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YOU DECIDE: Did Jackie Chan offend you?

April 22, 2009



Mega-watt action star Jackie Chan is probably wishing he were back in Hollywood right now.

On Monday, Chan told a forum in mainland China that he thought Chinese people needed to be “controlled”. He pointed to Hong Kong and Taiwan as places where too much freedom has led to chaos. Naturally people were outraged, and everyone from lawmakers to Facebookers have called for a public apology and his removal as Hong Kong’s tourism ambassador.

Now, I’m not defending Jackie Chan’s comments, but before you judge him there are some things you should know about how journalists (particularly celebrity ones) work.

Journalists are vultures. Our job is to identify the juiciest, most entertaining way to tell a story, and then publish it before our rival publications do. This either leads to brilliant journalism or sloppy, misrepresented journalism.

I haven’t seen any transcripts of Chan’s speech at the forum, but this is what I imagine happened. Chan was ad-libbing a speech about the film industry and sub-consciously got sidetracked into a rant about Hong Kong (I mean, who doesn’t complain about Hong Kong every now and then?)

That’s when he made those controversial, if entertaining, remarks. As soon as he uttered the words, all the journalists in the room scribbled furiously and turned them into the focus of their stories. They labeled the statements as scandalous and outrageous, but without explaining what Chan had said before and after.

I repeat: I’m not defending Jackie Chan’s comments. But I am defending the right for interviewees to feel like they can say what they want to say, without fearing their comments get taken out of context. I can tell you that it’s hard enough finding people who are brave enough to voice their opinions, even if they aren’t agreeable.

Should Chan step down as Hong Kong’s ambassador? Or are people blowing this situation out of proportion? Were you offended?

34 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean Wong permalink
    May 10, 2009 8:20 pm

    I do agree that jackie chan ought to care about his special status and be responsible for it.As an tourism ambassador,it’s not saying that he cannot give any negative comments about Hong Kong.But he should responsible for his speech and speak in a objective way.The reason that made him under fire is he talk too subjective and generally.
    What’s chaostic means?What kind of freedom he’s talking about?Nobody knows.So people would feel unacceptable as his general speech is easy to be understood as an offensive meaning instead of constructive idea(whether his comments exactly meant it or not).
    If he had clarified his comments and provided evidence instead of giving equivocal sentences,at least the public would tried to think about his comment in a constructive manner.Then the public may not feel offended.
    Obviously,he had already offended most of Hong Kong people.So he had better aplogize openly for his irresponsible speech.

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