The Andrea Hoodie by the Happiness clothing company — an Italian clothing company founded in 2007 with the ironic philosophy of spreading “happiness” — features a screen capture from the 2009 Chinese film epic “Nanking! Nanking!” (distributed in English as “City of Life and Death”) focused on the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. The scene depicts the pending decapitation of innocent Nanjing civilians.
Which begs the question: what the fuck is Nordstrom Rack doing selling a picture of a massacre of tens of thousands of innocents? Also, why the fuck would someone make this hoodie in the first fucking place?
The 1937 Nanjing Massacre is also known as the Rape of Nanjing and involved the gruesome rape and murder of between 40,000 – 300,000 civilians of Nanjing during the second Sino-Japanese War. Invading Japanese Imperial troops committed widespread rape, looting, murder and mutilation against Nanjing civilians over a six-week period, much of which was documented in horrific historical images.
The Rape of Nanjing was later downplayed and covered up by the Japanese government, who continue to deny that these war crimes occurred. Almost no soldiers who participated in the war crimes faced any legal sanction for the atrocities. Several films have since tried to spotlight the horrors of the Nanjing Massacre in an effort to apply pressure to the Japanese government and the global community to acknowledge these war crimes, most recently in “Nanking! Nanking”, which won top prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2009 and awards for directing and cinematography in the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
There is nothing about the Nanjing Massacre that evokes happiness. So, why was Nordstrom Rack selling a hoodie with a picture of this war crime?
The Andrea Hoodie reproduces a slightly altered black-and-white image taken as a film still from “Nanking! Nanking!”, and shows two civilians in the process of being decapitated by a Japanese soldier. The film’s main character, played by actor Liu Ye, has been cropped out of the image used on the hoodie, but appears in the full still as shown above.
Nordstrom Rack received widespread criticism over the last two days for their sale of the hoodie on its website. Within hours, they pulled the hoodie from their online shelves, and offered apologies to those who posted to their Facebook page.
However, no general apology has been issued to the full Asian or Asian American community. Furthermore, other clothes from Happiness clothing company remain for sale through Nordstrom Rack.
A “We The People” White House petition has been created demanding that the Obama administration force Nordstrom Rack to discontinue the hoodie (which they have apparently done) and to issue a full apology. To date, it has collected nearly 12,000 signatures.
If you would like to learn more about the Nanjing Massacre, you can read Iris Chang’s “The Rape of Nanking”.
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Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!