Donnerstag, September 29, 2005

Go Back to School, Xiaxue!

('cos it looks like your education has taught you nothing)

"Childish. I look down on you, you fucking loser school. Get a freaking life, wimp. Wooo you cannot insult me! You say I fat! I cry! I commit suicide! Abusing your fucking power, isn't it? Oh, I speak some opinion about you, you go suspend me. Just because you have the fucking power to. What kind of reasoning is that?"

Great way to get your point across, girl. Now that our readers have an idea how this enfant terrible writes, I'll move on.

For those who aren't sure what the fuss is about, it involves a recent incident whereby five junior college students got suspended for posting derogatory remarks about their teachers and vice-principal on their blogs.

Empowered by new technologies--and the false sense of invulnerability the Internet offers--young bloggers are posting just about anything and everything, including the said remarks about their educators (one teacher was labelled a "frustrated old spinster").

Call it the exuberance of youth, but these young people could very well be blogging their way into a libel suit--even if the teachers aren't named.

"As long as someone is able to identify the teacher, and it is an untrue statement that affects his reputation or livelihood, then the student is liable," lawyer Doris Chia of Harry Elias and Partners said in The Straits Times.

So, where does Wendy come in?

Well, rather than using her influence to talk some sense into these youngsters--or at least, try not to throw more sh*t at the fan--Wendy took it upon herself to speak on behalf of our aggrieved young, and in an expletive-laden diatribe that sounded every bit like an angsty and "frustrated old teenager", she launched a verbal assault on Singapore's oppressive school system.

She even invited students to blog/flog freely on HER site:

"What have your school done to students who blogged bad stuff about them? Say it loudly here, because we all want to know. Though, please do not mention school names - I also don't wanna get sued, for something I cannot even verify."

Nice disclaimer there, Wendy, but please refer to Ms Doris Chia's comment above.

Not that Wendy herself bother to leave names out of her own nasty experience back in school:

"Get this: Back in RV, Mrs Look even warned my classmates not to get close to me, because she told them I was a bad influence. Wow, targetting my friends and my social circle in school? Under the fucking white RV school belt, that is. If you want to get me to change, you don't threaten me with my friends, ok? (In case you are interested my friends hack-cared her)"

I've no idea who Mrs Look from RV is (but I sure know what RV is, with that "fucking white RV school belt"). However, someone who left a comment on her blog certainly did, so there you have it. And as if that wasn't enough, Wendy has to throw in a snapshot of her "diary" from her school days--and hence dragging innocent third-parties into the picture (including an "ex-boyfriend" who must already rue the day he met her).

Wendy then offers her two-cents on what teachers should do instead:

"Wanna fight back? You fucking fight like a man, and go set up your own blog and defend yourself."

In a language you, Wendy, will understand: "si beh bo liao".

Teachers are up to their neck with work; they don't need to degrade themselves and resort to such childish behaviour to get their views across. It's students themselves who should know that life doesn't revolve around a blog.

"What is with this "suspending" and commanding people to close down their blogs? What gives you the rights to threaten people like that? It is clearly an abuse of the power you have...
Don't you crazy-ass people know that the fucking studying environment is very stifling?
You close down this little outlet of venting for our teens, and may they, because they didn't siphon out their pains in the form of writing a harmless blog entry, burn your fucking school down in a fit of anger. Ha. How worth it."

And why can't schools punish THEIR students for breaking THEIR rules? What's next? Parents don't have the right to punish their kids for posting nasty stuff about their own family members? People are put in authority for a purpose, and while I don't condone anyone abusing their power, students too have to learn what respect and discipline mean, lest it's a "demobracy" not a democracy you want to live in.

Sure, our education system is stifling, school life sucks, and no one's going to stop them from writing about it if it's really that cathartic. So long as you don't make your thoughts public, like on an open blog.

"You are a principal. You are older, wiser, more mature, and more rational then your feather-brained students. Why abuse your power to attack these kids? Lowering yourself to their positions, isn't it? Aren't you supposed to be just a tad more magnanimous?
If you don't like what they wrote, you bloody go confront them, and clear things up - like what normal people do.

Don't fucking abuse your position and power.

Sure, students shouldn't write defamatory (by defamatory I mean untrue) things about schools. That surely is wrong. It is a civil case, so go sue the student! Why are you ruining his whole education by taking away his chance to study? He paid for your fucking teachers to fucking teach him, ok? If he fails his As because he missed that few weeks of lessons, who is going to compensate him, and his future? Who?"

