Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Painful Price of Becoming Jackie Chan (newrepublic.com)
353 points by tmitchell 68 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 241 comments



Here’s a really cool video breaking down exactly how Jackie sets up his stunt-action-comedy.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1PCtIaM_GQ

One thing that was particular interesting to me is how the setup always starts with him at an extreme disadvantage: no shoes, tied to a chair, hanging upside down, etc. I never noticed it before and it’s exactly what makes his action so enjoyable to watch.

(The YouTube Channel is called Every Frame a Painting and all the other videos are fascinating and very worth checking out.)


The lack of respect Chan gets in the west is a travesty IMO. His fight choreography is rooted in the traditions Chinese opera while being constantly fresh, playful and imaginative. He shows absolute technical mastery, but there is always a sense of child-like joy underpinning that mastery. The fact that his films are often regarded as frivolous and lightweight says something profound about what is valued in our cultural milieu.


> lack of respect Chan gets in the west

What? He's one of the biggest breakout stars from Hong Kong cinema in Western History. Is a household name, and starred in scores of movies during his career, including a 3 picture comedy/action movie series (Rush Hour), then went on to reboot a beloved 80's action story alongside the son of one of Hollywoods biggest names.

He also had his own cartoon for a while.

How the hell do you get "lack of respect" from his shining career?


I don't think most people truly appreciate how good his direction is, even if they enjoy watching him on screen. This oversight extends to Hollywood producers, who insist that his classic movies require "adaptation" before release in America. If Jackie Chan were truly respected, "Legend of the Drunken Master" would never have happened.


Hollywood is about money, its a mashine. Redoing movies has nothing to do with respect.

Movies of pretty much ever forign directors have been remade or rebooted.

So if you want to say that Hollywood has respect of nothing, then fine, bit it does not reflect on him at all.


He's more of a caricature; following under the idea that Asian actors are always portrayed as comical Chan is someone you emulate when pretending to do some ridiculous silly kungfu fu move with your friends rather than appreciated as a seriously talented actor in his own right (anecdotally).


> when pretending to do some ridiculous silly kungfu fu move with your friends

Maybe you just need better friends?

Your anecdotes certainly aren't universal.


That sounds like massive selection bias.


And every time I shoot a wadded up paper towel at a trash can I yell “Kobe”. Imitation and flattery...


> The lack of respect Chan gets in the west is a travesty IMO.

I don't think he gets lack of respect. Directors have studied his stuff for years. Anyone who has watched his movies has been impressed for years. However, let's face it, the average person didn't have any inkling who he was until Rush Hour.

As for Jackie Chan's work, the problem is that you get injured. No stuntmen in their right mind would do the kind of stunts he did. A slight change to the angle of several of his bad landings and Jackie Chan isn't a star but has been dead or crippled for 20 years.

As for his fight choreography, the primary problem is that it takes time, and that's something that Hollywood simply will not abide. You see this in the way Hollywood does music, CGI, etc. Everything is about cranking the handle and getting things done quickly, if there is craft, well, that's a happy accident but certainly not required.


He broke his back in the first (or second depending on how you count) Operation Condor movie.


They stand among my favourite movies of my childhood. I would rent get my dad to rent the tapes multiple times!

But yeah, the injury is scary, amazing how he kept doing his stunts after that


My bad, he cracked his skull.


Doesn't he do a lot of frivolous and light-hearted movies though -- I'm a huge fan.

Take a movie like "Who am I", it's like Johnny English meets Drunken Master.

"Kung Fu" films to me always have a notion of slapstick, even the beautiful ones like House of Flying Daggers; Chan's background in Opera I imagine helps to fulfill that element of slightly ludicrous spectacle (at least if Chinese opera has any similarity to its Western namesake).

I mean Shanghai Noon, great film within its genre, but goofy as anything; actors doing those sorts of movies just aren't treated as serious actors I guess.


You can be goofy and fun and make high art. Slapstick spectacle can also be profound. There's a certain po-faced affectation that is necessary to be called an artist. Being good isn't good enough; you also need to convincingly ape the norms of a self-appointed cultural elite.

The disparity in esteem between pop and rock springs to mind. We have an ingrained sense that if a record appeals to 13-year-old girls, then it must on some level be inherently inferior to a record that appeals to middle-aged men, regardless of the actual sophistication of the music in question. A teenage boy learning to play guitar carries an entirely different set of cultural connotations and expectations than a teenage girl learning to sing, regardless of how much effort they each expend. The term "credibility" hides a deep vein of ugly bigotry.


> There's a certain po-faced affectation that is necessary to be called an artist. Being good isn't good enough; you also need to convincingly ape the norms of a self-appointed cultural elite.

The cultural elite isn't self-appointed. They clawed their way up there the same way as everyone else who has reached some position in some hierarchy. And that includes various hierarchies of artists.

> The disparity in esteem between pop and rock springs to mind. We have an ingrained sense that if a record appeals to 13-year-old girls, then it must on some level be inherently inferior to a record that appeals to middle-aged men, regardless of the actual sophistication of the music in question.

I think the more standard criticism is that some music is made by a committee as a product whereas other music is the result of a group/individual trying to make good music and that, in general, the latter category is better. I don't necessarily accept this argument, but it's different than the one you're proposing.

More generally, I find your attitude perplexing. If you want to think about this subject seriously, then surely there is no objective way to view art. If that's the case, then saying "you can be goofy and make art" is pointless because it's obvious. It's all just people's opinions. "Being goofy" can be art just like anything else.

Where I strongly disagree is where you sneer at "high art" and the "cultural elite". In my opinion, "high art" is art that is appreciated by rich/educated people who have been exposed to different things than less rich/less educated people. "High art" isn't better or worse than "low art". The definition of art is "something from which people derive emotion".


>The cultural elite isn't self-appointed.

Charles Saatchi is the most influential man in contemporary visual art. Why? Because he made a bunch of money in advertising and bought a bunch of art. He clawed his way up the hierarchy of advertising, but he bought his status as the kingmaker of contemporary art. Do a broad sample of artists consider Saatchi to have exceptional taste? Does he have unique insights into the creative process? Mu.


I don't really count films he did after Rumble in the Bronx as part of his oeuvre, he effectively retired from doing the kind of physical performances that made him great after 1995. By the time he made his debut in Hollywood his body was a little too broken to keep up the routine.


You mentioning Shanghai Noon as an example is bad, the ones you referenced that weren't filmed in hollywood are much better examples - Chan has already expressed his distaste in how hollywood films are produced because most of the time they're in it for money rather than any sort of art.


About Jackie Chans’s image in the West, for what it’s worth there are still some people who have recognized how great he is, I remember reading a laudatory article about his movies in the French movie magazine “Cahiers du Cinema” way back in late 2001, and the Cahiers du Cinema people are generally known to be pretty insufferable and elitist. I think they also focused one of their famous Hors-Serie issues on Hong Kong cinema in the ‘80s (that one I didn’t read).


I think the lack of respect in the west is due to his political views and ties to China.


I read similar things about Mad Max: Fury Road. Basically that they did all the stunts for real, and then edit it with still camera shots, and with a real sense of rhythm. IMO that worked absolutely fantastically, and I hope other films catch on.

https://www.provideocoalition.com/art-cut-margaret-sixel-edi...


loved the article. Appreciate the link


He’s also incredibly expressive, which to a western audience may come across as “cheesy” but I personally love it. Give Rush Hour a shot and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.


That could be why Rush Hour was such a hit. Chris Tucker is also very expressive in everything he does so it was a good matchup with two great actors.


Rush Hour 1 through 3 have long been some of my favourite movies!

If we're getting into Jackie Chan movies, though, one cannot leave out Drunken Master


A note of clarification:

Drunken Master is pretty good!

Drunken Master II (re-released in slightly edited form as "Legend of the Drunken Master" in the US) is the one that's typically regarded as a bona-fide classic masterpiece.


Just a note, "Legend of the Drunken Master" is more heavily edited than you may be aware. Here's a video illustrating some of the problems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0A1vMKS6jFg

I wouldn't recommend watching it. It's really missing a lot of the charm of the original.


Thanks for clarifying!

I had to look it up, but I'm definitely referring to the first one in this case. I don't even think I've seen the second one!

Guess it's going on the list


Oh my lord you are in for such a treat. Enjoy it!


Don't forget about Police Story! I can still remember seeing that in a smokey Chinatown theater in NYC and being stunned by that mall scene at the end.


Police Story and Chan's other 80s movies are the rare genuinely "all ages" entertainment (the only other thing I can think of off the top of my head is Spongebob).

They're good for kids because they are funny and full of action without being grim or dark. They're easy to follow, even for young kids, because of the lack of shaky cam and fast cuts.

They're good for adults because of all the crazy choreography and stunts.

Police Story is definitely my favorite!


Thunderbolt from the mid 90's is one of his less popular, but it was Fast and the Furious, but 5 years earlier. He loves Mitsubishi, they're in a lot of his films.

Who Am I, First Strike, Police Stories, Armour of God, Mr. Nice Guy are all great, too.


Yes (to Drunken Master)! I just noticed this last weekend that it was on Netflix and re-watched it. After many years, I still really enjoy the movie.

Another one of his that I really enjoyed was Who Am I, but I haven't seen it in probably a decade.


I'm not sure I've seen it. I'll have to give it a watch.

I also really enjoyed his recent one with Pierce Brosnan— The Foreigner. It has a far more dramatic tone than the others, but it's great.


Just a warning, but with Who Am I, my love of the movie largely comes from the rooftop fight sequence. It has been long enough that I only vaguely remember a few parts of the movie outside of that sequence. Thanks for the tip on The Foreigner, I will definitely check it out.

Not the same kind of movie (and not Jackie Chan), but Kung Fu Hustle is definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it. I also always thought that Bjarne Stroustrup kind of looks like The Beast in Kung Fu Hustle (it's the hair and glasses).

http://www.stroustrup.com/xBjarne2018.jpg.pagespeed.ic.hePTB...

https://cinema1544.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/the-beast.jpg


I liked Rush Hour, but according to IMDB he's been quoted as saying those are some of his least favorite movies.


Ah that’s disappointing. I hope he knows the first movie was a highlight of my movie-going childhood!


In terms of martial arts action those movies are pale shadows of his earlier Hong Kong work.

Partially because Chan is older in those movies and is a little less physically capable.

But IMO mostly because of Hollywood's unfortunate style of directing fights and martial arts battles.

