Open versus Hidden Shamelessness
Actress Zhang Yu has been going around for years complaining against certain directors and producers for demanding sexual favors in exchange for acting assignments. So what? Everybody knows about that, beginning with the Hollywood casting couch. After a while, all this talk gets boring even though Sina.com devoted a special section to her.
So Zhang Yu has just upped the ante. In a blog post, she announced: "I will not be a silent woman anymore. I will show everything." She then links to a video hosted at YoQoo.com. That video has been viewed more than 300,000 times already within 12 hours. Here are some screen captures.
- Xinhua: Actress shows sex tapes to media Jeremy Goldkorn, Danwei
- Southern Metropolis Daily offers rare perspective on China's recent showbiz sex scandals David Bandurski, China Media Project
(Southern Weekend) Zhang Yu: I will use open shamelessness against hidden shamelessness. November 23, 2006.
At the end of December 2003, Zhang Yu disclosed information about her private recordings of director Huang Jianzhong to the media. She said that the recordings proved that on June 1, 2002, Huang Jianzhong had sexual intercourse with a "friend" of hers named Xiao Xia in front of Zhang Yu. Afterwards, Zhang Yu was interviewed twice by <Chinese Broadcast Television News> about the trading of sexual favors for considerations in the film industry. At the same time, the newspaper also included comments from Zhang Jizhong, Yu Min and Huang Jianzhong about this affair, with words such as "bad woman," "very scary," and "hijacked the mobile telephone" being used.
In July 2005, Zhang Yu filed a lawsuit against Zhang Jizhong, Huang Jianzhong and Yu Min for defaming her on account of what they had said in <Chinese Broadcast Television News>. She wanted economic damages of 400,000 RMB plus 100,000 compensation for mental anguish.
On September 11, 2006, a Beijing municipal middle court issued the final verdict in which all of Zhang Yu's claims were denied The court held the opinion that Zhang Yu contacted the media and provided private information about Huang Jianzhong including recordings and photographs. In addition, she made many unsubstantiated comments and placed herself in the public eye. Thus, the comments from the other principals of the case should be acceptable just as well.
On November 14, Zhang Yu produced four "letters of guarantee" and more than 20 reels of audio and visual tapes about the existence of "dark secrets" in the film/television industry. Apart from director Huang Jianzhong, Zhang Yu has many more people in her sight. Shortly afterwards, Zhang Yu began to post the sex videos on the Internet.
The following is an interview with Zhang Yu.
Q: You have been very strong and unyielding throughout this whole affair."
A: I've always been like this since when I was young. Character determines destiny. I feel that the Heavens have given me a special task to do. I feel that I am the fulfillment of the ancient saying that when the Heavens want to give someone a special task, the person shall be tested and prepared mentally and physically first.
Q: What task?
A: We the Chinese women have suffered so much humiliation in the past, but nobody dares to talk about it. This is not something that an individual can talk about personally.
Q: When you graduated from high school in Hubei to attend the Film/Television School in Beijing, was there sex trade in the film/television industry?
A: After I finished school, I met certain individual people in the field. They keep drumming the idea into me: if you want to be in the industry, you will have to pay a lot. If you don't pay anything, you won't be rewarded. But even if you do pay, you may not get rewarded. The alarm bell was enough to give me goose bumps. Perhaps you can say that I was intrigued. Or perhaps you can say that I was psychologically prepared. At the time, I did not agree with what they said. I thought that I could make it on the basis of my capabilities alone.
Q: When was the first time that you paid with sex?
A: In 1999. You have all read about it. The first time was with the assistant director. I don't want to talk about it ...
Q: But the first time is a critical point in the choices in one's life.
A: Yes, therefore I chose him. He seduced with a role. He told me that I was the right person for the role of the concubine. But he switched me out in the end using a lame reason. At a certain dinner, I happened to mention about how some guy who films television advertisements keeps getting young girls in bed while running a hidden video camera. But he was caught. This was a huge incident at the time. But I was naive, because the assistant director must have wondered why I brought this up. Was this meant for him? Then I sensed that he might switch me out. Actually, we already had that kind of relationship before that dinner. I even procured the room. Of course, I had no choice. The truth was that I wanted that role. So he said that he will let me make all the arrangements. But I wanted to make sure that I did not pay for nothing. So the next time, I got someone to film my entire proceedings with him. I thought that if I had the goods, he would dare do anything to me. But in the end, even though he knew about the existence of the videotape, he still switched me out.
Q: You are saying that on your first time in the sex trade, even a videotape was useless. How did you feel at the time?
