Thursday, 14 February 2008

A Shameful Blame

My training and working experience as a journalist bequeaths me an extraordinary level of concern of how the Hong Kong media behave. Unfortunately the disappointment that caused my resignation from the profession more than a decade ago only proves to be stronger than ever.

It is really difficult for me to resist the frustration and disappointment upon reading how the ongoing scandal of pornographic pictures has been discussed in the media. This is why I am writing for the second time on the disgusting drama that has already evolved into another serious blow to the wishfully proclaimed communal harmony.

Many internet users and political opportunists have criticised the police's selective and unfair law enforcement, which I can't agree with more. The police owe all of us in Hong Kong an explanation on why they took action in such a swift and high-profile manner on a case that is essentially not any different from the countless obscene stuff floating around, except that in the current scandal some prominent faces are involved.

Moral fundamentalists such as those of the Society for Truth and Light, not surprisingly, wasted no time to jump on the bandwagon by condemning those who shared the obscene stuff on the internet. Interestingly enough, they portrayed the female artists appearing the photos as victims, as if they have lost or suffered anything. But why? In what position we, as third parties, are to victimise any individual without their prior consent? When it comes to the issue of showing respect, is there any difference between us, the self-proclaimed moral defenders, and those individuals who shared the obscene materials online? In any case, are those portrayed in the sexually explicit pictures truly victims of ruthless voyeurism or contempt by anonymous third parties, or just falling prey to their own indecent acts?

Again, I'm not trying to defend any person who published the obscene materials online. What I'm saying is that those who took or agreed to take the pictures should also be responsible for what they did. In other words, it is unfair and unreasonable to blame just one party when so many people have left their dirty fingerprints on the issue. It is shameful to blame the others without self-reflection. There is always more than one dimension than makes up the whole issue and none of them should be overlooked.

Unfortunately the local media have been proven to be among those who frequently forget that they also share some social responsibility. What is even more unfortunate is that well-established and respected media is jumping on the bandwagon of adopting double standards.

For many days, Headline Daily and The Standard of the same news group have been criticising those who protest against the police's handling of the scandal. They also criticise their competitors of indecent and inappropriate coverage of the eyebrow-raising drama, as if they have been setting a role model for the industry.

Not surprisingly, this is not the case. Earlier on when the scandal just broke in late January, the news group publications were fussing over Democratic Party legislator James To, saying that he was in a marriage crisis because his wife allegedly had an affair. Ironically, at the same time, the editorials of those publications have been calling for "respect of privacy" with a righteous statement, "Through the internet that has extensive coverage, the outlaws [in the racy picture scandal] are abusing freedom and technology to spread the obscene pictures, deliberately causing harm to the artists, offending morals and challenging police's law enforcement." (Headline Daily, 30 January 2008)

What kind of respect of privacy it is to send paparazzi to track Mrs To's whereabouts then? Does it have anything to do with public interest if anything happens to a legislator's marriage? Is it reasonable to even ask about someone's marriage if we don't personally know him/her? Does it mean that, at the end of the day, we are still haunted by the Confucian teaching that having good family ties is the pre-requisite of a successful political career? Does it have anything to say about our irresistible curiosity, which we have been subconsciously cultivating to grow far beyond the limits?

With fresh memories of the latest example of sheer double standards in mind, I couldn't help sneering when I read the following editorial in today's The Standard:

Bear in mind also: a wrong could never be right, no matter how many times it is said to be right.

Let us also do something good for our children by not turning our values upside down.

It is heartening to know our educators are now going to include the nude photos scandal in their teaching to emphasize again what is right and wrong. One doesn't have to be John Tong, the newly appointed coadjutor bishop of the Catholic diocese, in order to be able to say we should protect decency.

In kindergartens, children are already taught to show respect for others. Why can't adults?

Excellent. Let's start learning the moral lesson of respecting those whom we think would deserve our respect, a precious gift that should be handed down at our discretion. For those whom we dislike, we don't give a damn.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

文海隨筆--此花不與群花比

雪裡已知春信至
寒梅點綴瓊枝膩
香臉半開嬌旖旎
當庭際
玉人浴出新妝洗

造化可能偏有意
故教明月玲瓏地
共賞金樽沉綠蟻
莫辭醉
此花不與群花比

--易安居士《漁家傲》

喜歡李清照,固然是她的作品恰稱人懷抱,往往把心底裡想說又說不明白的那些話,舉重若輕地表達得淋漓盡致。可是這些年來,一遍又一遍地細讀她的作品,我漸漸發覺,與其說自己喜歡她的文字,不如說,更喜歡這個人。

