文︰劉嘉汶，影像無國界教學助理實習生 (嶺南大學視覺研究系學生) |
Text: Carmen Lau Ka-man, Teaching Assistant Intern of All About Us (Student of Visual Studies Department, Lingnan University)
“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen, Inclusion Rider.” Frances McDormand closed her Oscar speech with these two simple words.
The certain level of diversity in terms of cast and crew on film is unsatisfied and failed to meet the demand yet, which leads back to one of the rooting factors of this issue, which is lack of integration between ethnic minority and dominated majority.
Speaking of the ethnic minority, what is the first group of a race that comes up on your mind? Is it the Southeast Asian people? The ethnic minority doesn’t confine to a single group of races, like Caucasoid, Negroid, and Chinese, all of us could be an ethnic minority, as long as we are differ in race, national or cultural origin from the dominant population.
In the past, an ethnic minority in Hong Kong faced a different type of discrimination or even abuse. How ridiculous is it? A place claimed as advanced and civilized, can barely embrace the races different from us. It is worth-considering if they change their name, would the situation be different? Seemingly, the answer is certain and not reasonable to deprive their identity. The issue is beyond what has mentioned above, are the exclusivity and perceived stereotype that leads to an insufficient understanding of them.
The complexity of “marginalized audience identity” posed the ethnic minority in a marginal position to confront the mainstream’s mass media.
When we walk through the history of Hong Kong film, Hongkonger, able-bodied role keeps the norm on screen; Southeast Asian people have a relatively low representation and do not commonly show on the screen. Even, if they do, their roles are usually related to clumsy, demonized and absurd characters. The mass media and local news often render the negative image of south Asian people in Hong Kong, the industry adapted and consumed the mainstream idea to shape their character, which in a sense, consolidated the preconceived image of them.
Only very few have achieved the tension of the successful ethnic minorities’ image. For example, Gill Mohindepaul Singh (喬寶寶), Peter Gana (陳彼德) and Ricky Chan (陳振華) are some of the few successful actors entering the film industry. Interestingly, the film offers a one-way channel to them to expose the everyday life of the dominated population, but, it did not have a thorough chance to count them in. Perhaps, it implies that we did not walk in their shoes to make the stories and bear in mind the stereotypes. Additionally, Mohammad Kashif (巫加沙), one of the actors of Testimony (山下的證詞), he indicates in an interview that although he is fluent in speaking and listening to Cantonese, the level of reading and writing is not that good, so he spent more time to read the script. This suggested that language hindered them to communicate with the local Hongkongers, as they have not been taught by the mainstream Cantonese.
These signs reveal the deficiency of understanding and demand to strengthen the rising voice and insight from them.
Facing this situation, it is vital to have their voice to show their stories and thoughts. In a way, to let the viewers understand and listen to them. In the Southeast Asian Short Film Competition, several compelling stories from the different regions come together and give a diversity of bold and reflective messages about our ever-changing society and oneself. For instants, “I’m Not Your F***king Stereotype”, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7eg9R3olqQ) it is about a Muslim girl, Maryam who moved to Thailand has become the prey to racism in her school and had to deal with the stereotype gaze from majority’s religion of other students in school, which made her experience the identity crisis and detest her birthdate, name and even region. This is a critical film presenting their real though and struggle in life, which filled up the cultural gap between Buddhists and Muslims
The program paves a good method to let them express and communicate in a new approach. While the short film reminds me of a multimedia project containing the style of the documentary by Jianne Soriano, a student who is a Hong Kong-born Filipino, it calls “Own Voices: Breaking Stereotypes” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBRIBMcqMlI). The video tells the first-hand stories from four different ethnic minority members of our society.
According to Soriano, “Growing up in Hong Kong I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me on TV or in the wider media.”
She hopes to build a bridge of connection and understanding between the Chinese counterparts and the ethnic minority. Meanwhile, examining the stereotype helps to break the negative image. Instead of, passively showcasing the preconceived perspective, Soriano took the initiative to start a conversation and an interaction to depart from the traditional stereotypes. Besides that, some of them took a further step to create a YouTube, The HBA by a group of three ethnic minority members and film their videos. One of the creators mentioned that the youngster is not into television, so they can only go for the online platform to speak for themselves. The Intertextuality of the video allows the viewers to leave comments on their channel and have an idea that how they see Hongkonger.
Taking the initiative by them undoubtedly eases the preconceived conception and has a more comprehensive understanding of them. Is it enough? Recently, the movie “Still Human” (淪落人) resounds for the Filipino in Hong Kong, the story tells about the relationship between a paralyzed man and a maid. Unlike what the mainstream has labeled the Filipinos, low education and no culture. The film shows the sincerity of human being, simple yet delicate. They gradually build a deep mutual trust, while they exude a touch of sorrow in the face of the destiny of life. This creation has spared no effort to invoke the local spirit and identity of Hongkonger, it reshapes the image of a domestic helper through the exquisite and genuine act.
The ethnic minority is one of the important parts of Hong Kong’s population. They are diverse in culture, and the general public has put their attention to those groups in recent years. Despite the difficulties and discrimination that they have suffered, many ethnic minorities are striving to survive in their way and merging themselves into society. Hence, the general public does not have a meaningful understanding of them and they have a bare chance to channel personal contact and interaction with them. While the continuing shaping of negative ethnic minority images through the mass media in the past, which has deepened the cultural stereotypes. Therefore, the development of new media has opened up opportunities to let us understand and know more. The mainstream has gradually shifted their attitude towards the ethnic minority like the recent film about them. Meanwhile, it is a two-way communication despite the language barrier.
Our (Film & Media Industry) hard work is significant to achieve social integration.
Film and media have a close connection to the development of ethnic minorities, in the past, they established a vivid and unauthentic appearance about them, and to have a better understanding, it is good to showcase their bits and pieces like the differential culture and lifestyle. Perhaps, in the future, cultivating social diversity is necessary to create two-way communication from different sides and have a well-rounded policy about media and film, like what Frances McDormand has advocated.