Traditional Hong Kong martial arts movies use a lot of wide and long, unbroken shots. You can really see the performers performing these physical acts of skill and beauty -- you see their entire bodies, it's almost like watching performers on a stage. Which is of course Chan's background.

In contrast, Western directors typically use a lot of fast, tight, jerky, almost seizure-inducing cuts. A closeup of a fist hitting a face. A closeup of an elbow hitting a knee. A closeup of a face showing somebody's reaction to the pain. Etc. etc etc. There's much less continuity. 98% of the scenes are probably shot by stunt/body doubles. It doesn't take a lot of talent for an actor to pull off a scene like that, at least not compared to the traditional HK style where the actors have had a lifetime of martial arts training.

Of course, those are vast generalizations. You can name plenty of counterexamples from both schools!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P75XwOm2JWw

Perhaps one of the most best(worst) examples of hollywoods "type" of fight scene - yes this is from netflix but more in reference to any semi-large scale film production in the west.


Here is the opposite of that from Netflix's Daredevil. An extended hallway scene. Perhaps a nod to Oldboy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV1Vzn6xwqQ


WRT your comments regarding framing/cutting techniques, the episode of “Every Frame a Painting” mentioned elsewhere in this discussion goes into this in depth and really demonstrates how it makes a big difference in the type of action that Jackie excels at. Highly recommended if you haven’t watched it before (along with the rest of the videos in the series).


I will definitely check that out!


You need to start referencing his movies that weren't made in hollywood, he has expressively mentioned why they aren't good at all. Yes he broke into the industry but he saw that they care more about money than making an film of art which leeches into the quality of the film itself.


Rush Hour 1 is a fun movie, the others are meh. They are not even close to the quality of some of the Hong Kong movies. Also Tucker gets pretty old quickly.

Rumble in the Bronx is an insane movie that is US based, better then Rush Hour.


>He’s also incredibly expressive, which to a western audience may come across as “cheesy” but I personally love it.

His heightened capacity for emoting is arguably as good of entertainment as his stunt skills.


Nothing better than finding even more cool content in the comments. Thanks for the link. It put to words a bunch of things that annoy me about modern action movies.


The author doesn't want to treat Chan's insistence on his account being an inspirational one and just wants to see it as sad.

I'm reminded of a Quora answer by a guy who loved fighting, one phrase he used stuck out at me. "Great fighters have to kind of like getting hit."

You can't push your body to its very limits without getting injured. Planning and preparing for it is not sad, it's smart. Chan's account should be taken at face value. It is inspirational for all the reasons he thinks it is.

I mean, sure, it would be way better if Hong Kong weren't the colonial hell-hole it was. Chan rose above that and made a noticeable dent in the world. If he could do it in the situation he grew up in, anyone can.

As the Brits like to say, Chan and his story are exactly what it says on the tin. To say it's not demeans Chan and his life and his choices.


> "Great fighters have to kind of like getting hit."

I'd generalize it to: "Great craftspeople have to kind of like the part of their craft that is unpleasant to 99% of the population."

Someone who excels at playing violin, writing computer software, public speaking, etc., generally does not find the "unpleasant" part to be "tiring", "boring", or "work". Instead, it's just part of the overall experience, which is a net positive.

When I was younger, I had a classmate who's an excellent violin player. Her practice schedule sounded awful to me, with well over an hour spent even on weekdays. I played musical instruments, too, and I liked a little practice, but rarely more than 30 minutes in a day.

I asked the violin player about this schedule, and the way she answered the question made it clear that practicing didn't seem unpleasant, or like "work," like it would to many other people. It was something she truly enjoyed.

Similar things can be applied to software development and liking the idea of investigating obtuse error messages and things breaking without any clear root cause.


Yeah, I'm a little skeptical of CS schools that try to shelter their students from suffering. While schools should obviously not attempt to break students, there should be a reasonable crescendo of difficulty within the program. Because, well, software development can be hard. Students that don't like the hard parts don't like software development. This doesn't mean insanely hard "weed-out" classes, but simply projects that reflect the difficulty and demand of the real world.


At some point I was introduced to "Find The Hard Work You're Willing To Do" - http://www.cs.uni.edu/%7Ewallingf/blog/archives/monthly/2018...

I think this is an important bit that a lot of people getting into programming don't realize. Many enjoy the "playing with computers" aspect. Some even enjoy writing new code. But the real test is do you enjoy fixing broken code?

The article ends with:

> Maybe this is what people mean when they tell us to "find our passion", but that phrase seems pretty abstract to me. Maybe instead we should encourage people to find the hard problems they like to work on. Which problems do you want to keep working on, even when they turn out to be harder than you expected? Which kinds of frustration do you enjoy, or at least are willing to endure while you figure things out? Answers to these very practical questions might help you find a place where you can build an interesting and rewarding life.

> I realize that "Find your passion" makes for a more compelling motivational poster than "What hard problems do you enjoy working on?" (and even that's a lot better than "What kind of pain are you willing to endure?"), but it might give some people a more realistic way to approach finding their life's work.

--

Another article that I love is Programming Sucks ( https://www.stilldrinking.org/programming-sucks )

This one starts with:

> Every friend I have with a job that involves picking up something heavier than a laptop more than twice a week eventually finds a way to slip something like this into conversation: “Bro, you don’t work hard. I just worked a 4700-hour week digging a tunnel under Mordor with a screwdriver.”

> They have a point. Mordor sucks, and it’s certainly more physically taxing to dig a tunnel than poke at a keyboard unless you’re an ant. But, for the sake of the argument, can we agree that stress and insanity are bad things? Awesome. Welcome to programming.

--

This "What kinds of frustration do you enjoy" I believe is a stumbling block for many people looking to enter the work force. I've encountered people in the past who love writing code but hate debugging.


I didn't realize anyone likes fixing broken code, debugging, or - from reading HN - what seems like what most professional programmers spend most of their time doing, inheriting a huge broken mess of old software and having to come to understand it and clean it up somewhat. I don't remember reading/hearing anyone say they actually like it.

edit: Nice to hear it!


Finding and diagnosing bugs is annoying. Actually fixing them is super satisfying though. Same with cleaning up old crusty code, figuring out wtf it's meant to be doing is painful but turning it into clear clean well-factored efficient code is satisfying.


Debugging is the best. It feels so good when you stop hitting yourself in the face.

Inheriting a huge mess is harder to love, but refactoring payoffs are huge.

What I will never do again is inherit a huge buggy mess and a boss that wants you to add 5 features to it by the end of the week.


I do. I love hunting down bugs and leaving the code better than it was. I've done some memorable refactorings of terrible code. It feels weird to say I like it, but I kinda do.


I love debugging, but only with access to the code. It gets frustrating to track a problem to some black box library, and then have to stop.


Any program not challenging your ability as an undergrad to implement something beyond your current skill is doing their students a disservice.


AKA “We hackers do for love what others wouldn't do for money.”


I'm reminded of fighter pilots: "I can't believe I'm being paid to fly!"


Can't think of something that must be more thrilling than piloting a fighter aircraft.

Sadly I was too tall/big (I did a stint in the USAF, once...) Most fighter aircraft are designed for small to medium size fit men up to a maximum of 6'... I was 6'3" and slightly overweight


It does look fun. But there are other sports that push the excitement envelope.

I kitesurf. You can pick up the F1 of kites for around a grand. It's like being tied to an F1 car. Or go surfing, tech and shapes haven't changed for a few decades. So boards are cheap. Paddle out when it's big. That's a lot of water sloshing around. Being trapped out back on a big day is truly terrifying. And the only way in is to surf one of those waves. Makes my bum-hole tingle just thinking about it.


> Great craftspeople have to kind of like the part of their craft that is unpleasant to 99% of the population

Fixing bugs and refactoring. They have their perks.


These are two of my favourite things about programming! I wouldn't consider myself "great" or a "craftsperson" though. Maybe I should.


Refactoring is a pleasure for me IF AND ONLY IF there is a decent unit test/functional test suite for whatever I'm working on!

There's a funny perk to bughunting... the amount of time it can take is nondeterministic so you can take breaks during it (they help you find the root cause, anyway, by clearing your head) and nobody will complain. "I'm thinking about the bug! Backburner debugging!"


One hour is nothing, many professional musicians practice many hours a day, each day.


>If he could do it in the situation he grew up in, anyone can.

This is a terrible mindset to have.


It's not as if the converse here is, "If a person doesn't succeed, then they did not deserve it." Is that the reason you have a problem with this mindset? I think of most alternatives as being fatalist / victim mentality, where you think you're an object that the universe does things to.

What mindset do you propose people have when they want to achieve something exceptionally difficult?


"If I can win the lottery, anyone can" indeed. Does that technically fall under survivorship bias? (Which isn't to say that Chan _just_ got lucky, just that it's a combination of luck, skill, upbringing, disposition, opportunity...)


You forgot the three most important things, which are 10,000 times more important than the ones you listed.

Hard work, hard work and hard work.


Necessary but not sufficient.


what about jackie chan's life story screams luck and people handing him things coz he was handsome to you? literally all he did was hard work


The part that screams luck is that for every hard working Jackie Chan there are ten -- or more likely a hundred -- people just as talented and working just as hard, who didn't become multimillionaire A-list celebrities.

Which is why the parent poster said hard work is necessary but not sufficient.


But it IS sad. Jackie Chan is one -- ONE -- success story in a pool of what must be thousands of boys who will never see success and will always be poor and uneducated.

I was honestly shocked to learn how little Jackie Chan is educated -- and how little he wants to be -- despite his tremendous wealth.


>I'm reminded of a Quora answer by a guy who loved fighting, one phrase he used stuck out at me. "Great fighters have to kind of like getting hit."

Floyd Mayweather disputes this.


It's not always terribly exciting to watch, but Mayweather's pathological aversion to getting punched is certainly effective.


Never thought I'd hear an aversion to being punched described as pathological.


Most boxers will trade punches a lot more. Floyd just apparently figured out that total defense is better.


Indeed -- taking into account the recent revelations about CTE and related issues, Mayweather's "I believe in taking as little punishment as is possible" approach seems to me well-considered.


Who'd have thought that being repeatedly punched in the head would have negative long-term health implications?


I mean, sure, it would be way better if Hong Kong weren't the colonial hell-hole it was.

In what sense is Hong Kong a colonial hell-hole? (Take this not as a challenge, but as a question from someone who is unfamiliar with the idea.) Is there an underclass trapped there? Do the people in it feel trapped?



