CULTURE

Americans Are Shocked At Terry Crews' Seemingly Pro-China Posts on Instagram

Whether the post was really intended to be pro-China remains unclear, but it wouldn't really be that shocking

Instagram

Americans love to have a villain.

Someone they can really sneer at and come together to root against. But Terry Crews is usually the furthest thing from the bad guy. He's a gifted painter, a former NFL player, and a fountain of positive energy and open communication whom we loved for his role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine even before he became a hero of progressive cultural change.

In 2017, when Crews shared his personal experience with sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, he made himself vulnerable in a way that a lot of men—particularly men who are perceived as strong and masculine—would shy away from. His story became as clear an illustration of the toxic power dynamics in the entertainment industry as most of us could imagine—showing that even someone with the strength and confidence of a literal superhero could be taken advantage of and violated by the powerful figures in a system with such pervasive problems.

How could a man who has done so much to win our love provoke American society to suddenly turn against him? By siding—or at least seeming to side—with America's favorite villain du jour: China.

Crews is currently in Shanghai with his family and apparently having a great time. Some people would probably take issue with that alone—with an Instagram post asserting that China's largest city is "INCREDIBLE!!!" and "Truly a wonder to see in person!" Many American's have so thoroughly written off China as a force of pure evil that even innocuous positivity like this, delivered with a message of "WORLDWIDE LOVE," would be unacceptable, but it's not really surprising or out of character.

What really surprised people was when Crews posted a picture of himself, earlier this week, posing in front of the flag of the People's Republic of China, with the phase "POWER TO THE PEOPLES." This is the post that opened the floodgates on a torrent of negative responses, with thousands posting messages expressing their shock.

Most of the commenters seemed particularly concerned with the protesters in Hong Kong and with the perception that Crews was aligning himself with the mainland government, against the people who have occupied Hong Kong's streets for the past seven months fighting for autonomous democracy in their city. While it seems like a stretch to assume that Crews intended the post as an endorsement of Xi Jinping's government, the image was certainly suggestive of pro-China propaganda, with Crews looking buff and tough, with the red and gold flag framing his head. It's reminiscent of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, posing in front of the flag of the USSR. And just like Ivan, Terry's post could not be more perfectly calculated to inflame American patriotism against him.

Ivan Drago "Rocky IV" 1985

It may be that Crews is not particularly familiar with the issues in Hong Kong—he's a busy man, with a lot on his plate. Or maybe, seeing the way people live in Shanghai, he doesn't think that Hong Kong has a great deal to fear in losing their autonomy. That's debatable, but there are other, more pressing reasons to maintain a strong critical stance when it comes to China. In particular, the "Vocational Training" that is being provided to Uyghur Muslims against their will in the Xinjiang re-education camps. There are reports about various atrocities—everything from rape to organ harvesting—that may be taking place in those camps. Without a free press in China, it's difficult to say for certain what's going on there—which is a problem in and of itself.

But if Crews had instead appeared in front of an American flag—or wrapped in a flag suit like his character in Idiocracy—would people have taken that as an endorsement of Donald Trump? Does the fact that he hosts America's Got Talent mean he must deny that America also has police violence? Does it mean he should ignore the sexual assault that takes place in our concentration camps at the southern border? Maybe flags in general just make for cool backdrops. Or maybe a person can express appreciation for a nation and its people without endorsing everything the government does there.

President Camacho "Idiocracy" (2006)

Meanwhile, Flint Michigan, where Terry Crews grew up, still has poison flowing from many of its taps. The NFL, where Terry Crews used to play, has—at the behest of President Trump—banned kneeling on the sidelines during the national anthem to protest police violence. Los Angeles, where Terry Crews lives, is suffering from a housing crisis, with 1% of the population living on the streets or in shelters. And the United States is still officially home to the largest population of imprisoned people on earth.

It's easy to attack China's crimes, because China is far away and their political problems seemingly have little in common with our own—and there is absolutely a lot to be critical of. Their problems allow even a divided country like ours a moment of unity—with everyone from Elizabeth Warren (who penned an article titled "It Is Time for the United States to Stand Up to China in Hong Kong") to the Trump family jumping on board. It may yet turn out that Terry Crews was unaware of some of these problems, or he didn't want to take the risk of expressing his own criticisms while his family is still within the country's borders.

