What’s the Chinese Obsession with Mr. Bean?


mini_cooper_bean2 Mini Cooper and Mr. Bean

Since I have been living in China I have not been impressed with their sense of humor.  When jokes have been told to me I have found them tasteless, offensive and just plain not funny.   One joke in particular made me a bit angry…

Why don’t Black people eat dark chocolate?

Because they don’t want to eat their fingers.

A student told me that joke.. and I was not pleased.  Although, he seemed to laugh hilariously.  I begin to inform him why he should never tell this joke again and how it was not acceptable. This is one of many irritating jokes I have heard from Chinese people here.

Besides their taste for bad racial jokes they have a strange obsession for Mr. Bean. A British comedian that tends to rarely speak but does a host of silly things to down right stupid things to get laughs.   The Chinese love this guy with all their heart.  If you just say his name the giggles start.

Not only children of all ages but adults also.   I thought it was only in my area where this obsession was until my husband and I were taking a bus to Shanghai and playing on the television located at the front of the bus was none other than Mr. Bean.  At that time I knew that these people were really lost.

I even had a student name herself Bean because she loves him so much.  I began to research why this character, played by Rowan Atkinson, is so popular.   Created in 1990 in the UK by Atkinson, this series became a mega hit international in 1992 with The trouble with Mr. Bean.

When I asked my students why they like Mr. Bean so much,  one student told me it was because he was so clever.  He can always figure out a way to fix the problem in a creative way.   I then began to watch Mr. Bean in a whole new way.   Was this guy clever?  Was I missing something?   …. No…. I wasn’t no matter how many time I watched the shows I thought he was just a little silly and stupid… so stupid that I actually laughed a couple of times.

All in all, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Bean is so well liked because he is easy to understand.   People from any country can understand the actions of  this  slow-witted and selfish man who brings various unusual schemes and contrivances to everyday tasks.  There is no language translation needed because he never speaks, and no confusion in what he is doing,  just plain slap-stick humor.

When I look at the humor that is on the local tv here, it is also more of a slap-stick humor.  Maybe that is why they do not quite understand my sarcastic humor.   Anyway, I can try to join in on their laughter and  watch dear old  Mr. Bean with them….The sacrifices we make for acceptance….. oh how I miss American humor.

until next time….

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19 thoughts on “What’s the Chinese Obsession with Mr. Bean?

  1. Boop

    I agree that the Chinese have a bad taste of humor, but in my opinion the English (including America & Australia) are much more disgusting with their sense of humor.
    I currently live in Australia and these people are just stupid, they laugh at the dumbest most disguising things.

    The only film that I find remotely funny that is created by the English is actually Mr Bean. Every other comedy makes me puke

  2. I actually found this article when I googled “whats the chinese obsession with mr bean.” My girlfriend is chinese and one day she started talking about mr. beans so I thought it was a movie she had just seen in the United States. It wasn’t until I started working in a chinese restaurant that I noticed more and more of the chinese people talking about mr. beans and they say I look like him… sadly when I smile very big and open my eyes I kinda do. At first I took it as an insult, but I’ve learnt to live with it and make them laugh.

    Thanks for the article, it answered my question, and made me want to read more!

  3. fifi osman

    I loved Mr Bean as child,. Try watching him in Blackadder, his character there is nothing like Mr bean. Maybe that`s why its big around the world cos he doesn’t say a single word, body language is easier to understand then words.

  4. blackandyellow

    Hi Jo,

    I am sorry you have had to resort to taking medicine. I enjoyed reading the other post here as well. It is encouraging me to be more proactive in my approach to my own health. I do believe you will overcome this problem, and that you will find some good alternatives to helping to keep your blood pressure under control.

  5. Woman

    LOL!!! They are like our parents and grandparents generation when it comes to sodium. Helps to keep food taste “fresh” and enhances flavour. But they just got used to it and it is literally an addiction.

    Well, if you ever make your way to Inner Mongolia, give me a shout, look me up. A salt free vacation!!!!!!

    My fingers are crossed for you!!!

    1. the doctor told me that in this area of China that this blood pressure problem is common along with diabetes… so you would think that they would figure something out…. well… i hear it is very cold up there.. so if I come that far up…. it wont be in the winter… hehehe… but thanks so much for the invite and the luck….

  6. Woman

    “your very lucky.. because I am in the South East of China.. and even when I tell them No salt… it is still there.. like they dont believe me or something… I just cant risk it anymore… I have to take care of my blood pressure… i have been trying for months to get it under control.. but i am losing the fight… I am down to just eating … veggies and drinking water… i am in a small city.. so my choices are limited… very limited.”

    Oh I am so sorry!!! I was there a while back, and that was one part of the country where it literally was a loosing battle. And yeah, I know how hard it was.

