I don't think there is just one word that I can use to define myself as an individual. I am Chinese-American, born and raised in New York City. Back home, I tell people that I grew up in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, but not too many people outside of New York really know what that means. Coney Island is a tourist attraction, known for having a really old amusement park and booths along the boardwalk, although most of these attractions have recently been torn down to create room for new developments. In reality, however, it is a really dilapidated area, and was even more so when I was growing up. I grew up around a lot of crime and poverty, which caused my to parents constant worry about me, often unreasonably. My parents are both from mainland China, and therefore have a very different culture from the one that I grew up with in America. They're a lot more conservative and strict than most American parents, which always made me feel like the odd-man out as I was growing up. I was torn between believing what my parents believed and acting the way my fellow peers deemed "cool" and "normal." I was taught by the media and my peers that "beautiful" was Caucasian and green-eyed and that normal families sat around at the dinner table and said things like "Pass the peas, please" and "May I please be excused?" I, on the other hand, was neither of these things, and my family sat around the dinner table eating white rice and sharing dishes of meats and vegetables. I never really acknowledged it, but I knew that I was different from all of my friends in school.
As I grew up, however, I learned to accept both sides of my identity, rather than fight one or the other. I learned that my parents would act a different way and have some different beliefs than I would, and that's because I am very Westernized. I grew up eating dim sum and loving all sorts of Chinese food, but at the same time, love all other sorts of foods that my parents would never even touch.
I am the middle child in my family--my sister is turning 25 this year, and my brother is turning 11. I am turning 21 in November. Looking at myself, my siblings, and my parents, there are very obvious generational differences. My siblings and I are a lot more free-spirited and liberal than my parents are, and are learning different things in school than what my parents learned. We are also much more technologically advanced. Like I said in my last blog post, this is obvious in the ways that we interact with media. My parents are used to using print media, while my sister and I depend almost solely on the Internet and television. My brother is an even more extreme example -- he is glued to his computer/television/ipod/video games. My brother, at age 11, owns: a cell phone, an iPod touch, a netbook, a Nintendo Wii, and many other sorts of devices. It's not even that he is very particularly privileged or spoiled, such as I suggested to my mother -- my mother told me that all of his friends had all of these things as well, and he felt left out. The generations are getting more and more dependent on technology, and learning to do everything much quicker and efficiently.
I don't really know what exactly my dream in life is yet, which is a little nerve wracking since I'm about to be a senior in college and should be figuring out what I want to do with my life very, very soon. My parents are a lot more practical than I am -- they wanted me to study either business or medicine, because those are areas in which people make a lot of money and do well for themselves. My sister followed this path, and is currently an investment banker. I, on the other hand, decided to go in a very different direction. I am a double major in Media Studies and Psychology with a minor in Spanish. I enjoy having new experiences, and I guess my dream in life would just be to have a lot of adventures. That's part of the reason why I am studying in Hong Kong right now -- it's a brand new experience. I've also studied the Spanish language in Argentina and Spain before, two countries that I had never been to before, with cultures that I had never experienced before. I want to do something in life that I can look back on when I'm older and say that I enjoyed doing it. My parents expect me to be 100% focused on finding a good job and settling down when I finish school--which is not what I have in mind. I want to travel while I still can and have interesting experiences that I can talk about later in life, and hopefully grow a lot while doing so. I guess I can say that my generation, at least in my experience, has become a lot more adventurous, and a lot more open/accepting to a lot of things.
Many of my classmates defined themselves as a Hong Konger, a student, a sister, a son, a Chinese, an American-born Chinese (ABC), somebody’s boyfriend/girl friend…but for me, I would define myself as a Hong Kong-Chinese people. It seems that Hong Kong is much worthy for me than China, as Hong Kong is a special city in China. And in my point of view, Hong Kong is obviously have a higher level of freedom and human rights, or because I live here, and affected by the culture here. I won’t decline myself as a Chinese, but more than that, I think myself as a Hong Konger.
Besides, I was born in 1989, which has been defined as in the group of “Pro-80s” recently. I may think that different people in my generation- the group of Pro-80s, have very strong and different opinions towards different incident. Since that may because we have a higher concern of society, political issue or livelihood, we may have different point of views and actions taken based on our thoughts and our surroundings’ opinions. For instance the issue of anti-high speed railway protest, I think the Pro-80s can be simply classified in 3 groups: support or protest or no comments about the issue. We may strongly stand for our own opinion, and tend to not believe in something that is leading us to think or do, in stead of our own beliefs.
I found one very shocking news last month that the widowed woman in old Hindu communities, whom would either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. The Hindu women are taught that their life belongs to their husband and people believed that if the wife is burnt to death with the body of their husband; they will go to the heaven together. The news is shocking me not only because of the cruel and uncivil traditions, but also the women have no freedom and human rights at all in the old community. I think the most important value in the society is definitely the freedom and the human rights. In my beliefs, individualism is not self fish, but we should learn how to maintain and enjoy of our rights, meanwhile, not to encroach others.
I don’t want to make a generation prescribed as in ages or something like that, since everybody is an individuals shared different lifestyle, education, culture and religion etc. But my parents is 52-56 years old, born in Hong Kong, live here (Hong Kong) for their whole life; share similar lifestyle with me, supposedly share a similar beliefs with me too. But in reality, they are not. They would think that my pursuit of freedom or human rights is a kind of redundant and meaningless, they tend to/ willing to listen to the government and chasing the harmony of life more.
Thus, why would we have so much different opinions and identity to ourselves and others? Since the media is the most important medium to spread the news and information to the society, most of the culture, self-identity and thoughts is constructing by the media and the society unconsciously. For instance, how you build up an identity of being a man or women? The media, the society and also our parents, whom have already taught by the society, tells a boy should be strong, not wearing dress, talk like a man, love the man-like stuffs but not the pink or cutie thing. But in contrast, a girl is totally different from the man’s living style, and should do all the stuffs that a boy would never do. Otherwise, we may defined as a jerk or an abnormal person.
Consequently, media is just one very important medium to construct our basic culture. Based on the different lifestyle and background, people should have different self-identity and opinions towards incidents. So, who are you?
As I know, in my parents’ generation, most of them were born in the countryside. If they didn’t have the chance to get enough education, they had to follow their parents’ pattern of life, in other words, being a farmer. So in order to get rid of the life in the countryside, my parents both chose to study hard. Only in this way can they change their own life and the living standards of my grandparents’ could also be improved. Under this kind of pressure about the future of a whole family as well as one’s own, my parents’ generation shared the values of working-hard, changing life via education, and also making contributions to their hometown, other Chinese poor people, and the whole country. They were born in the 1960s and reached their 20th in the 1980s when China was developing very fast after the lifting of the reform and opening-door policy. In some way, it is the whole generation of my parents’ struggle that brings us the happy life we enjoy today.