A: I went to talk to the boss. He said that a man and a woman sometimes develop real emotions for each other in their contact, and that is an earnest experience. I felt aggrieved, but I had no recourse. Even though I have this stuff on him, they still would not give me my role. They were not afraid. They did not care. I was mad. But I did not know whom to complain to. I did not know what to do. Many women have felt that way.
Q: If it was useless, then why did you keep recording?
A: I don't know why. I just wanted to record their disgusting faces. You can see that in the videotape that someone finished having sex, wrapped a towel around himself, lit a cigarette and told me, "Zhang Yu, you don't have a future if you do this."
Q: Do you have the habit of taping everyone? Or are you selective?
A: I'll determine first if he is likely to be a rascal who fools around with women. I'll decide.
Q: If you feel the transaction will go through successfully, you won't tape it?
A: No. I tell that none of them are trustworthy. They are all like that.
Q: So you taped everybody?
A: Yes. (sigh). Towards the end, I had no feelings anymore about the videotaping. They all look the same. I'm tired from holding up the camera. Even if they are not tired, I am. So later on, I began to do audio recordings. The audio recorder weighs less.
Q: Were some transactions not fulfilled?
A: Some people basically forgot. Or they just ignored me afterwards.
Q: Did the videotapes have some effect? Or were they basically never effective?
A: Some people do not even need to be told about the videotape. Others are victims of their own circumstances. It is useless, because who cares about any videotapes? They are scoundrels, they don't care, they have seen it all before and they know that there is nothing that the women can do to them. And they always say the same thing: "Zhang Yu, you don't have a future if you do this." They all say the same thing. What does it mean? Even if you do that, we are not afraid. On the contrary, we can ruin you.
Q: So when you decided to go public with the Huang Jianzhong affair, you wanted to step up the pressure?
A: I only want to show that the little directors and the great directors are all like this. When I went to talk to him, he said: "Zhang Yu, you don't have a future if you do this." I was really mad at this rascal.
Q: What is your purpose for disclosing these videotapes now?
A: I want to show everybody just how far these people have gone. If I did not show these videotapes, everybody is going to say that I am just hyping it up or playing games. But after I produce the ironclad evidence, everybody now thinks that I am being vicious and striking low blows in order to get something.
Q: Are you uncomfortable about the tense relationship with people when you do this sort of thing?
A: Actually, I was quite unsure. I can tell you one thing: All female actresses in the film/television industry feel the same way. In order to preserve themselves, they will definitely employ all sorts of means.
Q: You said that you wanted at first to create a career through your own capabilities. So did you think about refusing all sex trade?
A: Before that, I was resisting too. But I had no opportunity for any film roles. None whatsoever. That is for sure.
Q: How did you resist? For how long?
A: At first, I met a producer. He lied to me and said that he was a director. He gave me some hints along the line. But I turned him down. For the next six months, I got nothing. He would not refer me for any roles. For the first six months after I finished school, I was idle.
Q: Were you worried?
A: Yes. I suffered terribly. Later on, I felt that I could not hold off anymore. I had accomplished nothing in Beijing. I was not ready to go home at the time. I spent so much time and money to get here, and I was not going back with nothing. So I decided to explore the secrets. (Sigh). Then a friend introduced me to the assistant director. (Sigh) To tell the truth, I spent so much time resisting but the answer was the same: If you don't pay, you don't get rewarded.
Q: In all these years, have you obtained any role without trading with sex?
A: I wanted to eat that cake too, but how come there isn't one? I don't seem less capable than anyone else. I was in an 18-chapter drama. The old producer/director wanted to let me have a role with just a couple of appearances. He sent me to Guangzhou. At first, I thought that I must have been lucky -- this time, I didn't have to pay anything and I got the role. So I should be grateful. He was already quite old. But when I got there, it was obvious that the other actresses had that kind of relationship with him and they forced him to make me leave. Later, the producer told me: "Zhang Yu, you must try to do something. You must work hard, or else your role will be eliminated." I knew what that meant. So I didn't get to eat that free cake after all. So I invited a friend to come to Guangzhou and made a video recording of the conduct of the rascal. This was secretly taped, because nobody would let you do it if they knew.
Q: In your <Open Letter to the People of China>, you questioned the equality of men and women. "Could it be that women must be virtuous and gentle, and submit themselves to all the unfair 'criticisms' and 'opinions'?" Do you feel that the world is demanding too much from women?
