The issue came up amidst uproar at a Shanghai news conference April 23, when a National Public Radio reporter produced pictures that highlighted similarities between the beloved, bendable green American character and the Shanghai Expo's mascot, Haibao.
According to NPR, Expo spokesman Xu Wei responded, "Haibao was unveiled a long time ago. If anyone thinks that their copyright has been violated, that person would already have used legal means to address this by now."
Gumbygate followed similar charges in the Japanese media that a tune used as an "official" song for the Shanghai Expo was a knock-off of a Japanese pop song, and that the Expo's China Pavilion borrows concepts from a Japanese architect.
"When people want to use Gumby's shape ... they should just contact us. Gumby could be in China," he said, before joking, "Looks like he already is!"
Chinese blogger Han Han had other concerns. "Haibao makes my head hurt," wrote Han Han, as translated by China Smack. "When everyone saw that he was flat, it raised a big problem for those who were trying to make three-dimensional Haibaos: what should his back look like? Does he have a tail? Does he have a butt? Does he have a butt crack?
"No one knew, so when we saw statues of Haibao in the city, the front sides were all the same, but some Haibaos had backs without cracks, and others had cracks. But recently, because the Haibaos without butt cracks were more numerous, the butt crack has been announced officially as having left China."
Herewith, a brief look at how the two cow-licked humanoids stack up:
|Shape||Humanoid with flared legs and skinny arms||Humanoid with flared legs and skinny arms|
|Distinguishing Feature||Cowlick on right side||Cowlick on left side|
|Butt Crack?||No||Not officially|
|Creator||Art Clokey||Wu Yongjian|
|Conceived in||Clokey's California home||A Shanghai cafe, after a cup of cappuccino|
|Introduced in||The 1953 short film "Gumbasia"||A Dec. 18, 2007, unveiling|
|Meaning of Name||From "gumbo," slang for a slippery, muddy road||Mandarin Chinese for "sea treasure"|
|Inspiration||"Gumby represents the inner soul of everybody, all children and adults," Clokey said.||"What I did was try to find another way to interpret China, a more abstract way," Wu said.|
|Archenemies||The Blockheads, a mischievous duo that constantly stirs up trouble||Foreign media, a mischievous bunch that constantly stirs up trouble|