Despite me being an avid fan of American TV dramas, I have a strong dislike for Hong Kong TV shows. In terms of production values, they about 30 years behind. In terms of creativity, I’m sorry, what’s creativity again? Hong Kong dramas are like a worse form of US day time soap operas, they are designed for housewives who only want to listen to the dialogs to comprehend the plots while doing housework. No subtlety is allowed. Every thing has to be spelled out. Forget about open endings, and don’t you dare killing off major characters unless you want a public outcry.
Anyhow, I’ve been following a show called Voice of Stars religiously for more than two months. It’s a reality singing contest. Unlike The X Factor or American Idol, the contestants are not average joes, but B/C-listers, or even extras that no body could say their names. This show is like their first/only ticket to stardom.
One contestant, Fred Cheng, has broken out even before the show concludes. Frankly speaking, I’ve never heard of him before this show. In episode one, he told the judges at age 29, he had been in showbiz for 10 years already. He has played mostly uncredited roles thus far. All he ever wanted was to have just one viewer remembering his name and recognizing him on the street.
It really hit home when I heard it. It resonated so much with my aspiration. When I wrote Florid Eyes: A Novel, I never for once dreamed of it becoming a bestseller. I dared not even dream of selling a thousand copies. All I wanted was to touch someone with this story and to empower my readers to believe in love and dreams and to have faith and courage to pursuit these goals. There were also instances in my teaching career when I knew some students were never going to pay attention to me and the message that I was trying to convey. It frustrated me, of course, but I reminded myself as long as somebody liked my teaching, as long as I could inspire somebody, as long as I could change somebody’s life, even if it was just one in a class of 40, it was still worth it.
As the show went on, Fred’s passion for music and his confidence on stage continued to grow on me. I, along with many viewers, got sucked into this. Like its American counterparts, the producer of this reality singing contest tried to play up the struggles and sensationalize the background stories of these former nobodies. Overnight, it seemed like every contestant, may he/she be a former beauty queen or dancer, had this childhood dream of becoming the next Michael Jackson/Hannah Montana.
However, none of their story touches my heart like Fred’s. In Florid Eyes, I wrote about Violet’s dream of becoming a politician to change the world. Every time when she talks about her silly little idealistic dream, she becomes a bit teary, and Josh thinks her eyes “sparkle” when she goes on and on about these hopes and dreams. I know this is how I get when I talk about my students and my characters. I couldn’t shut up about how much I love them. I’ve been told my face lit up when I talk about teaching and my book.
When Fred sings, I see a little bit of myself in him. I think all dreamers share a special connection. They can identify each other even if they don’t have the same dream.
This is Fred’s breakout performance–Robbie Williams’ Angels.