A: It is just so unfair. If I can be restrained, then so must you. That is why I will not accept it. I am someone who was robbed, and you are the robber. As the victim, I have to keep my mouth shut. As the robber, you don't have to do that ... right? Instead, you declare that you would be stupid not to take advantage and besides, you have to nothing to lose.
Q: You thought that exposing the affair will make certain people pay, but they actually did not have to?
A: This is what I cannot accept. A single hand cannot make a clapping sound. They can shut me up. But when they shut someone else up, they have to shut you up as well for the sake of fairness. So why are you engaging in this disgusting business even though your great artistic creation continues. I don't understand what kind of society is this that we live in. In feudal society, the adulterer and the adulteress are equally guilty. I should not be subjected to this unfair treatment. He does not deserve to benefit from the unfair treatment. This is a scandal. Why does he keep getting important job assignments?
Q: Were you treated unfairly?
A: From the moment that I sued those directors, the media did not function to supervise and monitor. They thought that I was hyping things up, and so they were cool. If the media had responded as excitedly back then to the lawsuit as they are doing right now about the videotapes, the court could not have made its decision that way. After the first appeal, the media continued the coverage. The court's explanation was risible. The court stated to the newspapers: "When an actress gets in front of the public, she should expect and accept all the moral and negative criticisms from society. So Zhang Yu must accept all that." I don't understand why men can do these shameless things against me. This judgment only stirs the men up! Those rascals! Hereafter, nobody is going to speak out. Nobody dares to file a lawsuit. At some point, some actress is going to reach a breaking point so that she is going to hire someone to waste (or even kill) the other party. Do we have to wait for that moment before people really start to become concerned? I wanted to find a platform to speak out. This is about the right of speech. That is my sorrow. I do not have a platform to speak out from. This forced me to take drastic action. If you call me shameless, I'll have to deal with it.
Q: How do you hope this whole thing will settle into?
A: I want to work hard on this matter in order to raise social understanding of moral standards and concepts. Each industry has its own supervisory organization, except for the film/television industry. Thus began the vicious cycle. I hope that we have regulations to supervise and monitor these people. If you want to be clean, you have to discipline yourselves or else you are no different from beasts and you will be condemned morally.
Q: Speaking of moral condemnation, somebody has this question: You show everything (including your own sex videos) bare naked in front of the public, so it means that you are shameless. But many more men do not dare to admit that they know that this whole thing was wrong and that they are shameful. In that sense, they are more concerned about moral standards than you are.
A: If he had any sense of morality, then why did he do it? After he did it, he refused to acknowledge it. So is that someone with a moral sense? I think that this is the most shameless person! He is even more shameless than me. Hidden shamelessness is worse than open shamelessness. He is the typical turtle hiding his head inside his shell. It is risible to say that he has a sense of shame or morality.
Q: Do you feel that your moral sense is heavy or light?
A: I am sure that I am between the two. All the contradictions in the world are focused on me. But if I were to marry a guy, I would be very faithful and I don't want him to have a relationship with anyone else. As to how I treat this lightly and I could use it to obtain interests and get exposed, I think that this is a misunderstanding. As a girl -- and I ought to be considered a girl since I am not yet married -- I can say that nobody wants to do this. But if I didn't do this, then people will say, "Who knows what her videotapes are about? Were they blank tapes? Why does she have to employ such methods against them?" I am clearly using an open shamelessness to fight against their hidden shamelessness. But you can see that they are unafraid.
Q: I feel that your greatest discontent about them is not because they are impure, but because they betrayed the trust and refused to deliver afterwards.
A: That is a good question. Let me tell you something. In a sales transaction (no matter if the contract is verbal or written), you pay the money and I offer the product. But if you pay the money but I do not deliver, will you be satisfied? When a farmer puts in his labor but just as the harvest was going to be made, a storm wipes out all his hope. What kind of feeling is that?
Q: So how come no other actress jumped out except you?
A: I think that this is unfair! It is very unfair. You are not doing this out in the open. You use the film and the role to lure the actress. The young girl cannot possibly feel good about this. Many of them are unwilling. Really. But I am different from them. I have the courage as well as the right to go after them. Right?
Q: Apart from "getting your just reward," is there any rule that you will respect?
A: I feel that the only standard for maintaining social harmony is trust. Only trust can protect social harmony.
Q: For you, is there anything that you would not offer? Is there anything that you would not offer in a transaction?
A: (laughs) This is deeper, or at least there is nothing that I won't pay. At least, for something that I like. I will pay anything for what I like. But this is a different kind of thing. In this world, there is no glorious or foul way of achieving the objective. I tell you. It only depends on whether something is big or small, heavy or light. If I pay for something that I like, I want the corresponding reward. I do not deny that I am a very practical person.
Q: When people see that you will pay anything to get what you want in a transaction, you may get sympathy but you won't get respect.
A: I know the consequences when I do something. I don't need any respect. I believe that as this affair progresses, time will move on and people will change their thinking. Someday, people will think differently about me. I, Zhang Yu, am doing this for posterity.
Q: You have been playing the role of righteous victim. You said that society is not qualified to scorn you and you say that you want to lift the moral standards of society. I think that some people may think that you are degenerate by your own choice without any self-reflection.
A: When people talk about self-reflection, they mean that you should not bow down to the hidden rules in the film/television industry. But if the public think that women should not enter the film/television industry because it is being held up by men alone, then I, Zhang Yu, will admit that I am degenerate. Otherwise, I will resolutely not accept this.
Q: Everybody has to be responsible for their own acts. You will still have to be judged morally. After all, when you engaged in the sex transactions, you were not drugged unconscious. You made your own free choice as an adult with a clear state of mind. If you want to win the crystal shoes, you must be prepared to toss out morality. Some people lose an arm while others lose only a glove. Some people think that you are treating morality like a glove instead of an am. You have a low bottom line for personality.
A: If I have a low bottom line, I would not have fought for so long without any contact with the industry folks. Please remember -- to get their pair of crystal shoes, I had to struggle hard. People might think that I threw away morality like a pair of gloves, but that was not how it was. But I want that pair of crystal shoes instead of the gloves. If I wanted the gloves, I would have done it differently.
Q: The problem was that you did not want the gloves.
A: From ancient times, there is always one saying: "You cannot have both loyalty and filial piety." When you have to choose one or the other, what will you do? You have to wonder just which one you want more.
Q: What is your objective?
A: I want to let my talents to be known by everyone. Therefore I can only be loyal but I am unable to fulfill filial piety.
Q: So you feed yourself to the tigers for the sake of art?
A: That is how I feel. There is a book about offering something to you. I really want to write a book about offering my body to you . Really. But this title is probably too repulsive.
Q: You don't seem to be concerned about being famous.
A: I don't over esteem fame. But it has to come back to the fact that I like this occupation. In this industry, a soldier who does not want to be a general is not a good soldier. I don't want to be a star or the best. I only want to do well in each of my roles, and I want my performance to be acceptable to everybody.
Q: If you think that you are no less capable than anyone else and you have engaged in the sex trade, then how do you explain the fact that you are not popular yet?
A: How many people are truly popular? Why does someone have to work almost an entire life before becoming popular? This is about capability as well as opportunity in the sense you have to be there at the right time. If you are not popular, then does it mean that you are a lousy performer? This is the wrong approach.
Q: Do your parents know about these things?
A: They probably don't. I don't want to them to know. I don't want them to get worried about me. I don't want them to be scorned on my account. I hope that they continue to live in their generation's times.
Q: Some reports say that you are an orphan.
A: When I was very young, my father found me while he was collecting firewood. I don't know who my natural parents were. Sometimes, I understand this as being that I fell down from the Heavens. Ha ha. When I was young, I lived in the rural area. At seven or eight, I went into the city with my father. The city kids discriminated against us. This caused my life to be very frustrated from elementary school through junior middle school. My father did not lower his dignity and he even went to speak to the school principal. We are closer to each other than even natural borns.
Q: You seemed to have given up romance.
A: How shall I say? I am not considering romance. I don't understand true romance at all. Really. I may seem to understand men. But I become mentally feeble if I have to be with a man, and this is something that everybody will think is quite normal. But my mind begins to think that he must be dating another woman today. I don't believe in love.
Q: I feel that you have a strong sense of insecurity and defensiveness.
A: Yes, reality has given me a very good lesson. There will never be a man that I can trust in this society.
Q: But I'm afraid that there won't be many men who can trust you. One assessment of you is: the goodness of a person depends on the opponent. A man may be a good husband in front of his wife. In front of you, you are like an octopus who brings out all the worst things of a man.
A: That is the nature of men. They don't need to be seduced. On the Internet, someone characterized me as a poisonous snake. Actually, they want to describe me as a pretty female snake. But they are afraid that they would make me look too good, so they characterized me as a poisonous snake instead. If I were a poisonous snake, then they must be either beasts or devils. If you have to mix with beasts and snakes and you are not venomous, how shall you survive?
Related Link: Sex, Lies and Videotape Raymond Zhou