- Hong Kong Media Journal
Since 1997 marked the end of an epoch as Great Britain relinquished its colonial outpost in Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, I thought about making my first trip to Asia. As people around the world wondered would Hong Kong be transformed over night into Beijing’s fiefdom or would it remain a financial powerhouse and the West’s entrée to China, my thoughts were focused on what the future would hold for my media studies students who had opted to return home. Distinct among the people I have taught, the Hong Kong students were a breed apart: talented, ambitious, and driven, they devoured every opportunity in a high-speed quest to master technological tools and incorporate Western aesthetics and traditions. Astounded by their fervor, I wondered if their urgent energy was related to the approaching handover and, more importantly, I worried what would happen to them once mainland China ruled. When all but one returned to Hong Kong to help build an independent media infrastructure, I decided to satisfy my curiosity by seeing for myself what the future held for Jimmy Choi, Lo Wai Luk, May Fung, and Chow Wing Keung.
Life in Hong Kong had returned to normal by the time I arrived in mid-July, if a frantic state of money-making activity is what is normal in Hong Kong. My students Jimmy Choi and Chow Wing Keung met me at the airport and took me to Lo Wai Luk’s new apartment, where I would stay during my two-month visit. Wai Luk and I had become friends during his seven years in New York studying for an M.A. in media studies and Ph.D. in theater. An actor, director, [End Page 133] playwright, poet, and teacher of film, Wai Luk had become engaged on June thirtieth to a popular television actress who had been his leading lady in a Chekhov play. She was off shooting a TV series in Malaysia while he remained in Hong Kong directing his adaptation of Brecht’s Mother Courage and reviewing page-proofs for his latest book of poetry. After some years of peripatetic teaching as an adjunct at several local universities, he finally had been appointed Assistant Professor at Hong Kong Baptist College and would start teaching film and media studies courses in the fall. During the two sweltering summer months I stayed in his apartment in Kowloon, we saw each other infrequently due to the relentless pressures of his busy life. I came to think of Wai Luk’s life with all its upheaval, stresses, creative activity, and promising new beginnings as a mirror for Hong Kong’s own state of busy transition.
I quickly realized that summer in Hong Kong is like summer in New York only more so: soaring humidity, sizzling temperatures, flying cockroaches, rapacious mosquitoes, and oppressive typhoons send everyone indoors. And when the typhoon signal is hoisted, life seems the same regardless of what government is in power: there is nothing to do but batten down the hatches, hole up in air conditioning, and watch TV.
The TV listings in The South China Morning Post, one of two local English-language dailies, provided program info for the two free-to-air television stations: ATV...