[UPDATE 5/28]: Shanghai-based Leishang cosmetics has responded to the global backlash against their ad by calling foreign media “too sensitive.”
As any foreigner who has ever lived in China can attest, attitudes regarding race and skin color are often quite different here from back home. Still even with prior experience, sometimes this country can leave you completely and utterly dumbfounded.
Such is the case with a recent incredibly racist advertisement for Qiaobi-brand laundry detergent that has been making the rounds on WeChat. According to one young lady on Weibo the ad appeared on television and before movies at Wanda Cinemas this month.
In the video, a paint-splattered black man confidently approaches a young Chinese woman, only to have detergent placed in his mouth and his body shoved into a washing machine for a thorough rinsing. Once the wash cycle is done, out pops a pristine young Chinese man, as clean as can be.
And here on Youku:
Wow! Those spots on the shirt came right off!
It turns out that the video is actually a blatant ripoff (even using the exact same music and sound effects) of a series of Italian laundry detergent ads that were aired about 9 years ago. Containing similar racist overtones, the original ads argue that in fact “Coloured is better.”
The Chinese ad would seem to disagree.
Thanks to traditional beauty standards valuing white skin, many Chinese people have a well-established phobia of dark skin which unfortunately also breeds racist attitudes towards people of African descent, who are viewed by some as “dirty” simply because of their skin tone.
This guy isn’t the first victim of China’s efforts at Hollywood-level whitewashing. Last year, a Chinese promotional poster for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was widely criticized by fans as being “racist” with the character played by black actor John Boyega inexplicably being shrunken in size.
By Christopher Ivan