- About: British Chinese poet, writer and broadcaster Anna Chen
- On the radio
- Arts Reviews
- The Steampunk Opium Wars
- Foot and Mouth Campaign
- RSC The Orphan of Zhao controversy
- A Bad Case of the Trots
- Reaching for my Gnu: poetry
- Print Room protest: In the Depths of Dead Love chronology
- Poetry Live!
- Yellow Peril Orientalism
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Will Self and Chinese "ants"
Will Self bleats in last night's Evening Standard about the closure of his favourite restaurant, China China, now disappeared from Gerrard Street in London's Chinatown.
Actually Will, it hasn't closed, it's just that, ever since your disgraceful lapse from your customary wit, compassion and good sense in the Evening Standard when you described the Chinese Olympic ceremonies in turn-of-the-century (19th!) colonialist terms as, "...a demonstration of the ant-like de-individualisation suffered by the ordinary citizens of this eastern despotism", they've been pissing in your prawn balls.
Whenever they see you coming, Will, they close the shutters and make like a ninja (yes, we wily orientals all look the same, that's when you can see us at all), coz that's within our fiendish powers.
Same with Marina Hyde, who I've hitherto admired, and others who came up with the same dehumanising "ant" and "robot" similes. How come Westerners are allowed to practise hard for sport, music, ballet, and so on, until perfect, but when the Chinese do it, it's because we are "de-individualised"?
I've noticed how the debate about repression by the Chinese government has slid unchallenged into locating the cause as somehow genetic rather than looking at the politics. This is a clumsy, lazy misreading serving the neo-con cause as they warm up for a conflict with China. Even Chinese critics of the regime experienced pride in what their nation has achieved in only a few decades after being Empire's doormat, but we uppity Chinese have to be put in our place. And commentators like Will and Marina reckon they are the boys and girls to do it.
As for Will's self-congratulatory paean to mediocrity: " ... how much more moving it was to see 40,000 people turn out in the Mall to see a Queen tribute band - or was it the Queen herself? It's so difficult to tell nowadays - belt out We Will Rock You, cheer some returning Olympic medallists and watch the obligatory fly-past by the Red Arrows." Whenever I see military fly-pasts, it makes me shudder to think of what it must be like to be on the business end of these machines of death. But that's probably not something the smug white literati ever have to worry about.
And I still think Boris Johnson should have buttoned his jacket (come to that, he should have buttoned his lip) and Jimmy Page should have washed his hair.