Down with evil pizza colonialists!
The Yongjia Lu branch of Pizza Marzano has found themselves in a spot of bother, after
some out of touch guy with a Weibo account and no English-speaking friends a concerned citizen alerted netizens to the restaurant’s usage of “the French Concession” to refer to their location in their Chinese and English promotional material.
The Shanghai Daily reports that the angry person-cum-patriotic netizen reportedly was so incensed at seeing the colonial term that he walked out of the restaurant, and then promptly took to his microblog to wonder why Pizza Marzano could use terms “relating to Shanghai’s past under colonial powers to hurt the Chinese people’s self-esteem?”
In their defense, Pizza Marzano has pleaded ignorance over the kerfuffle concerning the usage of the “French Concession”, an area encompassing Xuhui and Luwan districts that was under French control from 1849 to 1943:
“Pizza Marzano is a British company and its management are British people who are not familiar with Chinese culture. We never intended to offend Chinese people,” the statement said.
And the Yongjia Road branch manager, who gave his name as Robie, said the phrase had only been used to make it easier for foreigners to locate the restaurant.
“Foreigners don’t know street names well, but may have a clear idea if we say it’s in the French Concession,” he said.
Predictably, Chinese netizens and pundits are having a field day with the supremely insensitive pizza establishment:
A netizen called Amoy asked: “Is Pizza Marzano suggesting that the Chinese did not have enough dark days under colonial control? Do they want to prolong that control?”
“It’s hard to believe a restaurant in Shanghai is taking pride in the city’s old shameful days and cashing in on bitter memories,” wrote another web user.
Gu Xiaoming, a history professor with the Cultural Heritage Protection Department of Fudan University, said outrage was understandable.
“Locals are angry because the term symbolizes a shameful period in history when China was invaded by foreign countries,” Gu said.
“Such advertisements, published out of ignorance of history, should be banned without consideration,” according to Gu.
Gu also urged expats to learn more about the history of Shanghai and stop calling the area “the French Concession”.
In the English-speaking pundit sphere, there’s a considerable amount of confusion over the controversy, since usage of “the French Concession” as a generic and neutral non-colonialist geographic name has been acceptable for years:
Re last tweet – barely a week goes by I don’t say I’m located in the French Concession at least a few times.
— Adam Minter (@AdamMinter) February 27, 2012
@AdamMinter it’s odd, now that I think about it. My chinese friends will call it the French Concession in English, but not in Chinese.
— Mark Englehart Evans (@mark_e_evans) February 27, 2012
For our part, we think the anger surrounding this pressing non-issue is understandable, provided that the netizens railing against Pizza Marzano also take online arms against any bourgeois Chinese person who lets themselves be colonized en Francais with Louis Vuitton handbags, Chanel No.5, red wine, or chocolate croissants from Bread Talk.
Oh, and we have to get rid of Nicolas Anelka too! Yes, if Le Sulk stays with Shenhua, then he’ll colonize the entire Chinese Super League with his goal scoring totals. Get on it
people netizens, this is seriously serious.