31 May 2010

Technology and Love


Many will agree that technology has revolutionised our lives. While many of us remark that technology brings us closer with each other, it seems to dehumanise our sentiments. As technology leads us to harbour an urge for keeping pace, there lies a paradoxical, inverse role for technology to commit the exact opposite, just like a sense of loneliness is overly exaggerated in a densely populated metropolis. If technology runs counter to its original intention, is our technological obsession largely to blame or rather technology itself?

Glancing over our friend lists on MSN, facebook, and twitter, however close we are with them in reality, the profile pictures and names, be they pseudo or real, might prompt us to provoke a doubt in the depth of our relationships with those whom we sentimentally call friends. There seems to lie a high wall, namely, the computer screen, that renders our souls unfathomable. If technology is to offer what it originally suggests, why doesn't it ferry our wounded souls to a state where intimacy is celebrated?

If technology pulls us away from each other, it is because technology, with our glorified inventions of mobile phones, the internet, and aeroplanes, renders us too easy to reconnect with each other, just like photography is thought to assure us automatic possession of beauty. Instead of seeing the internet as a device to enhance friendships, we use the medium as a substitution, seducing ourselves into thinking that technology can always allow us to exchange our inner feelings with each other. But what this frame of mind actually does is not only that it draws us apart, while persuading us to take pride on multi-tasking, it also invites us to pay less attention to the minute details of our feelings. It follows a similar trajectory as photography, thinking that technology also assures us automatic possession of friendships.

Moreover, while our longing to express panic and despair requires an act of charity from our friends to be heard, the chatting message box closes itself off from other possibilities of communication and invites us to undermine how a hand gesture, a speaking tone, a facial expression, and body language might urge us to articulate emotions which are deemed implausible to deliver in mere words. It deprives us of the ability to empathise and express what torments our souls.

In a romantic relationship, it is not uncommon to hover our declarations of love and our determinations to end a relationship through text messages. Aside from the insincerity due to the lack of face to face conversation, what technology undermines is how beauty matters in expressing our longing for love. Texting messages induce us to say what we want to say in the most convenient ways. That is, by simplifying our ordinary language into some sort of inexplicable technological language such as "I luv u" rather than "I love you".

Moreover, since technology is about keeping pace, many of us are unable to bear the patience to appease our romantic yearnings as fine prose stylists who articulate our hands to jot down beautifully balanced and poetic phrases. If we do not feel the need to write beautifully, it might be because we tend to think that our romantic partners can easily take in the message in whatever style, even when it suggests vulgarity, regardless of the link of beauty with its effectiveness. But that is precisely the reason why our romantic sentiments are accompanied by intervals of vacuum and fulfilment. They slip from our minds too easily. Small wonder why our female counterparts repeatedly challenge us with questions such as "how much do you love me?" or "what do you love about me?" or the likes.

Other than friendship and romantic love, technology also wishes to destroy our relationships with strangers. It must be borne in our minds that connections with strangers have become almost necessary in the world of internet. We communicate with them through emails, twitter, and forums. However, our reactions to strangers have become dehumanising as well. Rather than leaving our responses as humans, behind every avatar or profile picture, we tend to condemn it as machine rather than as a human being. Skimming through posts regarding politics and ethics, one can find the most imaginable insults in the most vulgar language against the thread starters (example, the Golden forum). Most of them, often as anonymous or some pseudo-identities, are insulting as if they are stripped of responsibilities as humans. They are reluctant to accept themselves as grown up adults who need to accept the consequences for what they have done. If they happen to suffer criticisms which seem too churlish to deny, they could just disappear by not replying at all. How easy marked qualities of human beings can be wiped out by the invention of the internet.

Is it our technological obsession or technology itself? In the technological civilisation of ours, at one level it would be foolish to avoid the necessities of technology, but at another level technology may pull us away from the human values which ought to be preserved. In our modern educational system, while urging us to integrate technology into classrooms, there seems to be a lack of education on how to use technology properly. In the world where haste is praiseworthy, we often recall the question of why but neglect the question of how. The online world nurtures shallow relationships. The education of technology and love is much needed if the world is to be sane.

Next time, spend your time over meals with your friends rather than chatting on MSN, write love letters to your lovers rather than texting messages over mobile phones, and most importantly, try your best to avoid using anonymous and pseudo-identities as names and respond as a human.

W

28 May 2010

Cathay Pacific: Great Service, Great Girls, Great Ass.

Recently, this crazy elephant was lucky enough to embark on a wild and wonderful jungle adventure to attend the bi-annual glitter symposium on 'the global benefits of glitter'. For this epic journey of glittery proportions, my chariot was to be the one and only emblem and source of pride and joy of our village's aviation industry, Cathay Pacific. It's been a while since I've traveled on Cathay but I remember it being pretty good times. While I was waiting for our village's mascot of hi-tec glory, the airport express, I could not help but notice Cathay's latest attempt at an ad campaign. See pictured billboard, coupled with the slogan: 'Great Service, Great People & Great Fares'.

At first glance, this billboard seems harmless enough, yet upon closer inspection, I couldn't help but roll my trunk (elephants can't roll their eyes) at the highly stereotypical compilation of 5 Asian women, plus 1 Caucasian captain. These 'casual' snapshots of what i can only assume to be 'the team' with radiating smiles and joy tell me close to nothing about them, the airline or the ad campaign - except that they are all quite gorgeous, and well, thats about it really. Call me a cynic, but really Cathay? Really? Could you be any more lazy?! This is what you choose to hook me onto your airline? Slightly sexualized beautiful Asian girls? Could you be any more fucking original?

I mean, I guess if I had a penis, and more specifically a white penis, I would be less inclined to gripe with this particular ad, but as a female child of the jungle, this add just seems plain boring, lacking inspiration and picking up on a stereotype in Hong Kong that I would rather forget let alone promote...!

A little more digging into their ad campaign, and I see that in fact Cathay has an entire web page dedicated to these floating faces, with self written bio's and stories regarding their passions, interests and relation to Cathay, idea being so you can 'get to know the team'. If that really IS the point of this campaign, than why not use a line from each persons bio and highlight each crew member's individuality? Something to tie it in with the airline? Something like 'Meet Ting Ting, our samba extra ordinaire, who discovered her passion for dance via our daily flights to Brazil', something! Anything! For the love of all things impure and unholy, something that gives this campaign depth!

More venturing on the website, and you see Cathay obviously had to cover all their bases, and chose to include a black woman, a white woman, a few Asian men, and other races and species of human on their website. This leads me to conclude, if, in fact, Cathay is trying to emulate being an international airline, with an international staff for this very international city we live in - where are THEIR pictures? Why don't they have a billboard? Hmmm Cathay?! Why is it, on all your billboards scattered around HK, you only have young Asian girls and older gweilo men? That's right! I'm calling you out, bitch! What sort of customer base are you trying to target here?!??!?!?!

