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Kenny G Tried so Hard to Be Inoffensive About Tweeting a Selfie in Hong Kong It's Offensive

What does Kenny G think about democracy, anyway?
23.10.14

Photo via Kenny G on Twitter

Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G is the king of inoffensiveness. If there is one thing that a dude whose legacy is providing an internationally renowned soundtrack to malls and elevators excels at, it's being agreeable. That's not a bad thing. Smooth jazz can be great, or at least smooth. But if agreeableness is your biggest asset—the kind that sells 75 million records worldwide, according to this recent New York Times article—you always run the risk of not knowing with whom to agree.

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Which is how Kenny G ended up looking like an asshole who has sided with the government of China on the side of not-democracy.

You've probably never wondered what Kenny G thinks of democracy, generally speaking, and, quite frankly, neither have I. But now Kenny G has waded into the world of international politics by trying to be so aggressively inoffensive that he has actually managed to be offensive, so here we are, thinking about it.

Yesterday, Kenny G posted a selfie at a demonstration in Hong Kong, and he was also captured on camera walking through by a CNN reporter. When he realized what he had done, in that he had waded into a global political controversy, however, he immediately removed the selfie and posted a series of apologies on Facebook and Twitter because Kenny G is apparently lame as shit.

For those who haven't been following the issue closely, Hong Kong has been swept up in protests over the last several weeks, in which primarily young students are pulling from the Occupy playbook and filling the streets while making demands for democracy. In general, most Americans have at least loosely identified with the protesters, who are in opposition to China's Communist Party, as well as other problems like wealth inquality in Hong Kong.

Kenny G has a less oppositional relationship to China, though, in that he is enormously popular there, and, specifically, his song "Going Home" is an unofficial national anthem for closing time in stores and other public places. As the great, aforementioned New York Times article explains, "Going Home" has mysteriously become part of the Chinese national consciousness, and people all over the country subliminally connect the song with, well, going home from wherever they are. Kenny G is also a popular touring act in China; he's there right now, and, according to his Twitter, he'd been having a good trip:

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This is what happens when I go to China… My music is super popular there. Look at my Chinese big brother! He can sing pic.twitter.com/VdAAWZa7oy

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) September 27, 2014

That is me with Scott W.R. Nei. He has a system called Robo golf!! It is truly a breakthrough in golf instruction! pic.twitter.com/ej8oZ8qSn3

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 12, 2014

Amazing dim sum at 4 seasons Chinese restaurant !!! Wow!! pic.twitter.com/bgyGNLkzoe

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

Then Kenny G posted the selfie, and everything went to shit. Specifically, the Chinese government issued a statement:

“Kenny G’s musical works are widely popular in China, but China’s position on the illegal Occupy Central activities in Hong Kong is very clear,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said, according to the New York Times. “We hope that foreign governments and individuals speak and act cautiously and not support Occupy Central and other illegal activities in any form.”

In turn, Kenny G issued his own statements, on Facebook and Twitter, basically asserting that he will do whatever he can to not offend a country's government and continue being the bland background figure he has always been most comfortable as:

I was not trying to defy government orders with my last post. I was in Hong Kong as a stop on my way to perform at Mission Hills

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

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It's unfair that I am being used by anyone to say that I am showing support for the demonstrators. I am not supporting the demonstrators

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

I don't really know anything about the situation and my impromptu visit to the site was just part of an innocent walk around Hong Kong

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

I love Hong Kong and always come here to perform when I'm asked to. I love China and love coming here to perform for over 25 years

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

I only wanted to share my wish for peace for Hong Kong and for all of China as I feel close to and care about China very much

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

Please don't mistake my peace sign for any other sign them a sign for peace

— Kenny G (@officialkennyg) October 22, 2014

Does this mean Kenny G doesn't support democracy? I'd say more likely Kenny G supports having shit tons of money. Kenny G supports not making anyone uncomfortable, and he will do it to the point of making tons of people uncomfortable. I'll leave you with this excerpt from the New York Times and let Kenny G play himself off:

But an opposing theory that surfaced last week on Twitter said that Beijing might send Kenny G to Hong Kong to play “Going Home,” and that the protesters, who have occupied sections of Hong Kong’s business districts for weeks, would finally disperse.

Harlem Lo, a protester and Kenny G listener, scoffed. “We didn’t leave when the police used tear gas on us,” he said. “Why would a single Kenny G tune shake our determination?”

For more on the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, head over to VICE News.

Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.