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新的思維,缺一不可 | A New Mindset, Nothing Less
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 9:28am on 25th November 2019


 


圖片說明:

2019年10月13日,警察在油麻地向旁觀者施放胡椒噴霧。圖片由作者提供。
Caption:
Police pepper-spraying street onlookers in Yau Ma Tei, 13 October 2019; Hong Kong Design Institute trashed by protesters, 14 October 2019. Photo: John Batten




(Please scroll down for English version)


1960年代,我的童年在觀看首部《蝙蝠俠》電視劇中度過。即使我那時才七歲,但已覺得它是一部誇張、滑稽、傻氣的典型美國處境喜劇。原著漫畫以學童為目標讀者,我也是其中之一。為了複製漫畫的孩子氣效果,電視劇特意加入了營造戲劇性的音樂、可信度不高的情節,還有自創的搶眼圖像化文字。蝙蝠俠與羅賓面對的大壞蛋,包括企鵝和謎語人。企鵝擁有很多款式多變的雨傘,是犯罪計劃的重要道具,而希望藉謎題挫敗蝙蝠俠的謎語人,則通常由羅賓解圍。每一集的內容主要圍繞陰險、幼稚的惡作劇,而為了平衡易受影響的年輕觀眾,也會零碎滲入「如何做好孩子」的教訓。

在《蝙蝠俠》電視劇中,小丑是身邊有很多其他壞蛋的反派主腦,但在這個以搞笑為主的電視劇中,他的角色從沒被視為窮凶極惡。到了電影版《蝙蝠俠》,小丑的角色經過積尼高遜、希夫烈格等淋漓盡致的演繹,才變形成為強硬、精神失常和偏激之徒。閱讀影評時,我通常會小心避開劇透又或電影有多精采的炒作。然而,我也對華堅馮力士所飾演的小丑獲得一面倒讚賞大感好奇,所以拜讀了黛寶娜羅絲在英國《旁觀者》雜誌中的影評。她這樣寫道:「……馮力士以其扭曲、瘋狂的方式令人着迷,凝聚了整部電影。但他的演繹也可說毫無魅力,令人討厭而且徹底卑劣……」然後,她在評論中寫下有損聲譽的建議。她問:「電影到底是傑作,還是不負責任的垃圾?請自行決定。或者,敬而遠之,免令自己看後悲傷。那可能是最好的選擇。」

可惜的是,我沒有聽她所言。我在某天下午進了戲院觀看。簡而言之,這是「不負責任的垃圾」。我沒有中途離場,其實我看電影極少會這樣做,但我卻後悔沒有。電影探討了也詳細分析了亞瑟.佛萊克(即小丑)的緣起。讓我先解釋一下,小心劇透!亞瑟是被領養的孩子,由單親媽媽撫養成人,小時候飽受養母虐待,在一無所有與貧困中成長。他患有精神病,無法控制笑聲,需要藥物控制。亞瑟立志成為喜劇演員,當過兼職小丑,後來連兼職的工作也失去。他每個月都要與社工見面,但這位社工只提供少無可少的監管。她的服務(和亞瑟不能缺少的藥物)後來因為社會福利削減而被取消。我們見證了亞瑟變得愈來愈失心智、幻覺愈來愈嚴重,而且暴力行為無可估計。電影的街道和地鐵場景真實地描繪了資本主義下,人人損人利己的無情城市,裏面住着生活艱苦但漠不關心的市民。電影最後以次要情節作結:示威者戴上小丑面具參與大型遊行反對「制度」,砸爛街上汽車,令虛構的葛咸城火光四起。亞瑟被帶上警車拘留,警車駛過遊行民眾。可怕的撞車意外後,同車警員身亡,然後,小丑難以置信地在汽車殘駭中被救出,被街上暴民高舉為英雄。

看過電影後,我到了油麻地彌敦道附近一家茶餐廳靜享咖啡。茶客都開心地坐着,邊吃邊聊天,直至一羣防暴警察在我們身邊經過。我急忙地喝光咖啡付帳離開,走到街上看個究竟。街上不遠處,一名踏單車的小孩因為指罵警察被捕。然後旁觀者也指罵警察,部分被噴胡椒噴霧;再往前一點,更多路人被噴胡椒噴霧。我尾隨警察來到太子,他們在整段路程中不停地被指罵,只有在離開時,街上羣眾才歡呼起來。香港中文大學最近一份調查結果顯示,有五成受訪者完全不信任香港警察。

上星期,香港知專設計學院地下被憤怒的示威者大肆破壞摧毀。

幾天之後,民陣發言人岑子傑被四名手持鐵槌人士襲擊至重傷。

我們都身處令人惶恐的僵局中。大部分香港人都不相信政府和警察,而他們對兩者的憤怒是可以理解的。政見相反的雙方都在以暴力代替對話和有理可據的討論。另一方面,流言、指控和責備每天都成為頭條,也支配着每天發生事件和危機的回應。有人告訴我香港時日無多了,這裏也再沒有未來;「革命」已不僅是噴漆塗鴉,而是真正發生了。

