“As Time Goes By” Accused of Normalizing Rape
Currently broadcasting, As Time Goes By <好日子> stars Ben Wong (黃智賢), Alice Chan (陳煒), and Max Cheung (張達倫). It follows the lives of a large extended family living in the walled villages of Hong Kong. The story is largely centered upon one fateful night 30 years ago where young Ben, Alice, and Max were drinking after dark in a park. Eventually they became extremely drunk and Alice and Ben’s characters pass out. Max in his drunken stupor then is overcome with lust and rapes Alice. Max’s character runs away from home and the responsibility and blame is shouldered by his good friend Ben.
Many netizens felt that the drama was slow moving as the issue was dragged out over 12 episodes. In a recent episode, Alice reveals the truth about that fateful night. Alice invites Ben and Max to the same park where it happened and shows them her ID card, telling them that she was actually 16 years old at the time of the rape. All along, Max and Ben had been under the impression that she was younger than 16 years old and had been living with the fear of having to go to jail. Hong Kong law dictates that anyone below the age of 16 is considered a minor and regardless of whether they give consent, they cannot have any form of sexual relations.
However, many netizens felt that the drama was trying to normalize rape, as it was apparent during the scene that Alice had passed out and had not given her consent to Max. Even if Alice were 16 at the time, it would still be rape. Max’s character also tries to normalize the situation, stating that he and Alice were in love.
In a recent interview, Max said that the three stars felt uneasy about the scene. “We discussed this throughout filming and tried our best to understand it. Maybe after so many years, Alice’s character was looking for an excuse to release herself from all the pain? We were all very invested in our characters, so maybe our point of view will be slightly different from the audience. Of course, rape is something that should be frowned upon. It is important to have morals and to not have sexual relations while drunk.”
Not long after filming As Time Goes By, Max changed his contract with TVB. He is no longer managed by TVB, but still films with them on a per series contract. “I wanted to try new opportunities! I will release a Mandarin song soon and will be filming a new drama with Joel Chan (陳山聰) in August.”
I started watching this because I was interested in how TVB would show when it comes to the women and men’s point of view regarding rape. I was highly disappointed Alice completely forgave Max after she found out the truth and she was only angry at his father… I mean, the fact that she was raped and all the hard life she had to endure was still there. Just because she used to love Max that it makes his crime any less disturbing? When she saw Ben again and still thought he was the culprit, her reaction was very different, very angry and irrational.
And what about Max’s wife and son? Even if they came from Australia I doubt they’re that forgiving. After it was found out that Max was the culprit, his wife asked him if he wants to get a divorce so he and Alice can get married — like not at all angry or disgusted that her husband raped someone. Same with his son, I would have loved to see some sort of struggles to sort out their feelings, but nothing, just 100% supportive.
Even the villagers’ reactions to Max’s father lying were stronger than when they see Max. I can’t wrap my head around this series. They have the potential to explore such interesting and taboo theme yet played it safe again. I don’t know what I expected. But I’ll be dropping the series. It became extremely boring now with the whole head villager election & the ping pong team.
@iciel I agree TVB is incapable of properly grasping the emotions/reactions of characters. The way they chose to reveal the truth is ridiculously calm. Is that even normal? Who are the scriptwriters these days? Terrible! They lack real life experience to write a decent story.
@iciel Exactly how I felt! Alice’s character wasn’t at all angry at Max’s character. And Max’s wife! No disgust that she found out her husband raped someone when he was 17! No one’s reaction was as I expected and seemed to brush off the gravity of the character’s actions.
@iciel Agreed, though I don’t think any of us should be surprised, as this isn’t the first time TVB has appeared to “normalize” rape in a series and it probably won’t be the last. I don’t watch much TVB anymore nowadays, but I did catch most of this series and to say that it’s a disappointment is an understatement…the emotional piece is severely lacking, which is a shame considering there are a lot of really good actors/actresses in the series…everyone’s reactions are off-kilter and the story is all over the place. Basically, the poorly written script is a huge problem, which unfortunately even a relatively good cast isn’t able to salvage. And yes, the series is super draggy and boring with the side stories of the younger generation that really should be cut because they have nothing to do with the main story line. This series proves once again that TVB is incapable of handling controversial / taboo subject matter in their series.
@iciel jesus the writing sounds horrible and lame. The worst in recent record of bad writings.
Yes, the longer you watched, the more you realised the whole storylike doesn’t make sense. I like Alice but not in this character. I still don’t really get what sort of characters she’s portraying or what sort of message she’s delivering? Even her anger was inconsistent.
Ben is downright boring. Max confuses me.
Yikes, good thing I didn’t start watching the show. The premise bored and didn’t appeal to me. Looks like it was the right call to pass.
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