Lessons from Two Celebrity Tales

With the celebrity sex photo saga devouring media headlines for days on end and the insider share trading settlement story involving a banking celebrity paling in comparison yet still catching several bloggers’ attention, one might wonder if the rattling repercussion is intense enough to rouse deeper contemplation in society. Is Hong Kong’s social fabric about to undergo some profound positive change? There is always hope.

As more and more lewd photos exposing the promiscuous behavior of certain artiste celebrities are uploaded and circulated in the internet community, teens and youngsters who have hitherto been adoring fans of those involved in the saga might be induced to think hard on whether their blind devotion and passion towards their idols may have been misplaced. Whether or not the parents of those kids are sensible enough to grab the opportunity to gently guide them out of their misguided belief that fame and fortune that celebrities so often represent are the only ends in life and whatever means to achieve those are justified, will be a defining moment for society. Somehow, kids need to be told about the ugly realities beneath the glamour of the entertainment industry, which this recent scandal has accidentally unveiled and blown up.

The female celebrities in the saga may not be the only ones who are regretting their conduct and foolishness (of allowing the photos to be taken at all). How would the scandal make their mothers and families feel? Wouldn’t they be feeling the same regret, disgrace, shame and anguish as their daughters, on top of remorse about ever letting their loved ones to pursue fame and wealth in the trade of no morals? Stories about aspiring starlets offering sex services to entertainment company bosses in order to gain a singing or movie contract are not uncommon. Promiscuity among artistes is not unheard of. Despite all this, they were still willing to let their daughters take the path of no return. Once the idea of selling one’s body to achieve fame and fortune is accepted, one will begin to have in the subconscious a low esteem of one’s body. The woman celebrities in question were most likely taking a careless attitude towards casual sex or having their sex photos taken for that matter. Perhaps they don’t love or respect their own bodies enough to care. If only their mothers had thought about the consequences, they probably would have had second thoughts about consenting to their daughters entering this industry.

Money and fame do come at a price. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual to judge whether the price to be paid over certain deeds is too much. Hopefully this saga will remind all mothers to love their daughters a little more and to teach them how to respect and love their own bodies more.

Another lesson that can be drawn from the scandal is that as much as casual sex is not condemned by society, to the extent that it hurts intimate personal relationships of perpetrators, engaging in it does carry possible adverse consequences, especially when it is made public. How would the photo expose make the boyfriends/husbands of the female celebrities in question feel?

In the business circle, the buzz of the holiday season is the US$8.1 million penalty agreed to be paid by a banking celebrity, who had been accused of sharing privileged information with his friend on the Dow Jones takeover bid made by News Corporation, despite his not admitting to any wrongdoing. Although he claimed that he had not benefited directly from the insider trading, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s complaint that he should have known that his friend might try to profit from that privileged information formed the basis for slapping the penalty on him.

The director of enforcement at the S.E.C. said in a statement: “We hope this case sends a forceful reminder to corporate insiders that they need to exercise careful discretion when discussing important business matters outside the boardroom and executive suite.”

David Webb, a director of HKEx, has called for the celebrity’s resignation, as a result of the S.E.C. ruling, from both public offices held by him, ExCo and LegCo.

Donald Tsang is probably in hot water now, trying to decide whether he should back his buddy, in which case he might be accused of shielding a crony at the expense of public interest and put his own reputation on the line, or to cut ties with him and sacrifice him on the altar. He is fortunate to have four whole days over the Chinese New Year to think things through before reacting. Hong Kongers too will have come to their own conclusion by the time the holidays are over.

The sex photo scandal and the case of the banking celebrity embroiled in insider share trading may each in its own way be a wake-up call to Hong Kong society of how far moral values have degenerated. Maybe long hard reflection on what lessons can be drawn from the two stories is what we need as the Year of the Rat begins.