忘記了甚麼時候開始,我只管叫李清照做「趙太」。因為心裡有一種莫名其妙的偏見,認為連名帶姓的叫,始終有點不敬,畢竟她是天字第一號的文壇偶像呀,怎能冒瀆於她呢?叫她「趙夫人」嗎?又好像太生分了;何況此時此地,「夫人」這名詞太老套,莫說是那些達官貴人的女眷不肯用,就連可能是香港最後一位「夫人」的利孝和夫人,也早順應潮流被人喚作「利太」,「夫人」兩個字兒倒像秦磚漢瓦似的,早給丟到博物館的旮旯去了。

想來想去,還是覺得叫她「趙太」最合適:咱們相距的時空已經夠遠的了,這樣稱呼彷彿能把彼此的距離稍為拉近一點兒,多幾分親切,少幾分隔膜。更重要的是,我一廂情願地相信,以她那份率直爽朗、光風霽月的性子,她會喜歡人家記住她是趙家幼子的媳婦兒,是趙明誠的結髮妻子。

只要讀過《金石錄後序》的,相信都會感受到趙太有多麼喜歡她的寶貝丈夫。有時候我甚至想像,當年她與趙明誠新婚燕爾,會不會像現在的小婦人那樣,只要看到甚麼新鮮花兒、有趣文章之類,就一疊疊聲「老公」、「老公」的叫,然後蹦蹦跳跳地跑著去拉趙明誠來看?多年以後,流離於江、浙、贛、閩之間的趙太,把夫妻倆那些芝麻綠豆的瑣事娓娓道來,平淡蘊藉,真摯動人,令人想起楊絳女士寫的《我們仨》。那份經過歲月和憂患沉澱的感情,就像美酒一般愈老愈醇,中人欲醉。

趙太率真開朗的性情,不僅表現於《金石錄後序》對夫妻生活片段的回憶,在其他詩詞文章也見端倪。若論當中我最喜歡的,首推《打馬圖序》。

相比趙太的詞作,《打馬圖序》較少人認識,但這篇文章是她一部介紹「打馬」這種古代博奕遊戲的專著《打馬圖經》的序文,後附另一篇《打馬賦》,精彩絕倫,趙太各位粉絲不可不讀。

原來趙太是好賭之人,而且精於博奕,令她頗為自負。《打馬圖序》寫道:「予性喜博,凡所謂博者,皆耽之,晝夜每忘寢食。但平生隨多寡未嘗不進者何?精而已。自南渡來流離遷徙,盡散博具,故罕為之,然實未嘗忘於胸中也。」

我的媽呀,哪有人自認好賭之理?而且還說得那麼坦白,說自己無賭不歡,甚至到了廢寢忘食的地步;同時逢賭必勝(「進」者,勝也,語出《漢書.陳遵傳》顏師古注;「未嘗不進」,就是未嘗不勝之意),莫非趙太是宋代的賭神?趙太坦承好賭已是勇字當頭,何況她是出身詩禮世家的官太太?這還不夠,她甚至沾沾自喜地說自己戰無不勝,其實也沒甚麼,就是精於此道而已。不知趙明誠對於老婆大人自吹自擂是賭神下凡有甚麼感受,說不定只能像在建康城大雪紛飛的日子,被她強拉著出去冒雪尋詩那樣苦著臉,卻奈何不了她;但我嘛,只有大笑不能抑止的份兒。

趙太實在是淘氣得太可愛。

仔細想去,以趙太幼承庭訓、書香門第的背景,如此肆無忌憚,直抒胸臆,倒是難得的坦蕩胸懷。其實當年已有不少論者對趙太頗有微詞,例如王灼認為她「閭巷荒淫之語,肆意落筆。自古搢紳之家能文婦女,未見如此無顧籍也。」(《碧雞漫志》卷二)但趙太就是趙太,她想說甚麼就說甚麼,哪怕人家流長蜚短,確非尋常閨閣才女可比。

「此花不與群花比」,說的固然是冒寒盛放的梅花,但何嘗不是趙太自負之語?

這就是與眾不同的趙太。

Thursday, 7 February 2008

情與義,值千金?

