Chinese Artist Sues Kung Fu Panda Creators

According to Shanghai Daily, as well as dozens of other sites, conceptual artist Zhao Bandi has filed a lawsuit against Dreamworks and Paramount Pictures for the offensive grotesqueries depicted in Kung Fu Panda, asking not for monetary compenstation but merely an apology from the film’s producers. Even more shockingly, the Beijing Chaoyang District People’s Court is allowing the case to proceed.

So what are Zhao’s complaints towards the film? Let’s begin with the misdemeanors:

I think they painted the panda’s eyes green with ulterior motives. Green eyes are somewhat evil. I have studied drawing and painters will never use green eyes when depicting a kind person.

While the green does really bring out Po’s skin, I’m not so sure the animators intended them to be used for evil purposes. You’d also have to ignore the fact that Po is the protagonist and hero of the film. Nonetheless, what else does Zhao have a beef with?

The panda is not only a symbol for China but also for the people. Making a panda’s father a duck is nothing but an insult to Chinese people. I am afraid Chinese youth in several years will regard Donald Duck as their ancestors.

Putting aside the fact that the “Po’s father is a duck” gag is one of the most subtle and clever jokes in the movie (since *SPOILER* it’s implied towards the end that Po’s biological father is, in fact, not a duck), Zhao seems to have an extraordinary lack of faith in the ability of Chinese people to discern between American-generated Chinese cultural materials, and their own. Also, since when is Donald Duck a Dreamworks creation?

One more thing: Zhao is an artist who apparently creates panda-themed artwork, clothing, and (in the words of Variety) “clothes designs for panda prostitutes and panda concubines.” After checking out some of his work, I can confidently say that Zhao Bandi’s panda-related creations do far more to haunt my dreams and force me to wake up screaming than anything that has come out of Dreamworks (with the possible exception of Madagascar).

As a person of Chinese origin, let me just say that this person does not represent the thoughts of Chinese people as a whole. In fact, he doesn’t represent the opinion of the overwhelmingly vast majority of Chinese people, many of whom adore the film. I saw Indy 4 with my parents (both of whom are Chinese) and when the Kung Fu Panda trailer came on, they thought that panda was adorable. While I was initially hestitant about how the film appropriated Chinese cultural icons, I eventually came around and ended up liking the film as well. Moral of the story: There are much more offensive things happening this summer than the likes of Kung Fu Panda. Auxilliary moral: Next time you want to throw out outrageous accusations and make international news, demand something more than an apology.

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