Hard to believe it’s been over a year since the Edison Chen photo scandal rocked the Hong Kong film industry, made waves internationally, and summarily destroyed (perhaps temporarily) the careers of some major entertainers, but here we are in 2009 and those affected are now making their voices heard. Gillian Chung has moved beyond her initial “naive and silly” comment to something much more substantive as she is now explaining why she did what she did and why in the hell she let Edison Chen do what he did. See some comments on her interviews here, here, and here. While she is right to blame herself (more on that later), she is more right in that the perpetrator in this entire ordeal is Chen himself. Likewise, Cecilia Cheung expressed no love for Chen in her recent television interview, saying his crocodile tears and self-imposed exile did nothing to console the women who were so deeply affected by this.
What’s Chen doing in all of this? Why he’s in Canada, testifying against the people who allegedly stole and uploaded the photos in the first place – I’m sure Hong Kong taxpayers love paying for this. But I’ve always wondered. Why would he fear for his safety if he travels back to Hong Kong when his rough upbringing (much of which was spent on the unforgiving streets of Los Angeles Vancouver) and in-your-face rap-itude have clearly prepared him for confrontations and the thug life. Just check out the music video for Sigh Hei, by Edison & Friends. But I’ve gotta warn you, this is some really rough material that may be too much for some to handle. (Note: Edison’s the one in the red cap, the backwards red cap, mind you. That’s hardcore.)
It’s not just the red cap – backwards, but it’s also the baggy pants, the proximal relationship between his hand and crotchal area, and those hip hop hand gestures that scream out “this fool is straight up gangsta!” Clearly he is not one who enrolled in private schools or enjoyed the high life thanks to wealthier-than-God parents.
Ok, I can only do sarcasm in this case for so long, because in fact Edison did attend private schools and is a child of wealth and privilege. And the lifestyle and persona that HE fashioned for himself was that of a playboy, blessed with good looks and wealth-driven influence. Only when his womanizing ways were photographically documented by Chen himself and inadvertently released to the public did he act like a politician caught with his pants down (or in an airport bathroom) and apologize. It’s the same story we’ve heard from governors, athletes, and celebrities, and as with high profile figures like A-Roid, I don’t think Chen is sorry at all – I think he’s sorry he got caught.
Now, is it right to blame Edison in all of this? Sure. Absolutely. Although the photos appear to be consensual, there’s no telling how much psychological coercion went on behind the scenes. If what has been reported is true, Edison pursued Gillian for five years, and her claim that she let him take photos/video of the two engaged in sexual acts so as to keep the relationship going does indeed speak to her naivete and overly dependent nature, but it speaks more to Edison’s view and treatment of women as apparently worthless unless there is a willingness in them to act out his sexual fantasies for the camera. It’s also important to consider public perception in this matter. If posts on Chinese-language message boards and even IMDB boards are to be taken seriously, Edison is either a hero for bedding so many famous women or he has suffered enough at the hands of evil computer repair-persons, and it’s not his fault these women are sexually depraved sluts. But if he cared so much for their well being after the immense damage which he caused them, shouldn’t he have the balls to personally call them to apologize or appear on television and explain why he felt compelled to photograph his sexual conquests?
As for the women involved, I do fault them for being stupid enough to fall in with someone like Edison. His personality was well known, and Charlene Choi even tried to warn Gillian to not get inolved with him, but she admits she did not listen. But we live in a world where a 69 year-old, geriatric Sean Connery can be romantically paired up with a 30 year-old, nubile, and very flexible Catherine Zeta-Jones in a mainstream film without so much as a raised eyebrow. Think about it – that’s a 40 year age difference that we’re supposed to buy as a romantic relationship AND it’s indicative of a larger mindset that sees women as mere conquests and men not only as more superior but also more blameless and quick to recover from situations such as Edison’s. The press was quick to hound Edison, but not for the purpose of villainizing him (they just wanted more details and names) the way they did Gillian – calling her hypocritical and a number of other, more profane words and phrases. It didn’t help matters that Edison was the first to essentially sidestep blame by issuing a blanket apology, publicy faulting those who were repairing his computer as well as those spreading the photos, and then hightailing it the hell out of Hong Kong. Gillian, meanwhile, made the mistake of saying the photos were doctored. And who could blame her? Do you think she ever expected these sexually explicit photos of her would become public? Here is a transcript of Edison’s initial statement:
“As of this evening, the police have made significant advances towards solving this malicious crime. As from the beginning I will continue to give the police my fullest cooperation to bring the perpetrators to justice. At this time I am not able to discuss matters related to the case, but I do feel it is my obligation to accept full responsibility and take action to help both the victims and those associated with them to heal their wounds. In this regard, I plead with everyone to please stop forwarding the images on the Internet. Furthermore, to completely rid the images from your computer. This is a small step that each one of us can take to help the innocent rebuild their lives. The priority now is for all of us to pitch in and help those in need.”
Explicitly blaming everyone but himself, Edison pledged he would help the victims “heal their wounds” and then promptly did nothing, retreating back to the womb instead of acting like a responsible adult, which he clearly is not and probably never will be because he has never had to seriously work for anything. If all of this sounds harsh, that’s because it is. What Edison did is use the press to mischaracterize the event as an invasion of privacy which just happened to coincidentally destroy careers and almost lives. If that’s the case, then why run? The fact of the matter is that Edison’s faux bad boy attitude and macho posturing are truly nothing more than an act, and in reality, he is a gutless, heartless, and sexist coward.
(If one single positive outcome can be wrestled from this affair, it is without a doubt that Edison has thankfully left the entertainment industry altogether. Aside from his hyped yet blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role in The Dark Knight, he has done nothing, and the movies he filmed before the scandal have either been edited to remove him or have been seriously delayed. Be grateful, world. His singing reeks and his acting is not much better in any language.)
As Groucho Marx said in Duck Soup, “Go, and never darken my towels again!”