This video translates D&G's controversial campaign for The Great Show into English with subs.
Here are some reasons why I think the videos made people feel uncomfortable:
1) the stereotype. Many believe that the appearance and expressions of the model, as chosen and guided by the brand, reflect an orientalist conception of Asian women, specifically small-eyed, under-educated and unintelligent. (Personally the small-eyes look doesn’t bug me cuz they are portrayed as beauty here so I won’t go into it.) The most degrading aspects of the stereotype are evident in the way that the model shows over-exaggerated surprise and confusion to see Italian food and to use the eating utensil from her own culture for it—they get even worse as the videos put much efforts into manipulating the model to eat in their ‘correct’ way just like teaching a young, ignorant child. It is important to note that those food in the videos could be found in China, typically in the most populated cities. Therefore, there is no good reason to create and promote the idea that an Asian lady wouldn’t know how to eat on her own. Such stereotyping representation is naturally irritating. Moreover, the set design is rather cliched and it shows an outdated image of China. (While some people dislike it, I again have no problem with it lol.). In addition, the pronunciation of the brand is also intentionally mimicking a stereotypical Chinese accent.
2) D&G’s sense of superiority. To begin with, the ads are basically D&G, an Italian brand, trying to teach an Asian lady how to use chopsticks. The irony here is apparent. The whole concept simply does not show respect, let alone qualifying as a tribute to China, which the brand claims it to be. Unfortunately, the ads are inherently problematic beyond the poor concept. In the first ad, we hear the emphases on chopsticks as the “small sticks”, in contrast to the “great, traditional” Italian food. Those emphases could be interpreted in a negative way: though being one of the cultural symbols for China, chopsticks are inadequate or even too crude regarding to Italian culture from the brand’s perspective. Additionally, throughout the videos, there are numerous phrases, such as “iS IT sTILL tOo BiG fOr YOu”, “iNsERt the chopstick” and “but YOU’re in ChInA”, spoken in a confusingly mocking, pitying way. To many, this inappropriate tone illustrates how the brand assumes itself to possess superiority over Chinese people, and it is disrespectful without a doubt. To some, certain phrases are explicitly sexual to the extent of trivializing Chinese culture and objectifying Chinese women in the context; a few even feels that it’s making fun of the average size for Chinese guys (though I personally think that’s a bit of a stretch).
Of course, many controversial contents of the ads might have been problems with the cultural gap and the Italian-Chinese translation in the creation process, but a large luxury brand like D&G should know better when entering a foreign market like China. To conclude, the ads seem to promote a potentially degrading stereotype and demonstrate a sense of superiority over the Chinese community.