Wow! Eye-opening. Thanks for posting it.


That photo essay is from 2017 and addresses the ridiculously high real estate prices of Hong Kong. Colonialism isn't to blame for that. Globalism is.

Colonial Hong Kong certainly wasn't all rosy. There was certainly vast inequity, but that had to do with global trends of poverty and essentially being almost a second-world economy at the time. Growing up in colonial Hong Kong was alright. Definitely not a "colonial hell-hole" which I find to be incredibly offensive.


Maybe not Hong Kong as a whole, but the Kowloon Walled City might fit the bill. Make's Rio's favelas look positively open and airy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City

It was the most densely populated place in the world prior to being demolished and dubbed the "City of Darkness".


essentially being almost a second-world economy at the time

The original meaning of "second-world" was "behind the iron curtain." Hong Kong's being physically close to communist China might have had certain effects.

Growing up in colonial Hong Kong was alright. Definitely not a "colonial hell-hole" which I find to be incredibly offensive.

As far as I know, Hong Kong is simultaneously wonderful and horrible in the same way New York City and SF are simultaneously wonderful and horrible, only more so in both directions. Given my experiences apartment hunting in SF, and other information, I'd guess that some SF housing would go almost to the same place, were it not for regulations. I've heard of a former housing regulator using his inside knowledge to convert entire houses into tiny "almost" studio apartments, which are technically still rooms.

The article reads like a subliminal hit piece against Jackie Chan.


Thanks for the clarification. I didn't think this was caused by colonialism (for the record, I think it's caused by unchecked capitalism rather than "globalism").

> Definitely not a "colonial hell-hole" which I find to be incredibly offensive.

It does sound offensive. The article doesn't even try to argue this, either. Those aren't my words either, since I know next to nothing about colonial Hong Kong.


More housing regulation would prevent some of the coffin sized bedrooms. I'm not sure if human dignity would be increased or decreased in that case, if such regulation would cause more homelessness.


I wasn't arguing for more housing regulation (or arguing at all), though now that you mention it, I think living in coffins is probably not the best for human dignity.

I was just commenting that a series of photos titled "Trapped" about an underclass living in coffin-sized bedrooms in Hong Kong, posted -- not by me, mind you -- in reply to your question "is there an underclass trapped there?" is both eye-opening and remarkably relevant.

Wouldn't you agree?


It was described in the article. A lot of economic activity there is only a few steps removed from human trafficking. And I'm sure a lot of that goes on there as well, but it's hard to track for obvious reasons.


I just read the article, and I didn't see any mention of human trafficking. The Hong Kong opera school is described as indentured servitude.

And I'm sure a lot of that goes on there as well, but it's hard to track for obvious reasons.

I think that summarizes the constant emotional undertones in this article. This article strikes me as a deliberate re-spinning of a story meant to be triumphal, making it the sneakiest hit piece, ever, disguised as a think piece. I would think better of it, were it not for its reliance on such common knowledge preconceptions about "what the Chinese are like."

(Also the French and the British. But that is just what upper-crusty people are like. Human beings are highly hierarchical, and this expresses itself in even the most hardline Marxist states. Even some of the west coast philosopher kings and queens who hang out in places like Big Sur can look down their noses at people with almost no information to prompt it.)


> The Hong Kong opera school is described as indentured servitude.

Which is considered by many to be a form of human trafficking. Just because you signed a contract doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to get out of it. I'm not entirely certain where to draw the line.


Particularly in the case of a minor, who has no say in the contract. Chan was sold into servitude while most of were still in primary school. The way I read it, he wasn't able to break free until his early-20s.


Particularly in the case of a minor, who has no say in the contract.

Wasn't the contract entered into by his parents?

The way I read it, he wasn't able to break free until his early-20s.

Was he kept under lock and key by armed guards willing to main or kill him to keep him from escaping? Or did he primarily think of it as working through a contract his parents had signed him up for?


Are you actually arguing parents should be allowed to self their children into servitude? If so, there's no point debating with you - I find the practice morally reprehensible (and yes, the systems that make such an arrangement in any way palatable are also reprehensible).


Are you actually arguing parents should be allowed to self their children into servitude?

No one wants children to be sold into servitude. However, the state impinging into family affairs to the point where it can be 100% prevented is essentially making the state the full de-facto guardians of the children. This is the state of affairs where children are informing on their parents to the state.

It's in part up to the parents in a case like this, to determine if what they're doing is selling their children out. That should be a matter of relationships within the family. (Government should be supervising how such business treat and house children. It shouldn't be impinging itself on the relationship between parent and child for any but the most extreme circumstances.)

If so, there's no point debating with you - I find the practice morally reprehensible

Using such debate tactics is dishonest on a few levels. 1) The likelihood that you are talking to someone that reprehensible is rather small 2) The likelihood that you are not exercising the principle of charity and imposing unnecessary emotional toxicity in a nuanced discussion (to your own short-term rhetorical benefit) is rather much larger.

and yes, the systems that make such an arrangement in any way palatable are also reprehensible

There are and always will be a few horrible people who will do that to their own children. Giving over tremendous power to the state over the intimate affairs of absolutely everyone for the sake of preventing rare instances strikes me as hugely unwise. Imagine what the plight of gay teenagers in the past would have been like in an unfriendly regime of such power, where state power reached into family affairs. (Or the plight of such teenagers in totalitarian theocracies today.)


Sorry, I read your initial response as rather glib about a practice that is generally considered wrong. If that wasn't your intention, I apologize.

I do understand that the contract was legal. And suspect Chan's parents likely gave it great consideration. Doesn't make the practice, or the circumstances that lead to it, any more palatable to me.


I do understand that the contract was legal. And suspect Chan's parents likely gave it great consideration. Doesn't make the practice, or the circumstances that lead to it, any more palatable to me.

Very often, the reality is quite nuanced. What are your feelings about parents who pressure children to practicing sports or music for long hours from a young age? How is such a school different? At what point should a 3rd party intervene?


A contra point to the example you give regarding gay teenagers (last para), is the persistence in many parts of the world of "honour killings" contrary to government proclamations against such practices. In these situations, government failure to intervene (and educate, and...) renders legislative protections useless.

Also, it seems to me that in the past (and the present!) gay teenagers had just as much (if not more) to fear from their parents than from the state. Even in totalitarian theocracies, I'd suggest that in such regimes it's often outraged parents that "out" their gay children to the state. I could be wrong.


A contra point to the example you give

None of those are contra points.

In these situations, government failure to intervene (and educate, and...) renders legislative protections useless.

No one would disagree that intervention at the level of preventing murder is probably a good idea. I'm sure no one would disagree that intervention by the state at the level of injections of hormones and anti-gay "therapy" would be an overreach. Preventing murder is objectively something the state should do. States that cannot maintain an monopoly on the use of force are failed states. However, the state should intervene as little as possible on things like family life. How much should the state intervene? Answering this question was the purpose of the exercise above, which you apparently missed. Take the policy and power you propose and put it into the hands of the worst state you can imagine. A policy to prevent the murder of children, if practiced correctly, would still be a good thing, even in a theocracy. (Perhaps especially there.) Once you start adding the enforcement of things like social standards and societal mores, then such power looks less palatable in the hands of the state. It's easier to see that if you imagine a horrible state.

Even in totalitarian theocracies, I'd suggest that in such regimes it's often outraged parents that "out" their gay children to the state.

This would also be a tragedy. Children outing their parents to the state would also be a tragedy.

I could be wrong.

Many of your statements are correct. What's to question is your positioning those statements as somehow contradicting my position. They do not.


In reading your comments I felt they came across as "absolutist" i.e. "governments should not have the power to intervene". My apologies if I misunderstood. If in fact we agree that governments must have the power to intervene in support of the safety of its citizens, then all we (perhaps) disagree on is the threshold at which such powers kick in.

e.g. in my state in my country we have "no jab, no play" laws to penalise parents (and indirectly, their children) that refuse to vaccinate their kids. Note, that in this example, vaccination is not forced, however there's plenty of stick to "encourage" desired behaviour. I think this is a valid use of the intervention power. Others disagree.


Do the answers to your rhetorical questions matter? Is there any answer to your questions that makes indentured servitude of minors acceptable?

I cannot conceive of any answers that would.


Do the answers to your rhetorical questions matter?

As someone who was a child who was sent away to school by his parents, let me tell you that they matter a great deal. (Particularly from the POV of an adult looking back vs. the experiences of a child.) They are precisely the questions that should be asked to distinguish manipulations of "Think of the children!" hysteria and genuine issues of the human rights of minors.

Is there any answer to your questions that makes indentured servitude of minors acceptable?

Of course not. But I can imagine the level of state power and impingement on private family life needed to prevent that 100%, and that would be quite horrible as well. Government should regulate the conditions under which children are kept and raised by schools. However, the degree to which someone else should decide for parents what to do also needs to take into account the rights of parents and families.


Your last paragreaph sounds contradictory to me. In order to "regulate conditions", the government must reserve the power to intervene should said conditions fail to meet regulatory minima. Failure to reserve such power automatically neuters any "regulation". There are only two distinct choices - no government power over these conditions and therefore no regulation (in effect, irrespective of contrary claims), or regulation (with government power to intervene). In the latter case there is broad scope for where the threshold for intervention is set and most discussion centers on this. But in all cases, the existence of such a threshold requires government power to intervene.


In order to "regulate conditions", the government must reserve the power to intervene should said conditions fail to meet regulatory minima.

Of course. Read the whole thread as if I think the government should reserve that power. My position is that the government should use such power as sparingly as possible.

There are only two distinct choices - no government power over these conditions and therefore no regulation

False. There is a "dial" here. The question is how much government should intervene. In that, there are far more than 2 choices.


> My position is that the government should use such power as sparingly as possible.

Apologies. I misunderstood and it seems we agree on the fundamental principle that the government should have such power and disagree only on it's extent, as per my other reply to another comment of yours: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18870396

> False. There is a "dial" here.

Which is exactly what I go on to say in the rest of the sentence you quoted - "...there is broad scope for where the threshold for intervention is set"


Countered question of my own: Do you understand the plight of being an exploited child?


Do you understand the plight of being an exploited child?

I understand what it's like to be sent away to school by one's parents to experience significant hardship. It's not a matter where one should cry out for more state intervention, lightly.


This does not answer the question.


One can always find a singular example of something really horrible, then try to use the emotional energy of that to drive their point home. In most cases, and in this case, there are other issues which you can't disentangle so easily.

