Chinese Panda, Hollywood Movie: Love and Hate of “Kung Fu Panda 2″

Posted on May 29, 2011

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This past weekend, Kung Fu Panda 2 (2D and 3D) opened in major movie theaters across China. Chinese movie goers raved about the Hollywood blockbuster online. Kung Fu Panda 2 stayed on the hot list on Sina’s microblogging site weibo.com since Friday. “Po didn’t disappoint us,” weibo user Min__n writers, “The Americans played the Chinese elements pretty well, shadow-play+ink-and-wash-painting+Kong Fu+American technology equals visual pleasure.” At the same time, many, while praising Dreamworks’s production, also can’t help lamenting Chinese cartoon movies’ unsatisfying quality. Sina weibo user 眉毛看舒米 writes:

Reflecting on Kung Fu Panda 2 I saw yesterday, Chinese cartoons are hopeless; not only the technical aspect, but also the Americans’ understanding of Chinese culture is embarrassing (to Chinese); if we don’t change our understanding of cartoons as (something) only for kids, if we don’t ditch monotonous preaching (in cartoons), even if we had the Americans’ technology, we still can’t make good movies.

蓝人泪 writes:

After what I watched, my heart was perturbed. The panda was created in such a lively and interesting way in a foreign movie, but those Chinese blockbusters made me want to puke. When can China make a good one? I might not be able to wait till that day in my life.

Others show regret that the Americans stole these Chinese cultural elements, yet they are still positive about the Hollywood blockbuster, like 选矿人, who writes, “Dreamworks’s movies are surely better than domestically made films. What a shame that the foreigners used so many Chinese elements, but this is somewhat preservation of culture.”

Of course, not every Chinese is a fan of Kung Fu Panda 2. In fact, on May 16, a performance artist, Zhao Bandi, put in an ad on several major newspapers such as Nanfang Dush Bao and Xin Jingbao (below), calling Chinese audience to boycott Kung Fu Panda 2.

The ad reads: “I don’t go see Kong Fu Panda 2. What about you?”

In an interview with Beijing Wanbao (Beijing Evening) reproduced on Zhao’s blog, Zhao says that if he went to see Fung Fu Panda 2, he would be “cheated” by Americans. He explains:

When Kung Fu Panda opened, Dreamworks said that it was a love letter from Americans to China; during its publicity, Kung Fu Panda 2 is said to be the second love letter from Americans to China. The fact is, Hollywood’s claim of love for other nations is all fake; nobody in Hollywood would talk about her/his love for Chinese culture in a production meeting. On the contrary, they only make fun of China. This is what an American, Tim, said. He worked in Hollywood for two years, and is now supporting my boycott.

This Tim posted a video on 163.com explaining why Chinese should not go to see Kung Fu Panda 2.

When asked wheather he called for boycotting Kung Fu Panda 2 only or American blockbusters in general, he answers:

Boycotting Kung Fu Panda 2 is only a symbolic action. In general, many American blockbusters are very fake. They have fancy looks, but inside they are malicious. To use a somewhat inappropriate simile, American blockbusters are like drugs; they are highly seductive but also extremely harmful. Scheduled to open in the June 1st weekend (International Children’s Day), Kung Fu Panda 2 is meant to take hostage of China’s most innocent and youngest generation of audience, and feed our next generation with American cultural values. What should we let kids watch during June 1st holiday? Theaters should not always think about making money.

Zhao’s resistance has been supported by some others including Kong Qingdong, a renowned professor from Peking University. Kong says in an interview:

In the past, we want Hollywood movies, but they are American material and American ideology, but now even our Chinese symbols are taken by them, even the panda is taken. They use our symbols to conquer us. I don’t know what Hollywood is. Hollywood not only wants your money, but also wants to brainwash you and conquer your hearts.

Zhao’s call has been supported by many netizens who left comments on his blog, but others are skeptical about his motive, for Zhao has been known for being a “Panda Man,” i.e., consistently using panda as a motif in his performance art (see pictures below from 163.com).

In response to this question, his says:

I hope every Chinese can represent pandas, and every foreigner can also use the image of pandas, if he has good will, not just to make money.

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