Monday, December 22, 2008

Honestly . . .

"Fat, lazy, bad-tempered pig voted China's favorite animal."

That's the headline that goes to the "news story" at the link below. When you read the story (if you even bother) - it tells how a pig that survived the Sichuan earthquake and "vividly illustrated the spirit of never giving up" was voted China's favorite animal, along with a loyal dog and a cat that almost died from grief when its partner was killed.

But let's go back to that little "headline" that is what most Americans are going to see when they see their MSN homepage after logging out of their hotmail account (which is how I saw it). Now what are the inferred implications of the headline versus why the people of China actually chose the pig as their favorite animal? Seriously. Is there any explanation for why the headline wasn't "Earthquake survivor pig voted as China's favorite animal" as opposed to the one they chose? Yes, they explain where the "fat and lazy" part came from, but that isn't the story, nor is it why the animal was chosen.

So why would an American online publication choose the headline emphasizing the fat, lazy and bad-tempered aspect of the pig in tandem with the nation that voted for it? No idea here . . .

And I know how many people out there are going to shake their head and say that - once again - I'm looking for a fight. But this is just such a perfect example of the little things. Those little bits that are completely deniable and may very well be coincidence. The stuff that I MAY be reading too much into, but may also just be exactly what I think it is - but, either way, done in such a manner that I only look like a "sensitive" jerk for saying anything about it. Because, again, those who wish for me to "get over" such a thing look at it in isolation - only notice it when I (or somebody else like me) says something - and then go on to ignore or miss the hundred other "little things" just like it that happen over the rest of the day - and every other day, as well.

One person staring at you in a restaurant one time is strange, and worrying about it is paranoia. Multiple people staring at you EVERY time you enter the restaurant is more than a coincidence. Your friend "slipping" and saying something disturbing once is funny. Them doing it on a regular basis is a problem. This is how race works. Little bits and pieces that - by themselves - are nothing remarkable; but when added up become enough to drive a person crazy.

At least, that's how this bad-tempered pig - I mean Chinese-American - sees it.


Anonymous said...

That headline from MSN is typical of the tabloid chauvinism that the American "free press" in general instinctively resorts to.

I bet that MSN headline writer had a sneering grin on his face when he wrote it.

hexy said...

The way I read the "little things" stories is thus: they matter because those of us who cop racism to various levels aren't even allowed those "little things" without a thorough drenching of racist bullshit. That's why they stack up, and why they're so exhausting.

Greg said...

Wow. I have to comment on this because (a) the headline has changed (it is now "Grumpy pig voted China's most popular animal"), and (b) these headlines are wrong (in many senses). After reading the first few lines of the article, it was apparent that all of the attention the pig received from being voted China's favorite animal was what caused him to become fat, lazy, and bad-tempered. This means that when he was voted the favorite animal, he was not fat, lazy, or bad-tempered. Like you say, CVT, the implicit assumption is that (at least) the animal was fat, lazy, and bad-tempered at the time he was voted most popular, and that (most likely) he was voted most popular because of these qualities. Both of these readings are false, and because they are the most common readings, the headline is egregiously misleading. So, even without the connections that the headline forces people to draw between China/Chinese people and the named qualities of this popular pig, it is bad journalism. That the headline changed is a probable indication that other people recognized something fishy about the headline/story. You are most certainly not being overly sensitive; you are simply showing that you have developed a critical language awareness, something everyone should work on.