My reply does indeed answer the question, as to the part of the experience of such a child I could understand. In particular, I was severely abused by a classmate, and felt unable to ask for help. I felt a great many things about my experience, and I know this from my personal experience: The POV of the child is truly paramount. It can turn a voluntary contractual experience of privilege into a horrible coercive one, or something that someone might call "indentured servitude" into something positive. It may well be that what appear to be the exact same circumstances are one thing to one child, and the opposite to another, or that it's remembered as a mix of both.

My lived experience tell me this, and in light of that experience, your comments strike me less likely to be a genuine concern for and understanding of those experiences and more as a rhetorical tactic using people's protective feelings towards children.


I did not ask about abuse. I asked about exploitation.

A further question: Are you performing the same rhetorical tactic that you are telling me that I am performing through your anecdote?


[flagged]


Please take my words at face value. Also, this is the second question gone unanswered.


It could be argued that it does. The commenter states the parts of their experience that are relevant and extrapolates from that.

As mortals, our experiences are limited. Having a good imagination and intuition allows us to extrapolate from these limited experiences to better understand the world we live in. Otherwise, discussions would be very limited and stilted indeed. Unless you never join in a discussion that you don't have direct (exact) personal experience in?


My statement is that being bullied in school(I believe that is what the experience is, I cannot be sure) is not a relevant experience to being a child whose labor is being exploited systematically in a society whose colonization prevents better opportunities.

Being able to relate to things using personal experience is important. It is equally important to understand when an experience is distinctly different from our own and to be willing to intake new information, including recognizing nuances that causes seemingly-similar situations to become drastically different.


> The Hong Kong opera school is described as indentured servitude.

Which is considered by many to be a form of human trafficking.

My own family history has a lot to do with indentured servitude. If you watch Korean historical dramas, you'll find the condition described as being a "servant" but at other times, the same condition will be described as being a "slave."

In terms of being signed up as minors, exactly how do you draw the line? I went to a boarding school where they didn't let us off school grounds without getting leave.

Just because you signed a contract doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to get out of it. I'm not entirely certain where to draw the line.

How about physical coercion? Did 19 year old Jackie Chan consider himself a slave? Was he kept in a place through physical coercion and torture? Did he dream of jailbreaking himself out of his barracks and wire-cutting the fence and running to freedom while being chased by guards prepared to main or shoot him? Or was he thinking of it as working through a contractual debt?

The line should be firmly held at physical coercion. As always, there will be people who skirt the lines by coming up with things that have the same effect, but which are "technically not coercion."


> In terms of being signed up as minors, exactly how do you draw the line?

I think minors need to be free to follow the wishes of their parents who are free to exercise authority as guardians. Interfering with that should be a human rights violation. But if the parents wish to send their kids to a boarding school, that has a long history of being a successful way of providing children with an education.

If Chan was sold into servitude by his parents, I think that's de facto slavery, you can't sell the personal autonomy of another person, not even your children.

> How about physical coercion?

Certainly. But there might be trickery involved as well, which should be considered criminal. If I offered you a well-paying job in Dubai, then when you got there told you you were only going to get paid a tenth and further charged you exorbitant rates for food and lodging, that should absolutely be considered trafficking.

I don't have all the answers. But certainly there's more to it than what we'd call kidnapping.


If Chan was sold into servitude by his parents, I think that's de facto slavery

What would you think of a boarding school, where there is a meritocratic selection of child candidates from among primarily underprivileged families? The families that are selected receive a payment. The child is housed, schooled, and given rigorous training in a prestigious performance art.

Is there something in that which is de-facto slavery? Isn't that a description of the circumstances of Jackie Chan's family? I would agree with you, that there is significant potential in such an arrangement for abuses, but it's not a simple black&white situation for instantly considered condemnation.

you can't sell the personal autonomy of another person, not even your children

Parents often override the personal autonomy of their children "for their own good."

I don't have all the answers. But certainly there's more to it than what we'd call kidnapping.

No disagreement.


> What would you think of a boarding school, where there is a meritocratic selection of child candidates from among primarily underprivileged families? The families that are selected receive a payment. The child is housed, schooled, and given rigorous training in a prestigious performance art.

If this is a public, regulated social institution, then I see no problem with it. I don't want to say that children shouldn't be made to do work, but removing them from a family environment to be exploited absolutely draws the line. I just don't know where precisely to make that legal distinction.

> Parents often override the personal autonomy of their children "for their own good."

And that's fine. We have a fairly good understanding of what constitutes child abuse, it's the removal from the family that needs to be carefully considered.


If this is a public, regulated social institution, then I see no problem with it.

I would rather live in a society that's free enough for private schools to be established.

I just don't know where precisely to make that legal distinction.

I think we can set objective standards for the housing and treatment of children. Objective standards make it easier for government to adjudicate fairly, and prevent the abuse of power by officials and regulators.

Even so, nothing is perfect.


Apologies, what I meant by public is that they are visible and an integral part of society, not necessarily their specific ownership structure. The visibility is what prevents abuses, not the ownership. They can well be privately owned, they just need to operate overtly.

If these organizations were trying to keep a low profile, then that would be cause for concern.

> I think we can set objective standards for the housing and treatment of children. Objective standards make it easier for government to adjudicate fairly, and prevent the abuse of power by officials and regulators.

We are in agreement on this point. I was merely expressing ignorance of the specific standards that I would consider to be ideal.


> The line should be firmly held at physical coercion.

I disagree. Mental coercion is a thing. Also, children (and often adults too) don't have the knowledge that there exist alternatives i.e. that they have choices. Denying people that knowledge removes their agency. In the case of children they look to their parents as providers - not just of nurture but of knowledge. They trust them and often accept without question. Should instinct be seen as a failure on the child's part or a conscious agreement/submission to the conditions they are subjected to? If so, then whole areas of jurisprudence concerning minors will have to be re-written.

EDIT: spelling: their/there


I disagree.

No you don't. "The line should be firmly held at physical coercion," is meant as a statement of a baseline minimum. Principle of charity, please.

Mental coercion is a thing. Also, children (and often adults too) don't have the knowledge that there exist alternatives i.e. that they have choices.

Been there. I've been in the position of having a mob, powerful community leaders, and people with police connections arrayed against me, not knowing the law was actually on my side.


Did not intend to be uncharitable but I think I've misunderstood your statement "The line should be firmly held at physical coercion". In the context of the discussion, I took that to mean, "the line (e.g. the point at which government intervention in the private affairs of individuals is justified), should be firmly held at physical coercion (i.e. where one party is being physically coerced into a situation)" with the logical (to me) implication that in the absence of physical coercion, government intervention is not justified - a position with which I do not agree.

EDIT: last sentence - clarified my position.


"This article strikes me as a deliberate re-spinning of a story meant to be triumphal"

^ This right here.

There are many things to say about the damages caused by colonialism, but complaining that it's not covered in a book about Chan (who got immensely successful), in Hong Kong (which became very wealthy) in the 1960/70s (while the rest of China was basically burning down) misses the mark. There is a historical context that is quite specific to Hong Kong: the majority of its population actually moved there post-WW2 to escape the troubles on the mainland. Moreover before its decades of unrest, China had been ruled by the Qing, whom most Chinese considered to also be colonisers (the Qing were Manchus who imposed their customs on the Han Chinese majority), so in that regards the British were not some sort of uniquely evil rulers, they were yet another bunch of invaders, who happened to be slightly less violent than the other ones next door.

I think that's why Chan ignored the colonialist angle: it's kind of hard to hate on a city if your family willingly moved there. And yes there is hardship and injustice, but in the rest of China people are either getting purged or are literally dying of hunger. I believe his apolitical view of that era is quite common amongst his generation: yep HK was ruled by some foreigners for a while, next chapter please.

There are some Brits who would tell you that HK developed "thanks to" the UK (I am of the opinion that when a colonised city surpasses even the UK's GDP without being granted any meaningful democratic rights, they succeeded despite your rule, not because of it). This article takes the opposite position but still implies the same thing, that Hong-Kongers were victims with little agency, which I find patronizing when in reality they where a city of refugees who brilliantly navigated a difficult era. Likewise presenting Chan's physical trauma as representative of Hong-Kong's development strikes me as completely off. Lots and lots of people accessed the middle and upper class in the 70s and 80s. Most of them were not stuntmen, it turns out. I must say this is the first Western review I see of this book, and it's the first one that brings colonialism up seemingly out of nowhere. There is a little bit of "Chan's story is not really about him, it's about... us! the Western people" euro-centrism here, IMHO.

Also, since everyone is naming their favourite Jackie Chan movie, have a look at Project A and Project A2, they're a lot of fun (A2 actually tackles some colonialism-related topics in passing).


> "I am of the opinion that when a colonised city surpasses even the UK's GDP without being granted any meaningful democratic rights, they succeeded despite your rule, not because of it)."

Democracy is often cited as economically advantageous, but as Singapore demonstrates, authoritarian dictatorships are not necessarily fated to economic ruination. Sometimes authoritarian dictatorships do better than they would have under democratic rule. The trick to democracy is the results are more consistently in the middle; it's not as likely to go catastrophically wrong, but it's also not as likely to go spectacularly well. That's why we generally prefer it; it's the same reason we generally prefer compensation in the form of paychecks instead of lottery tickets. Sometimes people who play the lottery win, and sometimes authoritarian governments are effective governments.

Hong Kong during the colonial era might be another example of an non-democratic regime actually performing well. Or maybe not, I don't really know. It's hard to run a "parallel Hong-Kong experiment" to find out for sure.


I read it perhaps a little simpler: the author likes Chan as a performer, but is disappointed that Chan has turned out to be a vocal, anti-democratic supporter of the Chinese Communist Party, and a critic of present-day Hong Kong (as well as Taiwan, which is of course no surprise given where his loyalties lie). I sympathize and agree with that disappointment -- the quoted jab Chan makes at Taiwan especially bothered me, as it's one of my favorite countries to visit -- but agree that twisting Chan's memoir the way he has just goes too far.


i think the language was ambiguous but he was referring to hte past of Hong Kong, not currently.


He is referring to the colonial Hong Kong described in the article, where there was indeed an underclass and racial discrimination and problems (even if, as the article claims, the British employed a "lighter touch" in Hong Kong than in India).


I've often heard of BUDS Navy Seal training that its not IF you break a bone or get hurt its WHEN. I agree it takes a certain personality.


