Better hosts

Mainland star’s Cantonese wows Hong Kong’s Oscars

Chinese actress Tang Wei and Hong Kong director Ann Hui pose on the red carpet upon arrival at Hong Kong Film Awards

Tang: impressed Hongkongers

In search of a younger television audience, the producers of the 83rd Academy Awards tapped James Franco and Anne Hathaway to be co-hosts of the Oscars in 2011. But the move backfired, with viewers complaining that Franco was “disengaged” and “bored”.

In mid-April, the Hong Kong Film Awards also came under fire for casting the wrong man as host. Hong Kong actor Jordan Chan – one of three co-hosts of the evening, along with singer-actress Miriam Yeung and actor Gordon Lam – dominated the headlines the next day. Producers didn’t give Chan a teleprompter and he kept fumbling his lines and searching for his cue cards throughout the night. In many instances, his co-hosts stepped in and finished sentences for him.

“Please, never ask him to host the show again,” one netizen pleaded.

Chan admits he wasn’t totally ready for the job. “I confess, I didn’t prepare enough for the ceremony, because I had to commute between Hong Kong and Shenzhen,” he told the media the next day, adding that his stuttering on camera was also his “personal style”.

Few were sympathetic. Some netizens compared his performance to Tang Wei, who accepted an award that evening, saying that the mainland actress from Zhejiang province spoke better Cantonese than the Hong Kong show host.

“It is hard to understand how Cantonese is not even Tang’s mother tongue and yet she still seems so much more fluent at it than Chan,” one Hong Kong netizen mocked.

“Tang is so much more presentable than Chan,” another observed.

Hong Kong Cactus, a news portal, says the praise heaped on Tang also highlights that it isn’t accurate to claim that Hong Kong people always look down their noses at mainland Chinese (see WiC271 for our most recent mention of some of the local animosity against Chinese visitors to the territory).

“Jordan Chan was born in Hong Kong, while Tang Wei grew up on the mainland. But after the show, everyone was annoyed with Chan’s bad attitude and incoherent speeches while complimenting Tang for her fluent Cantonese and how presentable she is. This proves that Hong Kong people don’t always discriminate against mainlanders and think we are so superior. In fact, we admire people who are professional, articulate and accomplished,” one blogger wrote on the portal.

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