And yes, I will acknowledge we ARE in Hong Kong after all, and beautiful Chinese girls would logically be managing our *needs* in the skies...however, I also do believe airlines play a big role in representing our cities. Especially big international airlines. And yet, somehow i'm supposed to believe that THIS is all Cathay could choose to come up with to represent Hong Kong?!? I mean in a way, I guess it is fitting for this village of ours - a highly superficial ad campaign based on looks and appearances, with beautiful young Asian women and older gweilo men........hmmm....................Cathay's ad campaign successfully went from being 'come visit the heart of Asia' (2006 campaign) to 'fly to HK and live out your stereotypical Asian fantasies, 50 000 ft up in the air'.

Now really, is this supposed to make me want to fly you, Cathay? For the most part, everyone already knows the air hostess's often are selected based on physical appearance, which is true of most jobs in the hospitality industry, so throwing beautiful women into your ad isn't really creating a 'great people' sort of impression. Combine the girls with a gweilo captain, and all I can think of is being stuck with a mile high version of Wanchai, serving me food and selling me duty free, with gweilo monkey men oogling over the help....I think I'll pass, thank you very much........

You disappoint me, Cathay, try again please, and next time, leave the sex & stereotypes at the door.


Rawr.

27 May 2010

Cultural shock at my hometown


Frankly, I really enjoy reading our gweilo libertine Wes’ posts on his expat rage in the Hi-Tech Village. Maybe it’s nothing new to our expat readers, but it’s always amusing to see how things I take for granted can cause so much shock and confusion to our beloved expats.

At the same time, I keep being shocked by the non-Hongkie culture at where I work, our CBD Central. I used to feel comfortable to live and work in the New Territories and Kowloon. However, in Central, every day lies a new adventure. First, I have to overcome the language barrier. Whenever I walk in the streets of Central, the only language I hear is either English or Putonghua, or worse, the expats speak better Putonghua and the Mainlanders speak better English than me. Perhaps Na’vi is more frequently spoken than my mother tongue Cantonese here.

Second, not only we locals are expected to make eye contact with strangers, as Wes suggested, we also have to prepare ourselves to talk to them, which is contrary to my mum’s teachings since I was a baby girl. No matter when you’re rushing to your office, drowsily waiting for the pick-you-up cappuccino, or simply checking out the gossip magazines at the newsstand, some English-speaking strangers would come over and say hello as if they were your old friend. To look more “Western” and less like a Villager, I’m always up for the small talk until it’s close to 2pm and I got to go. Then the obscure fact kicks in: they will give me a grumpy face as if I were the orange monk who took away their money. And I have no clue. Should I forego my humble career to make a stranger happier by spending more than a lunch break with him? Maybe my mum was right. I shouldn’t have talked to them in the first place. No talk. No expectation to manage.

Then, it’s their occupation. People I knew in Kowloon and the New Territories come from all kinds of industries, but in Central, everyone told me they work for an iBank. Judging from the fact that these bankers are always available at LKF at the time the global money markets are supposed to be busiest, and they’re always up for boat trips even if it’s winter, I wonder how many grandmas’ pension funds are contributing to their lifestyle. And I love their Porsches, BMWs and Ferraris!

As a local who work in Central but not for the bank, I can’t help feeling alienated, especially when people interrogate me for a thousand times where I am from and still disbelieve my plain answer “Hong Kong”. Once I tried to be creative and returned something nice (but without lying ) that people say I look like Japanese or Korean. Then someone will say matter-of-factly, ‘I think that’s a compliment.’ Since when being a local is a shame?

26 May 2010

Learning to Walk

One of the biggest frustrations for new expats to the Hi-Tech Village is the way people walk. Here, like in the West, people generally avoid running into each other on the streets. Now that's actually a complicated task when you think about it, and the way they go about doing so is very different in the two places.

This may sound surprising to those who have lived their whole lives in the Village, but the way Europeans and Americans avoid running into each other is actually by making eye contact, and subtly, non-verbally communicating with each other about which way each person is going. It also helps that in the States we have a clear default side on which to pass: the right. As two people approach each other, they make eye-contact, each one goes to his or her right, and they avoid collision. Seems simple enough, and until I went to China for the first time, I was under the impression that that was how the whole world did it. It's one of those things that you don't realize is a cultural idiosyncrasy until you step outside your own culture.

In the Village, as in China, there is no eye-contact between strangers on the street. (I can't begin to count how many times I have seen Chinese people I know on the street in HK, looked right at them expecting them to see me and say hi, and found that they did not notice me at all. In contrast, when I see Indians, Europeans or Americans on the street, we always notice each other because we are both in the habit of looking at people's faces as we pass them on the street.) Without eye contact, the Western method of walking doesn't work. What Hongkies do, so far as I can tell, is just react as if the other person were a train on tracks: they skip any attempt to communicate with the other person and just get out of the way...this causes confusion for me because I'm often "getting out of their way" right into the spot they're "getting out of my way" to.

A lot of Westerners I've talked to complain about this constantly. They think it's rude and inconsiderate. But I think you have to look at this particular behavior as part of a broader cultural repertoire. It's true that Chinese people often don't see other people as individuals on the street. And that can be annoying when you're not used to it. But I think this cultural trait evolved as an adaptation to living in densely populated urban areas for much longer than Europeans have been living in them (and no European or American city comes close to the population density in HK). When people don't see each other, they also don't fight with each other, and I have been constantly impressed with how rare arguments or fights are on the streets of this Village.

But when I experiment with this Chinese way of the walk, it doesn't quite work. So I'm asking the Libertines community, as a confused gweilo expat: how the hell do people avoid running into each other without looking at each other around here? Somehow people are able to see everyone while seeing no one. It all feels vaguely Taoist, which may be why I can't do it right. Help a gweilo out here. I've been here almost a year now, it's about time I figured out how to walk.

25 May 2010

Faces of our politicians

It was just another dull Monday in this unexciting Village, when I sat in my couch dozing off and looking at the late evening news, a picture that came up on the screen really caught my eyes. Yes, it was the historic meeting among our beloved democrats and Beijing's Liaison Office. It was like the only thing happened in this village yesterday, so what else could it be? This is the pic I saw (click to enlarge):


Don't you see what I saw? That smirk on Cheung Man-kwong's face is priceless! I mean, at least Albert Ho tried to act cool when he shook hands with Li Gang. Either Cheung thought that this meeting was fucktard and hence laughable, or else it must be some unspeakable pride in him that put that smirk on his face.

As for the leader of the recent epic fail by-election triggered referendum-only-in-dreams, Audrey Eu could only show her pissed off face, contrary to her usually conceit and pretentious giggling. What did she get for all the hard but futile work? A retarded debate with Donald Tsang that she can never win. Or does it matter?