By "lowering yourself to their positions", I take it as setting up their own blogs and defending themselves. Tit-for-tat. So, I don't think the principals have done anything that insults their profession. In any case, I'm sure they've already "confronted the students".

It's called "taking action". =)

Read. Defamatory -- doing harm by writing bad or false things about people. Anyway, if someone calls you a " flabby, cross-eyed midget", how would you feel? Based on how you appear to him or her, that may not be entirely baseless, even if it's spiteful and uncalled for. And why get so worked up about the school taking away the students' "chance to study", about them failing their 'A's when they're suspended for, what? Three days??

Yes, teachers are paid to "fucking" teach students, and that doesn't mean just providing them with knowledge, but also instilling in them the right attitudes in life. If an education system has no right to do that, then who does? Parents? Heck, didn't they pay the school (and the government) to do that?

"(Just a tip to students. When your school ask you to close your blog, you set up another blog account [with a new, anonymous email of course], and you copy the entire contents inside. Email the blog link to the school's biggest gossiper. When the school asks you why your blog is still around, you say bua bodoh and say, I dunno leh, I delete already, someone copied the contents and put it in that website, and I cannot remove it coz I am not the author mah!)"

Bravo! All the Xiaxue fans out there flaming us for slagging her behind a cloak of anonymity, and lo and behold, their goddess tries to encourage students to fight back under *gasp* a cloak of anonymity....not to mention throwing accountability out of the window....

"I don't wonder why our kids are all aiming for an overseas education. Can you imagine Harvard threatening to sue a student because he said "Frustrated old spinster. Can't stand to see attractive girls"?"

No, because most Harvard undergrads are matured enough not to make these sort of remarks. But it does make me wonder what's wrong with our education system here, when our JC students still don't know better.

"About this blog entry, it is not about whether students should, or should not blog about their schools. That's their freedom of choice, and it has also been discussed to DEATH. My point is simply that schools should not ABUSE their position of authority to punish students for something personal. ABUSE OF POWER. THAT IS NOT FAIR PLAY. Geddit?"

For the last time, how "personal" is a blog that can be read by just about anyone on Earth with Internet connection? If you want personal, stick to your good old diary, or password protect your blog. It's ridiculous to expect others to come in and read your web log and still claim that it's "personal".

The way I see it, why stir up a storm in a little teacup? If you want examples of teachers really abusing their positions, go read up on what goes on in some rural schools in China. And if you--or anyone--still think that we are being too hard on our kids, here's some food for thought, from another Asian country:

In Japan, teachers have noted that they'd get in trouble with the administration if they send too many students out of the classroom for disciplinary reasons; suspension and expulsions are also "taboo" which makes things worse when there are students with serious behaviourial problems in class. Corporal punishment, however mild, is frowned upon, and kids grow up not fearing authority. So what do we get? Headlines like these:

"GRADE-SCHOOL VIOLENCE UP IN 2004 - Educators are alarmed at a surge in violence toward teachers by children as young as 6 and no older than 12. Violence against teachers in publicly run elementary schools has become endemic, according to a government survey that shows a 33 percent increase in such behavior in the 2004 academic year over the year before. " -- Asahi Shimbun

Mind you, the things I hear from Japanese teachers I know or have spoken to don't paint a rosier picture either.

"It annoys me that people don't get my point all of the freaking time! "

Wendy, try to open your eyes before you open your mouth, and maybe, just maybe, people will start to take you more seriously. =)

Gloves are off!

Okay, that's it. The gloves are off!

Why can't Wendy just be happy being a vanity blogger like the rest? Sandralicious, SPG, Daphne--they're all irritating and snotty in their own self-absorbed way, but never as obnoxious as this attention-seeker who styles herself as the "voice of the young".

If this were politics she'd be called a demagogue, but I doubt she even has half the brain to qualify being one.

What is it about her that gets on my nerves? It's something to do with her being thick, or worse, intentionally being so just to get more attention by strring up one controversy after another? Wendy may not like the analogy, but she's doing to the blogsphere what the yellow press has done to modern journalism.

She knows she's got many young readers; she knows she's a public figure, having gone on radio and TV; she knows she's endorsing product and brands, and is a "role-model" for public campaigns. And she damn well knows she has to be careful with the things she says because of that.

Or does she?

