Stop drug abuse, set good ex­am­ple

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

With­po­lice­catchin­gonecelebrityafter­a­n­oth­er­for­drug abuse, the­ques­tionup­per­mostinthep­ub­lic­mindis: What’swrong­with­the­haloed­char­ac­ter­sof theen­ter­tain­mentin­dus­try?

On Tues­day, Bei­jing po­lice said ac­tor GaoHu was de­tained on Aug 4 for the pos­ses­sion and use of mar­i­juana and metham­phetamine. The lat­est celebrity in­volved in drug abuse in re­cent months, Gao was caught with another ac­tor and two more peo­ple in Bei­jing’s Chaoyang district with about 7 grams of mar­i­juana and 1 gram ofmetham­phetamine.

Gao, 40, born in­Qing­dao, Shan­dong province, has con­fessed that he had been smok­ing mar­i­juana and also tested pos­i­tive for drug af­ter be­ing de­tained. He has acted in some well­known movies, in­clud­ing direc­tor Zhang Yi­mou’s The Flow­ers ofWar in 2011 and Fly­ing Swords of Dragon Gate in 2013. Gao left a deep im­pres­sion on TV view­ers with his vivid por­trayal of the sim­ple and hon­est char­ac­ter ofXu Zhu, one of the main male fig­ures in the 2003 ver­sion of Tian­long­babu (or Semi-Gods and Semi-Devils), and has quite a fan fol­low­ing. Gao’s de­ten­tion came only days af­ter ac­tor Zhang Mo, son of pop­u­lar ac­tor Zhang Guoli, was caught smok­ing mar­i­juana in his villa. Zhang Mo had been de­tained for 13 days in 2012 for the same of­fense, fol­low­ing which his fa­ther and direc­tor Feng Xiao­gang is­sued a pub­lic apol­ogy, and re­quested the peo­ple and au­thor­i­ties to give the “lost young man” a chance to mend his ways and lead “a new life”.

On June 24, po­lice caught scriptwriter, nov­el­ist and TV host Ning Caishen in Bei­jing for tak­ing metham­phetamine. The 39-year-old con­fessed that he had been tak­ing drugs since De­cem­ber 2013 and used his weibo ac­count to is­sue a pub­lic apol­ogy and prom­ise never to touch nar­cotics again. Many celebri­ties, in­clud­ing ac­tress Yao Chen, re­posted Ning’s apol­ogy on­line, ex­press­ing their sup­port for him.

Be­fore Ning, direc­tor Zhang Yuan and singer Li Daimo were ar­rested in Bei­jing for tak­ing drugs, with Li be­ing sen­tenced to nine months in prison for host­ing crys­tal meth par­ties in his apart­ment in March. In April 2011, Hong Kong ac­tor Max Mok was held in Bei­jing for smok­ing mar­i­juana. And three months be­fore that rock singer Xie Tianx­iao was nabbed for the same rea­son.

The de­ten­tion or ar­rest of so many celebri­ties for drug abuse within such a short time has forced peo­ple to ask which star will be the next to fall in the on­go­ing crack­down on drug ad­dicts. Ac­tors, singers and other entertainment per­son­al­i­ties are con­sid­ered role mod­els by many, and their ac­tions, good as well as bad, can in­flu­ence the be­hav­ior of youths.

There is no deny­ing that be­hind the ad­mirable sur­face of the entertainment in­dus­try there are some bit­ter sto­ries. The fierce com­pe­ti­tion to sur­vive, let alone excel, in the in­dus­try puts many celebri­ties un­der huge pres­sure. In fact, Ning Caishen told po­lice that he “ini­tially used drugs to ease the pres­sure he faced as a writer”. How­ever, celebri­ties can­not use the ex­cuse of men­tal or psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure, no mat­ter how in­tense it is, to com­mit a crime, which drug abuse is.

Celebri­ties are ac­corded higher so­cial sta­tus and ex­er­cise more in­flu­ence than or­di­nary peo­ple, and usu­ally have much eas­ier ac­cess to so­cial re­sources. But they should not ex­ploit these priv­i­leges for self-ag­gran­dize­ment and us­ing nar­cotics. They have to re­al­ize that with high so­cial sta­tus comes greater so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Our entertainment in­dus­try is rid­den with scan­dals — if one star vi­o­lates traf­fic rules, another in­sults fans and still another is in­volved in a cast­ing couch scandal. But the time has come for celebri­ties to mend their ways, fol­low the law in let­ter and spirit, and re­frain from il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties for the sake of them­selves, the entertainment in­dus­try and their fans.

On Wed­nes­day 42 entertainment com­pa­nies an­nounced they will not hire ac­tors and ac­tresses who are in­volved in drug use. Hope­fully this will be a good start to clean the drugs from China’ entertainment in­dus­try. The au­thor is a se­nior writer with China Daily. wuy­ixue@chi­

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