A couple of days ago, I saw this Huffington Post’s article shared by a FB friend. It offers an illuminating critique of Spreadshirts, “a German (Leipzig-based) online retail company,” which (has) advertised T-shirts with these offensive sentences: “Save a dog, eat a Chinese,” “Save a whale, eat a Japanese,” “Save a shark, eat a Chinese,” etc.
Yesterday I saw this news on a Chinese website. Due to the passionate protests of some Chinese, Spreadshirt’s branch offices in Australia, Canada, and the US have taken the T-shirts off their retail websites. However, other European (German, French, British, etc.) branch offices continue selling these T-shirts online.
This morning I was browsing the German website of Spreadshirts and have found this intriguing phenomenon. I just find it so interesting that I will post some of my observations here. Feel free to say what you think of them. When I typed the word “German” in the website’s search engine, out of the website came these T-shirts with the following words: “Proud to be German,” “Support our troops,” “Don’t play games with us, we are the German Army,” etc. There are also a lot of pictures of the German Shepherds. Luckily nothing too offensive came out when I typed “Africa,” “Britain,” or other Middle Eastern country names in the search box.
Below were some interesting pictures on the German website for the search word “America. An hour or so later I could no longer find these T-shirts on the German website, and I can only guess that this European company is quite afraid to offend the US consumers by badly representing them? But, you can still find these T-shirts on the Spreadshirt website if you switch your selected region to United States. The designers of these T-shirts are registered in the US. If these US designers/customers love to express their points of view about their own country in this simplistically brutal manner (that does not explain a lot to me), it is none of my business and I can only respect (but not agree with) their chosen ways of expression.
I typed “Chinese,” then “Japanese,” and finally “Korean” in the search engine of the German website, and I found the following pictures. The designer who has made the T-shirts “Save a dog, eat a Chinese” and “Save a whale, eat a Japanese” is Quentin 1984 registered in Germany. Other T-shirts come from other European users. Now I have more questions than answers. 1. Hey Quentin 1984, I can understand that in the Western culture you regard dogs as your close friends, but do you really have to resort to CANNIBALISM to promote your dog-loving/whale-loving attitude? 2. Hey models, how could you put on these man-eating T-shirts with a smile on your faces? 3. Hey Spreadshirt company, what motivates you to accept and post these T-shirts online for sale? What sort of humanistic values are you trying to promote through your T-shirts in the European continent? Or do you only care about making money?
I am a Chinese, and I have never eaten a dog, shark, or whale. I have very seldom met other Chinese/Asian people who eat these animals. Even if some do eat these animals, I certainly don’t think of killing these people over this. Anyway, I think this Spreadshirt company has unjustly (or perhaps subconciously) helped to promote stereotypical images of other groups of fellow human beings that can lead to (un)intended harm to those fellow human beings. I am especially confused when I read the company’s statement of responsibility, claming that “there are natural limits to our freedom of expression. We do not print things that are bound to offend people, e.g. pornographic material and content designed to insult and discriminate against genders or religious and ethnic groups.” Thinking of my Chinese husband and friends living in Germany, I just hope that this company will practise what it has preached.