Chimerica (2019) s01e01 Episode Script

Kodak Ergo Sum

1 'For the first time in huge numbers, the ordinary men and women of Beijing adjoin the student protest, lending their support to what has now taken on all the appearances of a peaceful popular uprising against the oppressiveness of Communist rule.
' Er thanks.
Demonstrators in the Chinese capital Beijing say they face a military attack in five hours' time if they don't leave Tiananmen Square.
'Since the government's decision to send in the army, the determination of the protestors has only increased.
' She wants to know what happens after you get the dream of democracy.
She says, "I know what China is dreaming of.
What is America dreaming of?" Erm - "Why are you involved in politics at all?" - "I enjoy it.
I enjoy the system.
" "I doubt I'll ever be involved in politics beyond what I do now, - but I do enjoy the system.
" - Frank Sams speaking.
Hi, Mr Sams.
My name is Lee Berger.
I'm a photographer.
I did an internship with you last summer.
Lee, it's late.
You want a reference, call back tomorrow.
- I know, but I'm in Beijing.
- What? Yeah.
I saw what was going on out here with the protest and everything and I had a little money saved so I I've been here for, like, ten days.
- In Tiananmen Square? - Yeah.
It's incredible.
Yesterday with, like, the army Do you know what's going on out here? You mean 300 Chinese protesters being gunned down by their own government? No, no, it's more that that.
It's like 300? Is that what they're saying? Where are you now? Are you safe? Yeah, but I have a few photos and I thought you might be interested.
- How soon can you get it back here? - I don't know.
There are soldiers outside the hotel.
I can't make it to the airport.
- Son, are you OK? - They just opened fire on their own people.
- I had no idea it was gonna be like that.
- No-one did.
Just sit tight.
Let me see if I can call in a favour.
"BBC might have a spot on their charter.
" Oh, fuck.
"Lee" "Lee?" I know, I know.
Give me 30 seconds, it's coming.
Come on, mother A lot of times when you're shooting in those kind of places, there's a lot of dust, so I like to have a zoom lens.
That's an EF24-70mm USM.
It's pretty standard, but I like it.
OK, we're almost out of time.
Does anyone have any questions for Lee? - Yeah? - Do you know what happened to him? No, I wish.
I went back to Beijing in 1990 to try and identify him, but if anybody knew anything, they wouldn't say.
It's too dangerous, I guess.
He's probably dead by now, anyway, but My uncle told me it was a guy called Wang Guanyu.
He was, like, a medical student or something.
I never heard that one.
Erm, can you sign this for me, please? Sure.
Actually, that's not mine.
But you took the Tank Man photo.
I know, but there were, like, six other guys who took a really similar shot.
This one's Jeff Widener's, I think.
Yeah, that's Jeff's.
Sorry, I can't sign that.
Hey, listen, good luck.
All right? Laura's got my e-mail if you have any other questions.
- OK.
Thanks.
- All right, take care.
I cannot wait to watch Hilary make him eat that fucking toupee.
"Hey, Mr Berger, my name's Alex Sguerra, I'm a photojournalist.
I wanted to ask a couple of things about your Syria front page.
I'd be super grateful if you could call me back.
" Man, that was so depressing.
- You ready to go get booed in Pennsylvania? - Let's do it! - "The state of Pennsylvania backs the vote for Donald Trump!" - Thank you.
So Frank says you're gonna win a Pulitzer.
For what, my poetry? For your Syria front page, your douche noggin.
I don't know about that.
You wanna get a beer after this? No.
Erm I just Actually, I just went into AA, so I was gonna tell you, just it was while you were away, and I didn't wanna write some cliched e-mail.
- You don't have authorisation.
- Oh, that's impossible.
Mel Kincaid, The New York Courier.
This is Lee Berger.
Sorry, ma'am, you're not allowed in.
- Do you believe that? - It's not just you, it's your whole organisation.
- Oh, is it, now? - Yes, ma'am.
- Well, thank you for that information.
Thank you.
Have a nice day.
Next, please.
