Offensive Laowai T-shirts
13 Oct 2005
Some of the shirts are mildly amusing. I wouldn’t wear any of them. The shirts feature such phrases (in Chinese) as:
– Here comes a laowai. There goes the laowai.
– Too expensive!
– I’m not a laowai, I’m a “foreigner.” [more on this issue] – I don’t want a watch. I don’t want DVDs. I don’t want a bag.
– I will never give you any money. [in weird grammar] – Don’t think that just because I’m a foreigner I’ll buy your stuff for 5 times the normal price.
I don’t find the shirts themselves very interesting, although I certainly understand the “inspiration” behind the shirts. What is interesting is the Chinese reaction to the shirts. There’s a fairly famous example of a foreigner causing a bit of a ruckus in Nanjing with a t-shirt listing rules for how the Chinese should interact with a foreigner. In that case “the people of Nanjing were angered because, reading between the lines of the T-shirt message, they saw a message of unwarranted arrogance and white supremacy. ” Obviously the messages above have the potential to piss off the Chinese as well.
I’m not one to wear t-shirts designed to provoke anger or outrage. Still, if you want to buy one of those shirts (mainly one of the latter three) and wear it around China, I’d be very interested to hear what kind of reaction you got.
Note: I have already posted an entry about this entitled 老外的T袖衫 in my Chinese blog, asking my Chinese readers what they think. I may write a future post about their responses.