CDs as Cultural Indicators
As I was reading through the headline
stories this morning, I was surprised by the number of mentions of compact
discs. What part do compact discs (CDs) play in the socio-politico-economico-cultural sphere of life?
This project uses the
Yahoo! search engines in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan respectively, to
retrieve all stories with the word 光碟 (="laser
disc", literally) in the headline during the first half of November 2005. And then I have summarized the stories in
brief. You can think about what this says about the three places.
Net) (November 13, 2005) On October 21, 2001, the deputy
party secretary of Heiyuan City, Guangdong, received a package with four
photographs, a VCD and a letter. The photographs and VCD show a naked
man (himself) and a naked woman. The letter demanded 1.5 million yuan
to be a deposited into a bank account or else ... from there on, it was all
downhill for his life ...
(November 12, 2005) A local resident committee member installed a
wireless camera in a hotel room and took films of dozens of couples for the
purpose of blackmailing.
Agency) (November 11, 2005) The Department of Culture in
Guangzhou destroyed 5 million illegal pirated VCDs. This follows the 8
million destroyed on the 25th of last month.
Evening News) (November 9, 2005) Recently, the police
searched the Lianwu district and confiscated more than 80 videotapes, more
than 70 pornographic electronic publications, 260 pirated VCDs, more than
300 pirated DVDs, more than 300 mp3 CDs and more than 200 game CDs.
Hubei) (November 8, 2005) More than 100 inspectors from
the Department of Culture in Wuhan searched 110 video stores and confiscated
almost 200,000 pirated VCDs.
Online) (November 8, 2005) A Deyang City citizen took
videos of taxi cabs violating regulations (such as stopping anywhere,
U-turning at will, parking anywhere, etc) and made a VCD for the traffic
Metropolitan News) (November 5, 2005) In Sanming city,
three young men saw a young girl alone and went up to harrass her.
When she told them off, they kidnapped and then raped her. According
to the testimony of the arrestees, they learned how to do it from pornographic VCDs.
Net) (November 4, 2005) In Shanghai, police raided a
factory and found more than 30,000 pirated CDs, including more than 1,000
pornographic VCDs. Among them are VCDs with the cover of a naked woman
standing next to a man dressed in traditional Korean clothing; the title of
the movie was Jewel in the Palace (大长今),
as in the current hit drama.
News Net) (November 4, 2005) In Chengdu, the police
raided the Century Computer City mall and found an underground garage which
had 90,000 illegal CDs. Three men were arrested.
Daily) (November 4, 2005) A gang operating under the
name of the "Department of Education's 15th Curriculum Plan For
Elementary and Secondary Students and Research to Nurture Creativity"
used faked documents to rent space from a bookstore for the purpose of
selling pirated CDs. The gang sent letters to tell the schools that
the Department of Education makes it mandatory for the students to watch the
televised lectures and then the gang would sell the pirated VCDs afterwards.
Urumqi) (November 1, 2005) A couple running a video
store in Urumqi were sentenced to jail 3 years and 30,000 yuan in fine for
pirating CDs and selling pornographic VCDs. The haul included 35,120
pirated CDs and 953 pornographic VCDs.
Pao) (November 13, 2005) Yesterday morning at around
3am, the police searched an apartment unit in Mongkok and found more than
5,000 pirated pornographic CD's. A 34-year-old man was arrested at the
scene. Two computers and eight CD burners were confiscated.
Daily) (November 11, 2005) A senior police officer was
caught stealing a video compact disc in a record store. At the time,
an undercover security guard observed an individual carrying a store plastic
bag, took a VCD off the shelf, went towards a corner, peeled off the
anti-theft device, placed the VCD into his bag and walked out. The
individual was accosted outside the store and arrested. In his own
defense, the police officer claimed that he had injured his head two years
ago while on duty and lost his sense of smell. Therefore, his social
life was a mess and he became psychologically distressed to the point where
he stole a HK$85 VCD from a store. In consideration of the absence of
any prior records plus the fact that the defendant is due to retire with
pension in three years' time, the judge found the defendant guilty as
charged, but without having to serve any jail time. The defendant is
therefore still eligible for pension depending on good behavior afterwards.
