There are many ways to interpret the sex photo scandal of Hong Kong pop stars. But the core of the matter, as I see it, is the wrangling between the law and morality.
On the legal side, it is not hard to pinpoint who broke the law. If you take your notebook computer to a repair shop and the repairman makes a copy of your hard drive without your permission, that is stealing, pure and simple. For those netizens who disagree, let me give an analogy: Say you call a cable repairman to your home to fix the line, and he gets curious about the contents of your closet and removes something, that would be against any rule of ethics or law. There is no way you can explain it away by saying you stumbled upon it or the item you took could be incriminating evidence against the customer.
If the repairman happened to notice Edison Chen's photos - the actor at the center of the scandal - which he felt were immoral or illegal, he should have called the authorities instead of snooping around other people's private lives.
What Chen did with his lovers was not illegal if (a) the women were not coerced, (b) they were not underage when the photos were taken, or (c) he did not intend to publicize the photos. From what we know now, it seems to be the case. So, from a legal perspective, Chen and the starlets were victims.
Yet, when you search and research online, the predominant reaction is against Chen, and not the one who filched his digital files. That is because the digital thief did not seem to have any commercial or malicious intention. He just shared his loot with some friends, and one of them could not resist the temptation to share it with the vast online populace.
It is obviously inappropriate to spread photos of such a private nature, but one cannot equate the human weakness of curiosity with the deliberate violation of the law. If anyone who has looked at the images has broken the law, there would not be a prison large enough to hold all the offenders.
The Hong Kong police belatedly tried to draw a fine line between those who share with friends and those who transmit indiscriminately, but it only turned the incident into an endless stream of titillation.
Moreover, by actively prosecuting the case, the Hong Kong police caused a backlash from netizens who accused the police of selective enforcement of the law: Why do you go after a few net users while everything was initiated by the star? They argued.
True, Chen and his bedfellows should help the police in their investigations, but what they did falls mostly into the moral realm. The licentiousness may have caught many by surprise. That is because ordinary people were duped by the giant machine of the entertainment industry, which excels at fabricating the public personas of pop idols.
Chen is portrayed as a nice, wholesome boy and Gillian Chung, one half of the singing duo, The Twins, as an innocent girl who believes in chastity before marriage. Those who believe this are simply fools. Wake up! What you see is just a role they play.
You would be disillusioned if you see them as role models. Many are not, except for their good looks. I do not sympathize with them because when they get into the business of being an idol, they implicitly follow the rules and play their roles, agreed or thrust upon them. If they play fast and loose, they must be held responsible for the occupational hazards that may ensue.
The age of innocence has long gone. This scandal only makes it clearer.
(China Daily 02/23/2008 page4)