As to my generation, the so-called after 90th, we are often criticized as being raised up in the greenhouse and that we can’t bear hardships and hard work when we are compared with our parents’ generation. However, as many peers of mine argued, China is now entering a mental age, we can also contribute to our society even though we don’t have such strong physical appearance. It sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? As we are mostly assured the nine-year compulsory education, our generation is relatively well-educated and our life is not as hard as the last generation. As we grew up, what surrounded us were all “selected good things”. For example, we had a class called thought morality (思想品德). We were taught how to treat teachers, elder relatives, respectful persons, etc, what to do when we picked up a purse, what to do when we are insulted by peers. At home, we also received “good education” from our parents because the one-child policy made us the only hope of a family. But in my parents’ generation, most of them had brothers or sisters. So parents’ attention was accordingly divided. As we were the apple of their eye, parents were relatively strict with our behavior. Just like we were taught at school, we shall do some things; we must not do some things. This kind of pressure seemed not self-motivated but put on by the whole society. We even didn’t know why we were so precious as we were in our parents’ eyes but we must live up to their expectations. So, our generation is often called the rebel generation. That refers to those teenagers who are more or less 16 years old and don’t want to obey parents and teacher alike. Anyway, our generation also have various dreams as we have more choices than our parents. Singers, enterprisers, journalists, writers, engineers, etc are our dreams. Compared to our parents, our dreams are more specific. Because we are more informed and know more about every kind of jobs.
Our generation is heavily burdened yet we barely have the chance to test what we learned at school in the society. So a kind of disappointing feeling is often shared by the peers. Disappointed because the things were not so perfect as we were taught, not so easy as we expected. So the first lesson most of my generation should learn when step into the society is to be strong psychologically. We can never rely on anybody else except for ourselves. That’s quite important even compared to the way to pursue our dreams. Because how to handle our emotional problems were hardly taught at school, so we had to pay the bill before we are prepared for our dreams.
I am a common member of my generation and the daughter of my parents. I experienced my generation’s life and also influenced by the last generation. Because we keep close contact with relatives in the countryside, we know the hardships of a farmer’s life. We have access to all kinds of information and we know many things earlier than the last generation. We are warm-hearted inside, compassionate, caring, and mostly hard-working. I contribute to the formation of a whole generation called the after 90th and I also represent some kinds of particular groups in my generation. My dream is to be a journalist who can tell real stories about the world the as many people as possible. In order to achieve that, I together with my peers still have a long way to go.
I am Wan Yau Yuen. I am a man. I was born in Hong Kong. So I am definitely a Hong Konger. I think the unique Hong Kong identity is east meets west. It is because we are original a Chinese. But we were ruled by British government until 1997. And why I think I am east meets west because we are Chinese but practicing British culture.
The good thing is that Hong Konger knows lot of other culture as Hong Kong is cultural dynamic. We can speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin. And we meet lot of foreigners in Hong Kong. And we can taste different culture in Hong Kong as well. Hong Kong is like a United Nation. However, the weakest point is that we don’t have deep knowledge about each thing. So we don’t have a strong understanding of Hong Kong culture and identity. Although we know many things, we don’t use time to deeply know more about it. That’s why people say that Hong Kong has no identity and culture.
Recent days I saw Twins Concert. I saw a lot of young generations like my age there. I think one of the collective memories in music is Twins. I think my classmates will know who are Twins and their songs. We listen those songs when we were studying secondary school. After ten years, we grow up. But we are still familiar with their songs. And all audience in the coliseum knows how to sing their song. Here is a clip about our collective memory of Twins.
My peers normally are After 80s. They like to be late, lazy, nothing is important to them, materialistic and not trustworthy. But they are also flexible, dynamic and adaptable.
I remember when I was studying primary six. My teacher told us to write what is our future career goal. The answer for me was fireman. Honestly to say that this answer is not true to me. I just came up with this answer to hand in my homework. I really don’t have any answer at that time. And I remember my mum told me that whatever I will do is not important. The thing that she told me to remember is that I need to be a good man for all the time. I am quite impressed by what she said. So when I grow up, I had ever thought I will be doing something related to art, teachers or businessman. But career will be changed due to time and reality. But one thing will not change is yourself. To be good, it doesn’t matter what you do. It is my philosophy.
In the past, a lot of people hope to be rich. Nowadays, people are flooded by materials. They will cherish more then that, not just money but also status. It is a kind of socialization. Our concern shifts from worrying food to worrying no time to consume materials. And people always think being lawyers, doctors or teachers are better than other jobs. However, I think there are no classes for job. We cannot discriminate any type of job. It is nonsense to compare job. It is what society thinks that what is good and what is bad. But we have sense that what suit us or not.
To accurately introduce myself, it is never an easy task as my self identity is shaped by the mass media to a certain extent from time to time. Being one of the Post-80s, Compared to my parents and grandparents, I admit that I am living and growing in a more advantageous environment, with stronger financial, social and technological and family support. Meanwhile, I am also facing lots of challenges in the globalized world full of fierce competition. Yet, I did enjoy in a period of joyful, sweet and memorable childhood. Day-dreaming in lessons while fooling around with my brother, neighbors, classmates and friends in outdoor playgrounds or in the corridors of the government housing estates, these are my collective memories. In the primary stage, when the internet had not yet fully penetrated the HK, I fully enjoyed growing up with my peers who have similar understanding and feelings towards our community and the world. However, when the internet started sweeping our life, my peers’ perception and values towards the world has changed and differed from mine. When being updated through the internet become one of my peers’ heavy media usage in a daily basis, using MSN and Facebook to communicate with others is a must to do. However, I would comment myself as a late comer in the use of MSN and Facebook and I am personally not an internet addict. Hence, sometimes I am commented as an extraordinary and outdated youngster among my friends.
As I grow up in a large Chinese family, I am a pretty conservative person when perceiving the world and interacting with others. Perhaps people describe me as timid, I do think that I benefit from behaving well according to what I learnt form my family. The most important goal in my life time is to progress as a competent person to support my family as collectivism is a critical cultural influence. Among all the virtues, being sincere and acting not to violate ethics are the most important values which guide my life.
However, everyone who is admitted by the Government can define s/he as a Hong Konger. In other words, everyone can be the Hong Konger, same as me. Then, how can I protrude myself as a distinctive individual? At this moment, our name can play an important role. Supposedly, every people have their own names granted by their parents at the day they firstly came to this world and those names should be the unique one.
Besides, when I say “Young and Dangerous” (古惑仔), every Post-80s who has grown up in Hong Kong is supposed to know what I am talking about and have a consonance on that. This movie stirred up an upsurge after its initial broadcast and was shot five more episodes in a series. Afterwards, many people started to ape the movie characters in everything they did and said in the films. Some youths, especially the guys, hoped to be the members and even the leaders of the Triad. And plenty of girls at that time would like to be the lovers of the Triad leader as this was regarded as a pride. Indeed, a series of “Young and Dangerous” was not the encouragement of joining the Triad, whereas to make the people in our generation daring to fight for our own rights. This is what the most characteristic differentiating us from our parents. Because of the social content and cultural constraints, our parents usually tolerated something they didn’t really like and acted in the ways other people ordered for. What’s more? Another difference between the generation of our parents and ours is the definition of success. When our mothers were young, most of them did think that forming a family was the most important thing for a woman. In our generation, we commonly thought that a female is regarded as a success only when she has climbed up to a superlative post, however. Therefore, my mother dreamed of having a family as soon as possible while I would like to be a “superwoman” who can deal with any difficulties and stand at the high position.
Nevertheless, there is a main goal all people from any generation aiming to achieve. That is to acquire the education level as high as possible. Whenever the 1960s, 1980s or 2000s, people believed that obtaining the highest education level is the most essential element for the one to become the most influential and the richest person in the society. And that’s why people try hard to be promoted to the universities. Why do people desire to upgrade as the rich? The implied reason is the materialism stuck in the region for a long history which has been the most important value in the society as well.
