May 31st, 2011
10:49 AM ET

"Kung Fu Panda 2" backlash in China?

After the Hollywood launch of "Kung Fu Panda 2," there's word of a backlash in Beijing.

According to China's official Xinhua news agency, some Chinese artists and scholars say that the animated kiddie flick has "twisted Chinese culture and serves as a tool to 'kidnap' the mind of the Chinese people."

Zhao Bandi, an avant-garde artist in Beijing, has launched a campaign to boycott the DreamWorks film by placing ads in newspapers across the country. He's joined by an academic, Kong Qingdong of Peking University, who calls "Kung Fu Panda 2" a "cultural invasion."

This is a repeat performance for Zhao. In 2008, when the first "Kung Fu Panda" appeared on Mainland screens, he sued the film's producers for its depiction of China's national treasure. (Pandalism, anyone?) Zhao called the green eyes of Po, the animated panda, a conspiracy since green is an evil color, and Po's father an insult to all Chinese since he is a duck.

But after taking in close to $28 million, the movie ultimately had more than its share of fans and set China's animation box office record.

Whereas the first installment was designed from books and online research, the sequel is based on trips to China. DreamWorks Animation's Raymond Zibach says he digitally created the film's look using photos he took of architectural and landscape details from the Forbidden City, Pingyao,Chengdu and elsewhere in China. The art director also went to a panda breeding facility to study and draw from the movements of an actual baby panda.

China's netizens have been actively discussing the film on the country's popular microblog Sina Weibo, and directing a number of their comments at the outraged artist Zhao Bandi. @pandalin013 writes, "Don't use Kung Fu Panda to hype your own work. It's a good movie. If you want to boycott American culture, you should cast out McDonald's and KFC."

Another netizen who goes by the name @ldgiuenguo weighs in, "Looking at the box office for Kung Fu Panda 2, I suspect Zhao Bandi is using the controversy to advertise his work."

Zhao's panda love is not such a black and white affair. His ostensibly nationalist motives aside, Zhao is campaigning for an animal that he has essentially turned into his own commercial calling card.

The Beijing-based artist - who apparently likes to carry a stuffed panda around with him - has long produced, and sold, art based on pandas. Zhao also designs provocative costumes for models posing as panda prostitutes and, yes, panda concubines.

As one Beijing-based blogger points out on Twitter, "Apparently it’s ok for Zhao Bandi to do whatever he wants with the panda's image... just no one else."

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Gao Le

    KongFu Panda 2 indeed shows a greater familiarity of the production and scriptwriters with Chinese culture, including much more sophistication when presenting local Chinese dishes.
    See more in the article here: http://thinkingchinese.com/index.php?page_id=291

    May 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Reply
  2. coder

    If the Chinese are so worried about this movie – in the manner depicted in this article

    Then why dont they use their own artists and come up with a movie that does appeal to their sensitive nature

    Oh yeah -they can't - they locked up and imprisoned the artists who can think

    May 31, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Reply
  3. The Universe

    The guys thinks that Panda Prostitutes are art and he has issues with a cartoon Panda as a hero with green eyes? Opportunistic little bugger, ain't he?

    May 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
  4. Ted

    Who cares?

    May 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  5. Kyle H. Davis

    I think a lot of this started when some moron in Beijing (an American), decided to use this movie as a way to grind an axe with Hollywood. He posted his insane tirade all over Chinese video hosting sites.

    Basically, he is some guy who couldn't make it in Hollywood (as he stated in his video), and came to find the "wonders of China". – Basically he's living in a developed city, making a western salary where it buys 6 times as much, and people are giving him the "foreigner rock star" treatment. (For most of us, we see through this and get over it quite quickly here).

    The video of him blasting the movie as an all out attack on China (without using any specific examples to back up his claims), has been picked up by these ultra-nationalists (who suck up anything that a westerner says against his own nation like it was mothers milk), and it has gone on to create a firestorm that Zhao Bandi has tried to ride the coattails of.

    May 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  6. USA Panda

    Zhao Bandi needs to grow up and stop being so silly. I lived in China for 10 years and most Chinese consider this guy as an attention seeker and his claims a joke.

    May 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  7. Mário Silva

    Kung Fu Panda Music Video, Kung Fu Fighting High Definition.
    Advanced IC High Tech and Artistic quality.
    Sure there's a backlash in Beijing for "Kung Fu Panda 2,"

    May 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  8. Thailand Panda

    zhao who?

    May 31, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply
  9. Babak from LA

    Lighten up dude. It is a cartoon for the kids ... Get some popcorn, sode and some candy ... It will make you feel better.

    May 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Reply
    • Melany

      havent watch the kungfu panda yet, even have heard many good coenmmts on this movie. Well the hello panda is nice tasting too, but kinda expensive.how nice it would be with hello panda in the mouth while watching the kungfu panda ? :p

      September 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  10. Xprsevue

    Take it easy, there are as many morons in China as in the US of A.