Colin Kaepernick John G Mabanglo

That would be understandable. It could even turn out that "POWER TO THE PEOPLES," was meant as a subtle, pro-democracy message of solidarity—we can't really know right now. But if it's not, would it be that shocking to learn that, as a black man in the United States, Terry Crews knows better than to judge a nation simply by its worst crimes or its greatest achievements. Crews has achieved tremendous success for himself and his family, but he has also seen how badly his home country tends to treat people who look like him. Maybe he can celebrate the best of what he's seen in China—e.g. the hundreds of millions there who have been lifted out of poverty—without endorsing the worst of that government's evils.

Maybe Terry Crews is more capable of nuance than the people who break everything into heroes and villains—who praise Hong Kong protesters for throwing bricks and attack American protesters for throwing milkshakes or distracting us from football.

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CULTURE

7 People Besides Greta Thunberg Who Need Donald Trump's "Anger Management" Advice

Why are these people always getting mad about major societal injustices?

AP

In the wake of Time Magazine's selection of Greta Thunberg as their "Person of the Year", critics of science, ice caps, and the existence of youth have come out of the woodwork to criticize the choice.

She's a scold! A puppet! She's "mentally ill!" She's too young to have anything of value to say! But perhaps none have had more trenchant criticisms of Thunberg than the two Donald Trumps, both Junior and Senile. Don Jr. lashed out at Time for overlooking the Hong Kong protesters, a common thread among critics of Time's choice.

After all, the protests have been going on for more than six months now, and they give Americans an excuse to ignore the protests in the Middle East and Latin America—which implicate US foreign policy—and focus on the crimes of mainland China and the thank you messages to Trump. Instead of honoring the people who honored his father, Time Magazine devoted their cover to, in Junior's words, "a marketing gimmick."

trump jr. Astute

It's unclear which marketing department came up with Greta Thunberg. The planet's? Generations-of-people-yet-to-be-born's? Whatever Madison Avenue genius came up with an impassioned teenage girl with Asperger's trying to save the world, give that guy the Don Draper award for clever gimmicks. Bravo. Never would've thought of it myself.

Not to be outdone though, President Trump tweeted some advice for Greta. Apparently, she needs to work on her "Anger Management problem" and stop involving herself in the grown-up business of destroying the future. Instead, President Trump advised that she should just "go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend. Chill Greta, Chill!" And she took his advice—yay!— altering her Twitter bio to reflect this sage wisdom from one of her biggest moral role models.

greta twitter bio

With this rousing success, maybe Trump should consider sending similar advice to some other angry people. Here are some current and former rageaholics who could really use a Trump-brand chill pill.

The Parkland Teens

emma gonzalez

ABC News

"If you don't do anything to prevent this from continuing to occur, that number of gunshot victims will go up and the number that they are worth will go down. And we will be worthless to you."

Wow, calm down, Emma Gonzalez, why don't you go to a water park or something to take your mind off the trauma you've experienced and the lack of action to address this uniquely American type of horrifying violence.

FDR

fdr

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Damn, Frankie, hold a grudge much? You're almost as bad as your boy Winston "Beach-Fight" Churchill. I know you guys are worried about those Axis powers trying to take over the world, but why don't you go fly a kite and see how you feel in the morning.

Rosa Parks

rosa parks

"The only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

Geez, it's just a bus seat—and the systematic oppression of black Americans that deprives them of society's best resources and the opportunities to improve their lives. Go get a couple scoops of ice cream and you'll feel better.

The Standing Rock Sioux

standing rock sioux

"The invisibility of our humanity in this country is literally killing our women; they are offered up as easy prey and their disappearances are often lacking consequences for the perpetrators."

Okay, Chairman Archambault, so the decision to run a hazardous oil pipeline through your tribal lands actually points to a general disregard for the humanity of indigenous peoples, and that results in terrifying mistreatment. But have you considered going to a good old fashioned game of baseball? Might help you relax.

Simone De Beauvoir

simone de beauvoir

"All oppression creates a state of war. And this is no exception."

What is it with these feminist political thinkers always getting so hot under the collar about not having the same rights, freedoms, and legal recognitions as men? Just go to a barbecue and stop worrying so much!

Child Separation Protesters

child separation protesters

AP

"There's no way to rationalize ripping families apart,"

If you say so, ACLU, but you sure sound upset about these child concentration camps, their awful inhumane conditions, and the lifelong trauma they induce. Why don't you go for a bike ride and get back to us?

James Baldwin

james baldwin

"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time."

Okay, James, but have you tried not being relatively conscious? Try huffing some good old-fashioned ether, or downing a couple bottles of high-strength chill pills.

Now if these other hotheads would just take President Trump's sound advice before the year is over, maybe Time will change their minds, and give "Person of the Year" to the kind of calm, chilled out person who deserves it.

trump yelling

AP