EasyCard Corp’s decision to use pictures of Japanese porn star Yui Hatano on new special-edition card sets has become the target of a lot of criticism, including protests and opposition from women’s rights organizations and lawmakers across the political spectrum.
A disrespectful statement to the media from the public relations company responsible for the cards turned the issue into a perfect PR storm. If EasyCard Corp and the Taipei City Government are not careful, the storm could envelop Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).
If the company had stuck to business, no one would have had anything to say about the cards it issues. However, when it chose an adult video star and described her as “refreshing” and “beautiful,” that was too much for most people.
Women’s groups have criticized the decision for commercializing the female body. Hatano has responded to the furor by asking: “Although I am an adult video star, does that mean I cannot give back to Taiwan?”
Of course, everyone has a right to choose their profession, and it seems like Hatano is dedicated to her job. In addition, the photographs selected by EasyCard comply with Taiwanese laws and regulations.
Hatano is not the problem: The problem is EasyCard Corp and how it has handled the issue. Regardless of how the controversy and protest pan out, Hatano will have gained publicity, both in Taiwan and the rest of the world, and she will not be one of the losers.
EasyCard Corp — which is run along the lines of a publicly owned company — made a choice, a value choice. The images chosen put the company’s vision, taste and social values on full display. Of course the company is aware of how society at large looks at porn stars, and it also knows what people think of the profession.
By selecting a porn star for a limited-edition card, while not illegal, the company is walking a moral tightrope. If it wanted to break social prejudice and show that all professions are equal, it could have selected a Taiwanese erotica model or a representative of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters, either of which would have been a better choice than a Japanese porn star.
If EasyCard Corp had backed off when protests were first raised, the damage would have stopped at loss of face, but now all four main convenience store chains have said that they will refuse to carry the card, Taipei Rapid Transit Corp has said that it will not cooperate and lawmakers have expressed their opposition. The company has displayed a foolhardy bravery in recklessly defying them all.
When the media questioned EasyCard Corp chairman Tai Chi-chuan (戴季全), Tu Kuang-kai (杜光凱), general manager of the PR firm responsible for the cards, attacked the reporters that were present, telling reporters they should “be careful you don’t get your mouth full of dog shit.” With this lack of professionalism, the PR firm threw the last stone.
Taiwan is a diverse society. Even if a majority of the public opposes the card, all that is needed is the support of the small group of fools toward which the card is aimed for the cards to sell out. However, even if selling all the cards means that the company’s management will be able to give the board of directors a pretty report, winning the approval of the Taipei City Council will be another matter entirely. This controversy could easily result in a disaster for Ko.
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