Umbrella Coverage

Photos courtesy of Nigel Ong
Photos courtesy of Nigel Ong

There’s a lot of bullshit on social media. Food and babies and other stuff that I’m just as guilty of sharing as anyone else. But one can also do a lot of good with it. I don’t think more than a dozen people would have purchased tickets to each of our Save Music in Chinatown benefits without Facebook. And when it comes to the Umbrella Movement that’s been happening in Hong Kong, the Web has been providing a direct link that the mainstream news can’t match.

I used to work a pal named Kelvin, and now he’s been giving me the daily scoop not only about where the peaceful protesters are being cleared out by the goon squad (Mongkok this morning) but how the government has been directing busloads of counter-protestors to outlets like the Apple Daily that have been even a little sympathetic toward the protestors.

Photos courtesy of Nigel Ong
Photos courtesy of Nigel Ong

I know Nigel through his skateboard videos. I included one of them in a program of skateboard videos that showed in Chicago, Honolulu, and San Diego in 2012. But lately I’ve also been digging his understated black-and-white photos and video of umbrella districts, which depict the underlying tension between protestors and cops more than the violence that you can see all over YouTube.

The photos of Alex Ogle and video by Flora Lau are other powerful counterpoints to the more “official” coverage that one might see. Do politicians really think that the protestors are using their umbrellas as weapons the same way Jet Li did in the Once Upon A Time in China movies?


Finally, I never visit Reddit, but the continuous feed of updates, photos, and videos from the confrontation zones is hard to stop watching. I wonder if contributors to the feed will get busted?

The feeling of locals that they are not being represented by corrupt politicians and are being sold out of their homes to moneyed mainlanders is not a clear-cut crime and there is no easy solution. But there is no gray area when it comes to the government’s brutality and scare tactics, either. And those are being made plainer than day for everyone to see.

Author: martinkendallwong2014

Co-founder of Giant Robot magazine (RIP) and Save Music in Chinatown (since 2013)

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