We're blacklisted.
The whole newspaper! This is so fucked up! "join me in welcoming the next president of the United States of America, Donald J Trump!" Fuck him! He's a joke.
Who wants to go to China? Yeah, I thought you'd like that.
Trump says he's standing up to China, but they're hand in glove, he takes loans from Chinese banks.
Now, the Beijing business fair runs this week.
I want footage.
I want America to hear "Vote Trump" from the enemy's mouth.
- You want video? - Yeah.
New editor's got the bit between her teeth about online content.
- You met Lou yet? - Uh-uh.
- No? Well, when you do, look busy.
She's looking to take 10% off every department.
Plus, she made me join Twitter.
Well, it is the internet, Frank.
It's not going anywhere.
Yeah, well, I'm still hoping it's a fad.
"Lee, this is Alex Sguerra again.
It's about your Syria picture.
I have some questions you need to answer.
I think you know what I'm talking about.
" Hey, Zhang Lin, it's Lee.
I think it's, like, 4am for you, but guess what.
I'm on a plane to Beijing.
I really hope I get to see you.
I miss you, man.
Alright, call me back.
You know that's her third since we sat down? So? 15 hours next to Zelda Fitzgerald could be a bumpy ride.
A pansy with hair on his chest.
Excuse me? That's what Zelda Fitzgerald called Ernest Hemingway.
Switch seats with me.
No.
- So, is this your first trip to Beijing? - Hey, I got a tip for you.
Don't eat the chicken.
The average piece of Chinese chicken, if you were an athlete and you ate this chicken, the steroids that they pump into that shit, you would fail a doping test.
It is the Lance Armstrong of the poultry world.
OK, it's not my first time.
Oh.
You OK? Take-off is the worst part.
Once we're in the air, you'll be fine.
You know why they tell you to adopt the brace position? So your teeth don't smash and they can identify your body by your dental records.
Don't be mean.
She's scared.
- I'm Lee.
- I'm sorry.
You're gonna be fine.
So what are you doing out there? I'm consulting for an American credit card company.
They are taking a crack at the Chinesemarket.
I'm adapting their profiling system.
- I know, it's very sexy.
- Profiling.
I mean, no offence, but you're going to a country of one billion people to make some boxes to put them in? I mean, come on! OK, erm, I've had, like, four wines, but I would say that you are group O, group B characteristics.
Within that, I would place you as an anti-materialist, maybe a bit of a bright young thing once, but I think that ship has sailed, don't you? You see your work as a career, not a job.
You identify yourself as international, not national.
You have no brand loyalty.
You think cannabis should be legalised, sanitary towels should be subsidised, Donald Trump is a demagogue, veganism is a good but unattainable goal and real men do cry.
You know, it's fine to say, "I don't wanna talk.
" - You know, you can just say that.
- OK.
Shut up! The Tank Man? That is mental! I used to wonder what was in his shopping bags.
Yeah, well, there are kids with iPhones who can do my job better than me now.
But I don't know how to do anything else.
Kodak ergo sum.
Ooh! I read that some place.
I didn't come up with it.
Thought so.
What? I'm so pissed.
Helen, baby, I just got off a 15-hour flight.
Please do not put words in my mouth.
Say hi from me.
Lee says hi.
Yeah, he's fine.
He fucked Margaret Thatcher on the plane.
I know.
It's disgusting.
Hey, put Nathan on the line.
- Trump.
Yeah, I know him.
- I like him very much.
His hair is defying gravity.
Is China scared of him? He will destroy America.
Of the two candidates, who do you think would be best for China? - Hilary is crooked.
- Vote Trump.
- Vote Trump! - Vote Trump! OK.
Thank you very much.
- Zhang Lin? - Hey! - Aghh! - Ohh! Oh, man, I missed you! - So, what's the story this time? - Three guesses.
- Trump.
An election every four years.
No wonder you cannot get anything done.
This is my brother, Jungwei.
You remember Mel, right? - Hi.
- So good to see you.
And this is my friend, Tess.
I hope it's OK if I join you.
