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Should Slanted Eyes Offend Chinese People?

Should Slanted Eyes Offend Chinese People?

Too busy to get your daily dose of RADII? We got you every Tuesday with a summary of all the freshest takes on China’s youth culture in the last week.

  • With a tidal wave of both five-star reviews and negative comments, the Chinese animated film I Am What I Am has been embattled in controversy.
  • When was the last time you lined up for a merch? Well, more than 5,000 people did it last week at Shanghai DisneyLand as early as 3AM for the Duffy Christmas collection.
  • Ziyi Le’s photography is a visual love letter to China’s wandering youth who leave home in search of a better life.
  • Here’s (almost) everything we loved and loathed in music that came out of China last year. (OMG, It’s already 2022!)

Intrigued? Keep scrolling, my friend.


Chinese animated film “I Am What I Am” has been accused of pandering to Western stereotypes over the shape and size of its characters’ eyes

The Chinese animated film I Am What I Am has been embroiled in controversy since premiering on December 17, simultaneously receiving a tidal wave of both five-star reviews and negative comments on Douban, China’s answer to IMDb. The harsh words primarily focus on the size and shape of the movie’s characters’ eyes.

I Am What I Am tells the story of a boy and his two friends achieving their dream of becoming lion dancers — entertainers who perform a ritual dance during Chinese festivals.

The film’s five-star reviews come from netizens praising its realistic portrayal of the traditional dance and its place in modern China, alongside strong visuals and storytelling.

“This is a valuable film because, finally, a Chinese director made an animation based on our modern culture instead of mythical stories,” wrote one Douban user who gave I Am What I Am a five-star rating.

Other positive reviews applaud the movie’s originality, noting that many animated films made in China — Big Fish & Begonia, Ne Zha, Lotus Lantern — are based on ancient myths, while I Am What I Am is a novel concept: The characters are youngsters in modern China, but they still practice traditional artistry.

What's your take on this? Should netizens be offended by the "slanted eyes"?

Capturing the transitional generation of youth in China, Ziyi Le spoke to us about how his upbringing led to launch a personal project titled “New Comer,” an exploration of the emotional void among young people like himself who have moved away from home and relocated to different cities.

Read up on the rest of Le's powerful work.

  • From a myriad of excellent album releases and breakthrough artists to the high-profile arrest of pop idol Kris Wu — it has been a hell of a year for Chinese music. We look back at some musical moments in China that stood out in 2021.
  • More than 5,000 people lined up at Shanghai Disneyland’s entrance as early as 3 AM on the 29th to purchase the Duffy Christmas Collection. What followed can only be described as early morning mayhem.
  • #ICYMI: In the mood for a heavy dose of nostalgia? Westlife held their first online concert on WeChat last month. The virtual show was an incredible success, garnering nearly 28 million views and a staggering 160 million likes on WeChat. We spoke to Andrew Spalter, an organizer of Westlife’s recent online performance, about working with the boy band and WeChat on the top-rated concert.
  • Kicking off the new year with a bang: From alternative pop to ultra-short experimental post-rock, there’s a little bit of everything in this roundup of new music from China!
  • As always, don’t forget to check out the latest episode of SoundCheck, where Wes Chen, host of hip hop podcast thePark, and Bryan Grogan talk about their favorite tracks of the month.

Are you a gifted meme maker? Or a storyteller crazy about Chinese youth culture? Take a look below, because we’re currently hiring for the following positions:


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