I’m going to contribute another article as to why Dolce & Gabbana’s “The Great Show” was evil, but I don’t want to repeat the obvious reasons. By now, we all know the big three: 1.) It shows Chinese people as ill-cultured buffoons 2.) There’s a not-so-subtle tiny dick joke and 3.) The Chinese narrator seems to intentionally mispronounce the label in a mocking accent. Add Gabbana’s unhinged racist Instagram rants and even the least-woke Western-society Asian apologist will admit “yeah, I can see how that’s racist”.
But I want to move beyond that.
Frankly, if all Asian societies have to fight so hard to point something so obviously racist, the bigger question is to ask why racism on us is so easily dismissed? It shouldn’t take Dolce & Gabbana to hire an Asian focus group (to which I doubt they sought) to show them how their ad was blatantly offensive. Yet, time and again is the global recognition of racism and stereotype toward Asians delayed. How did so many people see that Dolce & Gabbana ad, including Dolce and Gabbana themselves and thought it was okay? More so, if the Weibo community hadn’t risen in outrage over it, would other non-Asian communities have fought on our behalf? I think not.
The world continually makes fun of Asians because Asians collectively have been slow in realizing racism, let alone finding the necessity to stop it. It doesn’t begin in media, it begins with personal confrontations. Most of us let racist jokes slide among our non-Asian co-workers, friends and neighbors. Most of us, at least from my personal experience, even side with the non-Asian racist perpetrators when it’s done toward a fellow Asian. I’ve seldom counted on other Asians having my back; I’d much rather depend on a black person or someone from other marginalized communities to defend me. That’s a problem.
Granted, social media and a braver young generation have been getting the cart moving on combating overt Asian racism, particularly media-related racism. It’s a good start, but we’re greatly behind. How do we move forward into eliminating another Dolce & Gabbana incident again? Some dangerous pockets of militaristic extremism in our communities have suggested a total all-out warfare against Western communities (i.e. white people). I believe that’d greatly backfire and is let alone unrealistic. What we should do, as has been the consequence with Dolce & Gabbana, is boycott. What we should do, is create and support Asian-American podcasts and other media outlets and not only post them on social media to other Asians, but also to our non-Asian friends. I believe the core reason why anti-Asian racism happens so nonchalantly is because we don’t speak up about it enough; we don’t defend ourselves and each other enough. We don’t talk about it in dinner conversations. We don’t educate our non-Asian friends.
So, why we should be angry about Dolce & Gabbana isn’t just because it’s racist. That’s obvious. Why we should be mad is because it’s a mirror of our community’s inadequacy to stop people from thinking twice talking shit about us. “It’s okay to make fun of Asians” should NOT be okay. Our women should NOT be objectified. Our men should NOT be shamed or lied about having small penises. Native/immigrant Asians should NOT be mocked for having accents. To make progress, we can’t keep believing in the greatest lie told to us by Western colonialism: That we should keep quiet and let white people save us in times of danger. It’s time we join other marginalized groups in widely recognizing that.
We must stick up for ourselves. We must stop fighting each other. We must take a little time away from our careers and families to give voice to Asian-American issues. This is how we stop Dolce & Gabbana-like ads from making past the cutting room floor. This is how we make progress.