:

1) When most Chinese get together, they DO NOT speak cantonese to each other. In fact, most Chinese people cannot speak or understand Cantonese

2) Even if they did speak the mandarin version of ‘Gong Hee Fa Choi’.. Well they WOULDN’T!!! I lived in China for 30+ years and I have NEVER heard any two Chinese people get together and say that phrase!

The phrase “Gong Hee Fa Choi” is indeed popular amongst certain population in Guandong province and Hong Kong back 10-20 years ago. The phrase, which literally means, “I hope you become rich”, is too bluntly materialistic to be used. If someone does say that, it is often meant in a more “tongue-in-cheek” kind of way.

So you can see my frustration when there are so many cantonese speaking people willing to go around and “teach” Americans these phrases as if they are what Chinese people really say. That and “Ni Hao”.

In America:

American, “You speak Chinese right?”
Me, “Yea.”
American, “Ni Hao! Ni Hao! Gong Hee Fa Choi!”
Me, “#!@!@@#!”

January 25, 2006 @ 11:56 am | Comment

How do you tell an American backpacker from a Canadian one?

The maple leaf on the American’s backpack is larger…

January 25, 2006 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

Holly shit Ivan you’re one funny dude.

February 3, 2006 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

Yea, I could introduce myself ranting and raving and proclaiming a profound insight and intelligence for some shit that actually, guess what “isn’t worth the price of tea in China”, but im not because I try not to argue with fools, so people from a distance can tell who is who. But I will say that to be so sophisticated as Ivan claims to be you would think that an intelligent person would be a totally fucking prick as he is. Im a blackman from America, living in China, and just for that, I am happy because its an experience that many people won’t have a chance to discover. And yea Da Shan may be a poster boy, sell out, or more eloquently put “He is a White Nigger in China, the White Nigger of the CCP” and many other different type of “niggers”, but he had the fuckin balls to study abroad and embrace a language and culture whole heartedly, and was good at it, im sorry where the fault in that. Would it have been better to go back to Canada and teach ESL students “abut” Chinas’ healthcare compared to Canada. Ivan you are stereotypical epitome of a German, and its stereotypes like this as to why this world is fucked up, and why we are having this conversation. I think you guys are just mad that you could get your hands on him and pimp him first. Leave up to the “white “man” think that his way is right and everyone elses’ is wrong, Whiteman gotta god complex, basically all you guys are a bunch of intelligent fools.

February 14, 2006 @ 2:00 am | Comment

Oh dear. Loosen up, dude.

February 14, 2006 @ 2:05 am | Comment

[…] anything repetitious, this can be annoying. A comment on the Peking Duck blog in 2006 tried to explain to a Chinese netizen what it’s like: “Imagine every time […]

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