- Of course.
Please, sit.
- Thank you.
This is a great place.
I hope you can handle the spicy food.
- I love spicy food! - Ah, people always say that! No, I went back to Beijing in 1990.
Zhang Lin was trying to teach me some Mandarin, but I didn't get very far.
- Have you ever been to New York? - What for? Starbucks, cockroaches, we have both of those here.
Hey, I teach Crazy English now.
Did I tell you? I take my students to the roof.
We yell English into the sky.
You shout, you learn, you conquer English to make China stronger.
It's got sort of a fascist aspect, but it helps with the conjugation.
Tomorrow, hi! This is Tomorrow, she's one of my pupils.
- Hi.
- You the famous photograph? - Me? Am I famous? No.
No, I took one pretty famous photo.
You wanna see it? OK.
Erm here it is.
I took it in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
After the protest Hm, I don't know.
Sorry.
I think we were followed today.
Probably.
You're a journalist.
You don't think it's weird? It's never happened to me before.
You mean you never noticed before.
Excuse me.
Joy! - Hey.
- Hey! You caught us.
- Don't be silly, I'll have one.
- Who was that? - Who? Oh, Joy.
That's my neighbour's daughter.
Hmm! Do you fancy her? No, she's she's married.
She lives in Hong Kong.
Too smart for me.
She's a human rights lawyer.
- Ah! - Yeah.
Anyway, I don't think, er I don't think I'll marry again.
Zhang Lin's wife died.
- I'm sorry, I didn't realise.
- It happened a long time ago.
So how did you get together? - Do you know a band called Wham? - Yeah.
They played a concert here.
I bought tickets.
Then my girlfriend broke up with me.
I met Liuli the next day.
I took her instead.
- That was our first date.
- You never told me that.
I've seen that concert.
There was a documentary on YouTube.
They show the whole crowd.
Maybe you're in it! You've gotta check.
Ah, we can't access that site.
YouTube is blocked here.
- You like Wham? - Do I like Wham? I love Wham.
I spent the 80s planning my wedding to George Michael.
What is your point? I'm just saying, there was a massacre right here in Tiananmen Square and the guy still had the courage to stand up and say, "This is wrong.
" And what did he have? Nothing.
He had a couple of plastic grocery bags, that's it.
He was a clown! He wasn't a clown.
- I was there, too.
- Yes.
Up in a hotel room taking pictures, behind your camera.
I was here in the square, OK? Bullets the size of your thumb, yes? Dumdums.
They turned the lights out on us.
Don't you think it's weird that nobody would know anything? The Tank Man? Are we still on that? That waitress, she worked five minutes from the square, she didn't even know people were killed there.
Bad journalism.
Most of them weren't even killed in the square.
- OK, OK! But she never even heard of the Tank Man! Ahhh! What's with you tonight, huh? Tank Man, Tank Man.
What did he do? He stood in the road.
My wife, she sat in that square for two whole months! Right, you were there, you must have heard something.
Over the years, you never heard anything, nobody ever said anything to you? I heard he went to America! What? - Wait, wait, what are you - New York.
Many people moved there after.
By August, most of my friends were gone.
Are you serious? I thought I thought that he was I thought he would've been dead.
This is Do you have his name? He'll have changed it.
He'll be called Brian Simpson or No, do you know what his name is? Please, do you have it? Wang Pengfei.
Wang Pengfei, like P-E-N-G He went to art school with Liuli.
He got his place there by painting a perfect copy of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.
Nice guy.
I can't believe that you never told me this.
You're a foreign journalist, Lee.
You know how careful I have to be when you come to visit, hm? I like to live quiet.
Anyway, it was 30 years ago.
Who cares? Don't you have other things to worry about, like, er, democracy? It's What's the English word? fucked.
What, you don't like Trump? I like Clinton.
Women hold up half the sky.
Drink.
Welcome back.
The Tank Man is dead.
You don't think this friend of yours is, let's be civil, feeding you a crock of shit? I actually think we might have something.
We have this guy's name.
