Derisive Dashan, RIP

Did you ever take a look at my Derisive Dashan? Mainly because Dashan’s image is squeaky clean and all-around nice, it’s funny to see him get “belligerent” in Chinese on the page.

Well, I just got an e-mail from Dashan. I never intended for Dashan to see the page (or my blog entry about him, which isn’t completely complimentary). I didn’t realize, though, that because of Derisive Dashan Sinosplice had taken over the #2 spot in the Google search for “dashan,” second only to Dashan’s official site.

Anyway, apparently Dashan has been aware of the page for some time. He presented his case, asking if I could take it down now. I’m a reasonable man, and deep down I know that Dashan really is a good guy. It’s not his fault that Chinese people are always comparing other foreigners to him. So I took it down.

I guess it wasn’t really a good idea to publicly target a specific person for ridicule. I’m not normally the type of person to do that, but Dashan definitely feels more like an institution than a person. Until he sent me an e-mail.

Sorry about that, big guy.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Hey John, I know you well enough to know that you’ll avoid entering the “Dashan Incorporated” level. But if you ever do …

  2. That’s pretty damn funny. Though, you know, as a public figure I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a leg to stand on legally. Parody like that, so long as it is made apparent that it is parody (as it was) is protected speech.

    He’s just lucky he’s a celebrity in China and not the West. If he takes offense to someone making fun of him on a weblog, I don’t think he’d stand up very well against the paparazzi.

  3. John, off subject, but your “Making Jokes in Chinese” entry appeared in the last issue of Nanjing Map Magazine (Nanjing’s “That’s Shanghai” look alike publication). I’m sure you know about it, but just thought I’d let you know. Too bad it didn’t give a photo, then you could be a celebrity here. Although then I would have to post a Derisive Sinosplice article on

  4. Why not change it to Derisive Lei Feng? That paragon of socialist virtue is not likely to email you, and some people doubt that he ever existed at all!

  5. How come your Chinese blog is all blank for me?

  6. what! that’s wack as hell. Da Shan needs some balls. The whole thing was Da Shan talking about how much of a bad ass he was at chinese. IF someone made something like that of me, I’d take it as a compliment. Fucking canadians…

  7. John B,

    Yeah, I know he had no legal grounds to make me take it down. But he stated his case and asked nicely, so I agreed to do it. Apparently he’s known about it for a while now, but didn’t ask me to take it down until now.

  8. Matt,

    Thanks for the heads up. They had my permission for that one. It was a freebie this time, but I may do freelance work for them in the future if I can motivate myself to write something worth money.

    They’re supposed to mail me a copy.

  9. Todd,

    Very interesting idea! I’m sure that would piss off a lot of Chinese people, though. Still, it’s worth considering…

  10. Good deal. I am sure we would all have done some more weird things if we had gotten here when the mountain man did.

  11. jamie doom Says: May 9, 2004 at 9:29 pm

    Hey John, Grow some. Fight the man. The last time I saw somebody roll over this easy, was uuuuh. Oh never. Well maybe the Lakers this year in the playoffs. PS my hair is now RED. Red. That’s right. And you wanted me to leave more comments. Hah. Love Jamie

  12. Hi John,

    A package came for you at your old place (my present place). It contains your spine and integrity. It’s Da Shan you Philistine. He’s Canadian, not a god. Besides your ten times the man he is.

    Keep it real (plus all my love),

  13. That’s too bad, it was really funny.

  14. As a Chinese, I like Dashan, He is really funnky! However, It is such a pity that I can’t see that webpage anymore. Can you just resume it for a minute so I can take a look at it? thank you very much:)

  15. Da Xiangchang Says: May 10, 2004 at 2:24 am

    I regret calling Dashan a big dork. There are two things outside his linguistic prowess that I admire: 1) he’s a supernerd, and 2) he’s completely okay with it. You check out his website, and it’s just gigabytes of mindnumbingly nerdy shit. Yet he doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than he is; he is not a poser. This is refreshing in China since just about any Chinese celebrity is copying American pop stars and pretending to be someone else. In trying so hard to be cool, they become VERY uncool. Dashan isn’t doing this. So I’ve changed my mind. He isn’t a big dork, but rather the coolest man in China.

