In the last two days since we published our little piece on a satirical op-ed which appeared on the Global Times under the byline “Hao Leifeng” lambasting Charlie Sheen for his lack of filial piety, the story has gone pretty much all around the world — see, for instance, here, here, here and here for what they’re saying.
Shanghaiist’s mailbox has also been flooded with emails by the Global Times’ expatriate editors. In short, nobody in that office seems to be happy at the moment, and they all seem to be blaming US!
In keeping with Shanghaiist’s long-standing practice of the right of reply (balanced reporting, you know), we’ll be publishing some of their emails here, but keep their identities anonymous, so nobody can blame us if anyone loses their iron rice bowls.
The first Global Times editor who emailed us is the writer of the “Hao Leifeng” piece, and here’s what he said to us:
I appreciate the plug for my Hao Leifeng story on Charlie Sheen.
But I’d like to point out a serious false assumption in the introduction. The editors were fully aware the story was a humor piece. The jokes were all explained.
As you know, Chinese people like a good laugh as much as anyone else.
I’m concerned your introduction will make my editors seem incompetent, when it’s not the case.
Please consider changing the introduction to the piece.
I’d like to remain anonymous. Please call with any questions.
The second writer once upon a time was a Shanghaiist contributor. He wrote:
Your story today The Global Times’ Hao Leifeng says Charlie Sheen is Exhibit A for westerners’ lack of filial piety begins “We have no idea how on earth this “op-ed” made it through the Global Times’ editors, but clearly some expat writer is taking the piss out of them.”
The answer is, it’s a spoof column, with full editorial connivance, and was intended to amuse as well as gull a few “Western” readers who’ll believe either a) any mad crap a Chinese commentator says or b) failing that, that the Chinese are incapable of humour or being “in on it” and therefore must be having a prank played on them. Either view is patronizing and/or offensive, I think you’d agree but – even if you don’t – in this case, you’re wrong.
Keep up the great work otherwise, and hope that wasn’t too pompous
The third writer sent in a polite request to us to remove some of the comments he left on the post (sorry, we can’t do that!), then went on to blame us for the “assertions in your post” that have “been repeated across the internet”. His parting shot:
in future if you wish to run stories regarding GT editorial policy, please contact the newspaper directly. we’ll be happy to correct any assumptions.
Here’s what Shanghaiist thinks:
1. Blaming us for what other bloggers are saying about what you wrote is overestimating the influence of this humble little blog, and underestimating their ability to think for themselves.
2. Nobody at Shanghaiist was ever confused that this was a piece of satire, but thanks for pointing that out to us.
3. Yes, it didn’t quite cross our minds that your bosses were in on the joke. But seriously, can you blame us for that? Have you read some of the jackshit that’s published on the other pages of your paper?
4. Which brings us to the real issue at the crux of it all: Is the Global Times really the right place for the brilliant satire you’re writing? You guys should really jump ship and work for The Onion.
5. We do not, cannot, and will not edit our pieces just because someone’s unhappy with what we’ve written. Also, since 2005, we’ve always been speaking our minds freely about what *we* think about stuff. We do not contact each publication regarding their editorial policy before blockquoting them, and we apologise no exception can be made for the Global Times.
Last but not least, Hao Leifeng has offered to publish a piece on Shanghaiist to set the record straight! We hope he doesn’t change his mind after reading what we’ve had to say!