Years ago, I liked to chat with foreign net friends with some communication tools on the Internet. When you first ‘meet’ with them, ‘where are you from?’ is always the first question on the window. What I always received is something like ‘I’ am from UK’, ‘I’m from Mexico’, and ‘I’m Spanish’. They never said which city they are from at first but which country. However, when they asked me where I am from. I always said ‘I am from Hong Kong.’ I never said ‘I am from China.’
However, many of them would then ask me ‘Where is Hong Kong?’ They don’t know where Hong Kong is or even never heard it. All the time I had to say ‘It’s in China.’ although I was not really willing to define it in this way. I would more likely to say ‘It’s a former British colony’, especially if they were from UK. I just tried to guide them to think what Hong Kong is in the way I think what it is. What I all hope was that they would know Hong Kong is different from China.
Why I would want them to know Hong Kong is Hong Kong and it’s different from China? Firstly, I was really growing up in British colony. The Governor, the top leader, of Hong Kong is always a British, such as Chris Patten. And I could see the British flag rising and hear British anthem when Lee Lai Shan got the gold medal at Olympic. No one had ever told me that I am a Chinese and I never saw the Chinese flag and listened to Chinese anthem in where I was living, Hong Kong. Growing up in such environment, how could I say’ I am a Chinese’ or ‘I come from China’?
Moreover, our lifestyle and value is different from Chinese. For example, we have freedom of speech, greater human rights and have a sound law system while people who have said something what the Central doesn’t like in China would probably find themselves in prison finally. The image of China to many foreigners is always negative. Chinese always produce ‘killer products’, such as toxic toys and poisoned milk, and fake products and counterfeits. I just wanted to tell them Hong Kong is not that bad, not that negative.
Anyway, with my experience, they don’t care what Hong Kong is and what the difference between Hong Kong and China. They didn’t care whether Hong Kong was a British colony. Hong Kong is China. China is China. That’s all.
At that time, I had to realize that in their eyes I was a Chinese. And I had to admit that ‘I’m Chinese.’
I am Karson, a Hong Kong student studying in university. If somebody asks my identity, I will definitely answer that I am a Chinese instead of “Hong Konger”. However, some people may not. Since Hong Kong was the colonial of Britain before, the sense of identity and belonging towards China is generally low. Even though after the handover, some Hong Kong people are still very insistent about their Hong Konger’s identity. It is undeniable that Hong Kong is only an administrative region of China. We have to clarify the truth, China is our mother country and our nationality is Chinese.
What do I think about my generation?
I was born in 1980s, a true Post-80s. Regarding a series of social movements happened recently, like
- Anti-high speed railway protest,
- Marching to Liaison Office of the Central People's Government during January 1,
- Criticizing the politicians of pro-Beijing camp in City Forum (城市論壇) every Sunday,
- Intensely demanding for the abolishment of Functional Constituencies and
- Supporting the de facto referendum advocated by League of Social Democrats and Civic Party
Post-80s’ youngsters are the most active participator in the above-mentioned social movements. I will describe our generation is becoming more and more RADICAL. Post-80s’ youngsters claim that they are struggling for equality. They claim that the Hong Kong government only concern about the Central government and rich people, the social noises by general publics are being ignored. So, they have to protest and take part in social movements in order to reflect their disappointment towards the government. The purpose is to arouse the attention of the government.
The most important value in the society
Personally, I think the most important value in the society is mutual understanding. To alleviate the problem of youngsters become more radicalized, it is necessary to listen to their opinions. I think there is a room for the government to improve their communications with youngsters. Due to the technological advancement, youngsters are no longer to rely on traditional medium to express their views. They tend to heavily use Internet. So, the government has to make a better use of Internet for collecting various opinions. Setting up some blogs and chatting forums are some possible ways to allow the officials and publics communicating directly.
I do understand that the government is facing a dilemma between executing policies and balancing the social consensus. In current situation, no matter what policies is going to be implemented, there will be some opponents who against it. So, the government should increase the transparency during the execution. For instance, to hire independent companies to collect opinions from different classes of people, different political parties and different age groups. The aim is to make the consultations be more all-rounded and covering the vast majority.
It is an uphill task for the government to strike a balance before setting up a policy. If the government can stick to the principle of equity, I am optimistic that the controversies and conflicts can be minimized.
Week 12: Who Are You?
To be honest, I found it very difficult to answer the question “who are you?”, because I would not call myself a “Hong Konger”, yet, I could not call myself an “American-born Chinese” (ABC) either. Growing up in the U.S. did made me feel like an “American” back then, but after moving back to Hong Kong, I had to readjust myself to the local Hong Kong culture, despite the fact that I still do not understand some local traits. For example, when I first watched the local cartoon movie “My Life as McDull” (麥兜故事), a film that reflects the local society, with some elements hinting towards the local government, I was totally clueless with the slang, the phrases, and the plot itself. While other people in the theater were laughing and nodding in agreement to the movie, I was quite blank and laughed at the wrong places. Thus, if I really had to define myself with a term, I would call myself a “third culture kid”, which “refers to someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture”. This term is also similar to globalization, since third culture kids have often grown up in a “globalized culture”, instead of a single culture. So, I may be familiar with some things in
Two important collective memories I shared with my peers are the September 11 attacks and SARS. Although I was in
Meanwhile, one important value my father appreciated back in his days is survival. In the early days, my father underwent hardships—those were the difficult times when it was hard to get food and daily necessities. He told me that even after he got a job, he only had a salary of $60; out of those $60, he mailed $50 to his relatives in
One of my father’s dreams back then was to find his long-lost parents. My father and my grandparents got separated during the complicated period in
Also, another important value that my father really endorses, even now, is education. This is because back when he was young, he never had the chance to study much because of the hard times. Thus, my father’s dream is to obtain a better education. That’s why my father currently continues to seek education; he would take certificates and diploma courses in order to enhance his knowledge, because he feels that education helps one to be successful. Therefore, my parents are willing to pay more money for my siblings and me to go to university, hoping that we would achieve good grades and have successful careers. Compared to the current generation, I feel that the older generation values education a lot more. This is because back in the days, the older generation rarely had the chance to go to school to learn and was forced to go out and work, while people today were much luckier and could go to kindergarten until high school. In general, generation Y seems to value leisure and entertainment much more than education; education becomes something taken for granted.
However, my generation is generally more open-minded than the older generation. Looking at the news about post-80s, it appears that they are big supporters of democracy and human rights and know exactly what they want for
My parents have always said that I am very fortunate to be able to grow up in this generation, and to have studied and grown up overseas. I think so too. Even though at the beginning I felt like I did not fit in at all after coming back to Hong Kong, I have grown to appreciate all the different and weird experiences that I have gone through—because that is who I am.