聖誕節的時候,錯過了在戲院上映的《投名狀》,趁著農曆新年假期,到影碟店租來看了。

戲是拍得不錯。陳可辛處理戰爭場面有條不紊,營造了難得的真實感,釋放了令人意想不到的爆發力。文戲拍來稍弱,人物感情流於淺薄,說得好聽可能是壓抑,說得難聽就可能是技不如人,表達不到血性漢子之間的洶湧澎湃。但總算拍來仍覺相當流暢,寬緊有度,兩個小時很快就過去,沒有冷場。

那個所謂「亡情背義」的故事,說實在的,總覺得搔不著癢處。龐青雲、趙二虎、姜午陽和一幫土匪的結義,本來就是建立在利益之上,他們並不是甚麼肝膽相照、惺惺相惜的英雄。莫說是蕭峰那個層次,就連令狐沖與五霸崗群雄意氣相投的豪情壯志,《投名狀》的三個主角也欠奉。

首先,姜午陽之所以提出要和龐青雲結義,只是出於對他高強武藝和救命之恩的崇拜。他瞧著龐青雲的時候,眼光裡滿是欽佩和崇拜,簡直就像粉絲瞧著偶像一樣。在三個男人之中,姜午陽是最單純、最沒機心,也最固執的一個。他認為是對的就去做,即使他不知道,當初提議和龐青雲納投名狀,本來就是一個錯誤。

在峽谷劫糧一役,龐青雲出盡了風頭,趙二虎這個貨真價實的寨主,一下子變得臉上無光。他從來沒有姜午陽那份由衷的欽佩,眼睛裡只有落寞和黯淡。只是他本來就是姜午陽的義兄,既然姜午陽要結拜,所以也莫名其妙地給拉了進去。

還記得他們三個結義前殺人的樣子嗎?走投無路、急欲東山再起的龐青雲,只是勉為其難。就像趙二虎跟他說的,沒有兄弟就活不下去。他要捲土重來,就得先活著;要活著,就得先結交一夥「兄弟」。但是,你認為一個剛被同僚出賣、死裡逃生的人,有那麼容易相信一群土匪嗎?他可能寧願相信一個未通姓名就向他獻身、讓他感受到自己心臟還在跳動的女人,也不願意相信一幫只知「搶錢、搶糧、搶娘們」的蠻子。

那份同生共死的投名狀,就這樣莫名其妙地成為了三個男人之間必須信守的承諾。像姜午陽那樣單純的人,把承諾看成天經地義,卻始終無法看透,支撐這個承諾的基礎並不是真摯深厚的情義,只有一廂情願、陰差陽錯和無可奈何。

根本沒有情義,如何談得上「亡情背義」?

所以,《投名狀》一開始就註定了失敗。戲裡的所謂矛盾和血腥,只是藉以掩飾蒼白無力的奇技淫巧而已。

Saturday, 2 February 2008

文海隨筆--恰稱人懷抱

永夜懨懨歡意少
空夢長安
認取長安道
為報今年春色好
花光月影宜相照

隨意杯盤雖草草
酒美梅酸
恰稱人懷抱
醉裡插花花莫笑
可憐人似春將老

--易安居士《蝶戀花》

一直很喜歡李清照。說不出的喜歡。

從來沒有想過為甚麼。喜歡就喜歡唄,正所謂「愛是無緣無故,恨有千般理由」嘛。

近日重讀她的作品,沒來由一陣心血來潮,彷彿要為她做個甚麼儀式,紀念彼此這一段二十年前開始的交情。

於是,開始叩問自己,這個本來不屑一顧的問題。

當然,李清照是女性,是文學史上少數有名有姓的女作家,本身已經說明了她的地位和實力。

身為女性,其實也很難抗拒李清照細膩感性而不失瀟灑雋逸的筆觸。

有小兒女之情,而無小兒女之態,剛柔並濟,開朗豁達,雖在愁苦之中,不失矜持尊嚴,正是她「恰稱人懷抱」之處。

李清照素有「婉約詞宗」、「當行本色第一人」之譽,確是高論。她那些膾炙人口的名作,如《醉花陰》、《聲聲慢》、《一翦梅》、《武陵春》等,固然是纖巧細膩,別有男士體會不到的微妙佳處;但如果有人認為她的文風一味陰柔怨苦,那就大錯特錯了。

古語有云:「文窮而後工」,也許人生苦多樂少,無論詩詞文章,只要是抒發悲苦愁恨之作,往往較易觸動人心。但一味哀愁,難免顯得小家子氣,容易落了下乘。《笑傲江湖》裡劉正風批評師兄莫大琴音淒苦太甚,不能登大雅之堂,正是這個意思。讀過朱淑真作品的讀者,相信也會同意我的看法。

傳統文學講究「溫柔敦厚」,「怨而不怒,哀而不傷」,如何把握這個分寸,才是真正考驗筆力之所在。當然,怎麼才算得上「溫柔敦厚」,字裡行間的情意到底是怎樣真切動人,也跟讀者的偏好有關。有人喜歡「衣帶漸寬終不悔,為伊消得人憔悴」的哀感頑艷,或者「金風玉露一相逢,便勝卻、人間無數」的纏綿悱惻,但我就是受不了滿眼綺羅纏道,骨子裡隔靴搔癢的感覺。

