SINGAPORE – The year was 2008, a brief period in time when blogs reigned supreme, and the very first iPhone was unveiled just a year prior.
The word “selfie” had yet to become common parlance. Instagram did not exist and Apple would not launch the iCloud service for another three more years.
In this fleeting period of history, before social media and the rise of messaging apps such as WhatsApp made the Internet the instant and often image-driven landscape it is now, a shocking sex scandal would rock the Asian entertainment scene, involve a global police effort, end careers, start protests and cause an unprecedented media circus.
#PopVultures, a pop culture podcast by The Straits Times, will be presenting a new series under its banner titled Can I Tell You Something Crazy, which looks at major news stories in Asian entertainment and pop culture with fresh eyes.
The episodes will be available via major podcast and audio streaming apps such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.
The inaugural edition of Can I Tell You Something Crazy, which launches on Friday, will kick off with a whole lot of crazy indeed: Hong Kong pop star Edison Chen’s photo scandal, which marks its 15th anniversary this year.
In 2008, photos of Chen engaging in intimate acts with various Hong Kong starlets such as singer-actresses Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung were published online, leading to a months-long saga that culminated in Chen, then 27, announcing his departure from the Hong Kong entertainment industry.
In later investigations, it was discovered that the photos were stolen off Chen’s laptop when he dropped it off for repair in 2006.
The new podcast series takes a deep dive into the saga, going over the finer points of the case that may have been quietly forgotten over time, such as the Hong Kong police’s bungled response to the case, re-examining and reflecting on how the media covered the story as well as contending with the vicious victim-shaming the female celebrities suffered in the wake of the leaks.
Future episodes will take listeners back in history to revisit other major show-business news events and their wider impact.
What do these stories tell about the social mores of the time? And how would they possibly be covered in the media now?
Stay tuned to #PopVultures: Can I Tell You ...