We have to squeeze in another NatSec horror for Friday – a court hearing with a distinct smell of Mainland about it. Months in a Shenzhen jail, a defendant apologizing, weird charges about conspiring in an elaborate plot with Jimmy Lai and others in colluding with foreign forces (crowdfunding ads in overseas media), no bail, trial to take place next year.
On lighter matters, there are two subscription-TV productions in the pipeline about Hong Kong expats and their luxurious brain-dead lifestyles of yachts and Peak dinner parties. The projects have provoked extreme gnashing of teeth, especially among Westerners who call the city home and proudly consider themselves long-term Hongkongers (relatively sober examples here, here and here).
The whites understandably want to distance themselves from the Discovery Bay stereotype who can’t count to ten in Cantonese and barely noticed the protests and CCP backlash since 2014 except as an incomprehensible nuisance. The overseas-born Chinese seem, if anything, even more vitriolic about the new movies, perhaps because one was written by one of their own – plus, being conscious of their ancestry, some might feel a responsibility to complain that the productions exclude the less glamorous lives of the other 99.9% of the population.
With the greatest respect to these groups: if you were a genuinely authentic Hongkonger, you wouldn’t care less about how some US streaming TV series portrays the place.
Your time is precious. Don’t let this crap annoy you.
Still, since we’re here… One of these productions is actually called Expats and stars Nicole Kidman, and the other is called something else and probably stars someone else. (Had to Google her. She’s this one. I’ve never seen any of her films except the excellent Paddington, but I don’t recall her part – maybe she was in the bear costume.) Everyone is irate that Kidman was exempted from quarantine on arrival for shooting (though rest assured she will not approach you). Quartz comes to the rescue with everything on the subject. Exciting Times!
The deeper anger on Twitter and elsewhere is aimed at the perceived callousness of the movies’ focus on a wealthy and privileged elite at a time when the city is being ground down around us by Beijing. But Hollywood sells fantasy. The backdrop could have been somewhere else (see Dubai below).
So: is it a coincidence that there are two shows in the works showing Hong Kong as a vibrant, dynamic, cosmopolitan blah-blah hub, or has someone encouraged the productions as an image-boost? Maybe PR agency Consulum worked harder for their US$5.7 million than we think. I’ve no idea. The boring explanation would be that the protest movement vaguely raised US public awareness that Hong Kong exists, and the entertainment moguls are jumping on the bandwagon. Nowhere else has a skyline like this, right? For what it’s worth, Amazon – which would love to sell video on demand in China – is behind both series.
If only Graham Greene had done a ‘Hong Kong expat’ novel for Amazon to work with. Or at least Tom Sharpe – I can recommend The Ghost of Neil Diamond by David Milnes.
Other weekend reading…
Professional Commons find nearly 2,000 hectares of land suitable for housing.
Which member of Canto-boyband Mirror starred in a haemorrhoid-treatment ad? (Clue: it wasn’t one of the ones that look seven years old.) All you wanted to know about them here.
A concise thread rebutting George Soros’ amateur-psychology analysis of Xi Jinping being anti-Deng.
All you need to know about Dubai (plus a bit about Romania).
And that wonderfully vicious review of the rooftop Polo Lounge at London’s Dorchester – ‘chicken breast with the texture of value-range cotton wool’.