天亮說過,一個人喜歡怎樣的人物,正是因為覺得那些人物與自己性情相近,心有共鳴,甚至把他們當作私淑的對象。自問沒有李清照的才華,更沒有她的膽氣和率真,但無論是細膩纏綿、還是氣魄恢宏的作品,都教我樂得手舞足蹈,難以自持。

魚玄機說過:「易求無價寶,難得有情郎」,莫說是姻緣,就連遣興撫懷的手筆、感月吟風的舞榭歌臺,要尋得個稱心如意的知音人,又談何容易?

古往今來,愁思不盡,唯有李氏遺墨,恰稱懷抱,這絕對是我的榮幸。只盼這個不入流的粉絲,不要成為她的遺憾才好。

Friday, 1 February 2008

No One Would Know Anything If That Never Happened

Earlier this week I have been engaged in a two-day training workshop, after which I returned to the office to clear the backlog and virtually had no time for news. I didn't find out what actually happened in the ongoing scandalous drama about local artists such as Edison Chen, Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung until last night.

The fact that the most popular online discussion forum HKGolden.com was shut down due to heavy traffic is simply amusing. It has too much to tell about how insane and senseless Hong Kong people can possibly be.

What really sends a chill down my spine is not the fact that those disgusting pictures were distributed online as an object of voyeurism. Again, it is the sheer hypocrisy of the local media and those engaged in the entertainment business, which have become too corrupt to be trusted any longer.

Before anything else, let me make myself absolutely clear. The following arguments are by no means an attempt to justify the act of publishing and distributing the pornographic pictures, which, to a certain extent, is even more disgusting and senseless than the act of taking the pictures itself. My point is that while it is easier to uphold law and justice over published pornography, there are more important and fundamental questions for the self-proclaimed victims.

I think the first question is: Why would any sensible human being take any obscene picture of their own sex life?

Apparently the answer to this question is one related to personal consumption and enjoyment, without prejudice to any moral judgement. In my opinion, however, making visual records of anything as personal as sex and yet another individual, no matter how intimate he or she is with that person, is involved, it is nothing but hopeless narcissism. Worse still, this is a kind of narcissism that builds self-admiration and complacence upon contempt of the others. I don't believe any sensible individual would agree to his or her partner doing something like that. Even though in many cases, it might have been agreed between the two individuals that those pictures would be restricted to their own use, there is essentially no guarantee that any individual would be able to keep the promise for the rest of his or her life. One simply has no control whatsoever of how the pictures would be used after they have been taken. There is enormous risk that few on earth can possibly afford to take, especially for those who are eminent and easily recognised.

Or, perhaps, I'm simply being too conservative and out of touch with the younger generations here. Too much is incomprehensible without reason.

My serious doubt on trust, especially when it comes to personal issues, naturally leads to the second question: For whatever reason some pictures of this offensive nature are taken, why would someone else possibly have access to those pictures?

As we can see in the recent scandal, there is an appalling ignorance of the need for self-protection and contempt for mutual respect.

It is easy to understand the lack of mutual respect, at a time when the high-sounding buzzwords of economic growth and public interest seem to justify any behaviour, regardless of how unscrupulous those can be. Logically, this is when people should have a strong awareness to protect themselves on all fronts, because anything can be exposed or destroyed in the name of something.

Apparently it is not the case in reality. Thanks to technology advancements, our brains start to become retarded when everything seems to be available at our fingertips. We know little, if anything at all, about freedom and obligations before we actually start punching our keyboard. We come to learn about these concepts, which few of us bother to think twice anyway, only when we are exposed to the borderless virtual world. Most of us tend to focus too much on freedom, without realising that it is at least our responsibility to protect ourselves before anyone else can do so. Blaming hackers, phishers, paparazzi and others with excessive curiosity is by no means helpful. This is because by human nature, there are always plenty of bad guys hanging around than the good guys. We should know too well that it is far easier to be naughty than to behave ourselves.

This is precisely why I think local media coverage on the matter is sheer hypocrisy. Simply condemning those individuals who share and distribute the photos without giving a second thought on why this could possibly happen in the first place is utterly unacceptable. Blaming someone else can never justify one’s stupidity and ignorance. It only serves to remind people of his or her cowardice.

Perhaps an old Chinese saying that has not been heard for many years serves as the best summary of the moral lessons to be learnt: "No one would ever know anything if that has never happened."