- Wang Pengfei.
- Ah, right.
And this name was given to you by how many people? Lee's friend, Zhang Lin.
And this person, he's in the army? The party? He teaches Crazy English.
Excellent.
So he has access to the really high-level intelligence, then.
Anyway, he's dead.
I pulled the clips.
This is by our Beijing correspondent at the time.
The headline is quite unequivocal.
It can't be quite unequivocal.
It is or it isn't.
There's no scale.
Maybe that headline's wrong.
I've never heard of it.
How long do we have before Lou gets here? That's her.
That's her? - What is she doing? - She's inspiring us to sit differently.
She wants to encourage younger voices.
- Does it work? - Yeah.
Frank, it's that girl again.
She's called three times this morning.
Tell her I'll call her back! She says if you don't take it, she's gonna call Lou direct.
Alex Sguerra, photojournalist, know her? Me, neither.
Had to Google her.
She's about 12.
Works for VICE.
Wears a lot of hats.
Alex Sguerra says if you magnify this by 200, the manipulation is obvious.
So we could do that and turn this into an official investigation.
Or you can just tell me what you did.
It's two shots.
I spliced them together.
I just I-I-I don't know what I was thinking.
I didn't even really mean to send it.
- Ohh.
Does Lou know? - Not yet.
- Does she have to? I've never done anything like this before.
There's no quiet way of doing this.
We have to print a correction.
We have to weather the shit storm that follows.
And I have to call every editor in the country and apologise cos you've made all of us look dirty, right at the moment we need more than ever to be immaculate.
You've played right into his tiny hands.
You know that, right? I can't afford to give you anything less than a public execution right now.
Frank, please, it was a great shot.
Sure.
Kind of shot that wins a Pulitzer.
If it's real.
It was real! It happened! It's true or it isn't! Alteration is not an option! Yeah, well, apparently it's the only way to get Syria on the front page.
Week after week, I send you unthinkable atrocities, and you bury them on page 12.
You're gonna wanna write an apology.
A good one.
I can help you with that.
But this We're done, son.
- Excuse me! - Don't worry, I won't be long.
- You can't just - Alex? Alex Sguerra? Anybody? Alex? - Alex? Lee Berger.
- I know who you are.
Hi.
Look, do you wanna go somewhere? No, I just wanna say, I hope when you're doing your important work, covering which music festival is the best to get herpes at, you feel fucking proud of yourself.
Dude, do you think I like this, either? I've looked up to you my whole career.
I had the Tank Man pasted on my bedroom wall.
- No, no, no.
What I do has nothing to do with what you do.
You don't have a career.
You have a couple of dumb trips to Cambodia that your daddy paid for.
I work for a newspaper! We take bets on when the first VICE kid is gonna get their head chopped off! - Worked.
- Excuse me? You worked for a newspaper.
Past tense, right? # I was dreaming but I should've been with you instead # Wake me up before you go-go # Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo # Wake me up before you go-go # I don't wanna miss it when you hit that high # Wake me up before you go-go # Cos I'm not planning on going solo Wake me up before you go-go "These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false.
" 'I'd like to apologise for the mistake I made manipulating the photograph.
I've always behaved ethically and this was a single, catastrophic error of judgement.
I deeply regret that I sullied the reputation of my newspaper and my friends.
Journalists are not liars.
They seek truth, and right now, we need them more than ever.
' I cannot expect my colleagues to forgive me.
I only hope that they will recognise this happened under the pressure of rolling half-hour deadlines and the demands of a readership which has become desensitised to anything but the most arresting images.
Cut the last sentence.
But it's true.
I know.
But cut it.
Yeah.
So it's been kind of a bad day.
- I mean, that really is shitty.
- Yeah.
So, when did you fly in? Four hours ago.
Can't you tell? - You like working over there? - It's the only country I've ever been to where I feel like they genuinely don't give a shit about us, like, at all.
Erm Wow! - You're a fast learner, huh? - I've been studying at night, taking a lot of caffeine pills.
My piss is orange.
