These modern-day Marcos and Matteos are fluent in Mandarin and would be recognised by most Chinese. However, do these familiar faces deserve their fame? Or is each one nothing more than a “filthy imperialist” - just another foreigner cashing in as the token white guy? For me, the jury is still out.
It almost goes without saying that towering above all others is
Dashan came to
Many laowai, particular those who speak Chinese but are not famous for it, have nothing but hate for this 43 year old. Call me a contrarian, but I feel compelled to come to Dashan's defense: Mark Rowswell is not trying to be cool and is good at what he does. And, and I expect that unlike many of his haters, rather than blurting out dreadful-but-confident Chinese, Dashan has learned to speak the language properly before opening his mouth.
Next, meet Cao Cao. Jonathan Kos-Read came to China as a trained actor and after six years here now boasts that he has “acted in leading roles in over 25 prime-time Chinese TV shows and films, written several full-length original screen and teleplays in both English and Chinese, subtitled several Chinese films, assistant directed television shows and commercials and directed several short films”.
In my opinion, Dashan’s detractors should reserve at least some of their ire for this man. If the following clip is anything to go by, Kos-Read has chosen a fitting Chinese name - Cao Cao was known for his treachery:
Most likely, foreigners learning Chinese will have at some point been compared to someone on my list. Perhaps my issue with Kos-Read stems from the fact that he is the person that my Chinese is most often negatively compared to. Like Cao Cao, my Chinese name sounds identical to that of a character from the Three Kingdoms – Zhou Yu. However, the character for my “Yu” is different - it means stupid.
The only female on my list, if Dashan was to rule over laowai
Like Dashan, Ai Hua has her critics: According to Yan Xishan, her Chinese name, which means “love
Perhaps Great Warlord Yan would forgive a younger Ai Hua, she was a only little girl when she took this name. Ai Hua, or Charlotte McInnis, moved to China aged seven and began her illustrious TV and film career as a mere ten-year-old.
Sometimes credited with bringing hip hop to
Da Long, aka. Andrew Ballen, now stands at the helm of a burgeoning media empire, has hosted radio shows, done voice-overs and forged multiple innovative marketing deals. Unfortunately, however, most Westerners will know Da Long for his cringe-worthy travel show on CCTV 9:
This traitor to the motherland - Jeff Locker to his American friends - is possibly
Unlike any of his mainland counterparts – Dashan could be labelled a sycophant to the Chinese authorities for having avoided any serious or sensitive discussion - the Taiwanese political climate has allowed Jiefu and others in Taiwan to make forays into political satire. Here he plays George Bush. The character - a regular appearance on Everybody Speaks Nonsense 全民大悶鍋 - was censored at one point, some say due to fears of upsetting the White House.
With kids like this around – the sons and daughters expats, the days that laowai can attract any attention for their Mandarin skills are surely numbered…