Freitag, August 19, 2005

Photoshop Beauty: Some thoughts on Xia Xue

Xia Xue is Wendy Cheng, a 21-year-old event coordinator who runs the blog The blog won the Best Asian Weblog Award for 2004 and 2005. Her weblog attracts up to 2,000 readers daily and she is one of the editors for She is currently Singapore's youngest columnist on The New Paper as well as the men's magazine Maxim.

That's the profile for a certain Wendy Cheng--better known as Xia Xue--on the Singapore Writers' Festival 2005 website.

At first glance, this female blogger seems to be what this nation, eager to showcase its young talents to the world, needs.

Unfortunately, Singapore also happens to be a country that equates "talent" to the tangibles--that is, the things you can boast about on your resume. Xia Xue is an award winner blogger, she has thousands of adoring fans, and she's marketable. She's already appeared on magazines and radio, and is even made one of the ambassadors of an anti-smoking campaign.

In short, she's a celebrity. So what if her writing is as inspiring and interesting as the graffiti you read in toilet cubicles? Right?

Meet what is possibly Singapore's most famous/infamous female blogger. On her own admission, she's short, plumb, and small-breasted, but that's not the Xia Xue you'll normally see on her own blog because, on her own admission again, she doctors her pictures to make herself more glamourous.

The wonders that Photoshop can do for your image.


Simply put, we're talking about this:

Wendy Cheng, or Xia Xue, has been blogging since April 2003, and is, to quote her, "the one winning several blogging awards". General opinion is that her frank entries about her life as a typical young Singaporean girl initially won her a following, which then led to her receiving the Asian Weblog Awards. But alas, fame soon got to her head, and as she began to sound more conceited on her blog, the number of her haters grew.

The fact that there are now Xia Xue hate blogs (like Xialanxue, for instance) is proof of her new-found infamy.


Trite, self-indulgent writing is bad enough; having them smeared with profanities--English or Hokkien--is worse. Yes, she is very liberal with her use of expletives.

An irate Wendy on readers criticising her writing:

"SO MANY FUCKING STUPID PEOPLE READING MY BLOG AH? I cannot take it - if you are the serious sort who gets angry over STUPID THINGS, then please fuck off. Now stupid and serious people, please fuck off. Go on. Don't add to my readership now, for that will only make me more arrogant, no?"

In one of her entries about jogging to lose weight:

"I saw a bus ad, AND IT IS MOCKING ME! It is bioessence's SLIMMING GEL AND AILEEN TAN SHOWING ME HER FAB BODY! Kaninahia! Limpeh jogging like a pig you tell me to take shortcut, how can?! As if these are not enough reasons for me to stop jogging, every five minutes a taxi drives pass REALLY SLOWLY, BECKONING ME TO HOP IN. LAO NIANG IS FAT, LET ME JOG IN PEACE CAN?! But cannot. These taxi drivers and cheebye slimming ads have to do this to me."

And on the competence of our army personnel:

"Another army guy said it is only five minutes to the MRT if we WALK SLOWLY.

It was a FORTY MINUTES WALK AT BEST OK! AND MY FEET HAD ON HEELS AND BLISTERS (had to go to Zouk later)! !! How DARE that fucker lie to us to make us leave the bus stop? At least 15 minutes is not that bad a lie, but 5 minutes? HE GOT SPEEDBOOTS AH, or is he SONIC?"

Even some bengs and lians I know have reservations about speaking like that. It reflects badly on one's upbringing.

Personally, I've got nothing against expletives--they give one's writing the emotional intensity that polite language lacks. But there's only so much you can use before it amounts to abuse. SO, please, Wendy, please, stop abusing the abusive language....

And to think our Prime Minister fretted over Singaporeans learning Singlish from Phua Chu Kang. =)

Besides language, Wendy also complements her atrocious writing style with appalling insensitivity:

From her "thoughts" for National Day:

"Sang Nila Utama saw a singa and named us Singapura. If he saw a pig, then we are babipura? Ba bi po!"

First of all, Sang Nila Utama thought he saw a lion, but it was actually a tiger. In any case, whether Sang Nila Utama was Muslim or not is beside the point (history is hardly my forte). There's no denying that the country's history is very much linked to the Malays, the national anthem is in Malay, and as a multicultural soceity, a sizeable percentage of Singaporeans are Malays. And most people know what Malays/Muslims think of pigs--most, except for Wendy, of course. She had a go at Christianity too, but I'm not going to quote from that particular entry because the above pales in comparison to it.

And here, on news of her blog being hacked, in The Straits Times:

"Alas. London got bombed, so the article got pushed to page 16 instead of cover. My condolences to those affected, but that's another entry altogether."

She's as thick as her make-up... Nice try at being funny, Wendy, but humour can often backfire you know.

In July 2005, she dropped the bomb--her blog's been hacked! Well, websites around the world get hacked on a regular basis; even mine's been hacked before. When it happens, you usually let the hosting company know, and if you're lucky enough to trace the culprit, you send him a nasty email (if it makes you feel better). You then dig out your backup, reinstall your site, and get on with life. The same goes for blogs.

Of course, being Wendy, that wouldn't suffice. Not only did she--according to her entry--kick up a huge fuss by contacting Blogger's administrators, she even went down to the local police station to make a police report. And then, the story of the hacking appeared in the papers, but Xia Xue wasn't satisfied with the way The Straits Times covered her news:

"I think ST is out to sabo me. Throughout the article, I don't see the link to my webpage. I don't know if this is delibrate, but WHAT IS THE POINT OF TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT A SITE IF YOU DON'T LINK THE SITE? A bit stupid right?"