I have to admit something really terrible.
Worse than your piss being orange? I Googled you.
I Googled you, too.
What's netball? And why do they make you wear such short skirts when you play it? Sorry.
Just You know this is a work thing, right? - This is really awkward now, isn't it? - No.
Not at all.
Don't worry about it.
- I literally just got divorced.
I'm not really looking for - Yeah, yeah, yeah.
No, it's fine.
- Excuse me, can I get another one of those? Thanks.
- Sure thing.
So, what do you wanna talk about? OK.
Erm, so the credit card company I work for are looking for some artwork for the card, and I found this.
It's yours.
Well, I would like to license it.
For a credit card? No.
I don't think so.
And, anyway, that river that those kids are fishing in is one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
The child mortality rate is, like, through the roof.
- It's a great image.
- Yeah, there's a ceiling on how much I wanna make off a bunch of kids - dying in a developing country.
- I'm sorry you lost your job, but don't take it out on me.
- Don't do that.
That's not what I'm talking about.
- Why are you angry? Because I slept with you and I don't wanna do it again? Cos it's the worst day of my life and I'm dining with Ayn Rand.
And actually, bullshit you didn't wanna "Hey, Lee, can I buy you dinner? I promise not to have sex with you.
Call me.
" I'm not sure how I could have been more explicit.
Oh, my God! This is, like, the least subtle email I've ever gotten in my life.
Look, I know you're having a tough time, but honestly we Photoshop everything, all the time.
So what? So what if the Tank Man was Photoshopped? It's still an amazing image, right? It'd still be saying something.
It'd still be true.
Are you out of your fucking mind? "Journalists are not liars.
They seek truth.
And right now, we need them more than ever.
" You know there are a ton of people right now shitting on you from a great height, and I just want you to know, those people have exactly zero fucking right to do that cos those people were never in a combat zone in their whole life.
- OK.
Thank you.
- But I was.
I have been in 12 combat zones.
So when I shit on you, it counts.
OK? I don't care how hot or dusty it was, or how much sleep you weren't getting, - there is no excuse for what you did! - I'm sorry.
I hope you like eating leftover shrimp in a catering tin cos you're gonna be a wedding photographer for the rest of your fucking life, Lee! - I know.
- Do you know you have broken my heart? He's not dead.
- Are you serious right now? - No, just listen to me.
Listen to me.
We knew that after Tiananmen, there have been public executions on TV every day, - people who'd embarrassed the party a lot less than that guy.
- Yeah.
So? So it doesn't make any sense.
If the party had got him, they definitely would've made sure that every TV viewer in China had seen that bullet go through his head.
The image would've gone round the world, and there'snothing.
I get a photo of the Tank Man alive and well and sitting in Central Park, you don't think every newspaper in the world is gonna open its doors to me? Even if you got that photo, you know what happens.
Everyone thinks it's a fake.
In news, you don't have anything except your credibility.
- And you don't have that any more.
- I know, but you do.
No.
No! - So what do you think? - I think he's fired and you have an election to cover.
You know, this isn't just about the Tank Man.
This is about a government crushing one of the biggest protests in history.
Zhang Lin, he lost his wife.
She was shot in the street and nobody remembers.
But if the Tank Man is alive There's not a shred of evidence the Public Security Bureau took him.
- You had a name, right? - Wang Pengfei.
- Nothing else? - He painted a perfect copy of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.
Well it's not nothing.
This is extracurricular, OK? You still put the newspaper first.
And you, be careful.
If Lou hears you're anywhere near this, it's my head on a plate.
She only hates you cos you're a Republican.
Like I haven't been punished enough.
Wake me up before you go-go.
Take me dancing tonight.
I want to hit that high.
Wake me up before you go-go.
Don't leave me hanging on like a yo-yo.
When we find him, what's the first question you're gonna ask? - OK.
One, what did he say to the soldier in the tank? - Mm-hm.
Two, what were in his shopping bags? "Your New York City forecast here on this Tuesday morning" - Hey.
- Hey.
- Hey.
Hey!