Christian-bashing? I can take that. Hurling veiled racist remarks at Muslims? Fine, be the bigoted "pig" (you're favourite word, Wendy) that you are. But an expletive-laden tirade urging younsters to rebel against their educators? Now, wait a minute!

I've got friends who are/were hardworking teachers; I've worked, during the course of my employment, on educational projects; I've got young relatives whose age profile fits those of her readers' (and *gasp* they could be her readers too).

So why shouldn't I worry?

And I'm sure I'm no alone here. Many have lambasted her for her latest entry on the "school vs student bloggers" controversy (including me), but most have since been banned and had their comments removed, even those targetting the issue rather than the writer herself.

To quote her: "ABUSE OF POWER. THAT IS NOT FAIR PLAY". Well, she runs a blog, makes contentious remarks at others. And when someone's comment runs foul of her political incorrectness, she removes it.

Yes, she's got the power--she's the owner of the blog--and every right to kick these people out. She just doesn't think that schools have the same right to kick THEIR students out of THEIR premises for supposedly doing the same thing....

Wendy can blog all she wants, while I'm free to give her a verbal flogging for every piece of rubbish she puts up. Tit-for-tat? Yes, sounds childish, but given her high profile among the young these days, her irresponsible blogging isn't child's play anymore.

Dienstag, September 13, 2005

Lest We Forget.

So Wendy Cheng's back. So she and her fans STILL think it's not fair for others to criticise her for blogging her own honest, uncensored opinions.

Well, I'm just curious if her fans even bother reading her stuff, because the following is from the horse's mouth--yes, words from the so-called text goddess herself...

"1) Why do you write about Fiona? She never did anything to you.
Let's go beyond the petty issue of her having bigger tits and a wispier voice then me. The issue here is not "Why?", but "Why not?".Why do writers write? To express an opinion. "Oh," but you exclaim. "When your opinion might hurt others, you should think twice Xiaxue!"Bullshit. Let me repeat that in a larger font: BULLSHIT. First off, as I mentioned, writing anything can hurt anyone....

My fault?

I don't think so. With this logic of "not harming" others in writing, no one can be objective in their writings anymore.Have you ever trashed a movie? Ever thought of the director's feelings if he hears you? What if .. oh no! ... he decides to close down his blog after what you said about his movie and never direct again?

Can I roll my eyes now in a completely rude manner? I think I shall. *roll eyes*

It is not about Fiona Xie never doing anything to me. It's about her doing something I disagree with. So I comment. If she didn't want anyone to comment, then don't write anything in the blogosphere! You have a right to love her literary works; and I have a right not to. Simple as that."

A case of double-standards, perhaps? =)

The writing was on the wall...or so we thought.

In another dramatic act of resurrection that would make Lazarus envious, Wendy Cheng has returned when it seemed all but certain that she had blogged her last entry (well, to her fans, at least).

This time, she has emerged from her hiatus--havng declared it only six days ago....

So, the next time we get hit by an economic hiatus, I suppose we can all look to Wendy Cheng for inspiration, and bound out of the doldrums in an even shorter period of time. =)

Just last month, French footballer Zinédine Zidane came out of retirement from international football after he claimed that a voice told him to do so; Wendy might just go one up by claiming that hundreds of voices (her fan-mail) convinced her to return from her self-imposed exile.

But this time, she says she's a born-again blogger ("I will go back to blogging about my life like when I first started blogging") who is open to comments ("And from now on, EVERYONE can leave comments"). She'll even turn a deaf ear to any unwanted noise on her blog ("I highly doubt I will read the comments myself, so feel free to troll, as I know many low-lives will. From today onwards, I shall be oblivious to the blogging world.")

The last I checked, comments have been deleted and IPs of "low-lives" banned and banished to oblivion.

Yup, the woman's definitely back. =)

Sonntag, September 11, 2005

The writing was on the wall...

There was this sign along Orchard Road, during the recent Singapore Writers' Festival. And a certain Wendy Cheng was obviously thrilled to it on the walls along the underpass, as she gloated on her blog:

"Promotion pics for my participation in the Singapore Writers' Festival! Who was the fucker who said people like Nick Liu are "real writers" and I am not? Huh? Again? What do you say? STOP WHIMPERING! Oh yes, I got invited to the festival, and sorry to say ... the "real writers" are not...

Maybe boring, serious writing does not necessarily equal to good writing afterall. =)"

Then, less than a month later, this happens:

"Sometimes I wonder, why am I taking this shit? I think I will be much happier without blogging - except, of course, I won't have an income. Ha.