See who's the true winner here; that is the smile of a champion! Don't say we've not warned you! Our money is on the Big Bro's side.

24 May 2010

Our Cravings For Technology


Our demand for electronic products, most notably mobile phones, has become increasingly stronger. Just when we are considering whether we should get an iPhone, Apple will start bombarding us with newer versions of it. Just when we are struggling whether we should get a Kindle, Apple will remind us of the release of the iPad. In the technological civilisation of ours, technology never ceases to generate our previously neglected material needs and conspires to escalate consumerism and our financial necessity to a newer level. If technology, as we have been told, is to simplify our life, why, then, does it create more problems rather than solutions?

Our prediction of technology is generally way ahead of our time, but typically frighteningly true. Our unaided minds can no longer ward off the thrills these devilish technological products wish to generate. These products enforce us to lose our power of concentration. Rather than letting us take our time to read the instruction manuals, new products emerge to assure us possession of even more sophisticated machinery.

Take, for instance, mobile phones. It is not uncommon in Hong Kong to see them being dumped before they deteriorate. Driven by the free market economy, the life span of a mobile phone is artificially reduced from 5 years or longer to a merely half a year. Upon our contemplation whether we prefer touch pad or traditional buttons, technology will have already moved on before it reaches the market, suggesting that perhaps using our inherent linguistic instinct is better than our traditional reliance on bodily movements. How much easier a phone call can be made by mere utterance.


If any criticism, aside from the environmental issue, has to be made for the undue progressiveness of technology, rather than blaming it on businessmen who are legitimately testing the limits of capitalism, perhaps it comes the time our human nature should suffer analysis. Though the internet invites us to render them redundancy, new models of fax machines never cease to appear. Though the iPhone is pretty much capable of handling everything, there is a rising trend that using an outdated mobile phone which was once popular in the 70's (famously known as "water bottle" in Cantonese) is considered stylish and hip. Though pressing buttons is generally regarded as a more convenient way to dial phone numbers, one might preserve his own aesthetic obsession by perfectly fitting a rotary telephone into his vintage home. Therefore, the undue progressiveness of technology has owed much to the market, that is, the consumers, rather than the morally confused businessmen. Our desire for novelty is gaining its unmentionable gravity.

Are we then eternally condemned by our desire of novelty? Are we, as the philosopher Karl Marx predicted, destined to be obedient drones under the capitalist society? Technology may perhaps put us in a passive role and deprive us of what it means to be human, but that does not suggest that it is impossible to reverse the role. Most world religions realise that there lies an archaic suspicion of the changeability of human nature, so rather than modifying God's work, they seek to suppress desires by sending us off to churches and reading scriptures every hour or every weekend. However, all this is too pessimistic about the human race. We should, on the contrary, direct it to outlets that are less harmful.

Our longing for technological products is largely based on magazines that tell us what the current trend is. If we are to liberate from the bondage of Marxist accusation, we should look for style that suits us rather than what advertisements tell us. All works of design tell us about the kind of live we wish to live in. They tell us about certain ideals we wish to sustain in ourselves. While helping us in practical ways, they should also reflect on us certain ideas of good life and what we want to become. Therefore, we do not just need a mobile phone that can help us connect with others and allows us to browse the web using Wifi and 3G, but we also need a mobile phone that speaks to and for us. It should suggest the values that we uphold and console our longing to express panic and despair.

We are not necessarily led by technology. Our conscious selection of styles allows us to strike a balance between tyranny and free will. It articulates the idea that we all long to preserve the values that are nearly destroyed by our mechanical civilisation but at the same time we can no longer refuse to realise our technological needs if we are to survive in the modern society. So instead of submitting our taste to iPhone and Blackberry, we should find mobile phones that are perfectly moulded so as to represent who we are.

W

20 May 2010

When I was a young boy...

Let's talk about the good old days, eh?

But first, let's talk a little bit about me first, coz that's fucking important:

As a kitten that was born during the colonial era, I was fortunate enough to survived the 1997 handover and now as a fully grown up living in the political custerfucked High tech village of Hong Kong, I must say I've seen plenty of changes during my time. For the next few week, I'll attempt to bring to you, my dearest Libertines, what it was like before this colony of Great Britain became the Special Administrative Region.

This week, we look at one of our favorite subject in the Libertines Pub:

Government public announcement.

Before I begin, allow me to invite you to look at the latest masterpiece from the S.A.R government regarding Dancing With The Star Season 13? some political reform bullshit.



For those of you who don't understand Cantonese. Here's a rough translation:

'Fuck you guys, yeah, we are not taking this shit seriously, so fucking what?'

Seriously, that 30 second ad is fruitier than 9000 packets of Juicy Fruit.

Now let's take a look at an ad from 1989, something similar, regarding the Basic Law draft committee or something like that.



Rough translation? : Don't fuck around, this shit is important, do it now!!!

Ok, colonial government you win this round. But wait, there's more!

Here's one from the S.A.R Government, lecturing us on elevator safety.



Rough translation?: We have too much money to spend, let's make something cute on the television, oh btw I promised my 3yo daughter I will put Mcdull on the tele!! let's do it! Yeah! Fuck your tax money!!

Eh.. I guess it's pretty good, for a 3 year old. (Anyway if you need education from the government on elevator safety, you're either a 3 years old or you've came from the past via a time machines e.g Michael J. Fox. and have never encountered one of these device before)

Alright, colonial government, what have you got?



Rough translation : A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Seriously,how scary is that shit? did you hear them crying in the end? or is it just me? What? What's a redrum? And why am I crying now?? No!!! I will never burn my countryside!! Please don't kill my kids!

I don't know about you, but after looking at and comparing at these ads, seeing how fruity and failed the S.A.R ads are, the S.A.R government gave me the impression of a guy that just handed in his resignation letter. You know, we have all met someone like that before. He/She resigned, but still have one month to go till he/she leaves the work place, so for the next 30 days, he/she just screws around in the office and while still managed to get by with his/her work, you can tell he/she is just not into it. And if he/she dislikes the current work place and it's people, occasionally he/she is gonna take a piss by doing shit just the way he/she likes it coz he/she just don't gives a fuck.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the ''Hong Kong government'' handed in her resignation letter in 1997 however, she is gonna officially leave her work place in 2047. Meanwhile, forgive her if it seems like she's screwing around and is not interested in your welfare. It's just the way it is.

19 May 2010

Politics that kills the Pearl

After the LegCo by-election last Sunday, the next climax will be the debate on the bill of constitutional reform in the LegCo in coming weeks. The Gov't aimed at passing it by the end of June before 1st of July. However, for whatever that is happening now, do your opinions and views really count? Do you think your actions can really make changes? I am pessimistic. We are all chess on the game board. Politicians initiated a by-election so that all Villagers can speak up for themselves. Okay, we went out and voted on Sunday. However, the result is now open for any interpretation for their parties' own good.

