Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's a family affair

Scene: 10.30 am news meeting to determine possible stories for the next day. Although it isn't a true paper yet, we're running the newsroom as if it was - sort of like a haphazard community theater dress rehearsal that never ends.

International news team leader Li reads from a usual list of suspects..."China launches economic zone in Egypt, Yao Ming wax figure in Mdm Tussands in NYC, NATO to send 4,000 troops to Afghanistan, Frtizl incest verdict and (pause, beat) we're planning a full page related to that called 'Incest Around the World.'

Chinese team leaders nod approvingly while I almost spew bottled lemon green Nestea Ice Rush outta my nose. "Uh, wait a minute. Please. An entire PAGE devoted to what? 'Incest Around the World?"

Li: "Yes, we have found four other international cases. Very interesting. Germany, Australia, UK and South Korea." He hands me a two page printout labeled "Incest Around the World" where, sure enough, our intrepid international team has harvested four cases ranging from what one might generously call "accidental" (siblings didn't know they were related); "consensual" (father-adult daughter; siblings); to unspeakably vile (retarded girl raped by three uncles and 87-year-old grandfather.) And all neatly divided by country (map graphics too!), relationship and "background."

One world, one dream, I think darkly. It's a small world after all...

"Mmmm, wait a minute," I say. "This is, er, uh, (falling into Chinglish-speak) how-to-say? tacky. No, worse. It's just simply tastless. Very bad taste."

"Bad taste?" responds a Chinese senior editor. "No. It is not bad taste. It is news. International news!"

I plead the case again and a Chinese former China Daily colleague begins to back me with the verdict finally falling in favor of universal bad taste.

Later, my son emails me after I've described it to him.

"I've always wanted to know about incest in countries other than my own," he replies. "Doesn't everyone?"

1 comment:

Justin said...

Got your message. I need your email address. Or if you know Hamish in HK, ask him for mine. Not wild about putting mine out there again.
Looking forward to hearing from you.