“Third Culture Kid”
My dream always changes. I want to be a teacher when I was studying in kindergarten because I feel that correcting other’s homework is a pride job. I want to be a nurse when I was studying primary school because I want to be a White-Angel and save those patients. I want to be a flight attendance after then because I want to travel around the world and see a lot of things. I want to adopt different
culture and live in different environment. Unfortunately, I become no dream until I was 12 years old. My last dream is become a housewife. On that day, I remember my teacher asks all the students to write down our dreams occupation in our student handbook and hand in to her. I was so hesitate that should I write the true answer on it? Will I being laugh by others? Finally, I wrote the truth that I want to be a housewife but the nightmare was came. One day, I got my mother’s call. She told me that my teacher was created a meeting for her and wants she can come with me which is about my dream so that I came with my mother to found my teacher. I almost can remember how nervous I was at that time. “Your daughter wants to be a housewife”. I didn’t know why I was so shame at that time. “Why everyone wants to become a lawyer or doctor but you only want to be a housewife?” I was cried. I really think that this experience really change my life. I really want to ask my teacher why I should be a lawyer or doctor. But I didn’t. I know that why everyone want to be a lawyer, because they can earn a lot of money and have authority to control others. I think that it’s a kind of socialization. Everyone has their role in the world and it becomes part of the sense of me. It seems that everyone should feedback their family and society, so I started to revise my dream and think again do I interest in become a lawyer? Should I change my mind and want to become a lawyer? But does everyone’s dream equal to my dream? Why I can’t have my own dream? Become a lawyer or teacher or doctor almost becomes a norm among my schoolmate at that time. I know that a society itself is formed through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions. I understand that everyone wants to strive for a better life, but why I cannot strive for a simply and quiet life? I don’t want to be a rich person, I just want to be a simply and ordinary people. Why my teacher force me to follow majority’s norm? I really don’t understand. But I accept it. I cannot deny that money is dominated in nowadays. Many people work for their entire life just want to buy a house. I cannot say that I don’t want money, but I prefer earn money in my interested method. Many people when choosing their major subject in university just focusing on the future but not their interest. I cannot say that it is wrong, but I really pride of myself that I can follow my interest in choosing my subject. But how about my dream? I still decided to follow my interest but in a silent way. Because it’s socialization, it’s life.
However, the advantages of Hong Kong are being deemphasized while the influential of China towards Hong Kong as well as the world is sharply increased in the recent years. The rapid development of economic and the great success of Beijing Olympic in 2008 have promoted the international status of China. At the same time, more and more national education and high coverage of news about China are received from the media over these 12 years. Combing with different reasons, my national identity of Chinese is being stronger and stronger. On the other hand, there are several fundamental problems that make China being criticized by the others, such as the problem of fake products and poor condition of human rights. As referring to the question of nationality, I remember a person has suggested a way to answer and I think I will do the same. That person suggested that whether answering you are Hong Kongers or Chinese, the best answer should depends on where you are and what topic is being discussed.
For many youngsters, most of us are confused about our nationality identity but the truth is that we do not take it as a serious issue to think it seriously. The political sense in our generation is relatively low. In contrast, we spend much time and effort on a virtual world. Mobile phone and computer become an essential part of our daily life. The all-in-one function mobile phones and computers have replaced many face to face interaction and real–life social activities with our family members and friends. We share and communicate with others by using the online communication tools such as facebook, Xanga, MSN etc. These communication tools allow us to share our messages no longer limited on text but delivering with images, sounds, video and audience can give instant responses to the sender. Thanks to the technology, many innovative communication styles are being found so as to provide a lot of fun and interesting to us. For example, Facebook is now the most popular communication network. One thing we enjoy most is to receive and give out instant comment with any friends. Sometimes, the comments are supportive and funny which let us feel cheerful. Teenagers are just hard to avoid and even addict on them as we value entertainment and social with friends.
To share about the use of Facebook with my mother, she is surprised about everything. As she is not a computer user, she does not know about the Internet. She is not only surprise with the convenient given in communication of Facebook but also teenagers now are sharing their personal life and feeling with people they even not familiar with. For their generation, people wrote down their feeling or ideas in diary which was not supposed to disclose. Although they also liked talking with friends, they only share their personal feeling with close friends or mostly they kept it as their own secrete. Therefore, it is hard for her to understand why people in our generation type everything on a public sphere.
I have also asked my mother about her media usage pattern or entertainment in her generation. However, due to the poor living condition when she was young, she said it was far away to afford any entertainment, let alone to have a radio. My mother was living in a village in mainland and gave help in the farm. “I only wanted no more farming work!”. When I asked my mother about what was her dream, she told me without hesitation. Finally, she was able to live in Hong Kong and her dream came true. The reason for my mother to leave farming is because of the instability and harshness she faced. Of course, due to the improvement on living condition, what I think and want are very different from my mother. It is hard to tell what I exactly want to do in my future career but I am looking for a job that I can develop myself. In the rest of the time, I can do some volunteer works and visit different parts of the world in order to work out my life in meaningful and enjoyable manners.
The developing of technology and growth of economic change what people pursue in their life as well as our values change. For me, some important values are still preserving and love is one of the most important values for us. The value of love is not only limit on the relationship between couples. People nowadays are also concern and looking for love on their friendship and family members. Although many of us do not know how to work it out, we seek love to make ourselves feeling affiliate and being valued. We value love because most of us still believe love is the core to bring happiness to our life. However, many people think Hong Kong is now a city where people value much on materialism, entertainment and are self-oriented. Despite of the importance of love to us, it is hard to deny that sometimes love have become related to materialism, entertainment and self-satisfaction. For many people, they are friends but they are each other’s partner for games only. Many women want to have true love but they also looking for men who can satisfy their needs on materials. In my opinion, it is difficult to tell it is good or bad, however, it is a way to preserve the tradition value while integrating with the present important value in our society.
No matter things are physically existing or intangible, we would like to preserve which we value in our generation. However, our society keeps changing in every minute. From the media, the life of the older generation is being informed. For example, we, this generation know the song Under the Lion Rock and the plastic bag, “Red, White, Blue” are symbols to represent the spirit of hard-working and flexible of the Hong Kongers but it is hard for us to receive the same sympathy as our parents. One day, the time we communicate with friends via Facebook, Xanga and MSN will also become the collectively memory of our generation.
I suppose the biggest things that have served to define me are—as cliché as they may sound—my city and my family. I am a New Yorker in every sense of the word. I was born two blocks from where I grew up and had never lived anywhere but Manhattan until I came to Hong Kong to study in January for the semester. Like most New Yorkers, I hold the warped belief that the city (this excludes Staten Island, if I’m going to be a true snob) is a separate entity from the rest of the United States; I am a New Yorker first and an American second. I feel that this is important for me to mention because a lot of what I consider to be my political and ideological identity was shaped by the more liberal values of New York City, and contrasts with the more conservative nature of the rest of the country.
Other cities I have been to, such as Los Angeles, Athens, Paris, London, Seoul, Vienna, and especially Hong Kong, all have their charm. But when it comes down to it, none of them match the beauty and complexity of New York. I have a relationship with the city much like I would with a significant other; it aggravates me constantly and never ceases to stun me with its melodrama and numerous flaws. But after each fight, we make up and everything is right again. I feel a love for the city that makes it more than just a city to me.
