Showers and seagulls: the haute couture furore continues

Thursday 12 January 2012, 11.25am HKT

SINCE MY LAST POST on Dolce and Gabbana’s banhammer on photo-taking in Hong Kong, the Italian couture label has come up with this response to the anti-D&G rage among Hongkongers:

For those who are oversexed and need reading glasses, that says:

Photo Shooting at Harbour City

We refer to the recent media reports regarding the incident that occurred last December 28 outside Dolce & Gabbana store along Canton Road.

Controversial statements reported in the Hong Kong press have not been made by Dolce & Gabbana nor its staff, and we strongly reject any racist or derogatory comments.

It is regrettable that Dolce & Gabbana has been brought into this matter, but we wish to underline that our company has not taken part in any action aiming [sic] at offending the Hong Kong public.

January 8, 2012

As a matter of personal temperament, I AVOID making remarks on craptastic incidents like this one, which I think it’s much better left to mainstream media to handle, since they f@#k up so much better than I possibly could any day of the week.

But — sigh! — there’s a first time for everything, and I haz to make an excepshun once in a while for this kind of socioculturally driven media fellatio.

* * *

Only I can see this

Actually, the D&G damage-control announcement above highlights three important facets about the Hong Kong press corps:

  1. the news media here apparently (and srsly) lack basic journalistic skills (such as getting their ‘facts’ right the first time round: date of incident, parties involved, etc)
  2. obtaining their ‘facts’ significantly (or even substantially) from asshat sources (like so’shal netweirdking sites) for use in ambulance-chasing-style news stories
  3. disregarding the need to obtain ‘the other side’s story’ from one or both parties to the incident, then charge straight ahead in bull-in-a-china-shop fashion with ‘cutting-edge’ (invented) details in their ‘news’ coverage

One local blogger helpfully reminds some of us Hongkongers who need reminding that:

“Apparently, when Chinese people working for D&G discriminate against Hong Kong Chinese people in favor of Mainland Chinese people, it’s called racism. Generally speaking, ‘racism’ is not something that occurs between people of the same race. Discrimination? Yes. Stereotyping? Yes. Racism? No.”
(The Libertines Pub, 10 Jan 2012 | Link)


Image by maHidoodi via Flickr

Of course we don’t know jack straw what ‘discrimination’ or ‘racism’ mean. The average Hongkonger’s entire English and Chinese vocabulary is nearly 100% based on dictionary meanings (especially locally produced editions of those dictionaries).

Have you ever looked up the word ‘racism’ in a Hong Kong-edition dictionary? I kid you not — it says:

racism n 1 the belief that racial differences between people are the main influence on their characters and abilities, and esp. that one’s own race is the best 2 disklike or unfair treatment of people based on this belief
(Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (English-Chinese), New Edition, 1987-97)

No wonder we don’t know which way is up when kids are fed this overweening mush of academic wordplay.

The Americans have it ever so slightly better, but still too ‘constructive’:

racism n. 1 a doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that claims to find racial differences in character, intelligence, etc., that asserts the superiority of one race over another or others, and that seeks to maintain the supported purity of a race or the races 2 any program or practice of racial discrimination, segregation, etc. based on such beliefs
(Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, 1988)

But when you happen to be a member of a profession that has the audacity to charge clients up to £600 (US$919) an hour, you get straight to the goddamn point:

racial discrimination Discrimination on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, or ethnic origins. It is dealt with by the Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968, and 1976. The 1965 Act created an offence of incitement to racial hatred and made racial discrimination illegal in public places.
(Oxford Dictionary of Law, 4th edition, 1997)


racial hatred Hatred against a group of people because of their colour, race, nationality, or ethnic or national origins. […] The Public Order Act 1986 contains six offences of stirring up racial hatred, which all require proof of words, behaviour, or material that are threatening, abusive, or insulting; […].
(Oxford Dictionary of Law, 4th edition, 1997)

Notice the UK, being a nation of four different countries itself, zeroes in on what exactly ‘racism’ means by explicity stating the obvious. Captain Obvious obviously isn’t dead there.