  16. I was one of those who could not stop talking about Dashan in Canada. I even once met his mother’s friend and still could not stop talking about him. In my memory, he was cute and nice, definitely not a dork. And then I saw him on TV a few years ago when I was visiting my parents in China. It was CCTV’s new year’s party. I can’t remember what Dashan said in the party. What I can remember is how he stood on the stage with this big silly smile, and I was thinking “Man, I thought he was cute? He is totally a dork”:) Maybe he just work with CCTV for too long.

  17. Curious George Says: May 10, 2004 at 5:25 pm

    How about posting that email, ehh?

  18. John, I just want to say I support you taking the page down. In this age of litigation, the mere fact that he contacted you directly and not through his lawyers deserves some kind of reward. There’s gotta be some good karma coming your way 🙂

    Mind you, it’s strange that Dashan has no sense of humour, being a (retired) xiangsheng actor.

  19. Ahhh, that’s cool. We needed to find someone else to bash anyway. Good on Dashan for being nice about it.

    How about devoting a page to Tan Rui and his incisive interviewing style?

  20. Anonymous Says: May 10, 2004 at 10:18 pm

    What case did he state? I’m having a hard time thinking of anything that could possibly be convincing. A little disappointing this, from the creator of adopt-a-blog no less. What happens when the local police department (internet division) states its case and asks you nicely to stop adopt a blog. Or to tell them what you know about the people who write the blogs you are trying to protect. Are we not fighting the man anymore? Or perhaps fighting the political man but not the economic one (was Da Shan affraid that your site was cutting into his profits)? Or, dare I say, fighting the slanty eyed man but not the white skinned one?

  21. tan rui – you mean Yang Rui?
    that guy’s a legend. Make an online shrine to him.

  22. A Canadian Gynecologist Says: May 10, 2004 at 11:22 pm

    Well, according to my research, I made the assertion that Dashan had characteristics highly indicative of 87 year-old Canadian females. However, now I want to personally thank you for giving me new insight, so now I can proceed with my academic abstract for Gynecology Today: Dashan, The Walking Pussy.

  23. Man, some of you people are ruthless. I do something nice, and people jump on my back for it.

    I’ll explain this one last time.

    I’m not going to post the letter, because it was a personal letter to me, not a “cease and desist” form letter, and I don’t post personal e-mails without permission. And I’m not going to ask Dashan’s permission to post it; that’s just lame, and there’s no need.

    The whole point is that Dashan is a character created by Mark Rowswell. Mark poured years of sweat and blood into making something of Dashan based on real talent and understanding of Chinese culture. Sure, there may be dorkiness there too, but the Chinese eat it up, so that’s part of the talent too. Mark just hated to see what I had done with the image of Dashan he had worked so hard to build, even if it was in humor’s name. It’s understandable.

    Dashan is still a dork in Western eyes and an easy target of our jokes. But Mark Rowswell is a man worthy of respect. So when he wrote to me without complaining or threatening, but just sharing his point of view, I had to come around. Because I would have wanted him to do the same thing for me. Because it was the right thing to do.

  24. Way to go, John. You did the right thing.

  25. Da Xiangchang Says: May 11, 2004 at 7:25 am

    Personally, if I were Dashan, I wouldn’t care if someone trashes me. There are numerous websites comparing Bush to a chimp, and they are hilarious (and a great reflection on the strength of American democracy). Of course, Bush doesn’t give a shit so why should Dashan?

    However, Dashan has a RIGHT to say, Hey, that ain’t cool. Especially since the Derisive Dashan used images taken from his own website. This is copyright infringement, and I think maybe that’s why Dashan was unhappy (though, having not seen his email, I don’t know). The fact that he kindly asked John to take them off is a credit to the kind of person he is.

  26. I am surprised at all the junvenile responses to this item. I found nothing offensive about the parody, nor do I find anything offensive about Dashan nor his request. I, at least, enjoy Chinese culture (and Vietnamese and Japanese cultures, where I had the opportunity to enjoy their humor and culture for several years prior to my coming to China)because of their sense of humor. We may call it Dorky, but I find it pleasant, refreshing, and funny. It is true that the cultural divide may require us to handle humor quite differently than we would do so in the West, but that is a matter of adjustment and adoptation. I served in the military once upon a time, and am prepared to jump into battle formation at a moments notice; but I see no reason that we should froth at the mouth with excessive testerone over every little incident.

