Lately, I’ve been watching pretty horrifying movies. Some intentionally because they are recommended and some unintentionally just by flipping through the channels on tv. All these films involve the poor, prostitutes, gangs, and so forth. All the horrifying things that you wish you did not know about this world. My teacher calls these films “critiques of society” films. Fruit Chen’s movies are all about Hong Kong, about the trashy, living-in-a-box side of Hong Kong. My teacher says when she visited Hong Kong, she was not interested in seeing the glitz and beautiful side of Hong Kong. “It’s meaningless,” she said, “I rather see how the other side lives, because we never get to see them.” And I think what she said was very interesting. We watch movies that entertain us, that makes us laugh and walk away with a dream. What we don’t want to see in life, we don’t want to see in movies. Yet, when something tragic actually happens, we are shocked that life is so full of horror. We shouldn’t be so shocked because it happens everyday, everywhere. We just pretend not to see it, even if it’s staring at us in the face and asking you for a dollar, you pretend to be blind.
One one hand, it is depressing to watch these films. I worry about having dreams or imaging things when I am in this apartment all by myself. But as I watch more and more of these scenes, I am no longer depressed or saddened. In a way, I am thankful. Growing up in New York, I thought I was immune to shock. Many New Yorkers think they are tougher than rock. But we aren’t, we hide in our upscale apartments, take detours around rough neighborhoods. We tell people we’ve seen everything. But have really seen everything? My parents told me to stay out of the wrong crowds in school, stay away from certain areas in the city. They thought they could protect me. I think I would do the same for my children. But for myself, I would rather see, so I know what to be afraid of. I want to see the poor, so I know to spend less on useless things. I want to see the drug addicts, prostitutes, orphans, so I know not to carry myself with so much esteem when I walk down the street. I want to see it all - not just the glitz and the glamour.