Another one bites the dust...!

Living in Singapore can sometimes be a stifling affair.

The government is constantly trying to tell everyone that they are pro-arts, pro-creativity, pro-this, pro-that the only thing they are a pro at is probably givng the people some false hope...or prozac... It could seem like a cruel joke but sometimes, I feel that Singaporeans are living in a real-life Matrix, heck, they probably based the movie on us! But I digress...

Anyhoo, the latest victim of the gahmen's ban-happy policies is of course, Madonna's Confessions Tour Video. How can banning this seemingly controversial DVD possibly help Singaporeans? The one thing the ban will help is of course, drive sales for the video. All that talk about how Singaporeans should be more net savvy? Well, we are and we have been so for many years.

I'm just disapopinted that the government had to force us to use other channels to obtain the stuff that we want. I don't see their point though, like most of the online community, I've also seen the Live to Tell video and while I agree that it is controversial, the performance was very affecting. It spoke to the teenagers and appealed to more than just Madonna fans. The song identified with teenagers who felt isolated and lost and showed viewers the plight of the children in Africa who are suffering from AIDS.

And while the ban only warranted a story in a local rag, the gay community as well as a few of my friends are up in arms with angry cries of What the hell is the government thinking?! Another BAN?! A friend pointed me in the direction of an article in Fridae.com where 34 readers have since posted their comments. Snide comments? Warranted? Of course. The local censors seem to be teasing Singaporeans with their weird sensibilities.

My question is this: Are we truly protecting religious sensibilities or just stifling our people on the pretext of religious sensibilities? Remember The DaVinci Code? Practically everyone had a comment and China went on to ban it. So, why did Singapore pass it uncut and yet choose to ban the Madonna DVD? The public is right in saying that we practice double standards for censorhip as we could cite the same arguments that were used to release The DaVinci Code to defend the release of the Madonna video. This is just entertainment and the public should be able to decide for themselves.

Yes, Madonna used religious symbols and yes, it is a publicity stunt - but it was effective as it gained her the attention and made people sit up to the cause. Why doesn't anyone ask how much money she raised instead? With all the access to overwhelming amounts of information at the click of a mouse, entertainers, businesses and even citizens themselves have to think of more creative ways to stand out from the crowd. So why should anyone be surprised? Media watchers should be aware of her antics by now, gosh, Madonna's been in the business since the 80s! To gasp and point over her antics like feeble old ladies is unbecoming of a country who declares their intentions of becoming a regional media hub. More like media snob! I wonder, how many memebrs of the censorship board have seen the video? The biggest irony would be that they are circulating it among themselves and doing it like the rest of us plebians; watching it in secret. Ah gahmen, gahmen...

Don't get your panties in a twist, people. This is but entertainment. Think for a second. If the performace excluded any of these tactics, would we still watch it? How many of us would even remember the song? Would you rather watch a performance that provokes a reaction or would you rather watch some boring home-made TV variety show with lip synching celebs?

At the end of the day, the local agencies only have themselves to blame for their authoritarian image. Releasing a handful of old movies that no one remembers or even some gay-themed Oscar-winning movies cannot redeem them from their stuffy box, especially since they insist on practicing double-standards censorship. Giving the people a teensy bit of choice makes no difference. Just give us choices and let us decide!

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a Catholic and I take offense to Madonna mocking Jesus Christ the way she did. Let us not follow countries in the west who allowed her act to be displayed publicly. What the government wants to do, I think, is to limit access, as far as it can, to the general public. And if you still want to view it, you can very well buy it from overseas or view it over the Internet. But, the message sent across is still the same: This Madonna act is an offense to Christianity, and an offense to Christians. In a spirit of love and concern for one another, let us show some respect for Christians by limiting availability of this video to the community. The world has enough of war, hatred and disrespect, let us not make it worse.

Bitchy Witchy said...

Dear Anonymous,

As I said in my post, art is perceived by people differently. As an artiste, Madonna reached out to audiences the only way that she knew how. By creating controversy. If you look at the video closely, the Christ symbol is used as a metaphor, and not to mock. I'm sure that Madonna also took the religious symbolism into account as she was born a Catholic too. Another example that I would like to highlight is the film Borat. The actor, Sacha Baron Cohen also made the Jews look bad - even though he is one. Does this mean that we should go about banning things simply because people do tend to satirise the different religions? What we need is to broadedn our horizons to truly appreciate and see what these artistes have to say instead of just fuming about the little things.

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P
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