It's not easy being Dashan.
Perhaps China's best-known foreigner, the witty and linguistically skilled character created by Canadian Mark Roswell has set impossibly high language standards for foreigners living in China. As a result, the towering redhead Roswell and his earnest character Dashan -- beloved by millions of Chinese who know him from two decades on Chinese television and other media -- is not so revered by his foreign compatriots, especially those trying to get a grip on Mandarin. Roswell and his Dashan alter ego are the frequent butt of jokes, derision and outright contempt among expats.
But if his recent post on Quora is any indication, Roswell himself is a pretty thoughtful guy who has spent some serious time considering his place among the Chinese fans who love him and the foreigners who have mocked him.
On Quora, Roswell takes on the question: "Why do so many Chinese learners seem to hate Dashan (Mark Roswell)? He seems like a nice guy. Does he secretly eat children or something?"
Roswell picks apart his character and the public reaction to it, in a fascinating point-by-point, and rather humble, response.
"There's always been something of a Mr. Rogers quality to the Dashan character - he's such a nice guy you sometimes wish he'd make a cameo appearance in a horror movie just so you could watch him get ripped to shreds, and then replay it over and over on Youtube," Roswell admits.
Roswell then goes into a point-by-point analysis of reaction to Dashan from both sides, from derision to admiration, touching on racism and resentment in between. The piece is worth reading for anyone interested in cross-cultural communications with China. And for the record, Roswell says, he doesn't eat children.