My family has also played an important role in helping to establish my identity. My father grew up in a stereotypical Long Island suburb to two Irish Roman Catholics. To me, my father’s side of the family pretty much represents what it means to be “all-American” to outsiders: they are staunchly middle-class (both my grandfather and my father’s youngest brother were firefighters), embrace religion, drink a lot, eat a lot, laugh a lot, and love sports. They drive big cars and buy big TVs. They are literally pretty big people. Their kids are quarterbacks on their high school football teams and some of them have joined the military or the navy. Many of them are blonde or red-haired and very fair, and their kids will most likely continue to look that way, although my father was an exception. This is because my mother is from Hong Kong; she moved to the U.S. to get a master’s degree in Chemistry after attending Hong Kong University. She met my father in dental school and married him soon after graduation.
I relate a lot to my mother’s side of the family because I spent most of my childhood at my aunt’s house in Queens on weekends. Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays were spent playing with my cousins, going to Chinese school, attending piano and Tae Kwon Do lessons, receiving tutoring, and being subject to marathon, coma-inducing Dim Sum breakfasts with my relatives. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, which meant being Asian made me a relative minority. Being bi-racial has, to this day, caused me discomfort in a lot of situations. Anyone who is will say that. I watched a documentary about President Obama and a good majority of it dealt with his insecurities that he wasn’t “black enough” or “white enough” to satisfy his family or his constituents. I’ve often felt similarly, that my tendencies weren’t “white enough” for my friends on the Upper West Side, and that I wasn’t “Chinese enough” to suit my family.
It didn’t help that I didn’t relate to other kids that well because I spent whole weekends kept away from my friends, and, when I got older, the lack of Judaism in my life meant that I didn’t get to have my own pivotal coming-of-age ceremony, the bat mitzvah. As a whole, I felt pretty removed from people of my own generation until high school. Until that point, I had a very low opinion of my classmates’ intelligence and didn’t have much in common with them. For high school, I went to a specialized science high school, which is a nice way of saying that pretty much everyone who attended was a nerd, closeted or not. In high school I learned a great deal about myself and that there are tons of people in the world who are much more intelligent than I am in multitudes of ways.
I went from a performing arts middle school to a high school that shoved math, physics, and computer science down my throat. I couldn’t remember organic chemistry, but I had no trouble reciting passages from Nabokov’s Pale Fire. My math skills were never developed enough to place me in pre-calculus courses, but I took advanced English courses. I wrote for the school newspaper and went into college thinking I’d become a journalist. By the end of my freshman year the dream was dispelled to make way for a more specific goal: to work in publishing as an editor or in television as a producer. This goal changed because I think that no matter what happens in society, the people who get to control the messages sent out by the media are the ones who have the power. Media is supposed to be a check on government, but it is also a tool to inform the masses—or manipulate them. Therefore, it’s so important to have the right people to decide the kinds of messages that are sent out to the public and how they’re sent out. To me, this was a basic message that resonated throughout this course this semester. I always grew up thinking I wanted to do “something that matters.” This kind of job seems to fit those criteria.
I was born and live in Hong Kong for more than 20 years. I am a 100% local Hong Kong citizen. All the things, people, information and events around me formulate my identity as a Hong Konger. Cantonese is my mother language while English is my major learning instrument. I always go to Chinese restaurant to “Yum Cha” on Sunday with my family. Dim-sum, milk tea and egg tart are some of my favorite foods which represent the dining culture of Hong Kong. I love shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui and sing karaoke in Mongkok with my friends in the weekends. These are part of my daily life, which is closely related to the Hong Kong culture and every Hong Konger will share similar experience and habit.
Because of the demonstration of express railway, society put more concerns on the generation – “Post 80s”, which I belong to. Generally, our generation is always described as impetuous, lazy and irresponsible. To a large extent, such impressions towards post 80s mainly come from the media. For example, the news reporting about the chaos in the demonstration is one of the sources for the media to stereotype our generation. In fact, I don’t think our generation is that bad as the media descriptions. I do love my age and the collective memories that we share. For example, the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 and the bad times during SARS are some valuable memories among our age group. For me, joining the 4 June incident gathering last year gives me a deep impression and memory. 2009 is a remarkable year as the incident has passed for 20 years and it was the first time that I participate the event. When I was walking to the Victoria Park, I was wondering the majority would be old men and ladies. Unexpectedly, I saw many youngsters like me holding the white candles, sitting on the grassland. The theme of the gathering was “薪火相傳”and a group of university students came on the stage swearing that our generation would never forget the lesson learnt from history. The atmosphere was very touching at that night and it makes me feel proud of joining the event. From my viewpoint, post 80s is a group of people that is passionate, brave and rightful. And these characteristics are rarely founded in the older generations. Maybe it is because the older generations have much more other concerns other than fighting for justice, just like family and career burden. But no worries, I think now is a good time for us, the post 80s, to fight for the benefits for the society. Besides, some people may think our generation is lack of planning. However, I don’t think it is a weakness to us and oppositely we are flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changeable society. In fact, as a post 80s in the society nowadays, it is really hard to talk about “dream” achievement because of many restrictions and difficulties brought by the social system. For me, living healthily with my family without any worries is already an ideal life for me. The most important value is that no matter what kind of job you get in the future, never forget your reality and conscience.
My dad was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 1954, to a mother and father whose parents had all immigrated to the United States from Ireland and Wales. When he was five his parents and brothers moved to Seaford, Long Island, where they lived in a stereotypically sleepy, suburban neighborhood. My father grew up on a block of identical houses built right after World War II. Each house was a slightly different color, with a backyard, driveway, and front lawn. During his childhood he amused himself with sports and games he played with his three brothers.
My father remembers a television being an integral part of his childhood early on, from at least the age of eight. He was never allowed to watch it as much as he would have liked because my grandfather was very cynical and derisive of the device in general and referred to it as the “boob tube.” However, when my dad was allowed to watch it he recalls watching shows that he liked, such as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Mod Squad.” When he was around my age, he remembers watching a lot of his favorite television show, “M*A*S*H.” Although he mostly listened to the radio as a child to hear his favorite baseball games, he later on watched TV more often to see his favorite baseball and football teams.
I can tell that the radio had a huge influence on my father’s life; he still listens to his favorite talk shows to this day, and falls asleep listening to the radio at night. My father said he clearly remembers what it was like to hear the Beatles first play when he was about nine or ten years old, but he also remembers watching them in black and white on television, playing a sold-out, frenzied concert at Shea Stadium in 1965. I grew up listening to the radio in the car, but unlike my father, the television played a much bigger role in my childhood than it did in his, and I rarely listen to the radio anymore, except for certain programs on National Public Radio. However, even those tend to be on podcasts and not when they are broadcasted on an actual radio.
My parents grew up in a very different setting than I. They both grew up in mainland China, whereas I was born and raised in New York City. During the 1970s and 1980s, my parents relied mostly on radio and print media to learn about what was going on in the world. Television was also a growing media at the time, but because it was not as easily accessible for my parents, it did not play much of a role in their lives. My father still, to this day, very rarely watches television.
My media usage both growing up and now, however, differs so enormously from my parents when they were my age. I grew up with the television being an important part of my life; I watched hours of cartoons every Saturday morning, and received much of my earlier education from shows such as Barney and Sesame Street. Having grown up in an electronic age, it is not surprising that I now rely mostly on the Internet and television for news. I do listen to the radio at times, but even then, I often stream it from the Internet or download podcasts through iTunes.
