Singers and court jesters
In her acceptance speech after winning the Golden Horse award for Best Documentary on Saturday last week, director Fu Yue (傅榆) said: “I really hope that one day our country can be treated as a truly independent entity. This is my greatest wish as a Taiwanese.”
Chinese actors and other film industry people attending the awards reacted by boycotting the farewell cocktail party and canceling all their celebration parties.
Chinese actress Gong Li (鞏俐) was chair of the jury at this year’s awards, but she declined to join film director and Golden Horse committee chairman Ang Lee (李安) on stage to present the Best Feature Film award.
The boycott by Gong and other Chinese film people was a sharp slap in the face for Lee and his statement that: “We hope that art can be art, and that no political issues will interfere with it.”
It also goes to show how Chinese film people are more like shadow puppets than real actors and artists. They are manipulated and controlled like the silhouette characters in a shadow play.
Han Dynasty Chinese historian Sima Qian (司馬遷) once wrote: “My office of annalist and astrologer was not far in rank from those of the diviners and liturgists, mere amusements for the emperor, retained like singing girls and jesters and counting for nothing in the eyes of the world.”
Chinese film people seem to have gone back to the status of singers and jesters in ancient times, only singing and acting for their rulers. The Chinese Communist Party’s opposition to Taiwanese independence means that these show business people are always on tenterhooks.
That is why they reacted to Fu’s pro-independence statement by criticizing her and posting the comment: “China, not even one bit less” on their microblogs, along with “stickers” with the same message and a map of China with Taiwan included in its territory.
How is this different from the role played by shadow puppets and marionettes that are completely controlled by puppeteers?
New Taipei City
Clowns and ‘oily fat sow’
Taiwan’s mayoral elections provide a bizarre range of food for thought. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Kaohsiung mayoral candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) has been clowning around with his shining bald head and a campaign theme that Kaohsiung is old and impoverished.
Both the bodily politic and the fictitious nature of the campaign theme have been glaringly post-modernistic and have made Han an overnight sensation and rattled his opponent.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) put himself in power by his handsome demeanor and Han is determined to do the same by his baldness laced with salacious discourse.
Ma failed to donate his salaries when his campaign promises did not come to fruition; Han, however, is presenting himself as the savior of the proletariat and has made promises to bring his own lunch box and sleeping bag into the households of the working poor.
One cannot resist a guffaw or two at how anachronistic Han’s campaign gimmicks are, but one cannot help wondering how his absurd narrative still carries weight in today’s Taiwan.
This can be attributed to the pervasive sense of ennui — the result of the nation’s cursed inability to fulfill its quest of self-determination.
In this political climate, an entertaining fool who shuns conventional campaign strategies can do political wonders.
That is until KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) drops his bombshell by calling Presidential Office Secretary-General and former Kaohsiung mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) “an oily fat sow” while stumping for Han at a political rally.
Wu read history in his college days and certainly is judicious enough to know the enabling/disabling power of the words that come from his mouth. In this instance, the political charm and manhood that Han has taken an enormous pain to erect with his bald pate has been abruptly gelded.
One cannot foresee if Han would win this weekend, but certainly no one would question the potency of the expression “oily fat sow” should Han lose.
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