Villagers feeling helpless in controlling their future and engaging in politics, they fear of being blacklisted by speaking up against the Gov't and the Big Brother. They see no future. By nature, water flows wherever there is no resistance, villagers divert their energy and time on something which is more controllable and make them feel secure: money and a shelter. When people see no future, they look back. We appreciate the golden age we had, and how we gone through the hard times, just like the flashback you have when you are dying.

I see all these symptoms in the Village now. People all talk about how to make quick money by whatever means; they are desperate in owning a flat when the price is sky high; villagers from all generations start to talk about the good old days. Do you see the same? This Village is in a critical condition. But where is the doctor? who dare to save?

18 May 2010

INTERNET! A triumph of democracy again! (Internet Tough Guys think.)

It's all over, finally! I'm talking about the LegCo by-election/referendum/carnival-like-I-care!

Tweets and Facebook wall posts, can you leave me alone now? I have fucking voted and that's it!

Over the weekend, people tweeted and retweeted, wrote their own or copied others' wall posts in FB, about the same thing over and over. "Vote, vote, vote." Okie, I've voted; are you happy now? What change it brought to my life? Nothing! It's business as usual and I'm enslaved again like every other Mondays.

Maybe that is not the case for the Internet Tough Guys. Check out the #hk5 tag in Twitter and you can still see basement dwellers whining and moaning about the low turnout rate. Celeb Tweeter like Denise Ho Wan-See let her nerd rage out by condemning our Villagers in her tweets. Those 2.8 millions electors who didn't vote should take the blame and have their human rights shoved up their asses. Our great guru Charles Mok even compared the turnout rate of inmates to that of the people outside. That makes me suspect Charles would rather go behind bars to give the inmates a little love...

What to make of the by-election results would simply be another round of dull jive. This by-election/referendum was just taking the futility and absurdity of the Village's politics to a new level. Yet, it is certainly a big slap on the faces of the online pan-dem bandwagon this time; nerds really need to learn that the world is bigger than your 17' monitor, iPhone and broadband connectivity. Let's assume all of those ~579,000 Villagers were annoyed to vote by your tweets, Facebook wall posts, and SMS spams; still millions of people out there are pretty ignorant of the great things you accomplished online. You might want to accuse the Beijing ass-kissers for "mobilising" their supporters not to vote this time. But since when democratic politics is not about mobilisation of people? The LSD-Civic Party alliance triggered this by-election, you basement dwellers failed to mobilise more people to turn out online, the initiative failed, as simple as that. You can go on with your nerd rage online. IRL, WFC?

Maybe it's time to expand the definition of Social Media Douchebag to include those retards who imagine they're changing the world on the Internet. I mean, THE Internet! Serious Business that is!

On a side note, kudos to Chow Ching Crystal, the T12 babe who topped the unelected chart with 17,260 votes in NT East. While other four T12 candidates got less than 7,000 votes each upon fighting for the same cause as Crystal, her popularity says something about the rationality of our voters. Or is it really the case when Pam Peck (NSFW; actually, not safe for anywhere, anyhow) came second on the unelected chart?

17 May 2010

On Anti-Idolisation

If celebrities have become less respected nowadays, perhaps the process of anti-idolisation is largely to blame. In the entertainment business of Hong Kong, there hover various forces contributing to this process: the paparazzi, karaoke, our love of physical appearance, and celebrities' active participation in various industries. We are now living in an era where we show no expression of fear when we ask for autographs and photographs. Being a celebrity no longer restricts to a group of professional elites. It is no longer necessary to raise celebrities to a godlike status. If the entertainment business is no longer a closed shop, what does that suggest about anti-idolisation?

If an uprising of artistic movement in Hong Kong has become necessary, it is perhaps because karaoke is a contributing factor. It successfully invites us to bring out the artistic part of us and harbour a confused wish to become pop stars. It induces us to believe that singing does not require any God-given talent, that it can be practically mastered by anyone from any class, that we can surprise the audience by bursting our lungs out and memorising lyrics. How easy a once privileged business can be wiped out by the courage to utter in front of microphones.

It is not uncommon to see that celebrities are stripped of defences in front of the paparazzi. They allow us to spend time on scurrilous gossip about them over cups of coffee and packs of biscuits by articulating their pens over ambiguous images that hint at something about their immoral habits and relationship status. Their divine images can suddenly degenerate into the profane which suggests that they are just as secular as us.

If blogging is to have any benefit, then perhaps it provokes in us a democratic vision to be writers. Though it is hard to determine what might be so attracting about writing, what precise aspect their celebritarian identity would be violated without writing, celebrities always find it irresistible to take their precious time out to participate in this unpopular industry. A leisurely stroll in a bookstore confirms my point. In spite of our prediction of the commercial future of books, though most sections of the bookstore are dedicated to loneliness and the death of literature is exaggerated, a specific corridor that is crowded with people always gets our hopes up about people's literacy in this society. From a sufficient distance, this corridor seems to be filled with notable novels and essays. On closer examination, those are actually journals written by different celebrities who wish to strip off their mysterious appearance and expose their personal lives to their fans, therefore successfully downplaying their artistic superiority.

Perhaps the most decisive blow of celebrities is the emergence of second-rate imitations of Britain's Got Talents and The American Idols. The preponderance of these shows seem to allow easy access to the entertainment industry. It inspires in us a democratic outlook that we all can see ourselves as stars. Being a star is not as unapproachable as it used to be. It helps to defend the fact that our society is based upon meritocracy that the system is fair and just. It draws a sharp contrast with the tedious working routines of laymen. Who would want to work a job that has us deal with insincere handshakes and work overtime that does not guarantee any extra pay while success is highly rewarded if we get to win a prize in these shows?

What we are witnessing here is the emergence of what the British journalist Toby Young calls a celebrity class, namely, the "celebritariat", which places itself between the rich and the middle class. This industry is no longer controlled by a few professional elites. It shortens the gap between amateurs and professionals. Unfortunately, this is all illusion. Just as meritocracy is a tool to justify economic inequality, it also creates an illusion that it constantly needs new blood so as to make it seem we are allowed easy access to it. It does not guarantee a long-term fame, but rather just to satisfy our vanity. It follows a similar trajectory as meritocracy to endanger its existence by closing off to new members. If meritocracy is a system that is critically dependent upon personal achievements and talents, why, then, can't people use the same reason to expel us out of the top of this hierarchy?

Moreover, the celebrity class has devalued the notion of stardom. It destroys our fantasy to become pop star because it becomes as easy as breathing. The charisma of a celebrity lies not in a longing for expression, but in how to defy the audience's ease of understanding, creating a sense of ambiguity as something secular yet unreachable, just like a prophet who acquires human characteristics but at the same time a messenger of God. If the easiest people to fall in love with are those whom we know nothing, it is because we are creatures of habit and liable to grow contemptuous of what is familiar.

