Feb 21, 2008
Edison Chen is a superstar in Hong Kong. He’s an actor, producer, singer, designer, and Pepsi pitchman. He’s the heartthrob hunk with a mischievous smile—the “newcomer” to People’s 2006 Sexiest Man Alive issue, and it turns out, something of an amateur photographer.
A few hundred of his *ahem* “private” photographs were stolen from his computer and posted on the internet. In my classes, nothing is sure to elicit blushes and nervous laughter from my students than someone making reference to Edison Chen. This is no Pamela—Tommy Lee debacle, but something that seems to intensely interest every single person in Hong Kong. A couple of the women photographed in compromising positions turn out to be daughters of Triad bosses (the Triad is similar to the mafia), and a couple of the other women are stars in their own right. This “Sexy Photo Gate” has taken over the local media the way Britney never could in the U.S.
This became clear to me about ten minutes ago. Right now, I am at a coffeeshop overlooking the entrance to Times Square Mall—one of the busiest places in Hong Kong. Right at eye level is a two story tall television where Edison Chen’s press conference was broadcast live. Everybody stopped. There were expats in business suits, hip teen-aged girls, middle-aged men in fleece, and a person who stopped his run all looking up at the screen, mouths half open. Cab drivers even got out of their cars to watch the conference. The area in front of the shopping center—which is large enough to hold the occasional concert—was jam-packed as everybody in gathered to stare. I’ve never seen so many people so still and so curious. If someone were to set foot on Mars tomorrow, it would not get this sort of reaction.
Without being able to read characters, I have no idea what was said at the press conference, but people didn’t appear surprised by what happened. They just wanted to see their superstar. Until recently, poor Edison has been in hiding, fearing for his life. It’s never a good idea to anger Triad bosses, and he should know, he’s starred in a number of Triad movies. I guess he should’ve stuck to singing and acting, and never picked up his newest hobby: “photography.”