viewing pictures online of how the channel 8 actors and actresses that we grew up watching gathered to send huang wenyong off on his final journey this morning was rather touching. i've always felt that the older generation of singapore's chinese-tv stars are very different from those we know from, say, hollywood, tvb/atv, taiwan, etc. maybe because singapore's so small, and there was, until the 2000s, only one chinese-language tv channel, they all seemed very familiar with each other, like family.
and although, from a simplified sim-world view, what tends to draw many actors and actresses to the job is their aspiration for popularity+fortune, singapore's gen-x celebs didn't quite seem like that. unlike the hollywood stars' glitzy, glamorous image, ours seemed very plain and down-to-earth in comparison. and unlike the tvb/atv stars' ostentatiousness and obsession with beauty pageants, etc, ours seemed super low-key and, again, very plain.
my sister and i had discussed before what might be the channel 8 stars' sim-type aspirations. (there are namely five to choose from: family, knowledge, fortune, popularity and romance.) none, or few, of them appeared to be strictly popularity sims, if at all. they would generally act, become as famous as an actor in tiny singapore could become, get married to some similarly low-key person, have similarly low-key kids, and return to acting without much loss in audience popularity. among that generation of celebs, there were few divorces, even fewer high-key breakups. (or maybe it was the lack of a local paparazzi.)
studying xiang yun and edmund chen, chen shucheng, aileen tan, chen liping and rayson tan, zoe tay, chew chor meng, chen hanwei, hong huifang and zheng geping, etc etc from the funeral pictures, they all look so...heartland...so normal, so everyday. seeing them gathered for the send-off, it made me feel a kind of belonging... like, hey, there in singapore, these familiar people, these people who saw me grow up (or rather, i watched, growing up), they're family, that's home.
i think of the people around me now whom i'm growing to like, and i can't help but feel a twinge of melancholy that i'll never be able to fully share this part (and many others) of my background with them (as they similarly won't quite be able to share theirs with me). even the word "heartland" as it is used back in singapore is not a concept that would be immediately familiar with or understood by most.
i would imagine that for some people, this issue would be a small thing, hardly or never even factoring in their thoughts; life, after all, is an adventure, full of exciting new discoveries. but for me, knowing and understanding tends to come before a willingness to really begin engaging in exploration. and sometimes i wonder if i'll ever manage to get past that.