The "celebritariat" has risked inspiring the delusion of meritocracy and an unfair neglect of stardom which is entirely destructive to the show business. It has made us lose our hopes in perfection. It has made us realise truth is always painful. Next time when we gather around meditating on gossips about celebrities, rather than concentrating on topics whether who is married to whom or whose breasts are bigger than whom, perhaps we should contemplate the place of celebrities in our lives.

W

14 May 2010

I believe in you, so hand over that five fucking thousand dollars!

Today, I got this eDM from HKTicketing and at the first glance, I thought it's some kind of homo musical. It turns out to be The Speakmans - Make Your Life Fantastic / Think Yourself Slim seminar!

WTF are they? This same question popped up in my disturbed mind as well. They're life coaches. They're psychotherapists. They're whatever you want to believe in, as they believe anything is possible.

They also believe that "if you give, you will receive. If you give love, you will receive love..." What do you need to give to receive their love? For 5,600 Hong Kong dollars, they will love you for two days.

If you need someone to show you "how to make a few small changes, manage your thinking, deal with those daily difficult situations and kick those self-defeating habits once and for all", you need to sign up for this. 95 idiots have already done so, I'm afraid. Don't miss the chance! With coaches who can stand on their hands like that and are jumping out of the pearly gate to help you, you know you can't be wrong.

Just believe: Your Life Can Be Fantastic!!!


As for me, I have one belief.

I believe anybody needing someone to coach his/her life should go fucking die.

From your Life Coach, Henry C.

13 May 2010

I'm not entirely sure what's up with Motherland.

Just noticed: damn thing rhymes in Cantonese. (Nice! Oxfam)

If you have been riding on the MTR recently, you might have recognized the advertisement board from Oxfam above, for those of you that don't read Chinese, the poster reads: ''All over China there's over 35Millions of poor farmers, and they have an average monthly income of 100 RMB''

Pretty heavy stuff eh. My goodness! Is Motherland in trouble or not. Let's all chip in and save them (If not they will die!! Or something like that.)!!!

While it certainly seems like Motherland is getting into trouble and needing bail out more often than AIG (hey Eric, 2009 called, they want their joke back. ) and organizations of all sorts asking for donations for motherland is actually nothing new. There is just something unsettling about that poster the 1st time when I saw it, and it's a feeling that I can't really explain, I 'm not the only one here, I heard Xzibit have something to say too. Yo dawg! show us!


That's it!! That's was my reaction when I first saw the Oxfam poster! It bothered me because, all the Motherlander I see in Hong Kong are rich ass motherfuckers, who basically supports the whole village's tourism industry. Everyday, the media tells me how awesome the Shanghai World Expo is (definition of awesomeness depends on how'd you like to be trampled to death by a angry mob looking for entrance tickets. ), and how Motherland is gonna over take USA as the World's No.1 Asshole World's No.1 Superpower? And someone is asking us on the MRT (Because only people with money to spare would ride the MT fucking R, eh?) to donated to the 35 Millions Motherland Comrades (Who's responsibility are they btw?) who earning less than 100RMB a month? While almost 1 in 9 people HERE are living under the breadline?

Oh you know what, forgive my selfish ranting, of coz I'm gonna donate, because I'm rich like Kayne West, as you can see from the entrance to my casa. After all, being communist and all that, one day Motherland will reaches it full potential and everyone will be rich as fuck and earn more than 100 RMB a month right? RIGHT?!?!

Oh hey, did you leave this demotivational poster here, Xzibit?

Someone substitute the pyramids with the Beijing Olympic/World Expo opening ceremony please

12 May 2010

The Beginning of the End.

crisis
  1. a. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point. b. An unstable condition, as in political, social, or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change.
  2. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration.
  3. An emotionally stressful event or traumatic change in a person's life.
  4. A point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved.
Lately, it seems no matter where you turn, the world seems to be in a constant state of crisis, whether it is political, social, cultural, environmental, financial, or plain superficial (oh no! brangelina got divorced?! how will there 80283 children survive?!) the list is endless. In fact, it really does feel like that in my short but esoteric 20 to 30smth years of life, at least half of those years, the powers that be have been informing me we are constantly on the verge of a disaster of epic proportions. Take away the crisis, and it is not a long shot to say the world would probably be sent into the depths of social unrest and panic (aka crisis). In fact, I think you could type ANY word into google + 'crisis', and you're bound to find some sort of world ending catastrophe happened in the last 5 years. Case in point, lets take this banana I am eating this morning. The words banana + crisis turns up a myriad of search results, most notability, the possibility of bananas going extinct...(whoa! first tigers, honey bees, polar bears, and now bananas? good job world)

Now you may still think I am being somewhat over-dramatic, but let's just take a gander at this past few days, weeks, months or years! Whatever. hmmmm....where to start! It's like being a kid in a candy shop! Let's start with the obvious candidate, & in my (not so) humble opinion, the unmistakable reason for LKF's poor showing this past weekend; The 1000 point crash in the stock market this past Thursday, coupled with the ongoing Greek & EU dance of the debt, sent the finance hubs & dubs of the world into a dizzying frenzy! And while there are many suspected reasons, it was enough to send many bankers, brokers, analysts, consultants, and whatnots into significant emotional turmoil, so much so, that you know come Friday night, instead of lushing it up at Wagyu, they were, in fact, crying on their couch, drinking away their pain till it don't hurt no more.

And perhaps you may feel like when it comes to money, anything involving a loss will always be a 'crisis' - but (insert Yoda voice here) let I tell you, young padawan, crisis, stop not there!

Come Friday, there was also Britain's first hung Parliament in 36 years! Another reason for panic! Again sending the financial markets into a state of further frenzy, and causing the dear queen mother to roll over in her grave. And it's not only in Europe, but the Thais too seem to be in the midst of dealing with their own political crisis, along with nearly every African nation since the past decade. Only difference being, we just don't talk about those crises, because let's face it, who cares about Africa. Except for the diamonds. As long as there is no 'shortage of diamonds' crisis, we can sleep soundly at night, human rights? Oh that stuff. There is no crisis of human rights in Africa! Are you kidding? Those kids LOVE being blown up in mines! It's a like a game of hide and go boom!

So let's see recap...financial crisis, check. political crisis, check. What's left...oh yes, environmental! My personal favourite aka the one form of crisis with no hope.

Fact: our environment, has been in a state of crisis since the 1970s. Of course, no one really talked about it - since until very recently, as we couldn't make any money out of it, which is incidentally why it has been dubbed 'the crisis with no hope'. Unfortunately for us, this form of crisis has now emerged from the 'crisis' state, and majestically transformed into a 'oh shit, we really screwed up the planet' state. In this flavour of crisis, there are myriads of forms of environmental disaster, from the recent truly catastrophic gulf oil spill (still with no resolution) to angry volcanoes starting 3 in 1 Nazi-Marxist reminiscent asholocalypses, to world wide water shortages, to food shortages, to the constant diminishing global bio-diversity, to the fact that we will probably have no more fish, come 2050...even Facebook and its users can't seem to resist the crisis.

