Leung Chai-yan • Creativity • Innovation

Joker vs Lobster: an illustration circulating on the internet depicting Leung Chai-yan slapping her mother, who has been coined "lobster" for a red dress she wore. Source unknown.
Waking up from a fabulous Saturday night celebrating the 50th anniversary of my alma mater, the School of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, I found my smartphone and social media pages being bombarded by news feeds that were even more shocking than the ghosts of Halloween.

So the story goes: Leung Chai-yan, the youngest daughter of the Hong Kong leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was spotted slapping her mother Regina twice when she tried to escort the 20-something-year-old to a taxi in the city's bar district Lan Kwai Fong.

Chai-yan, dressed up as a scary ghost with her face covered in mostly black and white paint, was seen followed by an entourage of reporters eagerly waiting for some drama to happen on the night of Halloween.

Reporters who were assigned to tail Chai-yan on late Saturday night didn't go home empty-handed. They got what they wanted - an explosive story and footages that will surely be the talk of the town, at least for the first week of November.

Comments criticising either Chai-yan or Regina flooded in. Many lamented Chai-yan for her action, for violence against your own parents is THE ultimate sin in the Confucius Chinese society, for filial piety is one of the most sacred and important virtues. Some, on the other hand, applauded Chai-yan for being a rebellious young lady. While most of the spectators just waited for this "entertaining" drama to unfold with their popcorn (peanuts in Cantonese context) ready by their side.

I'm not interested in going into details of the Leung family drama -- I'm an outsider. I'm not a worm living in their bellies (derived from Cantonese phrase 我唔係佢肚裡面條蟲 ). Of course I'm concerned as a citizen of Hong Kong, for this is the city's first family and how the head of the family manages the affairs at home can might as well reflect how he governs Hong Kong.

What interests me more is the connection between this ordeal and Hong Kong people's creativity.  

In no time, the slapping incident inspired many creative minds to come up with comics, illustrations and even songs to take the piss out of the situation. Many were visually vivid creations with great anecdotes. While Leung Chun-ying attempted to cultivate Hong Kong's cultural and creative industries by ... well ... allegedly convincing Warner Bros and China Media Capital to set up their film company joint venture in Hong Kong, little did he know that his own family drama served more of a source of creative inspiration for many.

These images and song lyrics went viral on the day when the city's temperature dropped. These creations might be great but they will not sustain - once the news dies down, these creations might as well be forgotten. And when the next wave of news hit the town, there will be a new batch of creations flooded on social media for spectators to consume. News-inspired creative outputs becomes nothing but fast food. They might satisfy people's appetite for the time being but they don't have the nutrients to nourish our mind and soul.

So what does this entail? Ever since last year's Umbrella Movement/ Occupy protests, we already experienced how creative and expressive Hong Kong people are. Strange ordeals in the news, political scandals and government blunders have been serving as a source of creativity. It's completely normal, for absurdity forces us to question the reality and artistic and creative expressions are always the most effective way to vent our anger and helplessness.

But the question is, how can we sustain such creativity and turn it into something that will produce long-lasting good for the society?

Action speaks louder than words, and people's inaction is exactly where the problem is. Having expressed or vented their discontent, many choose to go back to where they were and continue to conform to the system, instead of coming up real ideas to battle against the existing structure. It doesn't have to be a political structure, but the structure of our lives. Being creative is only the first step, being innovative is where the real deal is. One must take the matter seriously to subvert the existing structure - just look at how social media subverted our ways of communication and our lives.

Being innovative, of course, requires a great deal of courage to take risks. Perhaps it's just not for everyone.

ENDS





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