Then, she has a go at the none-too-flattering photo of her and the flab around her waist:

"A bit of photoshop would have salvaged the photo, but did they bother? NO. Jerks!"

Wendy claims to have gotten help from Biz Stone (Gmail / Blogger admin) two hours after she emailed him; she also claims to have received hundreds of fan mails in support of her. Her critics insist that she made the whole thing up because her popularity was wanning. What's the real story behind this, we'll never know.

The only thing that's certain is that her bloated ego had just gotten even bigger.

Wendy has also created her very own Xia Xue Fan Site, and got a friend to set up an "official" Xia Xue hate site. And like every decent publicity-hungry blogger, she's taken on other female "celebrity" bloggers like SPG and China's Furong Jie Jie--whom she referred to as a fat auntie and then proceeded to give a photo of the Chinese blogger a makeover. It was only later, after her critics had pointed out, that Wendy acknowledged that the English Furong Jie Jie blog may have been a fake...


In the presence of greatness (or, in this case, public figures), Wendy is all humble and nice:

"EUNICE OLSON AND JAMIE YEO COULDN'T COME, but there, standing beside my seat making small talk with someone, is MISS CLAIRE CHIANG! People is the founder and Executive Director of Banyan Tree! I am not worthy to sit beside her!!!!"

In the presence of her critics, she sings a different tune:

"I used to always convince myself that...guys in forums who diss me, are FUCKING LOSERS THEMSELVES. Fat, smelly, pimply teens who do gaming all day long. They know a girl like me will never like them, they will never be able to get a girl like me, and thus, to "save face", they first claim they will never date me.

Smart huh? Who are you, losers? It it like me saying I will never date someone like George Clooney. Hello, he wants to date me first then I have the right to sprout such atrocity, ok? You won't want to date me? BET YOU WILL, IF I AGREE TO IT. But of course, I won't. =D I don't date LOSERS."

And while she gleefully diss her unadoring readers, the latter won't get to defend themselves since--like so many other "celebrity" bloggers--Wendy routinely removes the comments they leave on her blog, especially the ones that make too much sense. It's a PR thing, I suppose.

So what do we make of this egocentric blogger? A "talent"? A "goddess of text"? Or just a girl who happened to get lucky, and then got too big-headed for her own good?

Forget the so-called Weblog awards she won. I won't debate over how they're awarded, but I'm sure it wasn't for her writing. Indeed, Wendy typifies a worrying trend of online "spontaneous writing" that is shallow, self-serving, and crass, and which relies more on cheap "gimmicks" to sell.

More worrying still is the kind of attention the media, her sponsors, and even local organisations give her. What message are we sending to impressionable teenagers by endorsing her bumptious behaviour? That Wendy is a prime example of being young, trendy, and outspoken?

Forget about sounding intelligent; it pays better to be a snotty, obnoxious bimbo. After all, vainty sells.

If this is the "talent" Singapore needs, then God help us all....

Dienstag, August 16, 2005

Herzlich Will­kommen!

Well, here I am, blogging at last.

Never thought I'd do it, but now felt more compelled to than ever, with a growing number of "celebrity" bloggers clogging up the Internet bandwidth. Bloggers like, you know, Xiaxue, Sandralicious, SPG, and *gasp* even Steven Lim who have become somewhat famous from glamourising their vanity.

Most of them flaunt their lifestyles, tell the world how gorgeous they look, and bitch about everything and everyone; SPG even goes as far as posing nude of her blog.

You might call them smart, media-savvy. Maybe, but sometimes I wonder if it has more to do with their readers (especially their adoring fans) missing a few brain cells than them have a few more. But then again, this is the age of Reality TV. It's hip to watch guys and girls cheating on each other, contestants bitching about and backstabbing one another. Heck, it's even cool (never mind okay) to act like a complete moron while auditioning for a "talent" contest.

Tell people that your favourite programming includes BBC, CNN, and the National Geographic, and they look at you like you're from Mars; tell them you don't blog--that blogging (among young Singaporeans, at least) is for people with too much time and too big an ego, and they stare at you like they've just seen a cavewoman. Sheesh...

Normally, I wouldn't care less with these attention-seekers--nothing wrong with them having their own ego-trips--but unlike personal diaries, these blogs are public. Anyone can surf in and read their stuff, including youngsters who are easily influenced. It's hardly surprising that many of these "fans" are teenagers who aspire to be as famous and "glamourous" as their "idols".

To compound matters, while these blogs are public, the same can't be said of the comments readers post there. These bloggers have a nasty tendency to remove anything critical of them--from tasteless insults to well-argued points. Some even go as far as banning the person's IP. It's all about packaging, I guess, to make their blogs look good to potential advertisers.

Media interest in these bloggers hasn't helped matters either. Rather than highlighting what's so wrong with the blogging community here, they've only managed to sensationalise it. Worse still, how someone like Xiaxue managed to become an ambassador for the local Anti-Smoking campaign is a joke. Her website won her the 2005 Best Asian Weblog award, no doubt, but that was before her ego got too big, and too much air got to her head. She still has her fans (her critics are, sadly, deleted from her blog) but the sort of presumptious things she writes hardly makes her a role-model for your own kid sister, never mind a nation of youngsters!

I might not be updating this often (there are more important things in life than this), but rest assured that I'll still be keeping my crosshair on these bloggers. Someone has to.