|Not The South China Morning Post
|All about Icered - Feb 2001|
|QQ Alive: Vittachi in Shock, Confesses All
“I loved QQ and Wally Wilde. Wonder what happened to them?” So asked Nury Vittachi on 19 January 2001. The answer, of course, is that they are still out there, lurking. Or at least QQ is. (Poor Wally – were the rumours of an overdose of Perigord Foie Gras Terrine true?)
And where has QQ been lurking? As it happens, on the Hong Kong Internet message board IceRed.com, the very forum on which Nury asked his question. Unlike other participants on IceRed, Nury uses his real name and is presumably intended to draw in the crowds. His presence on the site was greeted with cries of “Nury’s not funny” – one of those statements of the obvious that achieve nothing, like “God it’s humid, today” in mid-August. (Sobered by the death of Auberon Waugh - well, maybe - he replied “I make no claims whatsoever to any skill as a funny guy. Much of the time I am a mere typist.”)
Icered.com is the main message board for what it calls Hong Kong’s “movers and shakers” and tries to keep out the riffraff by not accommodating messages written in Chinese. In reality, most of the participants are young; guys who have slept with a woman over 30 are treated with a mixture of awe and disgust. Many are shallow, earnestly acting out the Hong Kong fantasy in discussions of cufflinks, Mercedes, cigars, hotel restaurants and how to become a barrister. Many more are unquestioning, uncritical sheep. A microchip implanted in their heads gives them directions: I must get parts of my body pierced; I must have a boyfriend; I must gain admission to the latest exclusive nightspot. Some are clearly in poor mental health, unhappy at being rich and healthy. You don’t believe there are men who want to get themselves circumcised because they think it will look nice? On IceRed there are.
The Grouch 2000 Awards on Internet.Com said that IceRed’s content proved that “the average person is really stupid,” and described the participants as “perhaps the largest aggregation of the semi-literate ever assembled online in Asia.” (IceRed management proudly display the award on their website.)
While perfectly true, this misses the point. IceRed is an eye-opener to the sadness, the superficiality, and the racism of Hong Kong. Who would have realised that there are people out there who desperately wish to be an investment banker? Who would have believed how little the best-educated young people in Hong Kong know or care about government policy or international affairs? Most of all, who would have thought the most privileged parts of the community are so divided along cultural lines?
In particular, who ever imagined that locally educated people feel such resentment at their perceived inferiority, while overseas-educated people are so ashamed of their roots? The pecking order in HK is no secret. Top come foreigners – white or yellow. Next are the overseas-educated locals, who often pretend to be foreign-born (speaking English to other locals). Then there are the locally educated, stereotypically unable to think critically or express themselves well and absorbed in (or have they retreated into?) a world of pathetic pop stars, movie queens and other trivia.
QQ recently had dinner with two Chinese ladies, one a pure banana with barely any Cantonese, the other a local. The local spent much of the evening trying to “out” the banana, as a foreign-educated local pretending to be overseas-born. “When I came to Hong Kong…” said the banana. “Ah, when you came back?” said the local.
On IceRed these insecurities are laid bare. The thick rich kids get sent overseas to study, come back and land the good jobs in accounting or finance. For the bright but unpolished kids from public housing who go through Hong Kong’s tragic excuse of an education system, it’s likely to be a case of rolling up the sleeves and making money the Cantonese way, trading and brokering. You may get rich that way, taunt the Westernised professionals on IceRed, but you’ll never be one of us. You’ll still be a local, a loser. Get a life.
There are bigger message boards in Hong Kong, but IceRed's all-English policy thrusts even the most retarded gwailos into the same acre of cyberspace as the most intelligent and educated locals and their arrogant westernised compatriots. Anti-yellow whites and anti-white yellows trade insults. The depressed seek advice from the stupid. Predators offer their email addresses to the gullible. The foul-mouthed interrupt the sweet-tongued. Singaporeans try to justify their country's pitiful existence. Pedants bang their heads against brick walls. Those who break the rules succumb to a mass of piranhas. Hell is a never-ending bal masque. And QQ strolls around chatting with the less disturbed and abnormal, if and when he finds them. And then Nury turns up.
Overseas readers of NTSCMP who want a glimpse into Hong Kong today should take a look, and pray for us. These aren't the movers and shakers…yet.