ESC. This is the button we press when we want to exit a program in a computer. When we get in the middle of something, we want to escape right away especially if it’s a fight that doesn’t concern us. Or if we caught ourselves in an awkward situation, we’d wish everything to end soon or that we could flee right away. But in real life, we could only wish that there are exit buttons that we could just hit to help save the day.
We’re currently watching the series怪侠一支梅 (The Vigilantes in Masks/Strange Hero Yi Zhi Mei). As always, I would be able to relate to themes about society and the government when watching 古裝戏 (Gu Chuang Xi or traditional Chinese series). They portrayed corrupt officials who get away and the righteous ones get punished. I liked the lines of the characters such as what the Shirfu(鄭東流) taught 离歌笑(Li Ge Xiao) about being patient and that it is important to preserve life for the chance to retaliate in the future. You can’t take down the unlawful officials head-on, you have to device strategies to beat them and expose the injustices they do to society and the people. Both characters lose their loved ones and save each other in the process. In those times, it was more difficult to move because you could get killed by just contradicting what the officials say. They would ambush or use treachery to put down the heroes or those who defend the good. Ordinary citizens have no say even if they have courts where one can appeal their cases. Heroes branded as rogues by the reigning government or the palace stand up for the weak. They formed a group called Yi Zhi Mei and the members include燕三娘, 贺小梅, and 柴胡. Each character has a story, a past that is unravelled and they all work together to solve those knots. A former comrade应无求 of Li Ge Xiao emerges as an enemy that wanted to destroy Yi Zhi Mei and kill Li Ge Xiao. Their greatest enemy and target is the abusive and corrupt prime minister who protects the officials who are power and money grabbers as well. He is also responsible for killing Ge Xiao’s wife and has claimed numerous lives during his reign. Another line that I’ve also heard a lot of times before is: 要学好是一辈子的事，但要学怀只需要一个念头，which means being good is for a lifetime, but becoming bad just needs one thought or decision. My grandmother used to say the same thing. The Shirfu said this to Ge Xiao because he was warning him about Lai Ying, that one should be careful around these types of people. They can be a really good friend to you, but if something happened and they suddenly snapped, they’ll turn against you and devour you alive. Ge Xiao saw potential in Lai Ying that’s why he helped train him. But his character is a maze, his heart easily hardened. So it’s best to weigh the odds too.
I didn’t want to watch the news on TV so usually I just read the news online. This time, I was looking for an update on the Typhoon that hit our country, but it led me also to news about killings. Sometimes you’d wish there are heroes like Li Ge Xiao and his group who fights to protect the people, finds the truth and solve the killings that take place. There are many disturbing news that you’ll find as well as information that would dismay you…issues about politics, biting back at what went on in the past instead of focusing in the present, and then reports about killings wherein armed men suddenly barge in and shoot someone. Sometimes knowledge of something can be harmful and ignorance might be bliss, but I guess it depends on how we manage them or treat the information we are now bearing. Easier said than done… Exposing ourselves to hard news could make us worry more, but not knowing what’s happening around us is being apathetic or trying to fool ourselves of the reality. It makes me wonder if we are still living in the past where swords are flung in the air, or people battle with bear hands for survival. I think it would be helpful to air series like the dramas like the 古裝戏, because they incorporate the realities of society, how the government works, the injustices that abound, greed and corruption, lives sacrificed and the suffering of ordinary people that is still reflective now. There are many lessons that can be learned in the traditional Chinese series like filial piety, love for country and people, helping others, defending justice, the saying 怨怨相报何时了?(yuan yuan xiang bao he shi liao) which means if we keep on avenging others, when will it end? In ancient times, the emperor kills the whole family for fear of someone taking revenge. But then there are stories of survivors who will take this path either to no avail or ending up killing his oppressor and now he becomes the one being chased by the family of the one he killed. It’s just a never-ending cycle. Most of the time, they portray situations like these as losing your purpose in life if you keep grappling with the past.
I remember watching 武侠(WuXia) series since I was little and my dad would tell us why is the word 官(Guan) for public official written as that way, the top portion is their hats signify they have two mouths which they need to feed. That’s why they are greedy. Come to think of it, during those times, the officials can have a wife and many concubines. And then they’ll have lots of children to feed as well as servants. This is just my dad’s version of the etymology of the word.
Dramas are used as an escape from reality where we can be hopeful, even if they are false hopes. We’ve learned in our class before about telenovelas being a temporary anesthesia for the people consuming it. For awhile, we forget about our worries, dive in to the world of the heroes and join in his journey as if in the process we are also relieved of our duties and problems. The triumph of the hero would uplift our spirits as if we have fought the same fight as did the heroes. When the protagonist gets harmed, we loot for him or her to be able to win against the evil forces. In real life, we also hope to emerge victorious against the oppressors but often times there are no heroes that will come and save us from the claws of the abusers. But we could pray that justice is served and that someone offenders could find it somewhere in their heart to be merciful to others. After all, we only have one life to live.