David Beckham and SARS

“The slippers and pajamas were auctioned at 2,800 yuan (about $350) apiece, reportedly purchased by a Chinese man for his daughter (Sina.com 2003). the money, ironically, went to a charity fund for children orphaned by the SARS epidemic…Here, the fear of germs was apparently forgotten: Beckham’s body was not seen as a pollutant but something, when consumed, that could contribute to fight against virulent germs.” (Zhan 39)

This short paragraph summarizes what I felt as the article progressed, I felt so much irony in many different ways. First, there is more to this story than meets the eye, there is an intersection of identities that contribute to the article and the SARS epidemic as a whole. It is interesting to think about Beckham in this setting because it almost ostracizes him as a person and his “attributes” are greatly noticed. As a white, english, male celebrity life is not difficult, he enjoys many privileges most of his fans will never experience. I think about germs  in the context of celebrities, such as Beckham, and think how much our society has elevated these human beings. Its as if they are no longer human, that the human qualities we all posses, the less pleasant ones, aren’t something they have. Its as if these celebrities don’t shit, spit, sweat, smell, and practically aren’t human. We tend to idolize these celebrities so much that they themselves become something more than human, something better. Going back to the article I feel that this is both relevant and important in deciphering how we treat some humans compared to others, like the Chinese treated Beckham as opposed to any ordinary person. The fact that while the SARS epidemic was still occurring, someone would bid for Beckham’s pajamas, is to some extent, insane. But why is it that this happens, it is because we tend to believe that the white, wealthy, english, man will not have the disease that is of the “others.” We, as people of color, subconsciously believe things such as these and the biggest at testament to that is the fact that his pajamas were bought in such a weird time. 

With that being said, I would like to move on to this idea of identities and how the orientalist, the “other” is said to have this disease. This draws the line between human and non human and white and colored. This parallel is proven through facts, why were David Beckham’s germs okay to have, to purchase, and to feel? It is because he is a foreigner to the Chinese society, because he is white, he is not thought of as non human while some people are. I thought it was very interesting for Zhan to keep poking at this idea of why was it okay when it was Beckham. Why was he not seen as a pollutant? I agree with her reading of it and find her piece to be interesting in the context of SARS with Beckham, demonstrating that there are some humans who are seen as super humans while others are left in the shadows, to seem almost non human. 


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