On February 21, 2008, Edison Chen stepped away from it all.
Edison Chen, born in Vancouver, Canada, is quite the bright light: he speaks English, Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese. He set himself up in Hong Kong and became an international phenomenon, singing, rapping, acting, modeling, producing music, and designing fashion. He appeared in about a bajillion Asian movies and scored a cameo in The Dark Knight, as The Guy Who Works for A Minor Character Named Lau. Around Asia, in the early years of the twenty-first century, Chen was the man.
The kind of man-dish women want a serving of. So, naturally, Chen took them up on their offers.
He also took photographs.
That's kind of when things turned from sweet to sour.
Let's go back to the beginning.
He started in Canada, eh? The British Columbian
was something like seven-eighths Chinese and one-eighth Caucasian, which I guess makes him sort of exotic in Asia
, like being part one-sixteenth Native
in America or part Chinese
in the UK. His dad was a businessman and Edison attended high school in Hong Kong. A scout found him in a nightclub
when he was still a teen. He ended up in films in both Hong Kong and Japan
At twenty, he entered the music industry, and went on his way to becoming a marketing force. He started out doing basic pop, singing synthy plastic musical wallpaper and busting moves. He recorded his first rap/hip hop album in 2004. Between 2000 and 2007 he put out albums at a rate of two-to-five a year. Did this thing called "If Only" with Gillian Chung from the wildly successful, innocently-clean-but-sexy-exploity-anyway band Twins. He also appeared in maybe twenty films and tv shows. His talent bled into other areas when he founded a "lifestyles" clothing company called CLOT. No, really, it's called "CLOT." I'm guessing that sounds a little different in Chinese.
He had his moments of controversy. In 2007, he got into an argument with a taxi driver. It escalated to a fight. Chen kicked the taxi and broke its windows. The shiny pop star was fined, and most of his public forgave him. I'm sure a few wondered. Just how much was Chen a male Britney Spears? I can hear him singing, "I'm not so innocent!"
Then Chen took his laptop in for repairs. I'm pretty sure if Edison invented time travel, this would be the moment in his life he'd take back.
A technician discovered over one thousand nude images, including photographs of Chen and a who's who of Hong Kong pop stars, including Bobo Chan, Mandy Chen, Candice Chan, Rachel Ngan, Cecilia Cheung, and, of course, Twin Gillian Chung. Chen's current girlfriend also figured in the piccies, alongside a handful of still-unidentified females and males. Many of these found their way online, and the story pushed everything else aside in many Asian news markets. Western media in a not at all shocking development picked up the story. Chances are, if you're a Brit or an American of the paleface persuasion and you’ve heard of Edison Chen, this scandal is why. Reputations were ruined. Chen lost a fortune in advertising endorsements and his cameo in Dark Knight was reduced to a glimpse. Gillian Chung, who figured in over one hundred of Chen's pics, was also chucked by sponsors. Her Twins partner Charlene Choi started a solo career. The technician responsible for distributing the shots went to jail for nearly a year. Others were arrested and charged. Many people protested the legal proceedings, because other people who'd released questionable photographs in the recent past without the subject's permission have not been persecuted with nearly so much diligence.
So on February 21, 2008, Edison Chen retired from the entertainment industry, indefinitely.
Synthy-sounding Asian pop goes on.