    When I was working plenty of hours and still trying to get everything proper, I hired my Chinese sisters mom to come in and cook for me once a day. Is that a possibility for you? At least then the variations. HBP pills scared the living daylights out of me as once you are on them, they say you can never get off them.

    I know I am probably talking out of my arse as you have probably heard it all before, an tried it all as well. Sorry! I have a fix it personality.

    1. yeah.. I dont really have that kind of option.. i work long hours… noon to 930 pm.. six days a week… so i am stuck with very few options… Thank you for the suggestions though… and your right… I was told by the doctor here.. that I will have to take them forever…. being over forty, heavy, and black american.. i am the highest risk… the food here just pushed me over the edge… even with my increase in ginger, garlic, green veggies, and fruit… i just had not choice… if this helps me to avoid heart attacks..which is in my family… and strokes… i will do what I have to do… it took me awhile.. to finally come to this decision and I spoke to my husband about it…

  7. Woman

    LOL!!! I forgot to mention what irks me!!! The whole Chinese things of saying, “I don’t like that because it is not Chinese”.

  8. Woman

    Mister Bean. Blah. Same with Charlie Chaplin. And Tom and Jerry. The worst part is I did not mind them when I lived in North America and watched them every so often. Here? IT IS LIKE A PLAGUE!!! And the only reason why they like it? Is as you said. No language to understand and it is physical comedy. Easy enough to understand in any culture. Heck; even babies think it grand and funny when someone slips and falls.

    And no, I am not calling Chinese people babies/children.

    I too miss the sarcastic, dark human and very dry wit of British humour….

    This is just one of those things that irk us about living here. Like all the salt in food!!! Doesn’t mean I am not going to eat because I don’t like salt!!! There are so many other dishes I like besides that one. It is just easier to express why things irk us as we try to understand it and when we fall short? We reach out to other trying to figure it out.

    1. exactly.. woman… they will drown some food in some salt… i couldnt avoid the stuff… so i had to break down and get on the high blood pressure meds…If i was in the states… i could avoid it .. but here… no way…

      1. Woman

        Seriously? I mean like really really? I have the heredity high blood pressure before I made my way to China. I used to have a VERY strict diet with no added salt, MSG and no soy sauce. It was a very hard battle and took a lot of stubbornness and lots of various people translating and then a flat out refusal to eat foods that were prepared with lots of sodium, now? It is easier. At dinners and such; I get one vegetable dish with no sodium added, and usually some fish with a fraction of what they usually put in so it is still palatable for Chinese.

        Took seven years here in China; but I finally am able to eat within reason anything I want with little to no effects on my blood pressure. I wear rings and when I swell; I notice it right away and take measure to prevent it from worsening.

        But yeah, I’ve been all over China and found in the south it was hell, and now in Inner Mongolia with the love of BBQ’ing, it is making sure that the cookers know that salt makes me ill.

        It is possible, but it is a hard battle. And because it is for health reasons they are pretty good with it. New fresh veggie section where they mix for you? They have watched me leave with my bag of mixed raw veggies and return half an hour later and all it is is they refuse to beleive food CAN taste good with no salt.

        But it is possible!!!! And not one I wish upon anyone else though!!!

        I mean it cannot be any worse than Chinese women saying they cannot eat anything with even a little bit of spice cause it causes pimples.

        1. your very lucky.. because I am in the South East of China.. and even when I tell them No salt… it is still there.. like they dont believe me or something… I just cant risk it anymore… I have to take care of my blood pressure… i have been trying for months to get it under control.. but i am losing the fight… I am down to just eating … veggies and drinking water… i am in a small city.. so my choices are limited… very limited.

  9. John

    Jo you have a lots to learn in China, some of the things you might not like and some you like. It would be the same if a person from China come here and learn American way of life. Every countries have their own culture but when you are there for quite time you learn to accept their way of living, like my brother who went to Spain, he love Spain, he live for more then 6 years now, he understand their culture and learn to accept it

    1. John… I dont think you ever learn to accept it… you just learn to tolerate it… I have friends here that have lived here for more than ten years.. and they still cant accept many things. Also.. I want you to know that just because I talk about things in China that are unacceptable.. doesnt mean .. I dont like China.. I am just stating facts.. just like .. People who move to America will say there are things they dont like…and I would say there are things I dont like about my own country… We dont say things.. to belittle anyone.. we point out things that can be changed to make a country better. No country is perfect.

  10. RachelR.

    LMAO!!! I love Mr. Bean! he is very clever. His first movie (that came out in 1997) is still one of my favorites.

    As far as that racial joke….nah that was not nice. But if you want to fight fire with fire, tell them this one.

    What do asians use as a blindfold?
    Dental floss.

    See how that makes them feel.

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