As a Hongkonger myself, it IS a fact of life that the average Hongkonger (ethnic Chinese and expat alike) can be a highly discriminatory creature.

“If you’re used to being a member of a richer, more powerful group who has historically discriminated against other groups, it can be quite shocking to find that the shoe is suddenly on the other foot.”
(The Libertines Pub, ibid.)

Discriminators often become bridled in furious indignation when they themselves are on the receiving end. Witness in the USA the super butthurt feelings of the white trailer trash folks down South when denigrated dissed by Yankee faggots communities up North.

FACT: Broadly speaking, Hongkongers by sentiment resemble Americans more than the Poms British, even though the British had ruled us for 156 years.

Fact is, it all boils down to moolah:

“Problem is, many Mainland tourists have money now, and very little sense about how to spend that money, so all the overpriced European fashion outlets now prefer Mainlanders to Hongkies, since Mainlanders make for easier victims of the mental colonialism that D&G trades in (in the US, these same gaudy fashion firms mainly target nouveau-riche black people with their marketing campaigns).”
(The Libertines Pub, ibid.)

“That puts it rather well,” as Denholm Elliot’s character said in the movie “A Bridge Too Far” (1977).

* * *

Could’ve that should’ve been

Douche and Gabbiana (‘shower and seagulls’) could have averted such a public-relations fracas HAD it done these things all along:

1. Allow outside photo-taking by anyone, mainly because:

  • the ‘ban’ is indefensible in law anyway: but some well-oiled, legally trained nutjob might possibly take you to court, and then you’ll find yourself ground into chunks and fed to the cat
  • the ‘ban’ is also undefendable in conventional habits anyway: witness the hundreds who blockaded your store the other day
  • your company is a Hong Kong company run by Hongkongers anyway, who ought to know what Hongkongers can be like on this score
  • treat it as if it’s free advertising for your brand name

2. No inside photo-taking unless it’s by a paying customer: end of argument.

Immediate action

3. Switch to another PR firm to handle your crisis management.

4. For pete’s sake, DON’T carry out any face-saving PR exercise now. You’re only adding fuel to the fire. Just let it pass.

5. Don’t fire the ‘security guard’ (actually, a commissionaire) or anybody else for carrying out YOUR wankery instructions. Sack yourself instead and go back to Europe or wherever the hell you emanated from for issuing cancer in the first place.

6. If you’re a Hongkonger yourself, be an hero instead. (Yes, ‘an’ is correct in this instance: it’s a meme.)

7. Don’t stick up signs that say “No photos” or something similarly shtoopid.

8. Don’t stick up signs that say “Only [choose the words you like best] welcomed here”: you’d end up having a full-blown revolution on your hands and receive suddent buttsecks and epic butthurt.

* * *

Mind the gap

Being that I also grew up partly in Italy, I am well-versed as to how Italians can react to Far Easterners’ reactions. Be advised to ditch this attitude:

Se avanzo, seguitemi
Se mi indietreggio, uccidetemi
Se mi uccidono, vendicatemi

If you’re smart, if you’ve got balls, you’d know where that came from, boyo.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Dolce & Gabbana announcement via Time Out Hong Kong/Facebook ♦ Money tree via c4c ♦ Gavel via woodentoys-uk ♦ All other images powered by Zemanta/WordPress.

5 Responses to “Showers and seagulls: the haute couture furore continues”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    My soul, it’s almost as if you expect folks to act civilized.


  2. Kaci said

    I comment whenever I appreciate a article on a site or if I have something to contribute to the discussion. It is caused by the sincerness displayed in the article I browsed. And after this article Showers and seagulls: the haute couture furore continues The Naked Listener's Weblog. I was actually moved enough to post a comment :-) I do have 2 questions for you if it’s okay. Is it simply me or does it seem like some of the remarks come across as if they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I’d like to follow you. Could you list the complete urls of your public pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


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