英文

Common Nonsense:Activism by pastiche

【明報專訊】I'm not a sports person. I mean I don't even watch much sports. But still being a member of the worse half of the world population, I am naturally lured by car and car racing. When Lewis Hamilton, the British racing champion, recently grabbed his trophy in the Turkish Grand Prix, he wore a mask which drew me even closer to his pretty face and car racing. ''Black Lives Matter'' were conspicuously emblazoned on his mask, sitting comfortably with the corporate logo of Mercedes-Benz which owns the eponymous Formula One team.

To supplement the already visible message, Hamilton added his voice, ''While you're here, paying attention, I want to ask everyone to do their part in helping to create a more equal world.'' I was addressed too, nice! But in fact it was also Mercedes-Benz and the broader corporate universe addressing us and endorsing racial equality activism via the faces and voices of their sport stars. No wonder the other day Naomi Ōsaka (pardon me that I swear I didn't know her name at the material time, to be illustrated below immediately), the world No 1 woman tennis player, donned a mask carrying the name ''Breonna Taylor'' while playing the US Open. Shamefully I thought she's Breonna Taylor herself and only got recently corrected by a piece on why sporting activism pays on the Financial Times. There I read that Miss Taylor was another black victim killed by US police brutality a couple of months before the tragic death of George Floyd in May this year. My apologies to both Misses Taylor and Ōsaka indeed.

BLM matters as a social justice cause for activism. So does Me Too. So does climate change. So does corporate social responsibility. So does LGBT. So does Anti-extradition Bill Campaign (allow me to adopt a more ringing abbreviation ABC!). Oh, hang on a second, except ABC, I dare say the many worthy causes fall well into and fare well in the mainstream political discourse or even political correctness, costing the corporations and their stars a hell lot if they're not singing to the tune. It may even be more bankable if the corporations and their stars take the lead in championing the relevant causes. Excuse me, I'm not a cynical person but just going well beyond the value investment orthodoxy which eyes on the corporate assets, cash flows and records. Image could sell more these days! And I'm not suggesting the stars are just unconscientious beefy fee earners subscribing to those worthy causes only for the unconscionable dollar bills. I'm just relaying what Professor Oliver Hart, the Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences, once said, ''When doing good is making money, it's simple.''

Then what if doing good is losing money? Not that simple, right?

Mr Chapman To, the veteran actor and entertainer, may be in a better position to answer or give a clue to the answer. He's vocal and perhaps always foul-mouthed. He loves to shower adverse remarks on fellow entertainers, politicians and even our national leaders. He's endorsed the 2003 campaign against the Article 23 Bill. He took on those against the Umbrella Movement. Now he's become not just a yellow object but a yellow icon since the ABC. He turns to be a thorn in the many eyes of the establishment of the show business. He got sanctioned. Film contracts shun him and he's less visible on the big screens. He's not making the big bucks!

However, To's ironically become more visible before his fellow travellers, the many other yellow objects. He's found his stage or his ring!

He's just handsomely finished his sold out stand-up comedy ''Stand Up Hong Kong'', a show exposing his zigzag road or roads taken in the entertainment history, his disgust at the establishment (among the many, the government, the Pan-democrats as well as Andy Lau!), his golden knees (he thus is unable to kneel) and his beloved but still formidable wife and sensual songbird, Kristal Tin! Alas, to me, the most drawing force is To's invoking Rocky the fighter as his iconic hero and heroic icon.

Bill Conti's theme music of Rocky was totally in the air all night, airing the provocative strength of Rocky's relentless but heroic journey transforming him from the underdog to the superhero. Winning is not always but, given hope and determination, it happens eventually. That's the message and the aspiration we need and we deserve. The flickering flame of hope is not extinguished as long as we keep it.

To wore no mask in his shows and, of course, no words of activism could be shown thereon. But his show was and is the show of force of activism, the activism of conscience and, on the way of doing it, the activism of pastiche of Rocky Balboa, the very heavy weight boxer who only throws his punches, never his towel.

Together we stand up!

■/ Glossary 生字 /

emblazon 醒目地印上

eponymous 同名的

don 穿戴上

bankable 有利可圖的

shower 提出大量

relentless 不懈的

■by Lawrence Lau•劉偉聰

​Lawrence is a life debater who has to debate with his life. Being a barrister makes him a living while reading and writing gives him a life. Meet his cat 寅恪.

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