  27. hee-hee Says: May 11, 2004 at 5:00 pm
  28. So long as the request wasn’t threatening legal action (as I sort of assumed it was in my comment way up at the top), I don’t have any problem with what John did. I mean, like the Big Sausage said before, Dashan certainly has the right to be upset at the parody, whether we agree that it is upsetting or not.

    I definately think Brendan is onto something with a Yang Rui parody site. Just an image of him spouting questions that don’t make sense in Chinese or English, and that have little or nothing to do with the topic at hand.

  29. John B,

    Hmmm, if only we knew someone in China with a good TV card who could do original Yang Rui screen captures…

  30. D’oh, yes, Yang Rui.

    The cool thing about a Yang Rui tribute site is that you could just have a random text generator running it: Do you feel that in the (|current situation|context of Sino-Japanese relations|Ming dynasty|) the (|parties involved|Smurfs|censors pulling my strings|) were (|right|wrong|polka-dotted|)?

  31. Yeah, I could be coerced into grabbing some screen caps for a light-hearted bashing of Yang Rui.

    Question: does he do the voice for the 17908 IP phone card English menu? It really sounds like him.

  32. I can’t believe any of you are defending Da Shan over this! This incident has dropped my respect for him to zero. If he had any self respect, he would have looked at the pile of cash he has in his living room from shilling out to “ergoutou” or whatever shitty baijiu he was pimping for and laugh at all the little laowai haters in china who wish they could be half as good as he is in Chinese.

    Instead, the pussy emails sinosplice to tell them to take down what is basically a tribute his badassness in chinese, because he thinks it will hurt his image. Like any of the taxi drivers that actually listen to that cross talk crap read sinosplice.

    DaShan or “Mark Roswell” deserves all the shit he gets.

  33. To sum up:
    – Dashan overreacted to a harmless paradoy.

    • John did the nice thing (“right” could be debated, but it wasn’t wrong) by taking it down.

    • Dashan’s Chinese is great, but he should work on that thick Canadian accent of his in English.

    • Even where I am in the US, I get asked by Chinese, “Oh, do you know Dashan, becuase his Chinese is really good.”

    • “Dorkiness” always seems to sell in other cultures: David Hasselhoff in Germany, Jerry Lewis in France, Dashan in China. Dashan is only the next in a long line of dorks.

    • Dashan, don’t despair, you are better than Hasselhoff.


  34. These last two comments are worth responding to, and praising. First off, Lanky J, you did nothing wrong and we all know what a sweetheart you are. But Alf’s right (if I had a jiao for every time I said that I’d have two jiao.) Dashan is great (at Chinese). And he is, for all I have known of him, a genuinely nice person. That does not however make him immune to farce and parody. Comedy always takes a backseat to the dramatic arts when it is in fact “comedy” that takes the most skill. Even when it appears profain and uncultured. Da Shan should maybe give you props for finding him so noteworthy a figure to poke fun at. But he didn’t so the disrespect shall continue (with extreme prejudice).

  35. doesn't know dashan Says: May 12, 2004 at 8:15 am

    who the hell is Dashan?

  36. Not really wishing to continue this thread, but I do observe a strange phenomena. All in all, who really cares, what difference does it make to me or you and anyone else what Dashan and John agree to. And yet, there is all this angst and animosity toward Dashan, why? It somewhat reminds me of some conversations that I have had recently about the Iraq war and 9/11 and all those sort of things. The foreign policy of the US has many aspects that can be criticized, but specific foreign policy of the US was irrelevant to the criticism that I heard. No matter what policy the US undertook, I would have heard the very same criticism, just the shell that gave purpose to the criticism would have changed. As a consequence I now give a lot more credence to that old Japanese saying, the nail that sticks up gets pounded.

  37. I just want to mention Hitler and aliens so this thread will be complete. ^)^


  38. Dashan's mom Says: May 13, 2004 at 2:26 am

    Please quit bashing my little sonny boy or I’m gonna come down from the backwoods of Canada, Toronto, and kick some tail!!!!