同樣是上星期,特首發表了「不負責任」的施政報告,沒有意圖解決持續不斷的政治危機。原本可以顯示領導能力的好機會,又再次被政府白白浪費。

小丑或許反映了香港現時某些面貌,但我並沒有被它民粹與破壞的單線故事打動。同樣地,我還沒有放棄香港。我們的街道上仍然有着正面改革的精神。這是回應種種重大差距的重大契機,包括貧富嚴重懸殊、決策者與小人物、在政治上有影響力與被剝奪選舉權之間的鴻溝。和解要從回應這些問題開始,那正是林太所言的必要「思維」,也如示威者口號中一樣「缺一不可」。


原文刊於《明報周刊》,2019年10月25日



A new mindset, nothing less

by John Batten



I grew-up in the 1960s watching the original Batman television series, and even as a 7-year old I realized its campy, tongue-in-cheek silliness was a typical American situation comedy. Its dramatically intentional music, improbable plots and inventive, snappy graphic texts (‘wham’, ‘bam’ etc) replicated its Batman comic-book origins to target a school-age audience, like me. The villains that Batman & Robin battled included the Penguin whose variety of umbrellas played a large part in his criminal schemes and the Riddler, whose riddles were intended to confound Batman, but were often unraveled by Robin. Each episode was essentially a story built around fiendish, childish pranks mixed in with odd doses of ‘how to behave’ moral lessons for the show’s young impressionable audience.

The Joker was depicted in the Batman television series as a villainous mastermind surrounded by fellow villains, but his character was never considered bad when seen in such a tongue-in-cheek show. It is only since the film versions of Batman that the role of Joker has morphed into a much tougher, unhinged and outlandish character led by the uncompromising acting of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. I am usually careful reading film reviews due to spoilers or the hyping of how good a movie is. However, I was intrigued by the unrelenting praise given to Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the Joker, so I read Deborah Ross’s review in The Spectator. She says “…the film is held together by Phoenix who is spell-binding in his twisty, maniacal way. But, it is also charmless and hateful and unremittingly nasty….” Her review then makes a damning suggestion. She asks, is the film “…A masterpiece, or irresponsible trash? You decide. Or, just step away and spare yourself the grief. That’s probably for the best.”

Unfortunately, I didn’t take her advice. I saw an early afternoon screening. In short, it is “irresponsible trash”. I didn’t walk out, which I very rarely do in movies, but I wish I had. The movie explores and details the origins of Arthur Fleck, alias the Joker. Let me explain, but spoiler alert: Arthur is adopted, raised by a single mother, and suffered as a boy from her abuse, deprivation and poverty. He has a mental disorder that causes uncontrollable laughter that requires medication. Arthur aspires to be a comedian and works as a part-time clown, a job he subsequently loses. Every month he sees a social worker, who provides minimal oversight. Her services (and Arthur’s indispensable medication) are later cancelled due to social welfare funding cuts. We witness Arthur becoming increasingly psychotic, delusional and unpredictably violent. The film’s streets and subway scenes depict a gritty, tough capitalist dog-eat-dog place populated by uncaring fellow-residents in a city that is crumbling. The movie concludes with the sub-plot of disguised protesters wearing clown masks attending large protest rallies against ‘the system’, who smash-up cars and set the fictional city of Gotham ablaze. Arthur, detained and held in a police-car, is driven through one of these rallies. A horrendous car accident kills his police minders and then, improbably, the Joker is retrieved from the car wreckage and is literally held aloft as a hero by the street mobs.

After the movie, I had a quiet coffee in a Yau Ma Tei chan cha teng on nearby Nathan Road. Everyone was happily sitting, chatting and eating until a group of riot-clad police stormed past us. I quickly slurped my drink, paid and left to see what was happening on the street. A little further up the road a kid on his bicycle was arrested for verbally abusing them. Then other onlookers also abused the police, some getting pepper-sprayed, then a little further along some more got pepper-sprayed. I followed the police until Prince Edward and on the entire route they were continuously abused and cheered to leave by the roadside onlookers. A recent Chinese University of Hong Kong survey has found that 50% of respondents do not trust the Hong Kong police “at all”.

Last week, the ground floor of the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) was smashed and trashed by angry protesters.

A few days later, the Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham was badly attacked by four assailants wielding hammers.

We are in a scary impasse. The government and police are not trusted by the majority of Hong Kong people and their anger towards both is palpable. Violence, on both sides of the political fence, is replacing dialogue and informed discussion. Meanwhile, rumour, accusations and blame-calling set the headlines and govern the responses to each day’s incidents and crises. People tell me that Hong Kong’s days are numbered, that there is now no future; and that “revolution” is not just sprayed-painted graffiti but is happening now.

Also, last week the Chief Executive’s policy address “irresponsibly” failed to be relevant in our continuing political crisis. This was an opportunity for leadership and the government – again – failed.

The Joker may mirror aspects of Hong Kong now, but I am not impressed by its one-dimensional storyline of nihilism and destruction. Likewise, I haven’t given-up on Hong Kong yet. On our streets is also the spirit of positive reform. This is a huge opportunity to address the obscene gap between rich and poor, decision-makers and ‘small potatoes’ and the politically influential and the politically disenfranchised. Reconciliation starts by addressing these issues – that is the required “mindset” (Mrs Lam’s word), “nothing less” (protesters’ slogan).



This opinion piece was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 25 October 2019. Translated from the original English by Aulina Chan.



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