Front-page screw-ups

China Daily had a front-page linguistic lapse a few days ago. The Oscars, its headline said, CD-Oscarsrevealed a ‘gaping gap’. Personally, I don’t mind gaping gaps – it’s the non-gaping ones that confuse me.

The grim gripping gaping gap gripe was one of those curious state-media whiny things – self-pitying and ethnocentric yet implicitly Western-worshipping, all in one. A Chinese actress was supposed to walk upon a red carpet at the Oscars, but did not; also her wardrobe was stolen. The Motherland is miffed. To add insult to injury, the insensitive and Sinophobic American movie awards’ judges had ignored Mainland audiences’ most revered work of cinematic art, namely Transformers.

Despite trying desperately to avoid and ignore the intense tedium of the awards ceremony, I couldn’t help but notice the name of the winning film: Birdman. Never heard of it. From what I could briefly gather, it takes place in a theatre, a guy dressed as a bird walks around the streets, and it otherwise sounds incomprehensible.

Oddly, I had already seen another award winning movie: Boyhood. The Big Deal about this film is that it was produced in real time, over 12 years of the actors’ lives, so they actually age.

Think what could have gone wrong – the player of a key character could have been fatally run over by a bus halfway through. As it is, I’m certain the kid’s sister is replaced by a fat understudy for a few scenes in the middle, but then maybe the girl concerned had some sort of real-life temporary adolescent weight-gain trauma. Also of interest is the way the script must have been written along the way to incorporate contemporary events (Iraq, Obama 2008).

It is a long film. The first half is brilliant and includes divorcing parents and other horrors adults inadvertently inflict on helpless kids who miraculously come out of it not too messed up. The second half is an extended trip to Stroppy Teenager Land and could be skipped.

SCMP-PrivateHousingOn the subject of front pages… Many, many years ago I worked in a political/economic consulting and publishing company. One morning, Senior Editor Boss Woman stormed angrily into the office I shared with a couple of other minions. She slammed a freshly printed newsletter down on someone’s desk. “Major screw-up on page one!” she half-screamed, half-spat. Then she marched out in search of a secretary to strangle. Everyone scrutinized the newsletter line by line to find the disgraceful error. Eventually, someone found it: a misplaced comma (or it could have been an unnoticeable misspelling of some Thai minister’s multi-syllabic name).

Anyway, it gives me great pleasure to declare the weekend open by naming today’s South China Morning Post as the Major Screw-Up on Page One of the Week winner. On a riveting map showing sites in Hong Kong earmarked for residential development, the paper locates bustling Fa Peng Road, Cheung Chau in the jungle-wastelands of southern Lamma…


Easy mistake to make, I’m sure. Could have put it on Peng Chau as well – all these tombolos look the same, don’t they?

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12 Responses to Front-page screw-ups

  1. Hollywood factoid says:

    The fat girl is the director Richard Linklater’s own daughter

  2. PD says:

    Vous avez bien du courage! Like so many films, I got to about 15 minutes of Boyhood before giving up. It just seemed too true to life ie lacking in creativity.

    I do like it when you pinpoint the implicit racism of much commentary from around here — more exposés please.

    All the land for development is safely close to civilisation. I wonder why no skyscrapers along the border? It might be prudent to occupy the territory before further creeping reclamation, tunnelling and spy drones from the Other Side engulf us.

  3. Cassowary says:

    I saw Birdman. My theatre-nerd and film-buff friends loved it, but I found the first thirty minutes or so insufferable. What a load of overweening, pretentious, name-dropping movie industry navel-gazing bollocks. It got somewhat better after that, because who doesn’t enjoy a surreal tale of a middle-aged man’s descent into self-loathing and psychosis? The things I hated about it were precisely the things my film-buff and theatre-geek friends loved. See it if you’re the type of person who spends hours looking things up on IMDB.

    Hemlock’s erstwhile boss probably would have had a heart attack over these terrible maps.

    And in other news, the Kuk is organising a local residents’ counter-protest against the planned anti-parallel trading protest in Yuen Long tomorrow. Given the Kuk’s definition of “local residents”, we’re in for an afternoon of fun and skull fractures. Whee!

  4. Flip-Flopper says:

    A grotty, gross, grubby, grasping, grumbling, grumpy grouch I may be, but I reckon ‘gaping gap’ contains no tautology. Gaping means very wide. A non-gaping gap could therefore simply be a narrow gap.

    That completes my gruelling, gratuitous and gruesome post.

  5. gweiloeye says:

    Saw somewhere in some hack newspaper website (aka SCMP) saying Birdman was a comedy. I actually forced myself through it and I must have missed the humour. Visuallya pain the arse with all that trying to look like it’s a single shot.

    Luckily my money didn’t go the movie studio, it was only a good quality copy as supplied by the venerable deaf Jerry on the streets of HK island.

  6. delboy says:

    Gosh. Last time I went to see a film, Julie Andrews kept her knickers on. Imagine you were invited out. Told you were going to sit on an uncomfortable seat for two hours, no smoking, no drinking, no talking, no wandering about; and for god sake, didn’t you go for a pee before you came?

    Hollywood. Up your.

  7. The eternal whinge says:

    God, you guys are miserable sods. Besides whinging is there anything you actually like???? Please don’t say monty python, that tired old tripe wasn’t very funny when it was made and certainly hasn’t aged well since then.

  8. Hermes says:

    Talking about map screw-ups, John Tsang inadvertently neglected to include Taiwan as part of China in his budget leaflet. He posted a ‘correct version’ on Facebook.

  9. Red Dragon says:

    Well it certainly looks like curtains for the outlying islands.

    I don’t know why the Hong Kong “government” doesn’t just turn the whole bang-shoot over to Gordon Wu so that, having stiffened the sinews and summoned up the blood, we can all rid ourselves of the illusion that Hong Kong is inhabitable and bugger off to somewhere nicer.

    I no longer think that the sun is setting on Asia’s World City; I think that it has well and truly set.

  10. Red Dragon says:

    Oh, and by the way, I rather like my gaps to gape.

    No offence intended. Merely expressing a preference.

  11. pensadora says:

    Was I dreaming or did I read yesterday that John Tsang is a Yank? Has he given up his US passport or does HK allow dual or triple citizenship among its officials? Does this mean his loyalties are torn, which is why he’s intellectually confused? Come to that, one of my Pinay friends remarked after the Erwiana judgement that if it were not Amanda Woodcock but some local ethnic judge who’d made the ruling, Mrs Law would give gotten away with a hard slap on the wrist & a heftier fine (which she could afford, seeing as how she was about to board a plane–perhaps for her other home in the UK–when she was arrested). Sad to think there’s racism on all sides in this Asian World City

  12. reductio says:

    Well, I’ll come out of the closet then. I thought birdman was pretty good but Boyhood was excellent: a celluloid memento mori. A meditation on time, change, loss and memory.

    @ delboy. With you there man. I gave up going to the cinema yonks ago for anything serious after a couple of incidents (one Chinese dude on his mobile, one load mouthed Brit (not me BTW) giving a running commentary and one gaggle of noisome international school kids f*****g around). I’d only go now for a 3D surround-sound explosion-fest.

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