Zhang Ziyi In The Toilet
In the May 9, 2005 issue of Newsweek in the United States, the feature theme was China's Century and the front cover person chosen to represent China was movie star Zhang Ziyi. That was obviously a major coup for Zhang Ziyi, because somewhere between 20 to 30 million American adults read a typical issue of Newsweek, according to the study that I conduct.
Meanwhile, within this issue, there was a short article in which there was a brief statement about American troops flushing a copy of the Koran down the toilet. After a barrage of criticisms, Newsweek eventually decided that their informant was not sure about the source. While the informant was sure that it happened (and there are multiple other instances of similar events from many other sources; for example, see this AP piece), he was not sure about the specific document which contained that information. As a result, Newsweek retracted the specific assertion. Never has so much made about one particular misstatement, when numerous other infinitely more egregious lies go unchallenged. It is alleged that Muslims rioted with deadly consequences in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of this Newsweek report, and therefore the magazine is responsible for the deaths. This is unverifiable and unfalsifiable, so there is no point in debating this.
In any case, the New York Post gloated about the apparent victory over Newsweek with this front page cover.
Yes, but so what? Who cares?
For one, Shiites would care. There are millions and millions of them around the world. They don't need me to speak for them, but I think that, whatever else, they don't want to treated like shit!
Also, the Chinese-language media in North America were upset (see Boxun), because Zhang Ziyi, the designated representative of China, was flushed down the toilet.
One commentator at China Press said, "If it were not Zhang Ziyi but some other movie star or celebrity in American society, the New York Post wouldn't dare do it. Or if they did it, there would be some blowback."
You can run your own list about whom the New York Post would flush down the toilet or not. Here is my list of ten names that came to my head out of nowhere:
So, I don't think it was directed against a Chinese person, nor was it a question of picking on a minority. The decision would be based on whether there could be a major blowback. There would be mass campaigns if the US president, the pope or Martin Luther King were flushed down the toilet because these people are supposed to have moral and/or spiritual authority. The name of the game is COWARDICE. You know that if you flush the Pope down the toilet, you will automatically get any number of denunciations during Sunday mass, any number of letters of complaint, any number of subscription cancellations and any number of picketers in front of your buildling. Who needs that headache? And your boss may even fire you to placate the lynch mob outside. So you look for another angle for the front page. And someone would also have to make a bet that the boss (Rupert Murdoch) may be amused by the antic of flushing him down the toilet, or alternately the boss may get mad and fire the person with the overwrought juvenile mind. Everybody else (and that means Zhang Ziyi) was fair game.
How should Zhang Ziyi feel? There is no such thing as bad publicity. All publicity is good, and this one gets her more name-recognition and sympathy. So she should just say "No comment" and let the surrogates do their thing. Meanwhile, all she has to do is look pretty, literally and figuratively. By the way, the sympathy factor is important for her within China, where she is not favorably looked upon.
So here is Zhang Ziyi, looking pretty literally.