Jul 19, 2012|
The right of Hong Kong people to watch the London Games on a free TV channel has been stripped from them after a last-minute deal between the rights holders of i-Cable, TVB and ATV fell apart. Only those who can afford a monthly cable TV fee can now comfortably watch Liu Xiang, with a bit of luck, scud along faster than anyone else and hopefully grab his gold medal. Millions of worse-off Hong Kong viewers who have the misery of not being an i-Cable customer will find themselves more deprived than the Vietnamese, Burmese and Cubans, who can watch the Games aired through state-controlled TV free of charge.
Yet for some, Hong Kong’s deprivation could be a blessing in disguise. Given the scene of thousands of Union Jack flags being waved at the July 1 mass demonstration, as new chief executive CY Leung was booed and called upon to step down, Beijing must be very worried about Hong Kong’s unforgivably deep nostalgia for the former, good colonial master. The sentimentalism has been made worse by uncensored news coverage of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. We lamented—especially those who are young enough to blame their parents for not having given birth to them earlier so they could experience that part of the past, which everyone now misses so much—the fact that we would have been privy to that grand party of the Free World as a Commonwealth member and shared in its glory. If the opening ceremony of the London Olympics been were to be aired live, and reach every family in Tuen Mun, Wan Chai and Kowloon City, Beijing might be prompted to step up efforts to scrub the collective memories and screw the patriotic education lid on even more tightly.
Although this double-edged sword means we won’t be gaining free access to the tearjerker moments of our medal-grabbing Motherland’s athletes proudly standing on the platform as the national anthem is played and its red flag hoisted many times over in London’s stadiums. While it’s true that snapshots of Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the black cabs and the caricatured face of the chubby Boris Johnson, the mayor/host, all make a cultural-psychological impact and create more Anglophiles, denying the free airing of the London Games altogether means throwing out the little Chinese patriotic baby with the bathwater.
But Hongkongers won’t lose out on much. What’s the point of watching a few sweaty, rippling female weightlifters struggling with their 200-kilogram jobs while the biggest orgy in the world—the municipal government of London is handing out 150,000 free condoms to sexually robust Olympians from all over the world—will never be shown on TV? CY Leung and his officials being heckled and booed every week at their district forums, which are broadcast on all the channels, proves a less boring watch. Although it does present a real (and unwelcome) challenge to one’s imagination to think of the relationships among the men and women of that team of politicians turning as intimate as the athletes are expected to be.
Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.