‘Par­al­lel uni­verses’ — or there are bet­ter rea­sons for hat­ing TVB?

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HK COMMENT - JONY LAM The au­thor is a cur­rent af­fairs com­men­ta­tor.

The mul­ti­verse is a the­ory in which our uni­verse is not the only one, but ex­ists in a state in which many uni­verses ex­ist par­al­lel to each other. These dis­tinct uni­verses within the mul­ti­verse the­ory are called par­al­lel uni­verses. While a num­ber of con­flict­ing but equally prob­a­ble the­o­ries lead some physi­cists to for­mu­late a mul­ti­verse view­point, not all of them re­ally be­lieve these uni­verses ex­ist — even fewer be­lieved it would be pos­si­ble to con­tact these par­al­lel uni­verses.

While the gib­ber­ish of science is hard to com­pre­hend, a ca­sual glance at our city here would sug­gest these par­al­lel uni­verses do ac­tu­ally ex­ist. It is ob­vi­ous that, for ex­am­ple, one ex­ists on the news page and an­other one on the en­ter­tain­ment page.

On the news page lives the self-right­eous and the po­lit­i­cally cor­rect. These peo­ple are doc­tri­naire and humorless. Here, the con­cept of a joke is never heard of, let alone told.

Nearly a month ago, when the li­cens­ing is­sue of free-to-air TV grabbed the lime­light, an episode of TVB’s talk show Scoop al­legedly gave a bi­ased view of HKTV (the only sta­tion that was de­nied a li­cense). Sym­pa­thiz­ers of HKTV quickly con­verted their con­tempt for the Hong Kong govern­ment to TVB and staged a boy­cott on the sta­tion’s 46th an­niver­sary. All eyes were on the rat­ings of the an­niver­sary va­ri­ety show as an in­di­ca­tor of how dis­grun­tled Hongkongers are with what has been de­scribed as TVB’s “hege­mony” over the lo­cal tele­vi­sion mar­ket.

De­spite all the hype and the like on Face­book, TVB’s an­niver­sary Gala pro­gram main­tained sta­ble rat­ings, peak­ing at 31 points with an av­er­age of 29 points, ex­clud­ing view­ers on mo­bile and on­line plat­forms. The right­eous and po­lit­i­cally cor­rect were bewil­dered by the out­come: Why couldn’t all the hype from their Face­book world make an im­pact? Lit­tle did they know, this was a rare mo­ment when two par­al­lel uni­verses came into con­tact.

In the other par­al­lel uni­verse in ques­tion, which ex­ists on the en­ter­tain­ment page, are leg­endary crea­tures of the “silent ma­jor­ity”. Few from the uni­verse of the right­eous ever saw one of them, but their ex­is­tence can be seen by the mys­te­ri­ous out­comes of elec­tions and TV rat­ings.

Sup­pos­edly ca­ter­ing to the taste of the “silent ma­jor­ity”, the en­ter­tain­ment page made a fuss about pho­tos of TVB star­let Sire Ma kiss­ing main­land busi­ness­woman Wang Ziqi around the time when the right­eous protested against TVB’s al­leged “hege­mony”. The pho­tos were said to show “the women locked in a pas­sion­ate kiss on the lips, clearly in­di­cat­ing they were more than friends.”

Af­ter the pho­tos made their way on to the en­ter­tain­ment pages, TVB quickly re­lieved Sire Ma from duty. Vir­ginia Lok Yi-ling, TVB’s pro­duc­tion and re­source di­rec­tor, told the press Sire needed some time to rest and re­think her sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Af­ter a month, Sire held a press re­lease to an­nounce, in tears, that she re­al­ized she had made a mis­take, that her re­la­tion­ship with Wang Ziqi had ended, and that she would like TVB and the pub­lic to for­give her.

The sound­ness of TVB’s de­ci­sion to nip in the bud Sire’s pas­sion for peo­ple of the same gender is re­flected in the ro­bust rat­ings sup­ported by the “silent ma­jor­ity”.

The is­sue would have been picked up by the right­eous TVB haters and Equal Op­por­tu­ni­ties Com­mis­sion (EOC) gay right ac­tivist York Chow Yat-ngok, if not for the fact that they live in an­other uni­verse.

These par­al­lel uni­verses show­case our so­ci­ety’s deep-rooted con­tra­dic­tions. There are pol­i­tics on the streets and pol­i­tics in the lec­ture rooms, but they pale in com­par­i­son with the pol­i­tics that is lived — which is im­mensely cul­tural.

While it may take us a small num­ber of EOC chiefs to make the city the most pro­gres­sive in the so­lar sys­tem, our city re­mains pro­foundly con­ser­va­tive. Women la­bor par­tic­i­pa­tion rates in Hong Kong rose to 49.6 per­cent in 2012, edg­ing up from 48.6 per­cent in 2002. Our archri­val Sin­ga­pore ad­vanced to 57.7 per­cent in 2012, from 50.6 per­cent a decade ago.

When York Chow re­turns home at night af­ter mak­ing grand speeches, per­haps he can have a look at who is hold­ing the TV re­mote con­trol.

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