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Intel Caught in Social Media Storm Over Ad with “Man-Hating” Comedian Yang Li

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On March 18, an official social media account for electronics brand Intel released a tongue-in-cheek ad featuring stand-up comedian Yang Li. Yang has been attracting a bunch of attention lately for her one-liners that poke fun at male egos and more pervasive misogyny. The punchline for the commercial saw Yang stating, “Intel is so picky about laptops, they’re even more selective than my taste in men.”  

Maybe not her best work, but kind of funny and if she gets a payday out of it cool. Right? If only it were that simple.

The ad soon sparked complaints from male social media users who decided to take offence at Yang’s presence in the commercial. Some, ridiculously, even called for a boycott and claimed that the comedian was ill qualified to promote Intel computers, apparently on the logic that the brand’s user-base is dominated by men and that “women know nothing about electronic products.”  

Yang was accused of inciting “hatred towards men” and was even reported to China’s National Radio and Television Administration for promoting “sexist” speech. 

But just when we thought we couldn’t eye-roll much harder, things got worse.

Screenshot of Yang Li’s ad on Intel’s official Weibo

Intel, incredibly, caved and took the advertisement down.

“We have noted the widespread controversy regarding Yang Li, which we hadn’t bargained for,” an official statement from the brand read. “Diversity and inclusion act as the mainstay of Intel’s culture. We fully understand and cherish the diverse world we live in and we are committed to creating an inclusive workplace and social environment with partners from all walks of life.” 

Inevitably, that just fanned the flames.

“Yang Li’s right to express opinions freely cannot be violated,” wrote one user on social media platform Weibo. “Hope relevant departments can stand up and reject the so-called ‘gender antagonism’ of male complaints.” 

Related: 

Comedian Sparks Backlash and Discussion Over “Man-Hating” Jokes

Yang is a former screenwriter from Shanghai, best known for her humor in tackling controversial gender issues. She leapt into the public spotlight thanks to her stand-up sets on comedy TV show Rock & Roast, where she called out “problematic men” with one of her signature lines: “How can men be so ordinary, yet so full of themselves?”

The Intel controversy has sparked a new wave of discussion on social media.

“Women often suffer from gender discrimination in their workplaces and general lives,” one Weibo user commented. “Now women come up to the stage to speak up about these issues, but they’re boycotted. This is not appropriate.” 

Cover image: Screenshot from Rock & Roast.

Jocelyn Yang
    Jocelyn Yang is a student journalist at Emerson College and serves as an editorial intern at RADII. Her primary field of interest is writing about Chinese and American cultures. Follows her on Twitter @_jocelynyang_.