Sunday 7 September 2008

Will Gong Li be first 'Singaporean' to win Oscar?

So Gong Li is a Singaporean now?

OK, she may (or may not) have become a Singapore citizen, but does that make her Singaporean?

It's not like she's going to start eating prata, buy 4D and end her sentences with a "lah".

Or even play table tennis for Singapore in the Olympics like some other imported China girls you may have heard of.

Speaking of the Olympics, why would anyone give up her citizenship of a country who has won a gazillion medals to become a citizen of a nation that has won a grand total of two in all its history?

Perhaps she heard about our new baby bonus scheme.

Perhaps it's because the actress can finally make that biopic about JB Jeyaratnam she has always wanted to make now that the ban on political films has been lifted.

Or perhaps since public demonstrations are now permitted at Hong Lim Park, she can protest how her role in Miami Vice was grossly overlooked by the Oscars. After all, she had to pretend to be attracted to Colin Farrell. Now that's acting!

Which brings up another point:

If Gong Li is indeed eligible to apply for a new HDB flat, should she ever win an Academy Award, would it now be "Singapore's" Oscar?

The closest she came was when she won the American National Board of Review best supporting actress award for 2005's Memoirs Of A Geisha on top of other little Asian and European awards she has earned throughout her career.

At least she has a better shot than Royston Tan and Jack Neo.

Her latest movie is called Shanghai, which also stars Chow "Welcome to Singapore!" Yuen Fatt and one-time Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe. Unfortunately, the movie's main lead is John Cusack, who while likeable enough, has yet to be forgiven for Must Love Dogs.

But regardless of whether Gong Li even gets an Oscar nomination next year, she is more likely to win an Academy Award in her lifetime than a Singaporean (China-born or otherwise) winning another Olympic medal in yours. (UPDATE: I was wrong. In 2012, Singapore won two bronze medals in table tennis.)

Let's say one day in the future, Gong Li finally wins a well-deserved Oscar for her moving performance in Farewell My Concubine Part Deux: The Concubine Strikes Back.

Are we going to be so thick-skinned as to say Singapore has won its first Oscar?

Will NTUC Fairprice hold an autograph-signing session in the middle of a supermarket to celebrate "our" Academy Award triumph? Will Gong Li be a no-show again like at the Singapore citizenship ceremony?

Will buzz-killing, parade-raining wet blankets point out that she's not a true Singaporean because she can only sing our National Anthem phonetically?

Will some MP fire Gong Li's acting coach, only to backtrack later and apologise to the country after a chat with Dr Vivian Balakrishnan?

To paraphrase Princess Leia: "Help us, Eric Khoo, you're our only hope!"

- Published in The New Paper, 2 September 2008

UPDATE: Gong Li's Singaporean husband confirms divorce rumours