By now you may have already heard/read about this (for instance here
, or here
), but I'll give you a quick summary: The photo shown above -- which features the Spanish men's national basketball team yanking their peepers into a slant-eyed gesture -- ran on the front page of Marca
, a Spanish daily sports newspaper with readership of over 2,300,000. It was, apparently, intended as a "good luck" advertisement for Seur, a Spanish courier company.
Not surprisingly, there has been both uproar and condemnation of the picture
This might be the worst anti-Chinese racist moment since David Carradine was cast as Kwai Chang Caine in the old Kung Fu
television series. (For the record, it should have been Bruce Lee...but that's a long and complicated story.) Pretty much everybody involved in this mess showed a shocking lack of, ahem, vision. Mind you, I've never been to Spain and I know very little of Spanish culture, other than that they love them some tomato fights
. Maybe the concepts of "racial sensitivity" and "political correctness" have not reached them. But still, you'd think a country with a national motto like "Further Beyond" would be further beyond something like this. Or, at the very least, that they'd be smart enough to avoid it.
One of the Spanish players involved, Jose Calderon, blames the media
. "We did it because we thought it was going to be something nice, something with no problem. But somebody wants to talk about it. It is too much of a big deal with you guys (the media) and everybody talking about that." Uh...something nice
? Seriously? No way, Jose. It's hard to believe this is the same guy who gave up his starting job to T.J. Ford for the betterment of the team last season.
The Spanish team's coach, one Aíto García Reneses, likened the gesture to making fun of tall people. No, really. Said Reneses: "If I go to play with a taller team and I put here (raising up on the tips of his toes) it is not an offense. I can't understand anything more." It sure was nice of Spain to let a space alien coach their national team only days after he arrived on Earth. But they probably should have waited until he learned more of our customs.
Pau Gasol, best known for being one of the evil Lakers, really didn't want to do it, did it anyway, doesn't think it was offensive, but is very sorry that mocking a billion people upset some people. "Some of us didn't feel comfortable doing it just because to me it was a little clownish for our part to be doing that. But the sponsors insisted and insisted. I think it is just a bad idea I guess to do that, but it was never intended to be offensive or racist against anybody. I didn't find it very funny. I didn't find it offensive, either. I guess some guys didn't mind. To me I don't want to be that way, I guess, to be doing that stuff. If anybody feels offended by it we totally apologize for it. We never meant anything offensive by it."
Okay. Sure. I wonder what they would have done if the Olympics had been held in Africa. Put all the players in blackface
maybe? Hey, it's all in good fun!
Honestly, I don't think the Spaniards meant any offense, either. But, man, it sure was stupid, wasn't it? I try to remain almost completely ignorant of foreign relations, but even I know that the Chinese people (or, perhaps more accurately, the Chinese government) are a bit touchy about how they're regarded around the world. Heck, they wouldn't even show the little girl who sang their anthem at the opening ceremonies because she's too ugly
Oh well. I'm just glad that if there had to be a bunch of thoughtless, insensitive foreign bastards, it wasn't us for a change.
Labels: Olympics, race relations, Spanish national team