Saturday, 4 September 2010

Bland Stars

This evening some relatives and I were watching a television special, a concert that was pre-taped earlier in the week to remember the victims of the botched Manila hijacking last month in which eight people died as well as the gunman.

Held in an outdoor arena in Wong Chuk Hang, a series of singers -- some well known like Karen Mok and Joey Yung, others budding -- came on stage one by one to sing a number. As they sang there were text messages projected on the giant screen behind them, many from members of the public wishing the survivors good luck in recovering from their injuries as well as the trauma they suffered.

As each of the entertainers sang, an uncle remarked that young Hong Kong singers these days have no distinct sound -- not only in their voices but the songs as well since everything is manufactured pop. Someone writes a formulaic tune that goes with some sappy lyrics sung by a relatively good-looking wannabe star.

Then his wife added that all the songs seemed to sound the same, no one tune more distinct than the other, making it even harder for them as "artists" to stand out from the crowd. They also seem to look the same as well, with similar make-up or hairstyles.

And yet so many young people still have dreams of making it big in the entertainment field, getting caught up in seeing their idols in gossip magazines wearing designer clothing and being photographed at various events.

How Hong Kong can sustain so many entertainers is quite fascinating, as they are desperate to get some kind of media coverage to prove they are still hot. This can range from saying outlandish things to being photographed holding hands with someone or reports on what they bought at a recent shopping spree.

But more importantly, why are people here so obsessed about such shallow pursuits? Not only does it reveal their penchant for gossip, but also materialism... which in a way fuels the city's economy

In some ways Hong Kong has improved in terms of people's awareness of the environment and having more social courtesy on public transit, but when it comes to the entertainment industry, not much has changed since I left nine years ago, as far as I can tell.

And if locals are telling me the saccharine tunes are all blending into one giant tub of bland glucose, it's a sappy past time not worth overdosing on.

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