Despite the perennial improbability of peace on Earth and goodwill to all mankind, the holiday season has me wishing for things I know will likely never happen. There are, however, some certainties you can expect from Hong Kong's media and entertainment industry. A lot of it is cheesy, tacky, in bad taste and brain-numbingly, jaw-droppingly stupid. With Christmas just nine days away, here's my short wish list for 2007:
Rid our TVs of annoying commercials
Change the world, one bite at a time? We'll settle for one bad product at a time. Please, can we all say no to fraudulent instant fitness machines - ones that stretch you like a torture device, ones that electrocute your abs, and ones that shake your booty promising to vibrate it into buffness. I'm limiting this to commercials because you don't want to get me started on government public service announcements.
Developers fire their entire marketing departments
Can we do away, once and for all, with property campaigns that promise you vast green Euro estates when in reality they are dull compartment flats among blocks of other boring cement buildings. The key word here is reality. Centrestage promised Central living when in reality it's closer to Sheung Wan. Meanwhile, One Central is one ferry ride away in Macau. Now we have a new contender in Henderson Land's The Beverley Hills with its 'life of majestic splendour' ad of pastoral castles and manicured fields that is nothing like Beverly Hills - so why the Hollywood name? For heaven's sake, at least make your misleading claims consistent.
Buying concert tickets should be less like a crap shoot
We realise stuff happens, but with major concerts in Hong Kong stuff happens all the time. We'd just like some of the concerts to actually happen. Our expectations are so low, it's not even about whether the show is good or bad. If the act arrives on stage on the promised day, that's enough to keep us cheering. As for Cantopop shows, we're not big fans to begin with, but can we institute a maximum concert length? Shows are dragging on longer, but the quality is not getting better. Just cut the guest singers, eliminate some costume changes and ask someone about this thing called pacing.
TV stations need to develop some taste
The most popular local programme of the year requires attractive women who can't cook to cook while a panel of jocular male chauvinists make fun of the food they spit out. Nice. To think my previous big gripe about the two terrestrial channels were their gaudy sets. Now it seems cheap, boring and lowbrow are not enough to keep viewers entertained. I'm starting to wonder if singer/trapeze artist Yumiko Cheng Hei-yi's wardrobe malfunction two weeks ago was intentional.
The English channel has its own issues. We had hopes TVB Pearl's Dolce Vita would be a quality home-produced show. Instead, it's a hopeless bore. Sitting through long-winded hosts talk and lazy segments makes the half-hour show feel a lot longer. It's a half-hour advertorial that's afraid to admit it's an advertorial. The hosts glowingly read entire product press releases but don't tell you the name of the product. That's their idea of media integrity. Of course, if a brand wants its name mentioned on-air it has to pay the station for the privilege: great for TVB, bad for viewers.
How about some new ideas for movies?
Obviously, this is not just a Hong Kong thing. Hollywood has been recycling ideas for years. The problem just seems more obvious here. We don't need another movie about conflicted cops infiltrating a gang, macho triad-corporate allegories or comedies with Ronald Cheng Chung-kei. I can do without South Korean and Japanese horror movies involving appliances. Especially if pale, long-haired people poke their heads out of them. Finally, no more artsy Chinese period epics.
And finally, my biggest wish: ban all portable devices in public places! Never mind smoking,
let's do something about people who let their annoying phone jingle ring for longer than three seconds. Now that's a public offence. The same goes for the geeks with their bleeping (literally) Gameboys and mobile PlayStations.
Otherwise, have a wonderful holiday.