Sunday, 18 March 2012

Realistic Portrayal

Radio Television Hong Kong has great programs on TV, many of them public service announcements in the forms of dramas.

Tonight they showed one about the dangers of gambling.

A young man in his 20s meets his aunt in a coffee shop and she tells him he needs to get back on the straight and narrow because he likes to play mah jong. He's got earrings, a slight punk do, very much someone with attitude.

Then there's a flashback to when he was a child playing the game with three other adult women. He wins two rounds and is praised for his skill as he wins money for his efforts.

Now he works in a restaurant and is bored, his only hobby seems to be guns and playing war games with friends.

One time he gets a glimpse inside a gambling hall, seeing many people playing mah jong.

Not soon after he himself is playing in there and is on a winning streak, cocky and all too happy winning lots of money.

However, the next time he visits the gambling hall he starts losing, so much so that he practically wipes out his bank account.

Instead of starting from scratch again, he gets in contact with loan sharks who set out the terms of his repayment schedule very clearly, but he already misses the first payment. The loan sharks are on his case and he ignores them, but they manage to track down his aunt who gets very scared.

The young man meets a mainland Chinese prostitute and has a session with her, and then later he continues to lose at the mah jong tables. He gets the idea of showing up at her door with his fake gun and pretending to be an undercover cop demanding protection money.

He does this a few times to her and some other girls until one day he is about to harass them again for money when a real undercover cop chases him down the stairs and he's arrested by the police.

A year later he's in a gambling support group still talking about his winning mah jong combinations, but it seems like he's learned his lesson about loan sharks. His relatives helped pay off his debts and now he's slowly returning the money to them.

The story seems realistic enough, though perhaps in reality it would be even seedier or dangerous.

At the end of the show the host comes on and suggests that if the viewer has a loved one who has serious gambling problems to contact a hotline and gives them advice.

Next week they will show another gambling-related episode featuring a young woman; it shows that gambling can affect different kinds of people in various circumstances to break the stereotype that only a certain group of people get caught up in it.

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