Why is The Online Citizen using emotional blackmail to try to save Vui Kong?

August 26, 2010

(To increase the font of this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) It’s a safe bet to state conclusively that a heart wrenching story can only be expected to go so far; stretch the plot too thin and it will simply snap – yes, I should know, I’ve written enough really lousy love novels that no one in their right frame of mind would vote with their wallets to reach that realization – the problem with trying to make a meal out of only a sympathy plot is it’s like trying to bake a fruit cake with only nuts without the raisins – soon the whole enterprise runs out of depth; that’s rapidly followed by an overwhelming vapidness when the plot fails to really engage. And the next thing you know, storyline just begins to unravel like the onion story, the more you peel, the more you cry…only to end up with nothing  – and after a while it, the story suffers from the same failing it tries to inspire – it just becomes too boring to sustain.

That I am afraid is what the Vui Kong plot will eventually suffer from – if all The Online Citizen can do is to sell the idea of heart wrenching soundbites about the misadventures of Vui Kong who suddenly found himself saddled under the weight of big bad wolf Mr government.

Granted as far as plots go – the Vui Kong story certainly seems to have all the set pieces for a melodramatic story line that even promises to go the full distance – the problem is the plot suffers from the same flaws it tries to inspire in it’s readership – believeability is an issue – for starters, the Vui Kong narrative tries to do the impossible by attempting to take Coca-Cola’s selling theme literally – “it’s the real thing.” 

To put it crudely, since the narrative makes free use of sentimentality; it distort the story of Vui Kong into an urban myth. Some may say there is nothing wrong with lacing a story with emotions to give it depth and nuance. Agreed! These are positive things as it allows us all to recruit the heart. 

However premising a decision on emotion and not anecdotal evidence can also be the worse form of oppression, defeatism and decadence – as what it does is trap us in an attitude where we vilify the factual approach as cold and uncaring. 

Nothing can be further from the truth to suggest the factual approach has nothing to offer – as one problem of trying to simplify a complex story like the life and times of Vui Kong into something like an emotional roller coaster manga comic strip is at some point – even the most optimistic amongst us will begin to ask: What happens when we get another Vui Kong case after we have managed to save this Vui Kong? Are we going to use the same narrative of the hard luck story of a boy who was simply seduced by the bright lights of the city again? How many Vui Kong’s might there be after this?

This should prompt many to press the pause button and ask the question – How sustainable is the emotional based approach? Shouldn’t we take the trouble to craft a evidenced and factual based approach so that in the future, we can at least defend the same ground vigorously? Or should we continue to base important decisions on purely emotional grounds? Or should we instead premise our decision on sound and logical arguments?

My point is jugular when we see that any emotional based decision has to be at best biased and at worst a diservice to the enterprise to save Vui Kong. As any emotional based decision is the direct opposite of an objective inquiry that is aimed at getting at the truth or, at the very least, at keeping scrupulously close to the evidence. Emotional based decision making is none of these things. It is instead a declaration of faith – a fait accompli – which makes free use of pie-in-the-sky material which usually cannot be questioned as it has the character of the sacred.

Hence we should wherever possible try to avoid the intellectual equivalent of what nutritionists call the empty calorie trap i.e emotional based decision making – and instead reconsider adopting an open, comprehensive, and collaborative approach that is based on pooling the results of research by many enquirers.

Indeed, one will always be hard-pressed to sustain the sheer weight of the narrative that Vui Kong should just be let off the hook simply because his family believes he deserves a second chance – as the adage goes:  what’s true isn’t new, and what’s new isn’t true – and this could just as well apply to Vui Kong case – as the charges facing him are so serious that if there is a road leading to salvation, then it can only lie somewhere between the fine line where reason and logic intercepts. And never in the barren heights of emotional hurt-my-head fairytales masquerading as a thesis that we saw recently in The Online Citizen.

Montburan & Darkness 2010

Darkness: “The problem with an emotional approach is it is essentially a close quarter weapon – so it is not so different from a noisy Stuka dive bomber or a sawn off shot gun – they all make alot of noise, but when you consider the merit of their firepower, they offer very very little – that means it’s more a shock and awe weapon; if you want to learn how to use this weapon; you need to first understand the psychology of warmaking……I learnt this technique of deployment from the Koreans..these people are the Toyota Motors of the tear jerker genre. They know every twist and turn, that is why if you observe them, they are experts in using this type of weapon….but even they will use the emotional card only once…never twice.. only once. The problem is when you use it again and again..it decays. Then the audience will get angry with you. As you are insulting their intelligence. When that happens…they will turn against you….and fatigue will set in and they will lose interest. So remember, the emotional card should only be used sparingly…this I can understand as when I was in University…..very few girls wanted to go out with a date with me……as I had a habit of being very factual and matter of fact with them. I just told them very plainly that I cannot buy them dinner, so I had a novel suggestion that we just skip dinner, the movies and get down to the part where we are both really interested in…..most of the time when I said this, they would just give me a blank look. At other times, I would get slapped. Most of the time, I got slapped pretty hard. I have never told anyone this before…..as it is quiet embarrasing.”

Montburan: ” How curious, I used to know a strange fellow like that as well…..what we did one day was all the ladies got together and passed the hat around to hire a hit man to sort him out.”

Darkness: “Montburan that could explain why so many people wanted me dead then.”

Montburan: “Can you tell me Darkness, why am I not surprised at all…why Darkness?”

Darkness 2006 – A thread in Ekunaba.


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