It was quite impressive. Using AI, China’s media industry produced a very realistic holographic projection of the legendary Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng (1953- 1995) during Jiangsu TV’s new year concert on 31 Dec 2021. The virtual Teresa Teng shared the stage with popular Mainland artiste Charlie Zhou (Zhou Shen), singing three Mandarin songs together.
The virtual Teresa didn’t just sing, she spoke too. In a self-introduction before the final song of the three-piece set, she was seen mouthing the words in her signature dulcet voice: “Hello everyone, I’m Teresa Teng, I’m happy to be here at Jiangsu Satellite TV, working with Zhou Shen (Charlie Zhou). Here, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year.”
The audience loved it (her).
The great irony here is, the real Teresa Teng not only urged mainlanders to support democracy, she clarified that she had never accepted any offer to perform in mainland China and even if she would do so in future, that would be the day the PRC adopts Sun Yat Sen’s Three Principles of the People – national unity, government by the people and government for the people. Joke or insult, you decide.
Nevertheless, this was certainly not the first time that the PRC has hijacked a dead person’s philosophy to espouse its own values. China’s great writer Lu Xun and its first leader after the fall of imperial China, Sun Yat Sen have both been “honoured” as communists, even though they would certainly have been persecuted if they had lived to see the communist era.
What about the late Anita Mui who contributed to the Yellow Bird Project, a Hong Kong-based operation to help the Chinese dissidents who participated in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 to escape arrest by the Chinese government by facilitating their departure overseas via Hong Kong. Yellow Bird successfully helped more than 400 dissidents, who were smuggled through Hong Kong, and then onwards to Western countries. Some escapees included Wu’erkaixi, Chai Ling, Li Lu, Feng Congde, Chen Yizi, and Su Xiaokang. Three Hong Kong based activists were arrested by the Chinese authorities, but later released after intervention by the Hong Kong government. Yes, the HK government actually had a say in such matters back then. Boy, have things changed.
After that “successful” project with Teresa Teng, are they going to resurrect the Cantopop singer (1963-2003) and make her hologram mouth communist propaganda? Who can say no? The dead can’t protest. The fearful don’t protest and most people are ignorant or forgetful or both. Don’t be surprised if people who have known Anita Mui or Teresa Teng all their lives embrace the fake image and forget all about the one they once knew.
I would also not be surprised if some people with “flexible principles” would say “never mind lah”. Is it wrong? Of course it is. In fact, what the folks at Jiangsu Satellite TV did is not very different from the fake celebrity endorsements that so many naive netizens fall for. Either way, there are commercial interests and political mileage gained in a very unethical way. If only the dead could rise and set the record straight like the misrepresented celebrities.
What next? They could even make a hologram of the Dalai Lama and make him confess to all his “crimes” or preach a religion other than Buddhism. Believe me, there are people who will say “never mind lah”.