  39. JFS: Nobody really cares about what John and DaShan do, but this is a blog and it is fun to leave comments. Also, it sounds like you have conversations with complete morons.

    TuoDe: So redundant! Hitler was an alien.

  40. Anonymous Says: May 14, 2004 at 8:28 am

    some one has to be the first one. Dashan was lucky, but more importantly he was one of very few foreigners who came to china, learned the culture, gave a fresh new perspective to chinese people (it was 1988!! I was still in mid school!). and he did not do anything wrong.

    we all like him:)

    the consequence of being a celebrity is, there are always some people don’t like you, and even attack you.
    but I don’t think John did anything wrong as well, before he knew Dashan personally, Dashan was just a image. I would not like people thinking me as other Chinese either. Everybody is unique, you want to feel you are special.

    As Chinese see more and more White people, I am sure they will tell more about the difference 🙂
    my has a blond hair, with glasses. a lot of my friends think he looks just like another blond glasses friend of mine. neither of us like to hear that comment.

    John, you do look cute, you don’t look like Dashan at all;)


  41. Update:

    DaShan has been left off of the CBC’s list of “Great Canadians”. You can find the list here: Personally, I think that this is an outrage.

  42. Dudley Doright isn’t on that list, either. What gives?

  43. Regardless of whether one thinks Dashan was in the right, John would have been an asshole to leave the page up once the request was made.

    And I’m an unapologetic fan. It might be wearing to be compared to him by every cab-driver in this country, but it’s also a compliment of sorts and anyone who takes offense needs a reality check. His Chinese is more phenomenal than most Chinese realize (I’m always blown away when he pulls out his “lao Beijinghua”), and his TV show is really good for students of the Chinese language, and especially for new learners.

    Critics don’t give the guy enough cred.

  44. Trevelyan, I completely agree. As much as a dork some foreigners might take him to be, I admire him wholeheartedly. Regardless to what extent Dashan is just a made-up character, you have admit his Chinese is remarkable. Every time I start to think that my Chinese is the shit, I just have to listen to Dashan’s old xiangsheng to realize how long a way I have to go. Wonder where I can find a xiangsheng coach…

  45. Hey John,

    Here’s an update on the “nice guy” Dashan.

    Sorry about the link..I don’t know how to do HTML in these little windows.

  46. Gordon,

    It doesn’t look good for Dashan, but I’d say it’s a little too early to call. I’m still a fan of “innocent until proven guilty,” and the information out there doesn’t prove anything.

  47. I wonder why you are talking like that. What’s your intention? I mean, are you good at chinese or even better than Dashan or you’re not famous yet? Are you young? I mean he’s gradually becoming old. China of course need the next one to do the job, or I can say a blank will be there.
    Or you might be a usual chinese learner? I’m sorry I just accidently saw the page. I didn’t know much about it.

    By the way, if you have lived in china for a long time you might have known that it’s not that open
    —-that means people don’t usually make fun of celebrities, especially those who won a lot of respects and did nothing bad or at least people don’t know those bad things.

    Sometimes it is not necessary to say sth like that because it’s not strong enough especially in China and especially when you are complaining about education.

    Well, I’m just telling nothing like you did.
    I’m just a chinese student in a high school, sometimes complain about my prison life but anyway it doesn’t make any sense!

  48. TuneTheRainbow Says: July 12, 2007 at 5:16 am

    It’s ridiculous that some people actually attacked Mark Rowswell for being Canadian. Some quotes: “backward Canada, Toronto”, “fucking canadians”… You people are very mature and very humble indeed.

    A Chinese in Canada

  49. Balzar Friesen Says: July 18, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Seems that all are missing the point that being a lackey for a repressive , dictatorial regime is a bit wrong for a man from the land ‘o lumberjacks. Folks….please do not apologize for repression in any of its guises. Denouncement was quite popular here in the sixties and seventies. Let it be revived in the name of freedom and humanity. Long live the……lution……oh, not that one…the real one.

  50. […] Name: 4 Approaches, I used the example of Mark Rowswell, AKA 大山 (Dàshān). Mark and I have a history of correspondence, so I decided to get in touch by email and get his take. He provided quite a lot […]

Leave a Reply