In the modern world, people's understanding of racism is, generally speaking, good. Most of us know that dressing up as a Native American for Halloween is wrong or that using certain phrases to refer to another race is disgraceful. In short, most people understand that no one should be discriminated against because of their race.
Unfortunately, however, incidents of racism still can and do occur, but it's safe to say that we as a society are getting much better at calling them out for whatever they may be, as evidenced by society's reaction to this new Dolce & Gabbana ad.
Because, you see, not all instances of racism are as blatantly obvious as the ones which happened in the not too distant past. When I was a kid, it was perfectly acceptable to dress up as a Native American for Halloween, but now people have finally realized that cultural appropriation is just as offensive to those of different races as refusing them a seat on a bus.
But this didn't stop Dolce & Gabbana took cultural appropriation to a whole in this campaign:
The offensiveness of cultural appropriation, however, appears to have been completely overlooked by fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana, who recently released an ad featuring a Chinese woman dressed in their clothes - trying and failing to eat Italian food with chopsticks. Needless to say, this says a lot about the brand's target demographic.
The ad was created in an attempt to promote Dolce & Gabbana's new campaign DG Loves China, but after it was posted to the brand's Instagram account, it was understandably met with a wave of criticism. Diet Prada, an account dedicated to bringing light to brand issues, wrote an Instagram post about the campaign, describing it as "offensive."
"Pandering at its finest, but taken up a notch by painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods," they wrote.
In addition to the subject of the ad, the account also pointed out how offensive the "over-the-top embellishment of cliché ambient music, comical pronunciations of foreign names/words and Chinese subtitles" was.
[caption id="attachment_26655" align="aligncenter" width="759"] Credit: Dolce & Gabbana[/caption]
Diet Prada then went on to translate the subtitles which make the ad appear even more offensive. One of the narrator's statements, for example, translated to: "It's still way too big for you, isn't it?"
[caption id="attachment_26660" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Credit: Dolce & Gabbana[/caption]
One viewer of the video remarked, "I don't know who you think your target audiences are but as a Chinese citizen and a loyal customer for years, this video is ridiculously offensive. It's taking stereotype and ignorance to the next level. Y'all can't be serious. I'm so DONE with you."
Another wrote, "Crass, racist, condescending."
This is the beautiful moment a racist woman was served instant karma for her actions:
In response to the ad, many major Chinese retailers cut ties with Dolce & Gabbana, who found themselves in even hotter water when a screenshot of apparently racist messages from their co-founder Stefano Gabbana went viral.
In these messages, Stefano appeared to be arguing with Instagram user @michaelatranova. He calls China "the country of sh*t," brands it "Ignorant Dirty Smelling Mafia" and claim that Chinese people eat dogs. However, after the screenshots emerged online the brand claimed that their Instagram and that of Stefano's had been hacked.
[caption id="attachment_26657" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Credit: Instagram / @diet_prada[/caption]
In a bid to salvage their reputation, the designers then posted a public apology to their Instagram account:
[caption id="attachment_26656" align="aligncenter" width="760"] Credit: Instagram / @dolcegabbana[/caption]
They also posted an apology on their Weibo page (China's version of Twitter), with co-founder Domenico Dolce writing:
"These days we've been reconsidering a lot. With sadness, about what everything we've caused in your country. We're very sorry about it.
"In our families, we've always been taught to respect the various cultures in the world. That's why we want to say sorry for having made the mistake to misinterpret yours."
[caption id="attachment_26661" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Credit: Dolce & Gabbana[/caption]
In addition to these apologies, the designers canceled their fashion show in China, which many celebrities had already said they weren't going to attend, with Chinese actress Li Bingbing telling her 42 million fans, "I love my mother country."
We hope that other brands learn from Dolce & Gabbana's mistake and think more carefully about the content of their advertising in the future. We also hope whoever was responsible for the resist messages sent from Stefano's account is brought to justice.