Homer Simpson X-Ray Used in Medical Article in Chinese News

by Joey deVilla on August 2, 2007

Take a look at this article from China View, the English-language site run by China’s official Xinhua News Agency and pay particular attention to the accompanying photo:

Small screenshot of China View article featuring Homer Simpson’s head x-ray
Click the screenshot to see it at full size.

What’s happening here? I’ll let Computerworld explain:

The article, which appeared on China’s official Xinhua News Agency’s English news site on Monday, displays text about a new genetic discovery relating to MS, attributed to “agencies.” Alongside is an x-ray rendering of the diminutive brain of the cartoon character Homer Simpson, attributed as a “file photo.”

This isn’t the first time Chinese media has fallen prey to satire presented to an English-language audience. In 2002, the Beijing Evening News (Beijing Wan Bao) picked up an article from humor site The Onion, stating that the U.S. Congress had threatened to move out of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., unless the building were upgraded to include a retractable dome. The newspaper also ran a drawing The Onion had published of the fictional new roof design.

Both online and print media in China routinely use photos downloaded or scanned from other sources without proper attribution or copyright permission.

I can understand how it’s possible that someone at China View might not known enough North American cultural folderol under their belt to recognize Homer Simpson, but wouldn’t whoever incuded the x-ray image have thought that it looked a little odd? I suppose it’s possible that he or she thought it was a diagram in the style of Asian electronics instruction manuals, which are full of cartoony characters.

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