March 4, 2008

I Guess He Thought No One Would Notice.

We have all seen our share of poorly written articles on China, articles that seem to be culled from Google searches and Associated Press updates by journalist who do not speak Chinese and have probably never set foot in China. While I’ve gotten used to the sensationalism and smut, I was furious after reading Stephen Armstrong's recent article “Kirby Lee and the curiously pleasant world of Chinese hip-hop” (February 10, 2008). I have never before seen such an egregious act of plagiarism. The author reprints, practically word for word, the writing of LA Times journalist Ralph Frammolino.

In a 2004 article titled, “Chinese find a way to tame hip-hop” Frammolino wrote:

"... But when Wang "MC Webber" Bo opens his mouth to rap, what comes out from one of China's hottest young artists would make an original gangsta' cry.

'In Beijing, walk along Chang'An Avenue. In Beijing, there are many exotic, beautiful women. In Beijing, you can burn incense at the Lama Temple. In Beijing ... '

China, accomplishing what millions of disapproving American parents could not, has tamed hip-hop music.

Instead of often obscene and violent tales from the inner city, Wang and other leading rappers here are taking to the stage with lyrics that glorify national pride, celebrate tourist attractions and preach against the dangers of adolescent impulsiveness.

One group is so proud of its songs that it has affixed a sticker to its debut album asking fans to share it with their parents."


Comparatively, in his article, Armstrong wrote:

"Now Beijing: “In Beijing, walk along Chang’an Avenue/In Beijing, there are many exotic beautiful women/In Beijing, you can burn incense at the Lama Temple/In Beijing, study history at the Forbidden City.” It’s enough to make Snoop Dogg weep. China has accomplished what millions of disapproving parents could not: tamed hip-hop music. Chinese rappers deliver lyrics that glorify national pride, celebrate tourist attractions and preach against the dangers of adolescent impulsiveness. One group is so proud of its songs, it has affixed a sticker to its debut album asking fans to share it with their parents."

Perhaps Armstrong believed no one would notice his caper since Frammolino’s article is no longer available on the LA Times website and is only archived on a handful of obscure sites. (To see Frammolino’s full article, click here.) Regardless, he is in clear violation of journalism ethics and standards.

I posted a response on the Times Online page about both the factual errors and the plagiarism. Unfortunately each comment box is limited to 500 characters so you will not be able to read everything I wrote. The page also doesn’t let you “Read All Comments”, which is suspicious. (The issues I have with the arguments of both articles is for another post.)

The Dragon Tongue Crew performance received this similarly uninspired review that, while at times is parochial and condescending, is at least in the author’s own words.

~ Angela

2 comments:

Alex Lopez 刘磊 said...

hey dongting, a long post just got deleted...

just wanted to say great job on the blog.

my Chines alma matter (Associated Colleges in China) has been teaching "Zai Beijing" for at least 3 years as a feel-good get to know Beijing style song (propaganda?). I always pull that rap out of my hat whenever my Chinese friends pressure me into a talent show, which seems to happen a lot.

Anyway, congrats on doing such a great job. Come back to Beijing real soon!

Sincerely,
Alex L. (Liu Lei 刘磊))

John said...

thats some intense plagiarism. miss you! john (yandell)