The 2015 Met Gala is to be called "Chinese Whispers.”
My hot take:
In case you were never a child, or are not from the US, “Chinese Whispers” is also the frowned-upon title of a children’s game (which most US kids know as Telephone).
Maybe the phrase is less hot button in other countries, but it’s considered quite insensitive to use that phrase in the US. Since the Met is a US museum, I get to make fun of them for this, along with the rest of the internet.
I’d love to be in the room when the Met Gala people Google ‘Chinese Whispers’ and realize their theme is a racist name for a childhood game.— Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5)September 13, 2014
The 2015 Met Gala theme is “Chinese Whispers” because that definitely won’t be a racist disaster: http://t.co/CwbmQbHDpm— Styleite (@Styleite)September 12, 2014
Why was the game called Chinese Whispers, and why is that usage racist? Because back in the day, the word “Chinese” was used as a synonym for being unclear or being incomprehensible, and a “Chinese Whisper” basically means “to gossip.” Wow, what a flattering umbrella underwhich we will celebrate a culture!
And there’s like, no chance, at all, that this will turn into a massive culturally insensitive sideshow, right?
Right. That would never happen.
Counterpoint: ”Chinese whispers” can refer to repeated tellings of a story, each one differing slightly from the previous, so that the final version has only a slight resemblance to the original. The Gala will celebrate how Chinese aesthetics have influenced art and design.
My point: You’re celebrating cultural appropriation, not the culture. Also, why is the full title of this thing "Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film and Fashion.” There are other Eastern cultures in Asia. Obviously the intent here to celebrate Chinese culture, but it’s dismissive to pretend they alone embody the culture of the east.
Counterpoint: SHUT UP
My Counterpoint: NO YOU SHUT UP
And so on. Because that’s how the internet works.