We've even developed various levels of penis crises, here, here, & here.

And these examples are mostly headlines and events of the past month, forget years! (well, except for the penis ones perhaps, but let's face it, those are everlasting)

Remember the financial crisis of 2010? oh wait, that's the one we're going through now... I mean 09? Oh wait...08? Wait I mean..07? Oh wait no...that's all the same crisis..the past three years...but before that..oh wait..what about...03? Oh wait..that was the cause of 07-10s crisis...but before that surely we were in good looks...Oh wait....how could we forget 97 through till 99? ...oh wait...so basically I mean...every f*@king 4 years!?!?!?!?! For the last 1.5 decades aka about half of my life. There, we've now come full circle.

And yes, you may say, "well yes these points are all in fact true, but that us ever resourceful villagers have a knack of turning crisis into opportunity", that we are above it all, let's just take a real hard look within...save for the few truly big crises...like the 97 Asian market crash, or the dot com collapse of 2000, the SARS epidemic triggering the 2003 high unemployment rates, or the bird flu in 2004, or the current global recession in 2008...oh wait....crap.....

And that's not even the whole picture! Aside from all these more tangible forms of crisis, us villagers have our own personal ongoing crises - of cultural identity, personal identity, freedom of press, right to universal suffrage (what happened to my 2007 Chief Executive vote and my 2008 LEGCO vote?! hmmmmm) and and let's not forget our omnipresent, unforgettable, ever worsening 'we're going to choke ourselves to death with all this air pollution' crisis...!

So Libertines, have I sent you into a frenzy yet? Are you now convinced the world will, in fact, end in 2012? Have these brazen accumulations of crises convinced to give up on building your once well planned dream life and following your true life passion of becoming a world travelling, renegade ocean rower. The truth of the matter is, in this day and age, 'crisis' is essentially business as usual. So much so, that it seems to be the defining word of our modern-day society. We are a society that thrives on crisis, and honestly, if the world keeps on going the way we're going, we're all going to be f*cked. Actually, I take that back, in my opinion, we ALREADY are fucked. There. I said it. Let's all try saying it together, shall we? We've screwed up so badly, we have now in a perpetual state of crisis. Of course, what can be defined as a crisis varies, and since reality is relative, it all really boils down to a matter of perspective.

However, that said, it is clear to see that as a species we've quite simply let the darker side of our nature dominate our global affairs for way too long. And now, every day there are multiple crises of varying nature in every corner of the world. You'd think after 100's of years of evolution and apparent wisdom & gaining of knowledge, we'd have figured out how to live peacefully sans crisis, but I understand, the human race is, in fact quite slow, and it takes time for us to pick up the simpler things in life, the older we get, like SHARING.

As a parting note, part of the definition given above for 'crisis' states: 'a turning point'. or 'where a conflict reaches its highest tension & must be resolved', so here is my question to you Libertines: when is this point coming? Where is this resolution? What are YOU doing to help solve these neverending doomsdays? And I mean that in the most earnest way possible. Truly. For the last 15 years of my life, all I've seen are temporary solutions, bailouts and patches. It seems to me the more crises we save ourselves from, the more crises we eventually end up in, and usually we're worse off than we were in the first place. ENOUGH I SAY! The time for change is now! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU, *ahem*. Maybe the only way to get out of this self perpetuating cycle is to finally, once and for all, let the ball drop and let the world plunge into the throngs of crisis, because no matter how many times we save ourselves - we never seem to learn our lesson, and have been known to have a history of fucking up. So to my fellow liberated miscreants, I raise my pint to us and bid you; do your part to save the world & let the anarchy begin!!!! RAWR!


xx
monKey

11 May 2010

W00t, we've got a vote on May 16 (THIS freaking Sunday!)

OMFG, I only realise yesterday that I've got a vote this Sunday in the LegCo by-election/referendum/carnival-like-I-care! After all the rant and raves I wonder why I didn't make a point of pencilling that in my calendar. Think I should stick a fucking post-it on my head starting from today, so I'll be reminded of the voting by everyone.

When I said there've been rant and raves, there really are. We've been bombarded with propaganda by different camps in the past months. Lately, LSD-Civic Party alliance made this interesting video asking us to vote this Sunday. The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau asked us to support their proposals, with retarded posters asking us not to stop in making their package happen and trust them. Of course, we all trust ass-whips like Stephen Lam, and the name of his honourable bureau speaks for itself: our constitutional affairs depend on mainland. It's written there, you stupid Villagers.

Now the question is, should I vote this Sunday? Let's do a thought experiment and imagine I have THE decisive vote on this by-election/referendum/carnival-like-I-care. That means, if I cast my vote and my vote goes to either the LSD-Civic Party alliance or T12, it equates all Villagers supporting the abolition of LegCo functional constituencies, universal suffrage for both CE and LegCo in 2012, and whatever that will piss Beijing off. And if I stay at home watching Japanese porn all day and do not cast my vote, that implies all Villagers support Stephen Lam's proposals and that the pan-dem legislators should give the proposals green light in LegCo. What would happen after May 16?

If I vote and vote for either the LSD-Civic Party alliance or T12:

Pan-dem told me that my vote is an important political assertion and if I vote, something like what happened on 1 July 2003 will happen. The great power of the Village people will triumph and the government will take its proposal back like what they did with the Basic Law Article 23 legislation. Yes, the Article 23 legislation was shelved, but the problem is, the article itself is still there. Okie, if you all Villagers feel happier that way, let me cast the vote so that the LegCo will vote against the Stephen Lam proposals. We will then have another stalemate in this so called political reform in Hong Kong. Status quo is what our Villagers fancy, right? Universal suffrage in 2012? LOL.

If I watch Japanese porn all day on May 16:

The government will have a big WIN. Stephen Lam's proposals will be passed and there will be more idiots elected to the LegCo later. There'll also be more idiots who get their votes to put another idiot on the CE seat. It's the same as it is now, only more idiots. More importantly, I'll be called a shitizen, according to this commentator.

The verdict:
  1. I like the video better than the government retarded posters.
  2. I prefer stalemate over idiots.
  3. I cannot take the shitizen name; I am a respectable contributor of the Libertines Pub and I cannot be called a shitizen. It matters and affects the number of my Twitter followers.
  4. I don't like Stephen Lam.
  5. I have nothing better to do on Sunday.
So I shall vote this Sunday. More importantly, my vote is in the NT East constituency and I wanted to kick Long Hair out of the LegCo for ages.

Even more important than kicking Long Hair out is that, I abso-fucking-lutely need this babe in LegCo! Muaaaaahahaha!

10 May 2010

On Horoscopes


Do you believe that being born in a certain place at a certain could determine your destiny for the rest of your life? Would you believe that your personality, your class, and your taste are all set from the day you were born? It is no surprise for astrologists to answer yes for the above questions. They assure us, with strong conviction, that it really matters whether we are born under the sign of Libra, Cancer, or Germini. While some may laugh these questions off as mere superstitions, astrologists have nevertheless succeeded in inducing many of us to harbour a sense of awe for the solar system, that planets and satellites are the decisive factors of what we do, that we ought to bow to necessities greater than ourselves.

In the technological civilisation of ours, our eyes should be full of wonder what science is capable of by a mere glimpse through the windows of electronics shops that offer countless choices of digital cameras, mp3 players, and mobile phones. Unfortunately, science has not triumphed. On the contrary, we derive consolation from a system devised in the second century A.D. which has not changed much ever since then, neglecting further astronomical discoveries and changes. Flipping over pages of women's and gossip magazines such as Cosmo Girl and FACE, particularly women's magazines, we may consult experts in astrology for a deeper sense of self-understanding and to know what may happen to us beforehand in months or weeks or even in days.

Perhaps there lies a seductive power for female readers in horoscopes. Women, conforming to their customary female curiosity for inner selves, unlike men who are only fond of physical appearance, tend to submit their thinking to the rigours of astrology rather than that of rational examination. In light of horoscopes, they are able to determine who can be their good friends or who may appease their romantic yearnings. On getting to know a stranger, rather than wasting time enquiring his background history, a simple question of his horoscope offers a woman well-grounded reasons to verify or dismiss his merits and qualities, based on an encyclopedia of astrology she bought in a commercial bookstore a couple of days ago. It is not uncommon to come across interviews of female celebrities in magazines and newspapers that they refer to the gospel of astrology when they wish to analyse a person whom they just meet.

But does astrology assert absolute truth as it suggests? If it sounds right to us, it is perhaps because of its lack of precision. It may predict on which day we may encounter good luck or what kind of personality we may unknowingly possess. But it fails to tell us at what time what sort of good luck may happen to us. Moreover, what is good to someone is not necessarily good to us. Why, then, should we endorse the authority of astrology and proclaim it a supplement to a scientific branch called astronomy?

The belief in astrology also evokes a sense of fatalism, that human beings are mere slaves of cosmic energy, that the existence of free will is an illusion invented by countless philosophers and Christians, that at moments of melancholy and frustration we could only be consoled by wearing specific colours of garments or specific flavours of perfume. It has risked inspiring in us the most dangerous form of tolerance. It has justified Social Darwinism that being poor should be seen as deserved rather than as an outcome of the ills of capitalism. It condemns all our struggles for a better future, while placing us in a passive position, it only tells us to wait for things to improve naturally.

At times of suffering, we may perhaps need to enlarge our capacity to endure suffering like the Stoics did in ancient Greece and Rome. But there is an alternative solution. Just like the British philosopher Robert Rowland Smith said, "To write your own horoscope for the week, and then do your best to make it come true."

W

07 May 2010

Ignorance? So what?

Every morning as soon as we open our eyes, we are being flooded with information: weather, news, traffic, financial market performance, etc. Why the hell do we need to know so many things to start our day? Do we need to know which party won in the UK election to go to work? Do we need to know who drop a bomb at NYC to live a day?

Do you have the habit of reading newspaper on train or bus on your way to work? Why do you do so? To update yourself about the worldwide political situation? To find out how many cars crashed yesterday? Or to figure out whom your favorite TV actor went out with? I have such a habit, but in second thought, I do not really want to know or understand all the news but to kill time. Obviously, those news reports do not really matter to my daily life but that helps me survive my ride on the train, instead of staring at somebody's tits.

Many critics complained that newspapers are becoming entertainment oriented nowadays, with less sophisticated and all-rounded reports and commentaries. TV news focused more on local news; most foreign news are now related to our entertainment: how would the red-shirt protest in Bangkok affect our travel plans? Yes, they lack a "global vision", they prefer celebrity gossips to constitutional review, so what? We are all living in our cocoons, I feel great inside my cocoon without knowing the outside, so let me carry on and please don't disturb me.

Ignorance is not a guilt, it's a bliss. Most children are so happy because they have no knowledge about the world outside of their cocoons. They are living in their own world and see things in their own ways. You may say they are ignorant, they are impolite, they are stupid, so what? They are all happy and laughing out loud. Please leave me alone, don't drag me out, don't shove things in. I just want a happy life ever after.

Readers, don't trouble yourself reading this Pub anymore.

06 May 2010

I live in a state of redundancy. And lovin it! aww!


For those of you who are familiar with this village of ours, it should comes as no surprise that us villagers just can never get enough of anything! For us it's always the more the merrier: Let it be social benefit, the freedom of speech, democracy, A/C in our public transport (it's 15 C outside, let's crank up the A/C in our buses and MTR to match it!!) , napkins and ketchup in McDonald's(wet towelettes if KFC), and advise on how to use the interweb! When there's plentiful around us, and we actually have more than we needed, hell fuck it, let get some more, just the for hack of it eh?!

Just a few hours ago, as I was coming back from getting crack coffee for myself, the moment I step in from the 4th entrance of my apartment complex (yes there are more than 5 entrances, I live large, Casa de Eric, bitches!) I suddenly realized just how wonderfully redundantly I'm living.

Now the picture to your right is the entrance in question (looks familiar, Dick Lank? lol). You've probably noticed that there's all but 16 steps of easy(not steep) stairs in the middle of 2 escalators, in addition to an extra elevator on the far right. All for you to use if you THINK that the 16 steps of stair is too hard for you. (Perhaps too hard if you're stealing airport express trolleys, which is what I do on a regular basis btw.), But you know what thou? Most people (including meself) don't THINK when they see this, they just bloodly use the escalator right away.

While this absolutely demonstrate on how freaking well-off I am, from the luxurious stare of my apartment, it also show how insensitivity we are when it comes to spotting the redundancy in our lives.

By the way, did you know the more redundance shit you have in your apartment, the higher the management company can charge your management fee regarding ''Miscellaneous maintenance''? Just a thought.

Oh hey, I heard Ennis Del Mar and Patrick Bateman have a joke to tell you regarding escalator.



Lame. I know.

05 May 2010

Let's all speak English like a native, because it matters.

Hong Kong is the High Tech Village where everybody is eager for learning and learning more. Every villager virtually has $10,000 worth of government subsidised fund to spend on continuing education, and you can easily blow it all on certain daft drama-makes-leaders course like this and transform yourself into a leader in no time.

Bet readers of the Pub are mostly rebels like us and hate the idea of playing choo choo in suit with other MNE executives. That's why I'm here today to recommend another valuable training opportunity in town: Speak English like a Native.

Mr Siu Hoi-Yat, the trainer of the programme, is one of the star bloggers in the Village. He's famous for putting up a bunch of educational YouTube videos on his blog, teaching us how to speak perfect English like a native. He has produced more than 100 videos viewed by thousands of fans in HK.

For HK$3,360, you get 20 hours of intensive and proven effective training and practice with the English speaking guru. Why would you want to speak English like a native when you're apparently not? Because:
Why the hell are you still here after reading the powerful reasons above? Leave this retarded page and register for the course here! Yes, it'll be held in the Prestige Tower, what a coincidence!

Or you can join this losers' group instead.

04 May 2010

Sincere Appreciation

I teach for a living, and I taught for a living back in the US. In HK, when my (Chinese) students think I did a really good job, helped them see things differently or whatever, they tell me so. Much more than in the US, students will come up to me and tell me how much they liked my class. Not only that, they often tell my co-workers how pleased they were, and my (Chinese) coworkers then tell me about it. In the States, this kind of sincere appreciation is much harder to find.

Now, am I better in China than I was in the States? I doubt it, in fact I'm probably much much worse, since I understood my American students mindsets much better than I understand the Chinese, Indian or European mindsets that I encounter in HK. The truth is, sometimes I'm good and sometimes I'm not, like everyone else. The difference between here and the States is that Americans are too cool for school. So when they enjoy class, when it doesn't suck that much and they actually learned something valuable, the last thing they're ever going to do is admit it.

It's not like that here. Students ask questions when they don't understand, they help each other without being judgmental, and they aren't afraid to give sincere appreciation when they think it's due. Now, I don't teach the kinds of classes where I have power over my students. I don't give grades, I work for a private company and my students come to learn. So this is not ass-kissing. It's sincere appreciation, and it's very refreshing. Teaching is very under-appreciated where I come from, and that's unfortunate (for me anyway). But I dont' really think that's the difference. While Chinese people may be more prone to ignore the negatives, they're also more prone to honestly appreciate the positives in life. I can't say it's rubbed off on me yet, but I wasn't a particularly positive person where I came from either.

So this is my round-about, too cool to admit it, American way of saying thank you to my Chinese students in HK. Thank you for letting me know when you think I helped you. Thank you for telling other people who you knew will tell me, however you like to do it is fine. It makes my day every time. So for those precious moments of sincere appreciation I've received in my short stay in your Hi-tech Village, let me return the favor. Thank you for you tolerance of my bad days, and your sincere appreciation of my good days.

03 May 2010

On Style

Coco Chanel


Fashion fades, only style remains the same. - Coco Chanel

If we had to pick a single characteristic that defines the people of Hong Kong, that would be our deep love of high-end fashion. In a society where money becomes an object of worship, there exists a belief that style in fashion can also be purchased. Stalking from shops to shops at IFC and Landmark, walking out of them carrying bags that are printed with recognisable logos, that does not just suggest we are only followers of certain trends, it also suggests that we have style. In Hong Kong, being stylish simply means wandering around on the streets with a monogram pattern Louis Vuitton purse, or if you have a subtler taste, a pair of Jimmy Choo's moulded so as to fit a woman's feet elegantly. But do we necessarily have to follow trends in order to be stylish? Do high end fashion brands necessarily offer us style?



In 1910s and 1920s, one of the most revered fashion designers Coco Chanel invited women to escape from their bondage to beaded, flower-patterned dresses. Rather than associating the customary female sensitivity in colours with fashion, some black modernist rectangles of cloth were designed to fit the contour of a female body perfectly. This is how Coco Chanel thought fashion should go. If we lived in the 20s, would all women be deemed too implausible to not follow what Chanel said? Would Coco Chanel become our authority of what they should wear? The answers seem to be quite obvious.

Perhaps for those who manage to get out of the herd instinct in Hong Kong may criticise our blind submission to fashion designers, that trends are not necessarily wedded to styles, that clothes are merely for the protection from severe weather, since fashion does not embody implications of our intelligence and who we might be. Their problem, however, lies not in criticising our obsession with worldly possessions, but rather, in undermining our need of fashion to speak to us.

If fashion can suggest who we might be, it is because it works in the same way as a work of architecture does. A work of architecture talks to us about certain kinds of ideas and opinions that would most inappropriately unfold within our socially oriented society. The surroundings that we are comfortable with may sustain our moods, while they might not wholly mitigate the pressures of life, they certainly console. It remains true that for those who have suffered depression and bereavement that beauty can help relieve their pain.

Fashion follows a similar trajectory. It does not only suggest some kind of our aesthetic fondness which we are able to put on our bodies, but rather it is a material articulation of certain good ideas of life. It invites us to summon some of our long forgotten virtues that we may be reluctant to express but still wishfully hold on to: freedom, eccentricity, delicacy, elegance, etc. Behind its practical function of the protection of our bodies, fashion should also try to reflect back to us certain ideals as some responses to the reality.

Hussein Chalayan "2010 A/W Mirage"


If fashion designers can serve as guides of who we can be, why, then, do we have to follow the trends that they lay down for us? If fashion can speak to us and for us, why can't we just wear what we would like to wear, instead of submitting our thinking to the tyranny of fashion designers? Fashion, like architecture, should reflect some of the modern ideals that we cherish. We, as adults, can no longer indulge in daydreams like those back in our school days. That is delusional. Rather, we should stand tall and accept the reality. The fact that we wear what was once popular in the 80s or what we think is appropriate is the expression of our reluctance to face the reality. Perhaps the reality is always so disappointing that we need to take refuge in something that shores up our states of mind. But the act of following trends reminds us of not forgetting some of values that we ought to preserve in the modern society.

Of course, to follow trends is not to say we are stylish. However, within every single trend, fashion designers leave room for free play. Rather than standardising our tastes, styles can still be given birth depending on how we devise our mix and match and how we entertain colours. In the sphere of fashion, it is no longer significant to ask why we should wear it, but rather, how we should wear it. Fashion, in essence, allows us to appreciate what we admire in our hearts without being overwhelmed by them, while at the same time it remains contact with modern ideals which are essential for our survival.

Jean Paul Gaultier "2010 Matriachi Tequila"


We look for style not in Vogue, but in ourselves. Style always goes with people rather than money. One group of people may naively think money can purchase style while the other is convinced that fashion is a mere excuse for consumerism. They are both wrong. Fashion speaks of our ideals and at the same time enforces us to actively participate in our society. To refuse to follow trends is to refuse to respond to the society. But not everyone is fit to carry a Louis Vuitton purse. Not everyone's body can afford to carry Jean Paul Gaultier's. High-end fashion cannot guarantee us style. But following trends should remain our supreme guidance. Being in the trend, we can still change daily and be stylish. Until fashion is given its due place, we are unlikely to have style.

W