None of the media sources that I use now were available to my parents when they were my age, and I feel lucky to have such technologies. Although my parents both know how to use the Internet, neither of them use it to the extent that I do. They do not rely on online versions of newspapers like I do—my father reads Chinese print newspapers, and my mother watches the news on television or reads the free newspapers that are handed out on a daily basis in the New York City subway. My parents have an attachment to print newspapers because it is what they grew up with, even though to me, using the Internet seems so much more convenient.
When I asked him, were there any telephone and newspaper for you? The answer is NO! It’s unbelievable. How come there was no telephone on the world. Unfortunately, the truth is that. Even you can afford the price of telephone, but the other side you want to talk to cannot afford it, that means useless. When he was 20, the cheapest way to get information was from the people. Most of the news was come from his schoolmates and neighbors. However, the authenticity and the extensity of the news were low, so he always got fake news from his neighbors.
Nowadays, internet and television are my favorite. I seldom listen to radio. I can easily watch the TV program at anywhere. I do not need to go to my friend’s home to ask for television. Even though I missed the TV program, I can use the internet to search it out easily. There is no more restriction due to the broadcasting schedule. Also, everyone have a mobile phone. I can talk to my friend even she is on the other side of the world every time and everywhere. Not only can I hear her voice, but I can also see her face. What I need is just open the webcam on my computer. After the interview with my father, I really cannot understand how he can live without internet and telephone. But I admit that the “ask for television activity” really can strengthen the relationship between people. That’s why he still has contact with his neighbors now. This is what modern teenagers lacking of. That’s the reason why many people said that the teenagers who are called “after 80” are self centered. Because they can do everything just before their computers so that they will not go out and indulge in their own world. Everything has two sides. Technology can help us to interact with others easily in a virtual way, but it will also make us do not know how to communicate with others in person. However, if I can have a chance to choose, I will still choose live in now. It is because I cannot live without telephone.
youngsters in 1960's VS youngsters in 2000's
According to the technological determinism suggested by Marshall McLuhan, different modes of communication cause a cultural change and shape human life. As we are living in the computer-mediated culture, our current access to various media is certainly different to that of my parents’ generation in 1960-70s. Living in a global village, people can share the latest information via the internet simultaneously anytime. As students, we obtain the updated knowledge for our academic school work or simply for our interests and curiosity towards some specific issues, we, therefore, always surf the net to gather some relevant information, books and other credible print materials like newspapers and academic publications, are also the media we frequently access to. Whenever we have to conduct an academic research, we rely on books most in order to look for credible supporting statements and references.
On the contrary, whenever we want to have entertainment, being local youngsters, reading books or glossy magazines, listening to the radio, watching TV and going for movies in theaters are our common leisure. Although we can get lots of information while we are undergoing the above leisure activities, to entertain is our leading purpose of the access to those media. In the meantime, as the internet can provide us with entertainment where we may enjoy abundant pieces of music, songs, movies, books and even news for free, we may fulfill our different desires through the same media, disregarding that all the entertainment is the on-line form. In overview, we would suggest that the proportion of our current access to the print media (books, magazines and newspapers), to the electronic media (radio and TV), and the internet is 3: 2: 5.
From our knowledge after conducting some informal interviews with our parents, we would say that our parents’ media use at the young ages, 1960 -70s, was totally different from ours. As it had not developed into the computer-mediated stage at the time when our parents were young, our parents did not have the opportunity to access to computers, not to mention the internet. Thus, comparing to our daily life, our parents spent rather a lot more time in reading books, newspapers and listening to the radio for acquiring knowledge and entertainment. Some of them might even have the access to TV programs. In overview, we would comment that the proportion of their previous access to the print media to the electronic media was 7 : 3, excluding the computer and internet use. Apparently, there is a huge difference between our daily lives and our parents’ when they were young. We would like to hereby share some of the interesting findings of our parents’ media usage below.
In the 60s when Yannie’s mum was young, she liked watching TV. However, she didn’t have television at home, so when she wanted to watch TV, she had to go to some stores where there was an installed television. Yet, she had to pay for it as an entertainment. At first, it cost HK $5 cents and HK $20 cents the most later. She usually went there with her siblings or neighbors. It was just like going for movies nowadays. Watching TV was always a social activity for her at that time. And later, she met some friends who had a TV at home. Therefore, she could go to their flats and watched TV for free.
Years later, she was happy to have a black and white TV at home. It was because my mum was a fisher and lived on boats, the TV had to be connected to a small generator or a big battery which had been charged at some stores. There was an aerial in the TV and you had to tune it to receive signals. She was so excited whenever the TV received signals successfully. One day in the 70s, her family finally had a color TV. She enjoyed the time when the whole family sat together watching TV. Her favorite TV program was “EYT” (Enjoy yourself Tonight-歡樂今宵).
Besides watching TV, she liked listening to the radio too. She listened to some specific programs which were about current affairs or controversies, such as “18/F Block C” (十八樓C座) and some programs about ghost stories. Also, it was the only channel for her to obtain news. Anyway, the ‘news’, to her, was weather reports. At that time, there was not much international news available. People did not care so much of international news. As a fisher at that time, what she cared most was the climate and weather. She said there were many advertisements too. Many advertisements talked about the price of different kinds of products. Furthermore, she could listen to some local and foreign songs when listened to the radio, such as Elvis Presley’s songs.
Nowadays, at the 21st century, technological innovation has changed the face of media. ‘Developers are beginning to fuse telephone, television, fax, stereo, digital video, and computer into a single media center.’ It’s definitely true. Imagine what your mobile ‘phone’ can do. Of cause, you can call in and out with your mobile ‘phone’. But what’s more? You can listen to radio, listen to music, take photos and videos, and even watch TV. You can even do much more, such as reading news, checking and sending emails, surfing the internet if your mobile phones can go online.
In the case of Vanessa’ Dad, his favorite medium was the radio. He is a music lover and likes to listen to various kinds of music. Apart from watching some famous artists’ or bands’ performance like those of Sam Hui (許冠傑) and Wynners (溫拿樂隊) on TV, he was fond of being exposed to the western music through the radio. Uncle Ray’s radio program is one of his favorites as Uncle Ray kept broadcasting foreign pop songs on RTHK. ABBA, the Eagles and the Carpenters are some of his favorite western bands in his old days. Apparently, radio and TV are the leading media. People were just ‘fed’ by them. But now, we no longer solely rely on the radio and TV, in this computer-mediated century, we mainly rely on the internet. Once we search on the Internet, we can easily obtain lots of information about the latest songs, the most famous singers and works. We can get to know about the latest music trends and activities whenever we want via the internet. Hence, approaches and time to reach the world via the media are two major differences between us and our parents.
Moreover, comparing to our parents’ generation, the media usage has become more interactive nowadays. In the past, it was a one-way feeding communication done by the mass media. Today, we may lead the mass media as a reverse. For instance, when people upload a video clip onto Youtube and it will receive many hits if it interests the public. Because of netizens’ heavy likeliness, it may even appear on newspapers, TV and others media as a piece of soft “news”. Take the case of the Taiwanese, Lin Yu Chun, who sang “I will always love you” on a Taiwanese talent show as an example. His voice is great. Yet, no one would know about him if no one uploaded the video clips onto Youtube. Now, everyone worldwide can listen to his voice on the internet and because of the frequent hits, he has become a hot issue in many top shows worldwide and many mass media, such as ABC, BBC. The boy was even interviewed by Thompson Reuters. Nowadays, mass media is no longer the only parties which bring different music and news to audiences. Audiences can also become influential parties who bring start sharing and direct mass media. In other words, “one-way feeding” and ‘one-to-many’ are not appropriate enough to describe the current communication mode, but ‘many-to-many’.
