We proposed to follow three university seniors of different social and economic background for a day and see how their class background affects their lifestyle and outlook of the future. It is simple, risk-free (both my partner and I hold Chinese passports), and easy to execute, compared to the TV journlist's ambitious plans to examine China's present cultural landscape, evolution of political structure, rise of Christianity, growing citizen unrest, and many other hot-button issues in his other six documentaries.
So we thought.
Three weeks later, the TV journalist has come back with more than half of his filming done. He has interviewed Christian pastors, citizen groups protesting to protect their rights, cold miners in
In the meantime, our little pre-production has generated only one and half candidates. The cooperative lower-middle-class kid is an intern at a friend's company. The poor farmer girl from
Even more difficult is to find a rich kid graduating from college. Our facebook friends are either rich but too young, or solidly middle class. The only bona fide rich kid introduced to us by a friend is only a junior and has scary government connection.
So we settled on a upper-middle class kid introduced by a friend of a friend at an international consulting firm. The kid was extremely considerate and cooperative at first. When he realized that we are doing the documentary for a broadcaster and not for the consulting firm, he very carefully expressed his many concerns which basically summed up to a "no."
That left my partner and me desperate and flabbergasted. How is it possible that the TV journalist could access so many dissidents yet it seems impossible for us to find a straightforward rich kid who enjoys touting his/her wealth?
We had a long lunch with the upper-middle class kid. He said in his generation few care to discuss and comment on contemporary political issues. Most are focused on improving their lives, and they are careful not to leave any mark that could come back and bite them in the future.
"I know you two are nice," he said. "But how could I be sure that there won't be any risk associated with the footage. What if the broadcaster does something with it? What if it gets on the Internet? What if someone uses it against me? You never know right?"
It dawned on us then that unless one could “benefit” somehow from talking to the media--either to voice their grievances or to broadcast their views--few in
What if… What if we all realize the depressing inhumanity of worrying too much about too many what ifs?