I've heard people say similar things about SERE school (e.g. "they're allowed to break one of your bones"). It's not true.


Anyone who thinks you can go through BUDS/RASP/RIP/Q-Course/whatever injured and "fight through it" is a delusional fanboy. The reality is that it has very little to do with willpower and everything to do with your physical condition before the course and your genetic potential.

If you get hurt, you are out, and you are checking gates for 12 hours a day or go regular infantry. Yes, there are second chances, but that's another story.


all of your stuff for at least the last month has been shadowbanned. idk why.


It seemed to start after sctb said "We've banned this account for repeatedly breaking the guidelines and ignoring our requests to stop." 37 days ago.


Makes sense. I missed that when I was skimming through their history :c


Thanks for the heads up. I have no idea why either, but I appreciate knowing.


Chan mentions the great Sammo Hung who was also in the troupe and credits him with getting him out and started in films. The two of them hired many of their fellow students over the years.

Sammo starred as the master in a film about the school

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Painted_Faces


Man, believe whatever you like, but it's pretty obvious that there are a lot of people who were in Chan's miserable situation--indentured servitude, endless hours, extreme poverty--and worked hard and weren't able to become, you know, Jackie Chan.

It sort of stands to reason that it has to be that way, too, for the whole system to work. Chan is able to be the celebrity that he is, specifically because there's only one of him; if there were dozens or hundreds of people like him, he wouldn't have the same kind of fame. Celebrity depends on singularity.

It's absolute nonsense to say that "If he could do it...anyone can"; it's demeaning and cruel to the many people who were, like him, stuck in a terrible situation, but didn't have his good luck in getting out.


It's not demeaning and cruel to his fellow countrymen. They are what sustain him. Chan is somewhat popular in the West, but he's a veritable god in the East, like Manny Pacquiao is to Filipinos.

You are the one demeaning the people there. Chan is the one inspiring them.

It's silly to think that everybody in Hong Kong is going to compare themselves to Jackie Chan and lament that they won't be able to do what he does. He's inspirational because he shows that you don't have to define yourself by your station in life and can change it. Chan is just the most visible symbol of it, but you can see similar stories all across the country.

Your daughter getting inspired by princesses isn't cruel because she'll never be able to be a princess. She can become more like a particular princess she likes, adopting personality traits and learning to think like her.


I think what the previous commenter was reacting to in your post was not your defense of Chan an his memoir as inspirational, per se, but rather the specific phrase "If he can do it anyone can" as ignoring the fact that Chan -- and celebrities like him -- are extreme outliers, and extremely lucky for their success. Yes, Chan worked his ass off. But to have the success he did, he also had to have an insane amount of luck.

Using phrases like that excuses a system that keeps people oppressed by pointing to the outliers who manage to escape them. It's the old "lift yourself up by your bootstraps" argument.

We should recognize and change the system, not point people to the outliers and say "See, you can do it too!"

Chan's memoir can be inspirational, but we can also read into it - as the article does - and recognize the oppressive system and his luck in escaping it.


The greatest challenge to overcome is disbelief that you can do something.

Heroes have a place, precisely because they inspire.

I get what you're saying, but in any system having an aspirational role model is a benefit!


> The greatest challenge to overcome is disbelief that you can do something.

I'm deeply skeptical of this. I don't want to assume your background, so please don't take offense to this. But I can only imagine someone is able to seriously believe this if they've never had anything more challenging than their own self-actualization and ambition.

You can (and should) believe in yourself as fiercely as you'd like! But the blunt reality is that hunger, poverty, disease and a lack of familial support structure will break you down unless you're astronomically lucky. If the most difficult thing stopping you from achieving your goals is your own belief in your ability to do it, you're in an exceptionally privileged position.

I think we miss the forest for the trees on HN quite a lot. The modal commenter here is most likely to be affluent with respect to their local environment and wealthy with respect to the world. We don't often have people commenting here to share experiences of the real obstacles someone like Jackie Chan had to deal with growing up.


I would argue the opposite (that self-belief is the hardest challenge in those in objectively bad circumstances), precisely because of what you phrase as '[these things] will break you down unless you're astronomically lucky.'

The manner in which they break most people down is by circumscribing ambition and self confidence.

A large part of my family goes into the hills of dirt poor mining Appalachia, so I wouldn't say I'm speaking to this from a privileged position.

When no one in your family has ever gone to college, why would you even think you could? Or have a different profession than your father? Or start a business? Or move to another town? Etc. etc.

There are certainly structural roadblocks that make things easier or harder, but I have yet to see someone succeed in something they never start. And a large reason they never start is because they don't believe they could ever succeed.

And that was my point. That heroes help us dare to believe, moreso that we otherwise would.


Created an account just to reply here:

I think this is the crux of the difference in viewpoint between you and who you're responding to:

> I have yet to see someone succeed in something they never start

It's reasonable to say that the will/drive/impetus/etc. to succeed is _necessary_ for success.

And because it is necessary, it's good to have heroes — makes sense to me.

But the other fellow is saying that while it may be necessary, it is not _sufficient_.

If you never play the lotto, you'll never win, it's true. But just because you do play doesn't mean you'll win either. Playing is necessary, but not sufficient.

How much you think it's valuable to parade around the winners and say "this could be you!" is, I think, proportional to how much you think an individual has control over the game they're playing.

For the lottery, it's easy to show that you have zero control, so parading around the winners (or "heroes") is a bit silly. For other types of success, it's less clear. But there is certainly a decent argument to be made that liklihood of overcoming structural and institutional biases is luck-heavy. If you think it's mostly luck, then hero-worship is not so valuable.


Argue, based on what?

Certainly the biggest heroes in improving the human condition are not the successful outliers like Chan, but those who believe in equality and put the work toward furthering it. There is no slavery in the US any more, and the thanks for that does not lie with outlier heroes who happened to luck out in the slavery game.


> I get what you're saying, but in any system having an aspirational role model is a benefit!

I will say there is a benefit but whether it's a net benefit is not always true as we can't ignore the downsides.

For example, if everyone believes that you can just work hard and succeed, then they may choose to ignore the great disadvantages certain people have. Indeed this isn't just a philosophical issue as this is the reality even in American politics with regard to having social programs.

I think this is actually even true of people whose stories qualify them to become "heroes". Often because they were able to do something they think it must be possible for everyone else without realizing how many things were working in their favor. There's a psychological phenomenon describing how people who went through the same experience as you are actually less likely to help you because for whatever reason, they seem to remember it was being easier than it was.


Granted it's a dual edged sword.

The issue I had, and why I originally commented, is it seemed people were being intellectually dishonest in denying any benefits of aspirational heroes, because they felt doing so would lend approval to an unjust system.

Which seemed... incomplete and unfair. Both to the heroes (Chan deserves better than to have some New Republic writer denying Chan's opinion of his own life's work) and to the people whose life might be changed by having a hero.

In reality, we can work towards both greater equality of opportunity AND highlight aspirational heroes.

I don't want to ascribe motivation, but I wonder how many people casting stones have ever been so down and out that they can't even imagine any success in their lives. Because I feel that's the reality for a lot of people in truly bad situations. And when you've given up trying to improve your life...?


This is why I added the daughters and princesses aside. The people of Hong Kong are not going to use Chan's example to try to be Jackie Chan. That's not the point. They're going to look carefully at their hero and decide that certain traits of his, like extreme courage and willingness to be brave, and choose to adopt them, just like a child does with their heroes.

If you or I went over to Hong Kong, and told them to work hard and they'll succeed, then get in my private jet and fly back to the US, they'd just roll their eyes. But Jackie Chan is one of them. He understands the culture and the challenges. All famous people do for their audiences.


Hey Vince

I think we agree with you regarding the inspiration that Chan brings to his people.

There is more than inspiration, sweat, tears, and blood that plays the part of viral success as Chan has achieved. Luck and opportunity are the missing pieces.

The phrase "if Chan can do it then anyone can" is victim to survivorship bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias)

To conclude: Chan achieved awesome things, he's an inspiration, it's good for others to strive for success, success is not determined on hard work alone.


Hi. I'll admit to getting a bit frustrated because I seem to need to repeat the same point over and over again, and the responses aren't addressing the point made.

Yes, you need luck and opportunity to become Jackie Chan. But there's more ways to be successful than becoming Jackie Chan. He can inspire them to be themselves and not let their situations get them down.

That's what is meant by "anyone can do it." Not anyone can be Jackie Chan. But anybody can use the same inner tools that Chan did that got him famous, and chart the course of their own life. That's what's inspirational.


> But anybody can use the same inner tools that Chan did that got him famous,

What inner tools were those? From the article, it seems that it was a willingness to do extreme, mortally-dangerous stunts? Is that the lesson people should take away–forget about being successful unless you're willing to constantly put your life on the line?


> it was a willingness to do extreme, mortally-dangerous stunts?

Something like that. It's up to you what you want to take from it. But inspiration is such that you might not be inspired to follow the example directly, but you can use the example to find some other kind of courage to display.

For example, your company may need someone to do some really dirty task that no one wants to do. If you step up to the plate, that creates an opening for something greater to happen.


At this point, the 'inspirational' aspect of Jackie Chan being talked about so far in this thread, is watered down to a generic 'he had the courage to do something scary'. I mean, you can say the same thing about Kim Kardashian's photo shoot that 'broke the internet', but I doubt most commenters here would hold her up as an inspirational example.


You're not taking Chan as an inspirational example because you don't live in shithole colonial Hong Kong. If you did, then maybe you'd appreciate more the massive lengths he's gone to improve himself.

Instead you and everyone else just compare themselves to him like you deserve his success. That's what's really going on here.

Kim Kardashian is indeed inspiring to a certain generation of kids. You can't see her as inspirational for the same reason, because you don't think she deserves the success but you do.


I admire the hard work, the craftsmanship, that Jackie Chan puts into his movies. What I don't admire is how he passes off exploitation of kids in his era as character-building or inspirational.

