Celebrities can’t expect much leniency after sex scandals

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-17 0:28:01

Movie director Wang Quan'an was detained on charges of hiring prostitutes on Monday. The news caused quite a rumpus among the public. Some denounced Wang for his illegal act; some put forward an impractical proposition of legalizing prostitution, while others hyped Wang's "virtue" of paying for sex rather than demanding sexual favors from unknown young actresses. 

His detention has made big news in China, and the director will pay the price for his prostitution scandal in the long run. Some accused the police of being "unmerciful" with Wang. But prostitution is equally risky to everybody. Wang's future depends on the public reaction. It remains to be seen how the public will treat him in view of the scandal and whether new films directed by Wang will be affected, and also whether his commercial value will be reduced.

Other entertainment industry celebrities who were detained on prostitution or drug charges faced the same challenges as Wang. They have had to endure public mockery, which has actually dealt such a heavy blow that audiences will hardly recognize them as they once were when they appear on screen again. This is more devastating than criticism and punishment.

Chinese society has become more open and tolerant than before. But having good morals is still essential to entertainment figures in China. Western celebrities like Kobe Bryant and Hugh Grant were embraced by fans again after they were hit by scandals, causing an illusion among Chinese entertainers that they could be as lucky as Bryant and Grant. However, Chinese entertainment figures are subjected to higher standards of morality than their Western counterparts. Should China become more "tolerant" toward entertainment figures? If the public is still willing to see stars that have been involved in prostitution, gambling or drug abuse in movies or advertisements, then those stars will be only subjected to legal punishment. However, the fact remains that they will also be punished by the market to varying degrees.

There are many sympathetic public voices for celebrities that have become embroiled in prostitution or drug abuse scandals. But the market rules are objective and ruthless. In the process of marketization, for one thing, individuals have gained more choices and freedom; for another, social rules that they have to abide by have become clearer. If one breaches these rules, he or she must pay the price.

Posted in: Observer

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