    May 31, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  11. Petru Neacsu

    ok, so with a population that big, 0.00000001% of china is an attention whore. I can't call that a backlash.

    PS. Sorry if my math is wrong, my calculator gave me an error trying to figure out how much is one person as a percentage from the total population. :))))))))) Not even my calculator gives a f**k about him.

    May 31, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Reply
  12. Fitty Stim

    Smells like a little free advertisement for KFP2 and cnn fell for it hook, line and sinker...

    May 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  13. Jian-Heng Tang

    i don't know how does the Chinese government connect "Kung Fu Panda" with "insult to all Chinese". i believe that the people in China doesn't really think of these two meaning have any association.

    May 31, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Reply
  14. Maulrus

    Yes, because American films are so subtly filled with messages and propaganda.........

    May 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  15. A R

    Just as usual, people cannot visually or mentally see the line between a movie and real life. Regardless of where the creator based his designs for the movie on, it does not mean he is "invading" or "ruining" any part of that. His creation is a movie, not a guideline for civilization to take a lesson from on the supposed standards of China. Grow Up!

    May 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  16. Don Pope

    Just because some cranky and opportunistic artist hates the movie, doesn't mean that China hates it. I bet it makes a ton of money over there.

    May 31, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  17. Jim D

    Good point about McDs and KFC, I have been in China for 4 years now and it is obvious, the Chinese people who frequent these places – are fat!

    May 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  18. Jim D

    KFC and McDs are making the people f a t in China too.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  19. Allan

    Don't know who's complaining. I'm in China now. The cinema down the road is playing this film now and the crowds love it!

    Critics always pan films that I find entertaining (yes, even in Hollywood).

    May 31, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Reply
  20. gupsphoo

    Nobody in China is boycotting the movie, except a couple of nutcases.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Reply
  21. sharp

    i think were all just a bunch of insensitive round-eyes.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:23 am | Reply
  22. hy49101

    Indeed, as the article Gao Le points out, the producers visited Chengdu, indisputedly the "panda hometown". And good for them, as when I went, Westerners were extremely rare: I only saw 1 American/Canadian family at the airport and 1 lone person navigating the streets.

    and Coder shut the DEVIL up. you can keep such ignorant, hillbilly snide comments to yourself

    June 1, 2011 at 1:42 am | Reply
  23. robert

    Zhao's comments are petty, superstitious and self promoting. Isn't it ironic that a Hollywood movie is a better representative of china than this grandstanding Chinese national? I guess that along with fame come the lowlifes trying to hitch a free ride by hijacking it for their personal cause.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:46 am | Reply
  24. puyi

    So 1 person out of 1 billion citizens in a country complains (for ulterior motives it seems) and suddenly "China" has a backlash??? talk about hyperbole and bad writing.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:51 am | Reply
  25. Hey hey hey

    What a surprise. The Chinese have a problem with American culture.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:12 am | Reply
  26. Im Mark

    The article doesn't say the Chinese in general are against the movie; it doesn't even mention the chinese Goverment at all. If this article was a reading comprehension test, a few of the above posters would have failed it miserably.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:29 am | Reply
  27. Mário Silva

    "Advanced IC High Tech and Artistic quality" is Chinese, is American
    and is also already in the Portuguese's Cinema on 09-Jun-2011,...
    Happy cultural promotion .

    June 1, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Reply
  28. Mário Silva

    SUCCESS in India – greatest success "of all" : You can see "Kung Fu Panda 2" fun in facts at :animationxpress.com/index.php?file=story&id=37551

    June 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  29. Xue Jin Fu

    I'm Chinese and I think Kung Fu Panda 2 is a wonderful and enjoyable film! I love it and I don't understand what's so wrong about it. Zhao Bandi must be too sensitive or he must have serious mental issues. How can anyone hate such a lovable film?

    June 4, 2011 at 8:22 am | Reply
  30. korean panda

    whats wrong with kids movies?

    June 8, 2011 at 8:46 am | Reply
  31. tj mac

    I can see why the Chinese could be insulted. I have always seen them as small furry animals that have a very difficult time copulating.....yeah right. Seriously, some people have way too much time on their hands.

    Tell Zhao Bandi to get off his A*& and get over to help out the Japanese, who actually have a real crisis on their hands.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  32. CozyLife

    Cultural Invasion? Should we start to remove all "China Towns" across the world and telling them of invasion? IT'S A MOVIE a friggin cartoon. Wake up!!!

    June 18, 2011 at 4:14 am | Reply
  33. Tish

    I'll try to put this to good use immdeaitley.

    June 24, 2011 at 9:27 am | Reply
  34. Mário Silva

    Kung Fu Panda 2 is to enjoy everyone and learnig animation movies Tech

    June 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Reply

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