2/06/2009

China Evening Post Royally Pisses Off Shanghainese Readers

Well, the Shanghai Evening Post (新民晚报)has gotten themselves into some hot water. In an essay, published yesterday(English), the paper saluted the "heroes" who had come to Shanghai to make a living, while drawing some quite discriminatory contrasts between "Old" and "New" Shanghainese.
The errant essayist was even careless enough to bold the most xenophobic part of the whole article to further enrage Shanghainese. Translation from the great Roland Soong:

In Pudong, especially in Lujiazui, everybody speaks Putonghua. To speak the Shanghai dialect is a sign of being uncivilized, like being a native American Indian.
Shanghainese quickly forced an apology out of the newspaper, and placed a poll on the bottom of the page which quickly garnered tens of thousands of responses, almost all vehemently against the article. I've translated the questions, answers and results as of 16 hours after the article was published.
Is speaking dialects uncivilized?
1. Yes, everyone should speak Putonghua. 2024
2. No, speaking dialects is in itself civilized. 19158
3. Don't look at isolated events, look at the bigger picture. 1988
4. I couldn't say. 26
What is your impression of this article?
1. Everything that was discussed is objectively true. 3995
2. It's discriminatory towards Shanghainese. 18647
3. I couldn't say. 409
How do you feel about the Shanghainese response?
1. It's an understandable, simply natural response. 19955
2. It's an extreme response, in itself "uncivilized." 3066
3. I couldn't say. 82
Well, there is more to be said. And it's that we should observe some of the diads dyads at work in how "New Shanghainese" construct their notion of the "Old Shanghainese". I don't want to be to harsh on "New Shanghainese" so I'll only pick the most obvious ones in this article. Let's map them out!
New Shanghainese vs Old Shanghainese
Family not Shanghainese vs Ancestors Shanghainese
Putonghua vs Shanghainese (can speak Putonghua but won't, grr)
Civilized vs Uncivilized
Pudong, clean, shiny, yay! vs Puxi, dirty, old yuck!
Compare to the Japanese vs Compare to the French
Commercial Grade Housing Deeds vs Shanghai Household Registration
And beyond that stereotypes get wilder and wilder. I'll sum it up for you, Shanghainese women, who BTW are the "cream of the nation" and know their worth (definitely a golddigger insinuation in there), are going for the best bet which is a racial and education hierarchy we're all familiar with: foreigners on the top, then overseas Chinese, then successful New Shanghainese elites. Kind of a final f*** you to Shanghainese men in the end, who end up at the bottom of the essayists pyramid.

Yeah, folk are darn pissed about this article. The author has already been human flesh searched!!! And there are many unkind words being said. Folks are unhappy with the term "New Shanghainese" (how can you call yourself Shanghainese when you can't speak Shanghainese and consider some other place to be your "real home."?). A fairly comprehensive board on Tianya discusses the post, though I don't doubt there are others out there.

Edit: Shanghaiist also carries the story, stating that "a retired national leader" complained about it. Please let that have been Jiang Zemin!

 
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