Friday, December 21, 2007

A high price to pay

Recently, a friend asked me, “Did you hear about a Vietnamese teenage TV star who made a video of herself and her boyfriend having sex and it ended up on the internet?” “Who?” I asked. “I can’t remember her name, but it’s all over the Vietnamese news websites,” he replied.

I went to read the news and sure enough, there were many articles about an actress by the name of Hoang Thuy Linh whose popular TV series “Nhat Ky Vang Anh” had to be canceled because of the scandal. What her video depicted was so different from her good girl image that neither she nor the show producers felt that it was appropriate to continue. As a result, an actress on the rise to stardom in Vietnam had to fall deep and hard. Thuy Linh had to go on TV, and in the midst of tears, apologized to her family and teachers for disgracing them, and to her fans, most of whom are high school girls, for disappointing them.

As a result of police investigations, it was discovered that the people who distributed Thuy Linh’s video over the internet were also teenagers like herself. In Vietnam because it is illegal to distribute pornography, these students have been arrested and will be prosecuted for their crimes.

I’m pretty sure this scandal with a 19-year-old Vietnamese actress reminds us of another girl much more famous and wealthy. That girl is no other than the infamous Paris Hilton. But although Paris Hilton survived her tragedy, no one thinks that Thuy Linh will make it through hers.

The video incidents remind us of serious issues with young people today. First of all, young people are having sex when they aren’t ready. And add to that, many are not careful and responsible with their actions. The fact that young people are not only having sex, but are making video tapes, taking pictures, and then somehow make them available for others to see, whether by accident or on purpose, is something we have to seriously think about and ask ourselves:

“Is this right?”

“Should we be doing this?”

“What are the consequences that we will have to face by these careless actions?”

If you’re a young person in the twenty-first century, you’d have to be living under some pretty big rocks if you’re not surfing the web regularly, or at least sending emails to friends occasionally. In fact, there are some high school students who use the internet so much that they’ve become experts. Those people will end up in great jobs as engineers, software designers, game designers, or internet entrepreneurs. They’ll end up inventing new kinds of hardwares that will make technology progress to new heights.

And yet, there’s a bunch of teenagers who, like the ones involved in the Thuy Linh incident, spend a lot of time looking at internet pornography, and even spend a lot of time distributing videos and pictures for others to see. These people get hold of pictures, webcam photos, or videos of others, no matter whether they are famous or just a regular no-name person, and put them all over the websites for others to download.

We can readily see that people who are doing this to others is doing something really really wrong. If you’re in school, you should be spending your time doing your homework, preparing for exams, and playing sports. You should be using the internet for beneficial entertainment such as keeping in touch with friends, listening to music, and researching for information. If most of your time on the internet is spent with things related to pornography, then it’s time to rethink about your priorities.

On the other hand, as much as we are upset with the young people who are so willing to ruin other people’s lives by their mean-spirited actions, we can’t help but also see that such an incident would never have taken place if Thuy Linh and her boyfriend, Paris Hilton, and other young people would think more about their behavior. It is time for us to think again about what is the meaning and purpose of sex in our lives.

As young people, should sex be a part of life when we are not even sure if we can handle all of the consequences that go with this act?

The Catholic church asks that everyone restrain from sexual intercourse before marriage. This isn’t just a law to make us not be able to enjoy something that everyone should be able to enjoy. The Church isn’t out to deprive us of things that are good for us. But in fact, the Church knows that sex is an extremely important part of human life, and wants to make sure that we use sex in a way that it was meant to be – as an act of greatest intimacy between two loving husband and wife, and as a way for them to extend that love through the act of having children. The Church wants us to realize how valuable and meaningful sex is, so that it just can’t be done in a manner that was careless, and served little more than instant gratification. When two loving married people have sex with one another, they are doing the very thing that they were meant to do. The Church fully supports and wishes all married couples the best in their emotional, spiritual, as well as sexual life.

Returning to the sex video incident, we can see that today, there is an even greater challenge for us in the issue of sex. Now, we not only have to remind each other about whether or not to engage in sex when we are not married and are not ready, we have to further remind each other that it is not at all smart to do what many of our peers are doing. That is, making videos, taking pictures, and distributing them to others. Something that we do in a moment of fun can cause severe consequences.

As young people, we have dreams about our careers and our personal lives. Careless actions like these can cause all those things we dream about to be severely affacted, as the actress Thuy Linh is finding out in a very painful way. In addition, whether we realize it or not, as young people, we are members of a family and of a community. Our actions will have an effect on others. We Vietnamese have a saying, “Một con sâu làm rầu nồi canh (A bug can spoil an entire pot of soup).” What this means is that one unthinking action by one person can bring the whole family or the whole community down. When Thuy Linh’s show was canceled, not only she lost her job, but all the other actors and actresses, as well as the show staff lost their jobs as well. Thuy Linh was not the only person who felt ashamed, her parents felt disgraced as much as she did.

As I was following this news story with Thuy Linh, I came across a number of blogs where people left their comments about the actress and about her video. I was shocked and saddened for her because of so many jarring comments that anonymous people on the internet wrote. I could not believe that so many people had such atrocious things to say about a 19-year-old girl who had made a mistake in her life. These comments make me realize that sometimes when we make mistakes, it is very difficult to find people to sympathize with us, to support us, and to give us a second chance. But the people who are ready to ridicule and bring us down is easy to find.

That’s why we should understand that our actions have consequences attached, consequences that can be very costly. Sometimes, it’s good to find out for ourselves what happens when we make mistakes and learn from them. But other times, such as in the issue of pre-marital sex and irresponsible behavior such as the one we are talking about, do we really need to find out for ourselves what those conseuquences will be?

No comments: