Friday, May 6, 2011

It's a Compliment

From Page 1 of today's Taipei Times: CNN report about 'gluttonous' Taipei raises some hackles:

An article on the CNN Web site that labels Taipei as a city of “gluttony” has angered some legislators and prompted Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) to say that the government would have to fill CNN in on the nation’s cuisine and culture.

Answering questions yesterday from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers at the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee on concerns over the CNN report, Yang said it had “damaged” the nation’s image.

CNNGo, CNN’s culture and travel Web site, on April 20 used Catholicism’s seven deadly sins to describe the seven best Asian cities for indulgence, with Taipei named as the best city for gluttony.

“We understand the media’s need for interesting and provocative articles, but gluttony, the word … is indecent and it has a negative connotation,” Yang told KMT Legislator Chen Shu-huey (陳淑慧).

Here's the CNNGo.com travel story. To summarize:

Gluttony: Taipei. (All that Taiwanese food.) Sloth: Seoul. (PC gaming addiction.) Pride: Manila. (Narcissistic men.) Greed: Shenzhen. (The Chinese economy.) Lust: Tokyo. (Japanese perverts.) Envy: New Delhi. (Because of all the Indians who want to leave the country.) Wrath: Pyongyang. (Kim Jong Il.)

Okay, I choose to believe that Philip Yang and his crew have their reasons, since I'm used to politicians obeying a calculus beyond my understanding. But for the Taipei Times to put that article on the front page, in the upper right corner above the fold, suggests that the paper is hopelessly thin-skinned when it comes to perceived attacks or slights against Taiwan.

And for what? Granted, the CNN article could have been done far more tactfully, although probably not while keeping the "7 deadly sins" motif. (And why did they focus on individual cities when the descriptions were about the countries as a whole?)

But not only was the article's treatment of Taiwan easily the least insulting of its seven victims, Taiwan arguably wasn't even insulted at all. India: We Want to Live Somewhere Else! South Korea: We Sit Indoors Playing Online Games All Day! Japan: Pervoland! North Korea: We Want to Nuke the World!

Taiwan: We've Got Awesome Food!

And think of it: A bunch of travel writers decided that, out of all the countries of Asia, Taiwan's food was the most worthy of turning to gluttony over.

For this, a fine example of praising with very faint damnation, the Taipei Times runs a prominent story about how the KMT is all aghast and shocked.

Hmm. Maybe I was wrong about the Taipei Times' intent, and the whole point was to portray the KMT as prickly and thin-skinned?

1 comment:

Jenna said...

the Taipei Times is good like that :)