The South China Morning Post is especially weighty today – at least in my neighbourhood. First, there is the glossy wraparound, which is pretty much daily now. Today’s is for a ‘desirably Swiss’ women’s shoe no less visually and aesthetically repulsive than a medieval torture instrument or a close-up shot of a cockroach orifice. Second, there is a ‘must-read magazine for the metropolitan male’ inserted within the paper itself. It is a third of an inch thick and weighs around three times as much as the newspaper proper, which explains why the waste bins alongside the Mid-Levels Escalator are crammed with the thing.
Clearly no-one has actually opened this absurd waste of someone’s money; being publicly spirited, I can’t help perusing its contents in case they might be of interest to future archaeologists seeking to know what happened to this civilization.
It has lame articles (judging from the first sentence of one of them) urging the commercial feminization of men through such activities as the facial-spa-rubbing-stuff-into-skin thing. With a large portion of the female population now apparently hooked on pricy, gimmicky lotions marketed with obviously fraudulent claims, the manufacturers are now coming for the guys. Will it work? And if so, where does it stop? Men’s lip gloss? Eyeliner? Bras?
(If only for the sake of those who have to look at us, we should try to keep a youthful face. It is easy and cheap: avoid ultraviolet rays (too much sunlight), and wash using just warm water, not oils-destroying soap. And eat lots of fresh fruit and veg.)
The ‘must-read magazine’ inevitably turns to tacky watches, sports cars and a ‘luxury machine’ belt clasp. Suspecting the latter is a joke sneaked in by a rebellious SCMP staffer, I must check: it indeed exists and works thus. I am trying to think of a more futile application of metalworking technology since the dawn of the Bronze Age. A ‘Vote Henry Tang’ tie-pin perhaps. One of the watches is in all seriousness called the ‘Patrimony Traditionelle 14-day Tourbillon’ and costs a lucky-sounding HK$2.38 million. Is there anyone out there who finds it impressive? I feel so sorry for the product development manager’s parents – he could have been a traffic warden or something socially useful.
After pages of ancient, tradition-preserving, famous luxury brands you’ve never heard of (fancy a Wellendorf, anyone?), we get to perhaps the most fascinating and bizarre part of this ‘must-read’ bundle of consumerist inanity: the pictures of simpering, sexually deviant, mildly retarded people wearing ugly clothes in strange places.
And off to the landfill it goes. Why the SCMP produces this stuff is no secret: they need to eat, and if you have to stoop to the depths of the Tatler, so be it. But how did the sales people manage to con these luxury brands companies into stumping up hard cash for yet more of their tawdry advertising, knowing – I bet – that 99% of readers would toss it straight into the trash, unopened? That takes a rare skill, and I am sure SCMP editorial folk mindful of where their salaries come from join me in being full of admiration and wonder.
The Standard, being free and down-market, leads with retiring Justice Kemal Bokhary’s valedictory warning about former Justice Secretary Elsie Leung’s comments that Hong Kong’s judges don’t understand the city’s relationship with the Mainland. Poor old Elsie is also under attack from the Legislative Council for her remarks. Even the SCMP felt sufficiently alarmed to intone that the old girl ‘may have been unwise’. But it is worth repeating: in a one-party state with no ultimate separation of powers, no independent judiciary (or legislature) may exist, hence the loopholes in our constitution allowing Beijing to overrule our courts and rig the legislature. (This ultimate non-existence should also go for freedom of the media – leading to an anomaly in Hong Kong that must worry the Communist Party in principle.)
Elsie supports a one-party state, and her comments are perfectly logical and consistent. The hypocrites are the moderate pro-Beijing people who defend the rule of law vigorously; unless they are in denial, they must secretly either not be pro-Beijing, or not be pro-rule of law.
It is a bit like Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, the latest Republican to utter horribly embarrassing and inhumane comments about how raped women must not be allowed abortions. He essentially believes that God monitors rapes in progress and, upon completion, pushes one of two buttons marked ‘impregnate’ and ‘do not impregnate’ as per His Plan for all involved. He also believes life is sacred. Hence his unwavering position – perfectly logical and consistent. It is the Mitt Romneys, blathering about being pro-life but OK with abortion in cases of rape and incest, who are kidding themselves and everyone else. Either believe that something evil/crazy is good/normal, or don’t; you can’t pick and choose.