Andy Warhol first said it: In today's age everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame, and the pan-blue media seems to have taken that to heart. At least they will guarantee anyone 15 minutes of media time and fame as long as they can get up and say something derogatory about the president. It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to be provable, all it needs is to be critical and have an innuendo of fault.
The pan-blue search for shills, however, is beginning to reach desperate proportions and the life of those shills nears that of a mayfly. Look at Li Wen-zhen (黎文正) and the coverage he received barely two weeks ago.
Li embarked on a hunger strike at the end of last month to demand that President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) step down. He hoped to inspire a whole student movement to oust the president; it was time students stood up and showed their idealism.
Launch a student movement? Didn't Li get booted out of Fu Jen Catholic University because he rarely showed up for classes? And didn't he also drop out of another university for similar reasons? Well that may be true, but there is a reason -- he was being filial. He had to take part-time jobs to help support his father.
Ah yes, of course, the noble, filial son, what better example of Confucian values, what better spirit of idealism. But wait, if the filial son is camped out at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial for a month and now is embarking on a hunger strike, how is that helping his poor old father? Well that may be true, but there is a reason. You see sometimes country has to come before family.
Of course, the noble filial son is also a noble filial patriot. That must be why Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) showed up to have his picture taken with Li and express support for his cause. After all, Ma only has his picture taken in noble filial scenes.
Well, what did happen to Li? The last we of saw him was with the pan-blue media cameras filming him being carried off to the hospital. Though there were Mos Burger wrappers swirling in the wind behind, he did have an emaciated look on his face. Did he survive in the hospital? Will his health ever be the same?
Good news. He is doing quite well. Li now hopes to turn his escapade into a singing career. What happened to dear old dad who is in need of financial help? What happened to the idealism of country stands before all? What happened to ... what did happen?
Believe it or not, some two weeks after the six-day hunger strike and the touching photo shots of Ma shaking Li's hand and praising his patriotism, a healthy, bouncy Li appeared in front of the media and said he really belonged on the stage. Singing is the field he should be in and he immediately launched into song to show off his voice.
How fleeting is fame, how fleeting is idealism. How fleeting ... how fleeting are the pan-blue shills.
Speaking of shills, a week after he said he needed 1 million people to donate NT$100 to his cause to oust the president, former Democratic Progressive Party chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) was asked what kind of accountability system he would have to show where the money went.
"We're working on it," he said.
Jerome Keating is a Taiwan-based writer.