Pao) (November 10, 2005) The government proposed
yesterday to relax the importing of VCDs from the current 18 months after
the initial release to only 9 months. Compared to the original local
productions, the imports are generally cheaper (e.g. from mainland
China). Both the Hong Kong Motion Pictures Industry Association and
retailers have reservations about the proposal. The industry
association is concerned that many pirated copies will attempt to be passed
off as imports, and not even the Customs Department can tell the
difference. The retailers do not think that they have the ability to
verify which imports have met the 9 month (or 18 month, for that matter)
News) (November 2, 2005) Yesterday at 3pm, the police
raided the shops in a shopping mall on Shantung Street in the Mongkok
district. They found about 3,000 pornographic VCDs and arrested one
person. Later on, a man who claimed to be the shopowner pointed a
knife at his own neck and threatened to kill himself. He was persuaded
to disarm and then he was arrested.
(November 14, 2005) A married veteran dentist at the Kaohsiung
Military Hospital received a blackmail note for NT$20 million along with a
CD of him and his girlfriend going in and out of a motel. The victim
reported the incident to the police, who found out that the blackmailer was
the man's colleague at the hospital and the true purpose was to seek a
promotion over and above the victim.
(November 13, 2005) In the midst of the election campaign in Taoyuan
county, the police found a VCD made about the KMT candidate. According
to those who have seen it, the VCD shows a group of men and women chatting
around a table, hinting that the man is having affairs with a female
television host as well as his secretary; even his father-in-law has a
girlfriend on the side; and then the VCD goes on to allege that the man
abused his power in a news report format. No one is in trouble, since
the VCD has not been released; if released, it may be construed as
attempting to affect the outcome of the election if the details are
TODAY) (November 13, 2005) The man suspected of
directing the aforementioned VCD said that it was no big deal, because he already
has a second and third volume planned. The production work was
apparently carefully planned, so that none of the people knew who did
what else (scripting; acting; directing; filming; editing; soundtrack; etc).
(November 11, 2005) TV host Hu Gua became the sujbect of a threat
posed through a VCD. On the disk, a person in black clothes accused Hu
Gua of cheating in gambling; "if Hu Gua does not repay the money, he will
have to suffer the consequences."
Times) (November 11, 2005) In the case of the
blackmailing and extortion of entertainer celebrity Peng Chia-chia, the
prosecutor has charged five persons in the case, including the female
principal Lu Ching. In total, Peng has paid a total of NT$44.7 million to
various individuals. The contents of the VCD (and the full video tape)
of Peng Chia-chia masturbating in front of Lu Ching were also described to
the public in graphic detail.
Today) (November 11, 2005) The police followed a tip and
arrested two young male workers selling pirated VCDs and CDs at a stall in
the night market. More than 5,000 discs were confiscated.
(November 7, 2005) A man was having an affair with his younger
sister-in-law over eight years. When the woman wanted to go with
someone else, the man made a VCD of the woman having a bath as well as
having sexual intercourse with him to blackmail her into continuing the
relationship. She called the police instead.
Today) (November 1, 2005) In the case of the former
prosecutor facing corruption charges that may lead to life imprisonment, the
rumor was that he had made a 'life-saving' VCD about two of the
investigators of his case and their illegal activities. However, since
he was suspected of being corrupt himself, his motives were questionable and
therefore no action has been taken as a result of the information in the VCD.
Times) (November 1, 2005) In the case of the infamous Chu
Mei-Feng VCD, a lawyer is demanding an apology from a witness plus NT$2
million in damages for defaming him. Specifically, the witness is
alleged to have accused the lawyer of coaching her testimony. The
court has turned the lawyer's request down, on the grounds that the witness
is not responsible for the headlines that the newspapers come up with, and
there is no evidence in the actual testimony that she said anything like
"the lawyer wanted them to provide false testimony."