For all these, I am going to take a hiatus from blogging."

SO, is this the end of the illustrious "writing" career of Wendy Cheng (aka Xiaxue)? Well, not if you believe in the legend of hydras and such, but we'll just leave it at that. But how did it come down to this--Singapore's supposedly most "famous and popular" female blogger (with her awards to prove it, no doubt) now the nation's most hated cyber-personality?

I know Wendy's fans will cry foul for me making this remark, but ask around the online community here--especially older, more mature individuals--and you realise she isn't going to win a popularity contest, not by a mile.

Of course, Wendy Cheng the person may be all sugar, spice, and everything nice, but her online alter-ego doesn't seem that nice a person, to be honest.

"Petulant" would be a more apropriate word for her.

Wendy can gloat all she wants, that the "real writers" weren't invited to the Writers' Festival while she was. She doesn't seem to realise, though, that it wasn't her writing that got her this far, but the sort of popularity she's gained--it's pretty much like why Xu Chun Mei gets to show her face and talents (or the lackof) on talkshows and even concerts. And of course, this being Singapore, tangible credentials (like meaningless weblog awards, press coverage etc) can get you a long way too.

Real writers win literal awards, I suppose; celebrity bloggers contend themselves with their few minutes of fame. And Wendy no doubt got hers at the workshop. One only wonders how much she's learnt from it, but if this is anything to go by, not much:

"Cory Doctorow, founder of the top blog, really ridiculously smart and knowledgable, except I can't give any examples because half the time he was talking about tech/political stuff I didn't fully comprehend... I chose to hide behind my facade of dyed hair and unnatural lashes while pretending to not understand and therefore was spared the embarrassment of giving my unsubstantial opinions. Sometimes, it is good to be female. Don't know politics? Never mind that, I can cook."

Ouch! Now THAT hurts...

Why did Ms. Wendy "I was at the Writers' Festival, where were you?" Cheng end up throwing in the towel (allegedly) just weeks after the high point of her blogging career? Well, it's very much about what "serious writers" do and Wendy Chengs don't.

You see, one's experience in life (or 'worldliness', I guess) matters when he or she writes. Someone once remarked that the best teenage literature is written by adults, and that's not an overstatement. Good writing requires not just linguistic skills but also a maturity in mind--more so when its personal writings aimed at a mass audience. You know, memoirs, autobiographies, and the like.

If you have a lot of things to say about life, make sure you know enough about it before you start writing. More importantly, make sure you're humble enough too to recognise that your views don't necessarily equate to others--so when you write, write tactfully. It's okay to be funny. It's even okay to be cynical and sarcastic. But there's a fine line between been witty and downright obnoxious.

Unfortunately, Wendy crossed that line with her blog, and coupled with her new air of arrogance and hunger for publicity, it was only a matter of time before things backfired on her.

And they did. Her recent article on her trip to Kuala Lumpur broke the camel's back. Irate readers bombarded her with nasty comments (some of which, I've to admit are rather uncalled for) and Wendy--who has a nasty habit of deleting unflattering comments--simply caved in under the amount of criticism she got.

Wendy and her fans didn't think it was fair for others to criticise her just for blogging her bad experience in Kuala Lumpur, and I agree. But if Wendy had meant no malice, her wordings certain came across otherwise.

I've read a number of travel literature. My favourite is still "Looking for the Lost", by the late author Alan Booth. It was his own travel memoirs across the backwaters of Japan--a very insightful look into the land and its people, as well as a very personal work for the author himself.

In the chapter "Local Heroes", the author had a rather bad experience with the locals at a village liquor store. He had just walked in having braved the typhoon, and was miffed with the sort of brusque service he got from the lady owner. While he didn't hide his displeasure in the book, he wasn't downright condescending either. He didn't have to get nasty, and never did once insult the lady or his readers' intelligence by getting personal. Moreoever, Booth was mindful enough to explain why Japanese behave the way they do whenever he encountered behaviour that wasn't compatible with cultures outside Japan.

Wendy, this is what "real writers" do. It's less in-your-face, maybe slightly more boring writing, but it's an art of communication.

"Entertaining numerous partners simultaneously earned her a reputation as a text goddess"

Not so much a "text goddess" but the "enfant terrible" of the local blogsphere, but all isn't lost: while Wendy goes into a hiatus, and retreats into her world of shopping and dining (despite being "without an income"), the rest of the local blogging world can now turn their attention to what they've been neglecting for so long--real writing. =)