In addition, because of the different media usage, our social behaviors have also been changed. Told by Yannie’s Mum, she often watched TV with her family members or friends in the past. But now, we seldom seriously sit in front of the TV and watch those programs because we may go online and select our own favorite TV programs or videos. Going to cinemas, to us and our parents, it still is a common and popular kind of leisure. Yet, we may watch movies on the internet as well. Hence, it is not a strong and frequent social activity for us when compared to our parents.
More significantly, media usage can go beyond our expectation and indirectly influence one’s life. Before the advent of the interactive internet, people made friends directly in person and through current friends’ referral. Today, you can simply make “friends” with whoever you are interested in through the function of Facebook. Much earlier than Facebook, MSN and even ICQ are popular online communication tools for people to connect with others and to meet new strangers. We may make new “friends” via those instant messengers even we have no idea about each others’ real identity. Some of our friends are even dating with someone whom they had never met in real person before. This phenomenon is not rare at all nowadays but if it happened in our parents’ generation, it might be heavily criticized as ridiculous. Back to earlier than our parents’ generation, Vanessa’ grandma and grandpa’s marriage also began with the help of a radio. When they were young, they stayed in a corridor in the public estate where they lived in when they were young. Every evening, they listened to the same radio program and discussed about the contents of the program. It was the beginning of their story. Likewise, media usage has kept influencing us, but just in different aspects and by different means.
For sure, technology innovation may increase the chances of connecting others as we have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, blogs and other applications to share everything with the world interactively. It seems that we connect with each others with no distance in the age of Web 2.0. It seems that we are very close to each others as we can enjoy same songs, same TV programs and open conversations about similar topics or issues acquired from the mass media. However, are we really getting closer and closer while technology is getting more and more advanced? It is not absolute.
Many media theorists claimed that technology is an essential external force of the social changes, and people are all moved by the technologies elements. In other words, the society is transformed based on the technical advances rather than cultural changes in any community. At the very beginning of the human communication, people could only express their messages to others with spoken languages and later on, graphics. After the invention of the woodblock printing tactic in 220, people had another channel to communicate with others and even spread their ideas widely. Afterwards, the technicians and scientists devoted to contrive more and more media to improve human’s life in terms of communication. Then, there were telephone, radio, television, and, later, computer existing in human history in specific periods of time. Some scholars indicated that the presence of any new technology will penetrate into the society and cultivate people’s habits and culture practices, and thus, form into media usage. Briefly, people in different generations have made use of existing technologies with different usage patterns, just like our parents and us. Let’s discuss that in the following and examine the reasons of that.
Hong Kong people fifty years ago lived in a primitive lifestyle. Most Hong Kong families have very little money; children in these poor families either play on the street, or work as a “child worker” in factories to earn money for their families. In those years, people are more likely to acquire news from radio and television. And for the leisure time, they went to watch films or dated in the countryside. In 1970, the Hong Kong Government carried out many policies actively. Almost every family in the 4 million population owned one set of television. The information spread out due to the high usage of television made Hong Kong people more willing to learn different knowledge or news from all over the world.
Few years later, the Hong Kong population became youth-oriented, with their lifestyles affected a lot by the Western culture. And one very important policy carried out by the Hong Kong Government is a nine years free education program. People tended to advance learning English. In virtue of the policy, children have the right to go to school; television cooperated with the Education Bureau Department, and produced the ETV (educating television programs) for the junior students. Thus, television was more commonly used by the Hong Kong people at that age. In a later stage, with the Western movies and music trending up, popular artists and bands (such as Wynners 溫拿樂隊) showed up in different magazines. People also love to read the gossips and celebrities interviews in the magazines, too.
We found that our parents in our age used television and radio most commonly. The reason is roughly because of the development of the Hong Kong economy, and the abundant resources shared. Most of the Hong Kong people worked in the manufacturing industry in that century. They worked in factories; therefore, they often listen to the radio for music and news while working. Moreover, our mothers at our age are probably already married, thus, they spent most of their time at home, doing house chores and taking care of the family.
Besides, our parents had very little leisure activities during their holidays. Hence, they tend to watch television (which has sounds and visuals) that allowed them to watch fashion shows, TV programs, wrestling competitions, or dance performance etc.—a medium that is more entertaining than other media at that time.
Nowadays, we tend to rely on the television and the Internet heavily. While the television has become a part of our daily lives, its importance seems to be overshadowed by the Internet. The Internet can be referred to as a “revolution” of media, because not only can we watch reruns of TV shows online for entertainment, we can also gain information of current events and watch old news programs. We can even chat and webcam with our favorite celebrities online, with immediate responses. With more and more companies and advertisers turning to the Internet as a medium for business and interactivity, youngsters nowadays enjoy more and more entertainment from the Internet. One perfect example is Youtube and Facebook.
Meanwhile, in the communication aspect, most of us automatically turn to the Internet to “find our friends” instead of the phone, for example, using the Windows Live Messenger program, which allows us to chat with our peers. Only if our friends are “offline” do we then choose to dial our friends’ numbers. Even so, we may choose to text our friends an “SMS” message instead of actually calling the friend. So, it is no wonder that researchers claim that youngsters today are seen having more communication problems, for example, the “train boy” phenomenon.
As for radio, which is the most frequently used media back in our parents’ generation, it has been less in used in generation Y. This may be due to the fact that the radio only has audio, but no visual. Since we are so used to having both audio and visual, as well as interactivity, the radio has become a less mainstream medium in our generation.
The generational difference occurs because of the technological advancement. It is the key element in triggering the change in media usage. The emergence of Internet provides a multi-functional platform for the general publics. In the past, various media platforms were independently separated. As TV was more entertained, it became a more popular platform for the people, including our parents. But now, we can use our computer to access the Internet. Afterwards, we can conveniently gather information from different types of media. For instance, our computer allows us to watch television, listen to radio, and read newspaper online at the same time. Our computer becomes a multi-functional mechanism for combining all the media and entertainment. As technology improves, our usage on the improved media is affected. From a previous stage in which our parents used multiple media for entertainment and information, to the current stage in which we could use a single medium for the same things, technology has greatly deepened our generation gap between our parents and us.
The rumor of the marriage between Charlene Choi and Ronald Cheng has become a hot issue in different media. From parting to marriage, and then divorce, it only happened within a week of time. This rumor originated from the news of Apple Daily under the Next Media. Firstly it exposed their marital relationship just by gossiping. And then this “rumor” dramatically turned to be the “fact” because of the evidence of their marriage license. On the same day, two persons involved called a press conference in order to clarify the rumors and declare their relationship.
Our group has watched the video clip of the press conference and we have come up with some viewpoints from different angles. Two of us focus on the reporting manners of the media and show sympathy for two celebrities while one sees their press conference as a show. There is also a neutral comment on their case.
