Friday, August 15, 2008

Is this gesture offensive?

(AP Photo found on Caption reads: A woman poses with a newspaper showing a photo of Spain's Olympic basketball team making slant-eyed gestures while posing for an Olympics publicity photo, in Madrid Wednesday Aug. 13, 2008 . The photo was originally part of a publicity campaign for team sponsor Seur and is being used solely in Spain. The headline translates as 'return to racism'.

Another story that illustrates the visual power of gesture. Yes, gestures differ cross-culturally, but this particular use strikes me as being culturally insensitive at the very least. What do you think?

Spanish player defends controversial photo

Players on Spain's Olympic basketball team defended a photo in an ad showing the players using their fingers to apparently make their eyes look more Chinese.

The photo, which has been running as a newspaper spread in Spain since Friday, shows all 15 players making the gesture on a basketball court adorned with a Chinese dragon. The photo was part of a publicity campaign for team sponsor Seur and is being used only in Spain.

"It was something like supposed to be funny or something but never offensive in any way," Spain's Pau Gasol, center for the Los Angeles Lakers, said. "I'm sorry if anybody thought or took it the wrong way and thought that it was offensive."

Point guard Jose Calderon said the team was responding to a request from the photographer.

"We felt it was something appropriate, and that it would be interpreted as an affectionate gesture," Calderon, who plays for NBA's Toronto Raptors, wrote on his blog. "Without a doubt, some ... press didn't see it that way."

International media criticized the photo. London's Daily Telegraph said Spain's "poor reputation for insensitivity toward racial issues has been further harmed" by the photo.

Read the whole AP story at

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