Contestants on ‘If You Are The One’. Photo from jsdushi.com
Speaking of racism, here’s something from the other side which highlights where I believe China in general wants to keep its foreigners: as showpieces that interact with the Chinese, but never to the point of becoming part OF the Chinese. Benjamin Hess actually won a round of the now infamous dating reality show If You Are the One (非诚勿扰), but he was censored out of the final episode.
He recounts his experience on Foreign Policy: the things he wasn’t allowed to talk about (religion), how he took to being called Harry Potter (apparently he gets that a lot), and a couple of racy jokes he said (which the Chinese girl didn’t get at first). In the end, he left the stage hand-in-hand with a young Shanghainese party member called Ai Xuanzheng. But then:
When it came time for my segment to air, I watched the entire episode, but it never appeared. The following week the director told me, “You were censored because you were successful.”
There’s so much that’s been said on this already that I’m not really going to bother discussing the whole White guy-Asian girl thing. I think the most important lesson we can learn from this though is: if you want to get famous in China as a white person, go Da Shan, not Chinabounder.