From the first viewpoint, the roles of Charlene and Ronald are the victims under the oppression from the media. With this perception, their performances in the press conference are being well accepted. “Watching two people being shot by many cameras with harsh flashes, they were as if the targets that are being shot by hunters with guns.” one of us said. Although both of them perform well in the showbiz industry, they cannot escape from the reports of the media and public's critics. During the conference, Charlene sadly commented this rumor made her understand that being an artist could never have any privacy. This really sounds sad but somehow it is quite true in the reality. Marriage is the manifesto of love between two people. They absolutely have the rights to keep their marriage as a secret or announce it to the public. However, media always have different ways to gather information or collect evidence, in which will violate the privacy of celebrities. Even if characters involved in this case are not celebrities, divorcement is undoubtedly a bad news to any couples. For Charlene and Ronald, they have to not only face the problems in their relationship, but also deal with the the media and public. It is difficult to imagine how stressful and cruel they are suffering. This side shows sympathy on Charlene and Ronald and one even shows admiration for the calm performance of Charlene.
From another viewpoint, the rumor is viewed as a shame and the celebrities are the swindlers. Every step they did or attitudes they adopted when responding were deliberate and well planned. At the beginning of the hearsay over the past few years, they chose to deny their relationship and lied about it. “From announcing their separation and then divorce, all Hongkongers are being deceived by what they said in these few years.” If Apple Daily did not disclose their marriage license, the public as well as their fans will never realize their relationship. Although the celebrities always claim that they have their privacy, the problem is that they always use lies to stand up for their rights. This behavior would arouse some bad feelings among the public and their fans would even feel being betrayed by their idols. This is another case to prove the low credibility towards celebrities in the showbiz.
Between the support and opposite side in this case, there is a comment in the middle range. As both of the characters cried in the press conference, the feel of sympathy towards their announcement of divorce is also demonstrated. However, there is disappointment as celebrities always deceive the public. A seven-minute press conference is perceived differently by four of us. According to the encoding-decoding model by Stuart Hall, different audiences will interpret different meanings of the same media text by using their implicit knowledge of both medium specific and broader cultural codes. In the discussion of the press conference, our group mates also have different ideas based on the same video clip. The issue of Charlene and Ronald has become another furor among the locals. No matter how we perceive this news, stand neutral or against the invasion of celebrities' privacy by Apple Daily, many of us still cannot stop our curiosity and hence, buy its newspapers and magazines for more detailed information of the story.
Whenever the Hong Kong Government releases any type of promotional videos to endorse a harmonious community, different citizens respond and decode the message differently—they may fully accept the message, or, in contrast, fully oppose the message. This situation reflects the practice of Stuart Hall’s “encoding-decoding” model. In this reflection, we would examine how and why different audiences decode the Government’s 2010 Lunar New Year blessing video differently.
Hall’s influential essay “Encoding-Decoding”, published in 1973, was a major influence on cultural studies, focusing on the relationship between the media message (encoding) and interpretations of the message (decoding). It brings up an important idea of how messages are produced and disseminated, referring particularly to different media. Hall also pointed out that “the moment of encoding and that of decoding are socially contingent practices”. This model has been criticized to be involving three parties—Sender, Message, and Receiver. The Sender fixes and disseminates the meanings or messages in the form of symbolic vehicle, constituted within the rules of “language” or any form of communication. After the Message is sent to the Receiver, the Receiver requires knowledge and producing relations to further understand and decode in his/her own perception.
However the encoding and decoding process does not fit with every communication. Those engaged in the communication process who do not share “common codes and social positions” would likely undergo a different decoding process, resulting a different decoding from that of the intended meaning of the encoder. Termed by Umberto Eco, this scenario is defined as “aberrant decoding”, which refers “to a text which has been decoded by means of a different code from that used to encode it (Eco 1965)”. Eco claims that mass media tends to encourage the publics to form a particular interpretation, and since the mass media broadcast messages to heterogeneous audiences, it is inevitable for different decodings of such messages to appear.
In the government 2010 Lunar New Year blessing video, the Government aims to encode the message “it’s nice to go home (回家真好)” to Hong Kong citizens. Unlike the previous traditional Lunar New Year videos, which simply show the Chief Executive Donald Tsang walking around with his wife, enjoying the holidays, the 2010 version was the first Lunar New Year video featuring cartoon graphics with the “McDull (麥兜) style”. It is important to mention that the McDull character and style are symbolic of Hong Kong, since they are one of the most popular cartoon characters in Hong Kong and are created by local illustrators; the McDull stories are also reflective of the Hong Kong culture and society. Thus, by using the local McDull character and his friends, the government hopes to establish a common ground with the audience in order to encode feelings of closeness, warmth, harmony, and happiness in the Chinese New Year holidays. The video illustrates Tsang, McDull, and other people, such as students and office workers, going home happily to their love ones so as to reinforce the overall message. Moreover, the background music, called “Serenade 《小夜曲》”, written by the late Austrian composer Franz Schubert (舒伯特), is sweet, calm, and relaxing, which creates a warm and loving mood for the video. By using this video, the Hong Kong Government wishes to reinforce the enduring value of harmony among the public.
In general, most audiences may simply experience a dominant-hegemonic reading, fully accepting the original video’s encoded message, while other audiences did not. After the distribution of the blessing video from the Chief Executive, some democrats edited the original video clip in response. In contrast to the original video, the edited video is not as harmonious. In the original video, Tsang was going back home congenially, along with other Hong Kong citizens. In the edited version, however, one citizen was requesting for the Tsang’s concern, but was finally kicked away out of the frame by the Chief Executive. Tsang said that his boss is in Beijing (the Central Government), and it is unnecessary for him to take care of Hong Kong citizens’ views. Moreover, instead of lying in bed with his wife, Tsang was lying with Hu Jintao, the current Paramount Leader of China, giving appreciation to the imprisonment of human rights activists Tan Zuoren (譚作人) and Liu Xiaobo(劉曉波). “Is Donald good? (當奴真好?)”, the sender of the edited video asked at the end, subbing the statement of the original video. Actually, the Chinese question “當奴真好?” has another meaning—whether it is good to be a “slave” at the Hong Kong Government, since the Chinese word “奴” also means slave.
Original Video (Left): The CE back home with citizens congenially
Edited Video (Right): The CE kicked out the citizen
Original Video (Left): The CE lying on bed with Mrs Tsang
Edited Video (Right): The CE lying on bed with Hu Jintao
Original Video (Left): It’s good to back home & Edited Video (Right): Is Donald good?
So why is the encoded message from the Government interpreted and decoded by the audiences differently? From our point of view, there are a number of reasons. Firstly, the audience associated the video with the imprisonments of Tan Zuoren and Liu Xiaobo, because it was broadcasted during their lawsuits. The Government’s encoded message of “it’s nice to go home (回家真好)” signified that a warm family environment is desired by everyone. However, Tan Zuoren and Liu Xiaobo would be sent to jail very soon due to their criticisms to the Central Government. They could not “return home” for a long period. Audiences decode and interpret the video in a sarcastic way so as to reflect their dissatisfaction towards the Central Government. This interpretation is a typical example of oppositional-reading.
Lastly, the audiences deem that the Hong Kong Government follows the directions of the Central Government highly. So, they jokingly interpret “it’s nice to go home (回家真好)” as Tsang wanting to return to the home of Paramount Leader Hu Jintao. To a certain extent, the oppositional decoding reflects that the general publics have a high degree of disappointment towards the Government.
Links of the Videos