As the last of the weekend holidaymakers boarded ferries home, sunburnt yet high-spirited, I had resolved, despite the fact it was not my birthday, to celebrate the summer day by splurging on the corner shop’s last copy of the SCMP’s Sunday Post. But I had no idea just how far an over-inflated ego would go in order to satisfy its own illogical ends.
Jason Wordie’s “Like it not Hong Kong, the ‘expat brat’ really does exist” is a response to the backlash of his article “Expat brats: the sad by-product of colonial Hong Kong society” where he rather damningly declares “Third Culture Kids”, or so-called “expat brats” as “emotionally shallow […] serial hypocrites [with a] chillingly utilitarian attitude”.
This latest piece is undoubtedly an attempt to both sustain and build upon his original argument. Though this in itself continues to remain a mystery.
Although Wordie claims expatriate children develop into superficial adults who go onto develop severe “drug and alcohol problems”, the absence of any empirical evidence renders his conclusion that Hong Kong’s “expat universe” – being nothing short of “bizarre” – is primarily to blame is, frankly, ironic.
Like many others I felt compelled to pen a response which appeared last week in Coconuts HK.
Obviously Wordie too felt compelled to respond to the “barrage” of criticism that he received over the last week:
“These interpretations clearly touched an extremely raw nerve, and many readers, unfortunately, took what was intended to be general social history commentary as a very contemporary, direct personal parallel, either to themselves (as adult “expat brats”) or their children”.
Who precisely are these members of an “earlier generation of expatriate children”? Is he referring to the period before or after his own expatriation to Hong Kong? His overarching claim that all-privileged are all “badly behaved” is an unfair assertion. Yet again he provides nothing to back this up.
The historian’s thirty-year adroitness of observation seems to be the only excuse for the omission of any evidence:
“Well – I’ve lived in Hong Kong for nearly 30 years. Throughout that period, I have observed, close-up, enough distinct individuals to form a broad composite picture of certain definite character ‘types’”.
Surely the role of the historian is to break down stereotypes, not to construct, twist and perpetuate them?
Declaring the “adult expat brat” to be “sad…pitiful…emotionally shallow” (the list goes on) is not only defamatory but by adding its identification is in some way a commentary on Hong Kong’s social-history is backward.
Troublingly, he refuses to note that Third Culture Kids do add to the diverse beauty of this city. Though he adds in the final paragraph: “many aspects are overwhelmingly positive”, as if this one comment outweighs the excessive negativity of both his articles.
He plucks Shakespeare and Kipling (wrongly) from the ether in order to add fuel to the fire, concluding those many individuals who felt insulted by his polemic are simply unable to “confront the unflattering truth”.
If Hong Kong society does in fact greatly suffer under the alleged destructive personality of this demographic then surely Wordie ought to have at least provided a solution to this “endemic”?
This is clearly someone who vehemently believes that expatriate, third-culture, “expat brats” are not only miserable, maladjusted and delusional but are also rather content to be defined as such.
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