Benedict Leung /
published in TOFU#2
we see the generalised merchandising of words, things, bodies and souls,
communication technology, now more than ever, plays a central ideological
role in silencing thought. In this new age of alienation, the increasing
use of pop stars by the media and in advertising illustrates this debasing
star culture is all-pervasive in HK: radio programs are broadcast in buses,
mini-buses and taxis, the latest music videos are screened in underground
stations and pirated CDs buzz in shops and shopping centres. It's on the
perennial TVs in bars and clubs, on giant billboards, posters and magazines.
If a record company decides to plug a song into the public’s sub-conscious
there's nowhere to escape. As a result, people of all ages are obsessed
with these nicely packaged, characterless, soulless idols. It's all about
product, promotion and sales - you can forget about content, quality or
In HK, Pop stars are at the core of popular culture. The pop-gossip sections
in newspapers are the public greatest concern. Pop stars dominate the glossy
magazines and every fad is detailed to entice us to buy these ubiquitous
colourful pop-publications. It is these magazines, sold en-masse, create
WILL STAY FOREVER
Fast food culture is, in fact, not disposable - it stays around forever.
Throwaway songs can hang around for 10 or 20 years on midnight radio shows
and in karaoke clubs. When Hong Kong people emigrate to another continent,
they import their old songs to their China Town. All around the world, people
still listen to fourth-rate Canto-pop from 10 years ago as if it was new.
Since the success of Teresa Tang in the 70s and mid 80s, Canto-pop has been
marketed all over South East Asia (now with the help of satellite tv), eventually
reaching the Chinese of the diaspora.
Listening and singing along to these cunning, insincere, and irresponsibly
made Canto-pop songs (almost entirely made for the karaoke market - Karaoke-pop)
profoundly influences Chinese people's emotions, intellect, concepts and
values. Whether overseas or in Mainland China, pop star culture is symbolic
of the glamorous HK lifestyle. By listening to the latest imported CD, or
reading the latest imported magazine, expatriates can catch up with HK.
This cures longing and nostalgia and affirms identity. Many people's notions
of Chinese life are more or less created, orientated and, ultimately, limited
by HK pop culture.
PRODUCTS SAVE LIVES
In HK, everything is pop, from mobile phones to part-time tutors, from pets
to property. The media promotes and commercialises everything - at breakneck
speed. Everyone follows. We, especially young people, inescapably live in
this pop madness. We have become a youth accustomed to mundane pop mediocrity.
We consume without consideration, and then recite ritualistically in karaoke
clubs across the city. No one seems to value creativity and knowledge, everyone
prefers noisy gimmicks. People here believe in the popular and the familiar,
promotional campaigns are more entertaining than the products. One realises
that marketing is the sole aim of show-business thus the collaboration between
show-business and commercial products makes perfect sense. Pop stars are
a readymade tool to seduce the masses and the use of pop stars to sell commercial
products through advertising has become the norm. The line between pop star
has also disappeared.