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January 31st, 2003


For the Love of Sammi -
or "Hold the drool"

     I am a huge Sammi Cheng fan. Anyone who knows me knows that. I've been to two of her concerts, own numerous CDs in sometimes multiple versions, and have seen all of her movies at least twice. Yep, on the scale of 1 to 10, 1 being an absolute indifferent viewer of all things Sammi, and 10 being a dedicated fan of that which is blessed by even a smidgen of Samminess, it can be said: Kozo, the webmaster of LoveHKFilm, rates a good 11.
     So it probably seems weird that I'm writing this column to complain. Or grouse. Or to act generally dissatisfied with the state of things. Actually, the state of the world generally dissatisfies me, be it Sammi Cheng-related or not. Call me weird, but when people are fascinated by an IQ-challenged bohunk lying to the ladies about his supposed financial fortune, I do wonder about the state of things. It hardly seems right, or even sane.
     But I digress. This column is supposed to be about Sammi. Or something Sammi-related.
     So as I was saying, I really dig Sammi. I think she's really very pretty, though she's definitely not the most beautiful woman out there. Kelly Chen rates higher on the beauty scale, and is much more aesthetically-gifted in ways pleasing to heterosexual males. Cecilia Cheung possesses an appealing sexiness which outshines Sammi's, as does Athena Chu, Kelly Lin or Shu Qi. And Sammi is not either of the Twins.
     But I like Sammi more than the others. She's got a winning personality and a genuine charm which seems to shine through no matter what she does. I've been a fan since Feel 100%, which she stole from Ekin Cheng and future girlfriend Gigi Leung. She gave Cherie a girl-next-door loveliness that made her much more appealing than Gigi, who at the time acted like Daniel Chan in drag (note: Gigi Leung has improved considerably since then).
     And, Sammi seems to make three good movies for every bad one that she does, a feat which most other Hong Kong actresses really can't touch (in Shu Qi's case, you may have to invert those numbers). Sammi has made rather canny career choices, as none of her films can be considered complete and absolute crap. I actually feel glad that favorite HK popstar became Hong Kong Cinema's top leading lady. I applaud her success.
     However, that's all I do: applaud her success. There really isn't much more to it. I see her movies, I keep up with what she does, and I generally like who she is. When her movies are good, I say they're good. When her movies aren't so good, I say they're not so good. And when I say that none of her films is truly bad, I mean it (though Feel 100%...once more comes pretty damn close). Despite the fact that I am clearly in favor of Sammi, I try not to let the drool short circuit my keyboard as I review one of her films.
     But is that the nature of fandom?
     This question occurs to me because of some recent events, none of which qualify as matters of great importance. But, as I've earnestly stressed since the dawn of time, Life with Kozo is not about matters of great importance. It's just one man rambling about whatever comes to mind, which in this case is Sammi. Or something Sammi-related, which I'm getting to. runs polls. I'm sure you've seen them, as they populate the home page every Friday. Usually they're questions of little consequence, i.e. what is your favorite film, who should play a Chinese James Bond, and do you think Cecilia Cheung is anorexic? Stuff like that. It's usually all in good fun.
     But it annoys me that Sammi Cheng wins too much, and I suspect her victories have not been entirely fair. My reasoning behind this: web statistics. Thanks to the magic of tracing hits, I discovered a Sammi Cheng forum that had been announcing my polls on their own message boards every week. The messages were simple: "Hey everyone, here's a poll with Sammi on it! Go vote and make sure she wins!"
     And, not surprisingly, Sammi Cheng did. She won two consecutive awards, one of which asked who 2002's most lovable female was. I personally didn't vote for Sammi in this category because I didn't feel she was the year's most lovable female (I gave my vote to Charlene Choi for My Wife is 18). Yeah, the poll was a silly one so stuffing the ballot box really wasn't such a big deal.
     However, the second question asked what was the best female performance of the year. And the winner was...Sammi Cheng. I actually voted for Sammi Cheng on this poll, as I did feel her acting in My Left Eye Sees Ghosts had some real merit. But still, there was a message on that forum asking people to vote to make sure she won. Did their call to arms work? Well, she won, so you tell me.
     My feeling is that someone clearly had an unfair advantage in the poll. And even though it was my favorite Hong Kong popstar that benefited, I was bothered. Maybe I felt that no one on the Sammi Cheng board took that particular poll seriously. Or maybe I was bothered because someone on the Sammi Cheng board posted my entire review of Marry a Rich Man, announced that they liked the last two lines where I praised Sammi, and then said the review was too long and that "no one could be bothered to read the whole thing." Obviously, that forum is now my favorite place to hang out.
     But then there's this factoid: Andy Lau also won both Most Lovable and Best Male Performance.
     I guess what I'm asking is this: did anyone bother to read the polls and consider the choices? Or did they just vote for their favorites? As a "reviewer" of films, I try to be objective, even to the point where my sense of enjoyment is deadened by the need to be fair. But from the poll results, I would surmise that the vast majority of readers are Sammi Cheng and Andy Lau fans first and foremost, and their actual performances really have no importance because, after all, "Sammi Cheng/Andy Lau is always great!" It's almost like the Presidential election.
     This is not a knock on that fabulous Sammi Cheng forum (though I hope they don't post any of my reviews in the future). I respect the fact that they're fans, and as fans they have the right to adore, compliment, and generally drool over their favorite popstar. Heck, their favorite popstar is my favorite popstar, so I guess I feel some weird sort of kinship.
     But then there's all the other stuff: speculation over who the star is dating, or of how other people feel about that popstar. Or how Miriam Yeung fans may dislike Sammi Cheng, or how Miriam herself may not like Sammi. Or how those people are obviously screwed, because how could anyone dislike Sammi? It's a part of fandom that I don't really get. Then again, I don't get the entire Hong Kong entertainment scene, where reporters try to create controversy by point-blank asking "Don't you dislike this person?" or, "When's the wedding to this rumored flame of yours?" Is that really cool?
     Regardless of how public this stuff is, Sammi Cheng is, like me, a person. And would I want people talking incessantly over all the minute details of my personal life? Probably not, though I'm not famous so I can't accurately give that answer. Maybe I'd like it. And, as the high circulation of the Enquirer and East Weekly is sure to tell you, Vanness Q. Public likes it too.
     But I like to think that being a fan involves respect too. As much as I'm a Sammi fan, I respect her and hope she has all the privacy that she desires. And I want to personally assure her that if I ever run into her at the Gap, I will let her continue buying that fluffy pink sweater in complete anonymity. I won't even stare. Or at least I'll try not to.
     Does that make me a fan? Or am I merely just a respectful admirer? Maybe on that scale of 1 to 10, I'm actually just a 3. I don't seem to be as overly-involved as the rest of Sammi-fandom, and couldn't care less if she chose Andy Hui or Louis Koo as long as it doesn't lead to a messy Dennis Quaid/Meg Ryan divorce. Heck, I don't even belong to the official fan club. Is the point of fandom our absolute and undying devotion to a person, place, thing and/or amorphous entity? In Hong Kong, it sure seems that way.
     And if pop fandom really is so blind, then perhaps I am not a part of it. Maybe, in the truest sense of the word, I am not really a Sammi Cheng fan at all.
     Anyone want to buy some CDs?
- Kozo 01/31/2002

  Life with Kozo

The opinions expressed within are merely the musings of the Webmaster, and as such should be taken with the requisite grain of salt. If you disagree with an expressed opinion please feel free to contact him here. If you feel he has insulted your favorite popstar, you can still contact him. However, your chances of receiving a reply will be reduced by half.
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