Friday, March 06, 2009

Chartered Standards

"It surprised me, somehow," I mentioned to my friend.

"What did?" she asked.

"That somehow, one moment of weakness and humanity could undo years and years of hard work and achievement," I replied. Then I told her of one of my actors, who was, a long time ago, involved in a scandal of some sort, apparently. I never did know what he did; more to the point, however, I never really cared. The only thing I asked of him was to turn up on time, having read the script, and prepared appropriately for the scenes. He is quite good at this, mind you, and have, in the past, won awards for his ability. It really doesn't matter what he did outside of my set. I just don't care.

Public figure or otherwise, everyone's human, right?

"I mean, a person could be really good at what they do, and have a good reputation and all that, but somehow just one thing perceived as bad could overshadow all of that," I continued. "That one thing becomes the reference point instead."

Somehow, I feel that sometimes a lot of people I know fail to look at the bigger picture.

Why is that?

Is it that the moral standards of a public figure should be significantly higher, to the point that even a hint of negativity could bring a person down? Should a person not be judged by what he had done for the betterment of the public, rather than what they did in their own bedroom and the like? So long as it is legal, shouldn't a person, however public or private, be given the chance to be what it is that every single one of us is?

A human being?

I raise this point, in part because of the recent furore over the Elizabeth Wong issue, but also because of the reactions that has been provoked by other perceived scandals as well. I can't even use the word 'scandal' anymore; the key emphasis there is 'perceived'. Just a hint, a trace, a metronomic suggestion of immorality, could wipe out entire careers. I raise this point, because I feel that the bigger picture has been compromised. I raise this point because I believe that it is not right.

I raise this point, because I believe that when it comes to judging other people, public or personal figures, it is the bigger picture, rather than the more singular moments in time, that should be the reference point.

More to the point, I raise it because it is a world that I will enter when I come back to Malaysia. In case those visiting this blog do not know, I want to become a filmmaker, and to that end, have worked diligently over the past years to reach that goal. Should I be lucky enough to get there, what standards would be used to judge me?

Let's say, hypothetically, that I become very good what I want to do. Hypothetical, because 'good' is subjective, but also because the concept of a Malaysian filmmaker can also be quite fluid. Some people who have made only one short videos go around call themselves filmmakers; after having written and directed eight of my own short films, in addition to countless contributions to other people's works as in writing, editing, and producing roles, I still feel that I have a long way to go before I can comfortably call myself a filmmaker. But let's say that I become known for what I do.

Let's say that I got involved in a 'scandal'. Somehow. One way or another.

Will the general public be able to look at the bigger picture, at the whole of me and my achievements, and still think of me as the Oscar award winning, Cannes-conquering, industry-revolutionising 'scandal' director (I wish!)? Or will I only be known as the 'scandal' director?

Will my achievements be shrunk and tossed to the roadside as yesterday's news? Or will I become like my actor?

"What's his name?" she asked me.

I told her.

"Oh, isn't he the guy whose wife left him for another man...?"

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