I also find it quite funny to be psychoanalyzed on a discussion forum, although admittedly I've been doing that to an extent with Jackie Chan. In my defence I can say that he's a published author, and this kind of analysis is part and parcel of literary critiques. Your efforts to paint me as jealous of Jackie Chan and Kim Kardashian are, frankly, pretty funny. Maybe step away from Hacker News for a day or so? :-D


Oh man, I wish more comments started like yours. “Hey Vince” sounds nice and respectful, and, even personal on an anonymous platform


This word "luck" is used quite often yet every time I see it applied it there is always someone who "seizes opportunity when it comes and does what it takes to succeed"

I suppose it is easier to write and also easier to dismiss other people doing something you simply don't want to put in the effort to do so or are too scared to do.

of course this is just my observation


> This word "luck" is used quite often yet every time I see it applied it there is always someone who "seizes opportunity when it comes and does what it takes to succeed"

Of course you do, that's called survivorship bias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

You see the one person who tried to seize the opportunity and succeeded, because by succeeding they became famous. You don't see all the people who tried just as hard to seize the opportunity and failed, because by failing they remained obscure.


How many tried just as hard to seize the opportunity?


Unfortunately that's just not knowable, I guess. And even if we could, how would we describe "hard"? And is "trying hard" even necessarily sufficient?

I would guess: no. Say we could map out every decision Chan made to get where he is. Let's also say we could quantify exactly how "hard" he worked.

To me, it follows that some of those decisions were likely pivotal in his success, even if they didn't seem like it at the time. And that some of the other decisions he could have made weren't obviously wrong decisions, or wouldn't even have decreased the quantified hardness he worked. But maybe making a different decision just one of those times (or maybe two, or three, or some manageable number) would have resulted in Chan toiling away in obscurity, despite trying so hard.

It seems reasonable to me to suggest that someone else attempting a parallel path as Chan, given similar starting conditions, might have made a few different decisions here and there, all of them involving equally hard work, but the outcome may have been nowhere near as good. So what do we call the cause of Chan's better outcome? Foresight? Better decision-making? Or just luck?


I would bet money on his choices being moments he learned what to not do. He failed over and over learning what to not do. Through persistence and dedication he succeeded when others simply quit and call it not possible.

That ... I would bet money on.


What do you call, other than luck, his surviving the reckless, deadly stunts that he did–that stunt professionals in fact refused to do? On the other side of the coin–what do you say to the stunt performers who didn't survive–they didn't try hard enough?


> This word "luck" is used quite often yet every time I see it applied it there is always someone who "seizes opportunity when it comes and does what it takes to succeed"

So your observation is that because they seized the opportunity and did what it takes to succeed means luck wasn't involved?


I mean luck seems to mean "something that person did that others seem reluctant or incapable of doing"


You can create luck by being prepared and being at the right place at the right time. One without the other; you can’t seize the opportunity.


Noam Chomsky once said something like this .The hardest part in liberating people is to make them understand they are being oppressed.

Most of the times people who advocate for oppression are the people who benefits out of it. Like the caste system in India or slavery elese where


Except Hong Kongers aren't inspired by Jackie Chan. He's widely hated for selling out to become a communist party shill. Sure, he was revered when he was younger, but after Hong Kong's handover to China when he begun spouting pro-mainland talking points he got the proverbial boot. Bruce Lee is still adored here, though


This is absurd to say. China is the biggest Horatio Alger story of the 20th century. During my parents' lifespan alone, millions of people in China died of starvation and it is now one of the world's leading industrial powers.

China was extremely poor and now it is extremely rich as a mass phenomenon. It is not like a Gulf power in which a tiny elite of owners presiding over an army of imported indentures. Like any society in history there is inequality, but you have to be an insane ideologue to deny the reality of mass advancement in standard of living in China during the 20th and 21st century so far.


Samo Hung was a fellow student of Jackie's. Other students at that Academy had careers in the fulm industry. It wasn't just luck: the ones who succeeded also worked harder and smarter.


Or as my father quipped, "It's surprising how much luckier people who prepare are."


reminds me of Lee's story from my time period...same HongKong hellhole but he got out at an early age


"Great fighters have to kind of like getting hit."

Unrelated, but I suppose this is why there is so much controversy and disagreement as to whether Floyd Mayweather actually is the greatest boxer ever (which he himself has claimed multiple times he is), as he puts so much effort into not getting hit (and some say he runs away from opponents, only fights them before or after their prime, never during their prime). But he does have that 50-0 record.


> "Great fighters have to kind of like getting hit."

This is almost tautologically true. Who starts fighting because they want to avoid getting hit at all costs?

The author wants to examine _why_ Chan drives himself, over and over, to the brink of life-threatening injuries, while we HN commenters - most of us anyway - do not. He fairly persuasively argues that it's a mix of extreme C-PTSD, childhood abandonment, economic destitution, and a near total lack of alternative opportunities.

Can that still be inspiring? To whom? To do what? These are the questions the author wants to ask. We can quibble over the answers. But either way, I find this type of critical perspective more intellectually provocative than taking Chan's plain-faced recollection for granted.


Could it just be because he likes it?


liking something is important but you have to ask why they liked it in the first place. The reason for their desire matters. Professional football player might "like" football even though it takes a heavy physical toll (brain damage, joint damage, etc.) but notice the people becoming professional football players are usually from disadvantaged neighborhoods who see the sport as one of the few ladders they can use to climb to a better future. Its not going to be the sons of university professors who become football players. The reason Jackie Chan took all of those risks and "liked it" is because of his economic status.


> The reason Jackie Chan took all of those risks and "liked it" is because of his economic status.

I think you have this exactly backward. He took the risks not knowing they would make him an international star. I submit that he only could have done that if he enjoyed not just the fruits, but the process. Several times he describes volunteering for things others wouldn't do. You wouldn't do that if you weren't at least indifferent, if not eager, to confront the danger.


I see I misread your comment earlier. But you say:

> Several times he describes volunteering for things others wouldn't do.

But he also describes several times in the book about worrying what others think of him. He worries about how he will be perceived by his director, how he'll be judged by the public.

> You wouldn't do that if you weren't at least indifferent, if not eager, to confront the danger.

He literally describes in the book how he doesn't want to die.

Probably neither of us has the full measure of Jackie Chan, but I for one find it hard to believe in the picture of the happy-go-lucky daredevil action star.


So you're saying that Jackie Chan did extreme stunts–that stunt professionals refused to do–early in his Hong Kong career, because he thought to himself, 'This will make me an international star'? And not because 'This will prove my worth to this director and the audiences'?


No, I'm saying he did it because he enjoyed it.


Interesting how difficult and rough Jackie Chan's childhood was. He certainly succeeded, but at what cost? This article reviews how Chan downplays the hardships he was forced to endure (e.g. being essentially sold by his parents as an indentured servant when he was seven years old, complete with beatings and dismal living conditions) and instead chooses to focus on the end result, his success as an adult.


> He certainly succeeded, but at what cost?

The cost would be paid by Chan regardless of whether he became rich and famous. Specifically, he did not have a choice for being a slave in the Peking Opera house, so I'm not sure what point you and the author are trying to make. Paraphrasing Obama, Chan has embraced the burden of his past without becoming and staying a victim of it. Jackie Chan has taken responsibility for his life and successfully determined his own destiny. What does the author suggest Jackie Chan do instead of rising above his past? Obsess about it and wallow in despair, hopelessness, and depression?


> The cost would be paid by Chan regardless of whether he became rich and famous

I'm not sure. Maybe he wouldn't have had to be sold as an indentured servant, get beaten, be deprived of an education, and sleep on a mattress soiled with piss. Or maybe he would have died of starvation, who knows? Or maybe he would have moved with his parents to Australia, where the article mentions they went. It's definitely worth thinking about.

Please don't conflate my opinion and that of the author. I can't answer what the author's point was.

> What does the author suggest Jackie Chan do instead of rising above his past? Obsess about it and wallow in despair, hopelessness, and depression?

Again, I can't answer for the author, but I can think of a few things Chan could do: help prevent a similar hard childhood for current kids. Speak out. Join an advocacy group. Maybe raise awareness of how dire the situation for many families was in colonial Hong Kong. Not saying all of these would be helpful (and maybe he already does some of this), but arguing there's only despair and hopelessness seems disingenuous to me.


Your opinion seems to echo the author's so it was an obvious question, though I only expected to hear yours

> Maybe he wouldn't have had to be sold as an indentured servant,

Again, that wasn't his choice. There was no choice for Jackie Chan. That was his parents' choice. The only choice Jackie had is to either to focus on attaining his definition of success, while acknowledging the past; or to let the obsession of the past overtake his life and wallow in self pity. Where we disagree is that I feel the former choice is the healthier one.

> Again, I can't answer for the author, but I can think of a few things Chan could do: help prevent a similar hard childhood for current kids. Speak out. Join an advocacy group.

Yes like many other celebrities, Jackie Chan has charitable efforts for children and other causes. I don't disagree, but neither you nor the author mentioned this until now which made your argument seem pointless.

> Maybe raise awareness of how dire the situation for many families was in colonial Hong Kong.

That was probably the point of recounting his hardship while at the peking opera. Colonial HK and the peking opera, at least in its previous form, also do not exist anymore.

> but arguing there's only despair and hopeless seems disingenuous to me

That wasn't my argument. My point was that it seemed that you and the author feel that Jackie Chan did not obsess enough about the sadness and pain of his early life. I felt what both you and the author were advocating was senseless.


> Your opinion seems to echo the author's so it was an obvious question

But it doesn't. I wrote a single paragraph, mostly describing what I thought was a key aspect of the article, and calling it "interesting". The author wrote a whole article addressing multiple things. I'm not even the submitter of the article! Your assumptions are unwarranted.

> neither you nor the author mentioned this until now which made your argument seem pointless.

But I didn't make any argument. Please re-read what I wrote and tell me what my "argument" was that seemed "pointless" to you.

It seems you are arguing with me because you can't with the author? I just wrote something about the actual content of the article, when other replies were "I loved Jackie Chan in Rush Hour!", which is unrelated to the topic.


Maybe I am arguing with you because I can't do the same with the author. Does your comment not reiterate the article's core ideas in a nice little package? The size of the content is irrelevant when it resonates with the larger work. Is it not natural to ask "What's the point?" when none was seemingly provided?


> Does your comment not reiterate the article's core ideas in a nice little package?

No?

> Maybe I am arguing with you because I can't do the same with the author.

Indeed.

Because my post was very short, let me quote it here in its entirety, and please tell me how it "resonates" with the article and what point you think I -- along with the author, apparently -- am making, or should be making:

> "Interesting how difficult and rough Jackie Chan's childhood was. He certainly succeeded, but at what cost? This article reviews how Chan downplays the hardships he was forced to endure (e.g. being essentially sold by his parents as an indentured servant when he was seven years old, complete with beatings and dismal living conditions) and instead chooses to focus on the end result, his success as an adult."

As you can see, I'm not trying to make any point. I've no idea what the article's author thinks, but you may have surmised I think the cost was too much. You'd be correct: I wouldn't wish this childhood on any kid, from Hong Kong or elsewhere. I'm glad Jackie Chan managed to survive and become successful, because I like him and his movies.


Let me dissect it.

> Interesting how difficult and rough Jackie Chan's childhood was. He certainly succeeded, but at what cost?

You echo the article's conclusion. You agree with its main idea.

> This article reviews how Chan downplays the hardships he was forced to endure (e.g. being essentially sold by his parents as an indentured servant when he was seven years old, complete with beatings and dismal living conditions) and instead chooses to focus on the end result, his success as an adult."

You now summarize the article. Can you not see how someone would feel that you agreed with the author?

> I've no idea what the article's author thinks, but you may have surmised I think the cost was too much

The author makes it very clear how he feels. It's pretty disingenuous for anyone who's read the article to say that.

Do you disagree with the article?


> You echo the article's conclusion. You agree with its main idea.

No. The article is very long, draws many conclusions and ponders many aspects of Jackie's life and autobiography, and I only mentioned one aspect (a question, not a conclusion by the way). I'm completely silent on other issues raised by the article, such as Jackie Chan's opinions of freedom, his injuries, his relationship with mainland China, etc.

So no, I wouldn't say I "agree with its main idea". I do find the article interesting, which is what I said: no more, no less.

> You now summarize the article.

Yes.

> Can you not see how someone would feel that you agreed with the author?

No.

> The author makes it very clear how he feels.

Then why do you ask me?

> Do you disagree with the article?

I find parts of it I agree with, others uninteresting, others I disagree with. I already explained what I find interesting in my initial post ("how difficult and rough Jackie Chan's childhood was") and in my previous post I mentioned I wouldn't wish such a childhood on any kid.


> Then why do you ask me?

Because from my perspective it seems like you had an opinion and then you backed away once I challenged it. You dance around it enough to pretend that the author didn't make a clear opinion.

> I only mentioned one aspect (a question, not a conclusion by the way)

It sounded rhetorical. Like with other religious wars, we can agree to disagree. From my perspective, I still feel that your original point was that you felt Jackie Chan was wrong "to focus on the end result, his success as an adult" instead of contemplating more on his hard childhood. I'm not sure why you'd back away from that opinion. While I disagree with it, it isn't exactly controversial either.


> Because from my perspective it seems like you had an opinion and then you backed away once I challenged it.

From my perspective you made a mistake and now you're too proud to admit it.

What you "feel" I meant is wrong. I didn't even make a point. And I explicitly told you what I meant!

Interesting that you're now framing this as a "religious war". What I think is less interesting is that I have to defend myself against things you think I might have said according to what you "feel".


I did not make a mistake. I stand by my opinion as well as the accompanying rationale for making my conclusion.

Here's the anatomy of your initial comment:

1. Statement and rhetorical question echoing the article's main message

2. A conclusion using a summary of the article. The article only has one main conclusion.

Was that comment not an opinion or are you making comments that article summary bots make? Forgive me for making an incorrect assumption.


Yes, you made a mistake.

No, I do not forgive you for jumping to conclusions, and no, I didn't give any opinion in my initial post or echo the main point of an article with many points. When asked, I told you what I found interesting about the article and whether I found the cost Jackie paid too high (I do).

Did you even wonder whether I've read the autobiography the author of the piece is commenting on? (no, I have not). Then how on earth could I hold his same opinion?

Thinking that an incomplete summary of something means agreeing with it is such a naive assumption it's funny.

Let it go. You're wrong. Or you can pretend my opinion is what you "feel" it must be, whatever.


> and whether I found the cost Jackie paid too high (I do).

Then I clearly didn't make a mistake. This is the article's core idea and I disagree with it for reasons that I've already outlined in my previous comments.


Yes you did, because that's not the article's core idea (which is more focused on Jackie's refusal to say more about his past hardships, what the article calls his "blindspot" [1]), and it says nothing about whether I agree with the article.

Did you wonder why I even felt the need to write a summary? Why would I need to, if one could simply just read TFA? It's because at the time I posted, most people were commenting stuff like "I love Jackie Chan's movies, Rush Hour is cool!", which seemed to me to be entirely off-topic and likely written by people who hadn't bothered to read the article. So I summarized one of the ideas of the article -- the one I thought was worth discussing -- in hopes of getting the discussion back on track.

I succeeded. I just didn't expect your extremely literal and hilariously childlike interpretation of my post.

[1] Please don't debate this point with me as if it was mine. I know it's confusing because the words are there in my post, but that's not magic: it's called "summarizing what someone else said" -- trust me! If you disagree with it, I don't know, write the author an angry email.


@chaostheory

> Unless you're a summary bot, most people inject their opinion when summarizing an article.

That's not the purpose of a summary. My opinion is that it was "interesting" and wanted to move the conversation back on track, away from Jackie Chan's martial abilities and back on the subject of the submitted article.

> ok, let's pretend you didn't agree with article. It doesn't take away from the fact that my comments just strongly disagreed with the idea of Jackie "paying too high a price for success"

I've no problem with that. I can understand your disagreement. As I said, I agreed with parts of the article, disagreed with others, found other parts irrelevant, and found some interesting -- as in "meriting further discussion".

Do you see that I'm upset not about whether we disagree on Jackie Chan's life (why would that bother me?) but because you built a nice strawman, lumping my opinion with that of the author as if we were of a single mind, and proceeded to attack that? It's offensive and it's usually an underhanded debate tactic.

Had you answered "I disagree with the author because <reasons>", I wouldn't have had any problem. Instead, you wrote "I'm not sure what point you and the author are trying to make". I'm willing to believe that was a mistake, if you'll simply say "ok, I made a mistake. I was in disagreement with the author."


> nstead, you wrote "I'm not sure what point you and the author are trying to make". I'm willing to believe that was a mistake, if you'll simply say "ok, I made a mistake. I was in disagreement with the author."

1. I am not mistaken. Your opinion of Jackie Chan "paying too high of a price" for his fame is an idea that the author shares. It is literally written throughout the article that you summarized. It's effectively part of your summary.

2. Even if the first point wasn't true, and you have the unlikely and uncommon habit of quoting things that you have no opinion over; it doesn't matter. I was still arguing against your opinion of Chan paying a high price for fame. Your focus on whether or not the author had the same idea serves as a distraction from you either not being able to come up with an effective counter argument, or maybe even changing your opinion since it seems like you are distancing yourself from it.

"I'm not sure what point you are trying to make"

Happy?


> Did you wonder why I even felt the need to write a summary? Why would I need to, if one could simply just read TFA?

Unless you're a summary bot, most people inject their opinion when summarizing an article. When they disagree, they will dispute points in that summary. When there's no dispute, such as your case, it's implicit that you're agreeing with the article's core ideas that you've summarized. It's as obvious and routine as a rhetorical question.

ok, let's pretend you didn't agree with article. It doesn't take away from the fact that my comments just strongly disagreed with the idea of Jackie "paying too high a price for success", which what you've espoused in your comments. (It is still one of the core messages of the article, in addition to Jackie's subsequent 'apathy'.)


> "I'm not sure what point you are trying to make"

> Happy?

No, I'm not happy. Since I know you understand the definition of "summary" (and, if in doubt of why I felt the need to summarize, you had my explanation of the context a few posts above, and you consistently ignored it), I can only assume you're trolling.

> Your focus on whether or not the author had the same idea serves as a distraction from you either not being able to come up with an effective counter argument

A counterargument to what!? You're demented.

I'm upset I wasted my time with a troll. I wish there was a way to report you.

Goodbye.


> A counterargument to what!? You're demented.

My arguments against your opinion that Jack Chan paid too high of a cost for his success: "whether I found the cost Jackie paid too high (I do)." I've mentioned it in my last comment as well as previous ones. it also seems that you've mistakenly replied to my earlier comment which breaks the thread

> No, I'm not happy. Since I know you understand the definition of "summary"

The last lines of my previous comment just addressed your fixation that your opinion wasn't shared by the article, so I made a point of focusing on what you admitted was your opinion (even though the article does agree with it) i.e. I'm not talking to the author about his opinions. I'm talking to you about yours.

You accusing me of being a troll is just yet another distraction from the core idea in our debate. The irony with your accusation is that I stay focused in attacking your ideas, while you started attacking me as an individual


> He received almost no education, not even in the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, and when he first became rich he had trouble signing his own name on credit card receipts. (His memoir is “co-written” with a publicist.)

This part really stuck out to me. He was treated like a single-purpose tool.


I suppose you'd have to ask him if he'd rather have lived a normal life (without the beatings and the stardom) or if given the choice, he'd pick the life he's lived again.

At least he got to enjoy life being rich and famous, kids in Africa become slaves or child soldiers and end up dead.


We know the answer: Jackie thinks it was worth it. I'm unconvinced... as much as I like him and I'm glad he can enjoy his success.

Yes, the children in Africa who become slaves or child soldiers and end up dead have it worse. I'm not sure what lesson we can draw from that :)


Very confused as to what you're trying to say


I don't think I'm trying to say something difficult. I'm replying to the post above mine:

1- "I suppose you'd have to ask him if he'd rather have lived a normal life": we don't need to ask Jackie Chan what he thinks, because he already answered in interviews: he thinks his life was worth it. That's sort of the point of the article.

2- "kids in Africa become slaves or child soldiers and end up dead.": yes, some kids have it worse than Jackie Chan's life. So?


> but at what cost?

Yes, and at what cost to those who didn't make it! Thank social progress that it's getting better, but there's still a ways to go.


> instead chooses to focus on the end result, his success as an adult.

Most people have been through various levels of shit[0] through their lives. I believe one should acknowledge your problems but certainly not dwell on them and should put your energy and drive into the good times.

[0]Trying to think of a better word, but that covers it quite well I think.


I'm not the author but the main gist is that Jackie doesn't want to acknowledge his past hardships, and is unwilling to analyze whether they were justified or not. The author calls it his "blindspot". I'm not sure it's healthy.


Jackie lived his experiences. This author is, to the best of my knowledge, basically just some guy with a website byline. (Presumably he's had some sort of hardships in life, because nobody escapes unscathed, but I doubt they compare to Jackie's.) I'm not sure the author has all that much moral standing or skin in the game to make me care much about his opinion of Jackie Chan's life.

