BEIJING, June 27 (Xinhua) -- China's glitterati are in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons again, following the arrest of a writer and director for possession and use of methamphetamine; crystal meth.
On Thursday, Beijing police announced that they had arrested screenwriter and novelist Chen Wanning, 39, for drug offenses. Chen confessed that he had been taking crystal meth since December and had consumed some just before his arrest.
Chen was a leading figure in China's first generation of online writers and established himself in 2006 with popular martial arts comedy "My Personal Swordsman". He is also a regular guest on hit matchmaking reality show "If You Are the One."
The news came less than two weeks after director Zhang Yuan was arrested in Beijing for similar offenses, his second arrest in similar circumstances.
The news has, of course, made quite a splash around Chinese social media, with many netizens incredulous that Chen, one of the most popular writers and TV commentators, would do such a thing:
"It's ironic that someone who preaches life principles on TV would violate these principles himself," wrote one; "How could they use drugs? Public figures should have high moral standards," said another.
There has been no shortage of druggie celebs in China recently. In March, Li Daimo, a reality TV star, was sentenced to nine months for hosting crystal meth parties at his apartment, according to the Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court.
In April 2011, Hong Kong actor Max Mok was arrested in Beijing for smoking marijuana, only three months after the arrest of rock singer Xie Tianxiao for the same reason. The following year, actor Zhang Mo, son of actor Zhang Guoli, was found smoking marijuana in his villa.
SHOW BIZ TOO TOXIC?
Celebrity tendencies to persistently fall from grace has raised an old question: is the entertainment business simply toxic?
According to Zhang Yuan, his love affair with crystal meth began in an attempt to make himself happier and more outgoing. It also helped too keep him awake.
Drugs are regarded as aspects of an "avant-garde" lifestyle and a symbol of high status in entertainment circles. "If you do not get into it, you will be ignored and miss a lot of opportunities," an anonymous insider told Xinhua
The self-worth of many celebrities depends on the adoration of the public. Their lifestyles can breed spiritual emptiness which makes them susceptible to temptations of various kinds.
Once arrested, most celebrities issue formulaic public apologies, and Chen and Zhang are no exceptions.
"Drug taking is detrimental to both life and health. If I stop taking drugs, it will do me good in my future life," said Chen's somewhat anodyne public statement, promising not to take drugs in the future and expressing remorse.
Many netizens however, could not care less about these outpourings of public remorse which invariably follow arrest. Celebrities, they say, need to seriously rethink their behavior instead of simply crying crocodile tears when they are caught.
"Actions speak louder than words, if you talk big and then let us down, how can people trust you again?" was a commonly expressed sentiment. "I hope that people in the public eye will learn to behave themselves, so when we think of show business, we will think of something good, rather than drugs, sex and gambling."