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Favorite punching bag?

中国日报网 2023-04-14 14:46


Reader question:

Please explain “punching bag”, as in this sentence: In the United States, our neighbor to the south has become our favorite punching bag.


My comments:

That neighbor to the south refers to Mexico.

Mexico has become America’s favorite object of attack and criticism.

Americans blame Mexico for everything, in other words.

Something like that.

In the news, we constantly read, for example, that Americans fault their southern neighbors for illegal immigration, trade deficit, border control (or, rather, the lacks thereof) and drug trafficking, to name a few.

Whether those attacks are warranted, however, will not be a point of discussion here. Here, instead, we want to focus on “punching bag”, the idiom itself.

Punching bag, literally, is the big barrel-shaped bag hung in midair at which boxers hit for training and exercise. Boxers punch the bag to grow their muscles and strength.

The role of the punching bag is, of course, as its name suggests, getting punched repeatedly.

Hence and metaphorically speaking, if we say someone is our punching bag, we mean to point out that he or she gets criticized a lot.


Like, all the time.

In our example, Mexicans serve as the punching bag for Americans.

And, frankly, we see no end of that in sight.

Oh, well, again, that’s beside the point.

Lest we drift any further off course, let’s read a few media examples of “punching bag”:


1 After a week off the air, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah are back – and not a moment too soon. The comedians arrived just in time to lampoon the various recently unearthed misdeeds of Donald Trump Jr., who has lawyered up as the story about his reported meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has taken the media by storm. Predictably, Junior became late night’s new favorite punching bag on Monday night– joining an exclusive club that has previously included Sean Spicer and Mike Huckabee.

On The Late Show, Colbert recapped the report: Trump Jr. apparently attended a meeting with a Russian lawyer alongside Jared Kushner and then-campaign adviser Paul Manafort, during the height of the presidential campaign, on the promise that they would receive damaging information regarding Hillary Clinton. Per Colbert, the sit-down “proves that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help. So, it’s not a smoking gun, but it is a gun meeting with a Russian bullet about their mutual desire to smoke.”

In a statement, Trump later claimed that Veselnitskaya had quickly pivoted the conversation to focus not on Clinton but on the adoption of Russian children, which he said “was the true agenda all along.” Unfortunately for Junior, Colbert noted, five White House advisers had already confirmed that Trump only took the meeting because the lawyer had promised to hand over damning information about their Democratic opponent. “So, like all the most innocent people,” Colbert quipped, “Don Jr. offered a second explanation.” This time, Trump Jr. claimed that an acquaintance that he met through the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 set up the meeting, but that he did not know who the sit-down would be with or what it was about.

“We’re supposed to believe that at the height of the presidential campaign, on the advice of a guy he met at the Miss Universe pageant, Don Jr. said, ‘Hey, Jared. Paul. I know you guys are a little busy right now, but I need you to come to a meeting?’” Colbert said incredulously, before continuing to act out the scene. “‘With who?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘About what?’ ‘I’m not telling you.’ ‘O.K. we’re in.’ That’s his story.”

- Donald Trump Jr. Just Became Late Night’s Favorite New Punching Bag, VanityFair.com, July 11, 2017.


2 Move over, Facebook. U.S. investors have a new punching bag among the FAANGs: Amazon.com, Inc.

Facebook Inc. gave up the top loser spot to Amazon.com, which lost US$53 billion in market value on Wednesday after Axios reported that President Donald Trump is “obsessed” with regulating the e-commerce behemoth. The social media giant had previously underperformed the tech megacap group amid concern over the company’s handling of its users’ personal information.

The FAANG stocks, once assumed to be a monolith of performance, have suffered degrees of decoupling recently, including the outperformance by Netflix Inc. earlier in the year.

Amazon.com fell as much as 7.4 per cent Wednesday before paring some losses to close 4.4 per cent lower after a Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst said the weakness created a buying opportunity. Facebook diverged from the group in early trading, rallying 0.5 per cent after announcing it’s redesigning a menu of privacy settings in response to public outrage over the user data practices. Netflix was the second-biggest loser in the FAANG group of stocks, sliding 5 per cent on the heels of the #DeleteNetflix campaign.

“Netflix and Amazon haven’t really experienced the intense selling that Facebook did,” said Michael Antonelli, an institutional equity sales trader and managing director at Robert W. Baird & Co. “The ‘flu’ that Facebook got is now spreading to the others.”

- Amazon replaces Facebook as FAANG's biggest punching bag, losing $53 billion in one day, FinancialPost.com, March 29, 2018.


3 The 2023 Academy Awards ceremony certainly wasn’t as spicy as last year’s, considering no one was slapped on stage. As you may remember, the infamous incident that took place at last year’s Oscars where actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock over a joke he didn’t like about his wife.

Well, nothing like that happened, but there were some interesting moments and takeaways from the star-studded event.

Let’s start with the lack of awards received by ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ The movie won only one award, and it was for ‘Best Sound,’ despite being nominated for six academy awards and being the highest grossing movie in 2022.



Now a Hollywood awards show wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of politics, right?

In a shocking turn of events, comedian and host of the show Jimmy Kimmel cracked a joke at Joe and Hunter Biden’s expense instead of using one of his favorite punching bags, like former President Donald J. Trump.

Jimmy Kimmel: Right here, this is my favorite duo of the year. Steven Spielberg and Seth Rogen. What a pair. The Joe and Hunter Biden of Hollywood.

Seth, what are you on right now? Be honest. Nothing? Mushrooms, right? Did you give one to Steven? Give him one. Let’s see what happens. Maybe he’ll make something crazy. Steven claims he has never smoked weed. You mean to tell me you were sober when you made a movie about an alien who eats Reese’s Pieces all day and can’t remember how to phone home. You were high as a bike when you made that movie.

While Kimmel didn’t attack Trump during the show, he did make reference to the 41,000 hours of Jan. 6 security footage reviewed by Fox News Host Tucker Carlson which appear to show a different narrative than the one that had been told by the January 6 Committee.

Oscars Roundup: ‘Top Gun’ Snubbed, Kimmel’s Cringy Jan. 6 Joke, Thumbs Up for Drag, NewsBusters.org, March 13, 2023.


About the author:


Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


(作者:张欣  编辑:yaning)


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