He's welcome to it. I just don't see it as anywhere near as interesting.


What does it matter who the author of the article is? Some random nobody raising interesting issues about Jackie Chan's autobiography -- what he says, what he leaves unsaid -- seems valid to me.


We have this tendency to look at successful people and think we can imitate them and have their success. I see Bill Gates is always giving a list of his favorite books of the year. Sorry Bill, if I read your books, I won't be a billionaire. Well Jackie Chan as great, talented, funny as he is. No matter what, I will never be him. Survivor bias and luck play a large role beyond what hard work and pain alone do.


Right. A large part of success is definitely luck and random opportunity, but I will say that you still have to be prepared for those instances to take advantage of them(unless you have nepotism on your side, then you can coast to your heart's content).

For us in the the lower / middle class, the best we can do is prepare as much as we can for the day we encounter luck or opportunity. No amount of preparation / commitment / training guarantees success, but we can't afford to be fatalistic about it.

I do agree that we need to be more empathetic with those who haven't succeeded though. People tend to assume it's due to some personal fault rather than accounting for the luck / opportunity aspect. Humans tend to think that when they themselves fail it's because of outside forces they couldn't control, but when others fail it's because of internal forces they could have controlled.


I think you are correct. I would say there are things that one can do to improve their odds of random opportunity and luck. A good example of that is hanging out with the right people and staying positive & motivated. In a lot of ways it is like dating. You need to be putting yourself out there. It isn't going to magically just happen. You have to make it happen.


I think the reply below, it helps us prioritize our time and set good goals. Maybe look at our motivations, are they outside our control or inside our control? Trying to be honest is not giving up and lying down.

Also agree, failure is complex and society has been known to sweep people under the rug.


This attitude may be technically correct, but it's not very productive. Why emphasize your own lack of control over your life? It's certainly possible for it to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, even if the inverse is not true.


Not productive in what sense? Knowing your limits let's you focus your energy in other ways and areas


That's great advice. Especially if you get specific about the other ways and areas one an focus on. But what parent post said was, you'll never be a billionaire or literally Jackie Chan, so don't try. Seems (to me) like a waste of mental energy to even process that.


No I did not say that you shouldn't try, but that doing what they do, don't expect that you will be them. It is cargo culting success


You will never be Jackie Chan, because...survivor bias and luck?!

To be constructive: Here, enjoy G.K. Chesterton's wonderful and funny short essay The Fallacy of Success, which I think agrees with you. I'd love to be able to write so well, but...I'm not him.

http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/bae.htm#l


The first paragraph does a great job of summarizing and contextualizing Jackie Chan's career.

But the rest of the article seems to drunkenly wonder around bumping into rhetorical questions that don't lead anywhere other than the reporter believes that Jackie Chan didn't complain or rejoice enough in his hardships or successes.

Ok, sure. I guess that's one opinion. But I'm kind of surprised that the reporter didn't have more to say than that.


Yes I thought the article was poorly written. Not really sure what angle the author was coming from


When I was kid, before reality, I wanted to be a stuntman. I'd round up my friends to shoot little actions movies with my Grandpa's Sony hi-8. They were structured on flimsy narratives that only served to facilitate fist fights, chase sequences and opportunities for a big fall. To convince my friends to get up at 8:00 on a Saturday to shoot all day around the neighbourhood I always gave away the part of the hero so I was always the bad guy, sometimes several bad guys in different costumes, but I also let me do most the directing. I figured out how to assembly edit all in camera, and then add music and sound effects when transferring to VHS. Anyway, when I discovered Jackie Chan he rocked my world.


The sentiment from people from his home country is mixed, esp. regarding his behavior. E.g. https://www.quora.com/Do-the-Chinese-like-Jackie-Chan

I'm still a fan though, but only for his movies.


Jackie Chan, in addition to being a world famous film star, is also an Honorary Professor of Tourism and a teaching member of the faculty at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

I know this because he shares an office there with someone I know. I initially didn't believe it when I was told, but Wikipedia backs the story up.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Chan#Academic_career


Jackie Chan, though, is an apologist for the Mainland government, and even suggested that Taiwan, perhaps (as of now) the only Chinese-speaking democracy, has “too much freedom.”


> is an apologist for the Mainland government

Yes but doesn't any Chinese person have to be if they want to maintain any kind of ability to travel in China? _Especially_ if they are famous.


That might be true, but I think HN readers are not commonly aware that he is one. He once said in December 2012, that “Hong Kong is a ‘city of protest,’ suggesting that demonstrators' rights in Hong Kong should be limited. The same month, in an interview with Phoenix TV, Chan stated that the United States was the ‘most corrupt’ country in the world.” This is a man whose made plenty of his fortune in the US.

Before we heap praise on Jackie Chan, I think it’s important to know his full background.


i'm all for "exposing" how people really think but China is a country that literally disappears people, high profile internationally famous people like fan bingbing, for not paying their taxes. judicial process is almost a non-entity there if you anger the government.do you think chan has a choice in anything he says?

his choices are to toe the government line or never go back to his homeland. do you also criticize the chinese installed panchen lama for not speaking up against china?


He does have a choice—and he lives in Hong Kong. There are those Hong Kong citizens that have expressed their free rights yet are not able to enter the Mainland.

Here’s the HK newspaper view on him: https://m.scmp.com/culture/books/article/2176919/why-hypocri...

This is about Jackie Chan. I’m afraid you’re presenting a strawmam’s argument with respect to what else the Mainland Chinese government has done—while you seem to be refuting my argument, you are presenting an argument that I didn’t present. I’m obviously fairly critical of the Chinese government.

I’m reminded of this poem:

``First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist. / Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist. / Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. / Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’’


haha yeah so jackie chan should risk his life,fame and possessions so westerners he cares nothing about can feel good about lambasting china


Couldn’t agree more. The whole simplistic idea of just throwing everything that took years to build just because some stranger can feel good shows a lack of understanding the economic hardship it took to get there.


Jackie Chan says a lot of shit all the time. I wouldn’t take his words literally. He is known for spewing out random nonsense now and then base on anecdotal evidence. Hence the uneducated part.


This is directly quoted in the linked article.


Yes, it is, and I wanted people to be even more aware of something they might have glossed over in the article.

Here is even more of his thought process: “Noting the strong tensions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said, ‘I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we're not being controlled, we'll just do what we want.’”


[flagged]


> There's no country named "Taiwan". It is the Republic of China

The informal name of the Republic of China is “Taiwan”, just as the informal name of the Republic of Korea is “South Korea”.

> "Taiwan" is the name of the island in Chinese

There is no one language “Chinese”, but “Taiwan” is a transcription of the Mandarin name of the island on which ~99% of the land area of the territory effectively administered by the Republic of China is located. (And also of the province containing the island, both for the ROC and PRC.)


I didn’t say country “Taiwan.” I referred to it as “Taiwan,” just as you might say “California” or “Hong Kong” or “Singapore.” Those can be place names, right? And all three have varying forms of government. Surely a place known as “Taiwan” exists? And it is, for now, a place that has self-determination and democracy?


"Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will do whatever they want."

Haha... wow, that circular reasoning is so tight it's almost not even a circle anymore. "Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will not be controlled". I have a theory that all circular reasoning can be reduced down to a (probably faulty) axiom or assertion.


For the record, I strongly disagree with Jackie's opinion. It does need more context though. China is a low trust society that doesn't have a strong rule of law. What this translates into is fake medicine, fake food, newly built buildings and bridges that either fall apart or are falling apart, police and low level government officials who need bribes for mundane things and so on. Jackie mainly wants a stronger rule of law. (He's just wrong about accepting a government with unlimited power. eg he thinks protests are bad) Of course, you're not going to get all of this from someone who didn't receive a lot of formal education, speaking in the 3rd language that he learned, in a small sound bite.


> China is a low trust society that doesn't have a strong rule of law. What this translates into is fake medicine, fake food, newly built buildings and bridges that either fall apart or are falling apart, police and low level government officials who need bribes for mundane things and so on.

I'm sure this is all true, but I'm curious, have you lived in China? What's your take on the lived experience in China?

I just wanted to see this from different perspectives, because the United States has many parts that are perceived as hellholes in the abstract (like the city of Chicago where I live), but in reality daily life is quite normal and livable.


Yes. My perspective is skewed though. I know it as a child who didn't know any better, and now as an adult Americanized outsider with ties that keep weakening with time, exacerbated by differences in culture. While some things have stayed the same, a lot has also changed since I lived there.

Anywhere is livable, if you either don't have a choice or you're ignorant of alternatives. Looking at it as an American, parts are definitely livable as long as you don't mind the pollution. (I remember being so shocked at how clean the US was when I first arrived.) Life in general feels "faster". Kind of like NYC even crazier. I'd say the hardest part will be being accustomed to the culture. It's not as complicated as formal Japanese culture, but there's a lot of subtle formalities you have to learn and adapt to...

Oh - the big thing is plumbing and bathrooms. While it has gotten a lot better, you probably want to bring a roll of toilet paper with you anywhere you go. You may have to get used to squat toilets depending on where you go too. Aside from occasional food poisoning, it's definitely livable


> Aside from occasional food poisoning

I swamp my system with probiotics whenever I go there and I haven't had any food poisoning issues. I used these on my last visit: http://www.jarrow.com/product/662/Jarro-Dophilus_EPS

YMMV. I haven't been to China without doing the probiotics thing, but I have gotten sick in other places without them.


The reasoning is steeped in connotation that you may have missed. Might I suggest an alternate reasoning: From the view of an oppressor, oppression is necessary to protect the oppressed from being able to choose socially harmful behavior. In this view, oppressing someone is actually saving them.


This is an incredibly disrespectful article.

> He was, in effect, a walking slab of meat to be trotted out whenever a Peking opera production needed a singer or dancer or acrobat.

These hyperboles, so full of off-putting judgements are completely unnecessary. It's almost as if the author is hoping to gain, by being as rude and sensationalistic as possible.

Imagine if the author of this article actually met Jackie Chan - he'd crumble in shame if he has an iota of decency left in him/her. This article can be renamed 'the painful price of trying to be a journalist' - it'd be more accurate.


Well Jackie Chan is not the most undeserving target.

In past, he narrowly missed out on 'father of the year' after admitting to throwing his young child across a room (1). He was overlooked a second time when he disowned his illegitimate daughter over her sexuality.

(1) https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/03/asia/jackie-chan-autobiog...




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: