Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gossip, Hong Kong style

One of the many distractions and drawbacks of making one's living in public is the constant drumfire of gossip that is part of the price of fame. Young female entertainers--singeres and actresses--seem to be particular targets and the gossip items themselves don't have to be true or even credible. This was made clear in a story from the United Kingdom that reported on how easy it is to dupe the tabloids there into running false stories. Chris Atkins, working on a film, simply called the newspapers with outrageous (and outragously false) stories, ones that could be fact checked and disproven with one or two phone calls. No calls were made, most the stories were run the next day. Some of the embarrassing details are here. The subjects of the published gossip aren't always victims, of course. Some court the gossip rags, some have publicists who alert websites like PerezHilton or TMZ of the comings and goings of their clients. But much of it can be vicious, hurtful and dangerous.

The gossip surrounding film and singing stars in the Chinese press, particularly Hong Kong and Singapore has a different texture and tone than what one might be familiar with from the United States. I was thinking of this upon seeing that Kelly Chen's son, Chace, met the press for the first time. It was covered, as is everything of note to fans of Hong Kong movies (and Chinese movies generally) by Dennis Lee in his invaluable blog. The Hong Kong celebrity press--not sure if one should call it the "gutter" press--abetted by outlets in Singapore and elsewhere decided to cover the happy news of the birth of Chace by speculating that he was not her son but that a surrogate had given birth to him and that Kelly and her husband, Alex Lau, had gone to the hospital only to pick up the infant. Some of the stories or accounts of them are here and here (this forum post refers to and paraphrases a story from Yahoo! Singapore that is no longer available).

To a western observer--or at least this one--unsourced (or based on the speculation of the ubiquitous "netizens") and fantastic stories concerning the birth of a child is what might be found in the scummiest of supermarket tabloids. In this case the story ran in CRIEnglish, the English language web portal for CRI, which, according to its website, "is the only overseas broadcaster in the People's Republic of China. CRI was founded on December 3, 1941 and is owned and operated by the state." One assumes they had more important issues to report in 1941.

The venue may be the main difference between Chinese celebrity gossip and that in the USA--here it can be more easily dismissed if it shows up in "The New York Post" or Perez Hilton while in China, because of the scarcity of outlets for any type of reporting, it appears on a state owned and controlled website. Clearly this doesn't make it any more real but it may have more credibility due to its placement.

Fortunately the Chinese media also reports the silly ephemera that should be the stock in trade of the gossip business--a lovely example is the brief but intense outcry over Rachel Kum, currently serving her island nation as Miss Universe Singapore, 2009. It began with a story disputing her reported bust size after she won the title. According to this report her measurements might not have done in "accordance with international standards". What might be more shocking is that anyone would believe that such standards exist. But at least it brings things back to where they belong in the scurrilous world of peeping at the famous and infamous--discussing the breasts of attractive young women who are happy to have them discussed (and seen) by as many people as possible.

Rachel's story continued for a few months until she was threatened with the loss of her tiara and sash since "sexy" pictures of her had surfaced. They were less sexy than stupid but that is in the eye of the beholder. Behold a story with some of the sexy/stupid pictures here. Everyone wins: Miss Kum gets a lot more press than she would have as just the current Miss Universe Singapore; the diva-starved masses get another scandal to contemplate; I get to post a few pictures of Rachel Kum--although not the sexy/scandalous/stupid ones, of which there is no shortage on the web. You know you have found them when you run across and image of a young woman doing something with a penis shaped birthday cake.

Rachel Kum, Miss Universe Singapore, 2009, posing with a fresh-faced Miss Philipines, a "who ya lookin' at" Miss Russia and a suspiciously bright eyed Miss Unknown, her identifying sash not visible.

Another generic but still lovely shot.

And because this post started with Kelly Chen and because this is one of the most striking and insanely sexy photographs I have ever seen of anyone, here is Kelly Chen picking up some pocket money modeling lingerie for Triumph.

One more:


  1. I have to confess that while I like Kelly, I never ever thought of her as sexy until those photos above. In my mind, she's cute in the way that Anita Yuen is cute.

    As for tabloids: the first time I went to England, I was just sort of shocked at the ubiquity of the tabloid rags.

    Americans tend to think of the British as the people that birthed Shakespeare and all that -- and the English *are* generally smarter and more civil on the whole than most Americans -- BUT their "news" selection is horrid.

    The shop near my workplace in Surrey was just rows of tabloids -- I had to work to find The Guardian or anything similar on a lower rack (after I grabbed that week's NME, as well, LOL!)

    But the UK has a weird set of libel laws (which I know about from working at a Brit company for a spell) so I am surprised that even a shoddy rag would publish stuff on a phone tip only.

  2. If you zoom in on Kelly's head, you can see that the hair is "reddish" black and then has a blurry gradient to a more darker black, which makes me believe that these two pictures are photoshopped.