Chinese Artist Swipes at Kung Fu Panda

Panda-favoring artist wants apology from DreamWorks over what he thinks is the film's culturally offensive portrayal of the animal

By Natalie Finn Jul 18, 2008 11:01 PMTags
Kung Fu PandaParamount Pictures

Nobody pokes fun at a panda in this town and gets away with it.

A Chinese artist known for invoking his country's bamboo-gnawing national symbol in nearly everything that he does has filed a complaint against DreamWorks over its treatment of Po, the initially inept bear voiced by Jack Black in Kung Fu Panda.

Zhao Bandi, who last month rallied for a boycott of the film, is demanding an apology from the studio for certain attributes it assigned to the title panda, including his green eyes and the fact that he has a duck for a father.

Beijing's Chaoyang District People's Court has formally accepted his suit, he says.

But Bandi is not asking for any money—just the apology.

"Designing the panda with green eyes is a conspiracy," the fortysomething artist and fashion designer wrote on his blog.

"A panda with green eyes has the feeling of evil. I have studied oil painting, and we would never use green eyes to describe a kind-hearted figure. So I ask them to open their creative meeting records of this film and explain why the green eyes.

"Next, why is the panda's father is a duck? Many foreigners think the giant panda is not just China's symbol, but also the Chinese people's symbol. Drawing the father of the giant panda as a duck is an insult to the Chinese people. In a few years time, I'm worried some young Chinese people will think their ancestor is Donald Duck."

Although the animated hit has made a strong showing at the Chinese box office since its June 20 premiere, Bandi also successfully managed to delay Kung Fu Panda's arrival in the earthquake-ravaged Sichuan district after presenting the State Administration of Radio Film and Television with a petition expressing concern for the area's victims.

Among his complaints: Hollywood exploits Chinese culture with films like Kung Fu Panda; DreamWorks was cofounded by Steven Spielberg, who pulled out of his role as artistic director of the Beijing Olympics; and, like the film itself, Sharon Stone comes from America, and look what she had to say about the possible cause of the devastating quake!

"The film Kung Fu Panda steals China’s national treasure, the panda, and kung fu," Zhao told

But although Bandi found a few sympathetic ears within China's state film and television agency, plenty of the people he worried were going to be corrupted by the film just think he should lighten up.

"This is completely a waste of time," one unconcerned citizen blogged last month in a message board on the Xinhua news agency website. "There is no need for such sensitivity. China's cultural heritage belongs to the world."

"His thinking is too narrow," added a Kung Fu Panda fan. "Chinese things can only be shot by the Chinese people themselves? Ridiculous! Does everything have to relate to patriotism? He is just an angry man. It is a very good film."