The cheating scandal between local celebrities Andy Hui Chi-on and Jacqueline Wong Sum-wing has been all over the news over the past couple of weeks. The news first came out on Hong Kong-based media outlet Apple Daily, who released surveillance footage of the two kissing at the back of a taxi, which the newspaper bought from the driver for, allegedly, HK$1.5 million.
I’ve been a fan of Sammi Cheng Sau-man for almost a decade, it was awful and I felt for sorry her, but my initial reaction wasn’t to victimise Cheng, or to viciously attack her husband for his wrongdoings. My focus was on how very little people seemed to care about how this was a serious invasion of privacy. I’m not saying what Hui and Wong did wasn’t wrong, but I think the fact that the driver filmed them without them knowing and sold the footage to the media was very wrong, too.
Commenters on Facebook and Instagram, aka the morality police, are highly selective in deciding what is socially acceptable and what is not. Somehow cheating within a marriage – which, to me, is a private household matter – is a bigger offence than filming someone without their knowledge and spreading that footage, not to mention earning a profit from it. It doesn’t take a lawyer to see that this is not right.
The first instance of privacy invasion was when Hui and Wong were covertly recorded in a space where they believed they had privacy. Followed by privacy exploitation when the footage, in no way the taxi driver’s creative property or derivative work, was sold to a third party – Apple Daily.
Both the driver and Apple Daily benefited from the scandal, while the celebrities, including Cheng had to suffer. Everyone pretended to be concerned about Cheng’s well-being after the news of the scandal came out, asking whether she would be able to maintain her emotional and mental health (it came out in public that the singer and actress had been battling depression). But the public are probably making the situation harder for them.
Morality and decency, something the public seemingly care a lot about, is also something they are very selective about. The public have immense power to influence society. Like a jury, they can decide that cheating is a far worse crime than selling unsolicited video footage of someone’s private affairs. This is a weird system.