Batman is a normal Javanese name pronounced ‘But-mun’

From ‘Batman Suparman story takes off’, 17 Nov 2013, article by Nur Asyiqin Mohammed Salleh, Sunday  Times

Singapore’s Batman Suparman (below) made news when he was sent to jail last Monday for a string of crimes. His story also took off beyond Singapore, making the list of best-read stories on the BBC website. The interest clearly was less about his crimes – theft, housebreaking and consuming heroin, for which he was jailed for two years and nine months – and more about his unusual name.

His mother, however, was not amused to hear that his name was being talked about here and elsewhere. “A person’s name is not a laughing matter and it’s our business what we name our child,” she said, irritated to be asked if he had been named after the comic hero. She claimed Batman, 23, was a “normal” Javanese name properly pronounced as “But-Mun”.

Only one other person in the phone directory is named Batman but when contacted, the woman declined to be interviewed. There are 23 listings of Suparman, the name of Batman’s father.

…Veteran Malay language teacher Abdul Rahim Omar told The Sunday Times that while Suparman is a common Javanese name, Batman is not and has no meaning in Malay or Javanese. “I think his parents were probably inspired by the comic.”

What happens if you Google Image 'Batman Bin Suparman'

What happens if you Google Image ‘Batman Bin Suparman’

To date, no one has published a photo of Batman outside of his identity card and it would be interesting to see what he looks like now. I thought it was also rather insensitive of ST to ask Batman’s mother about his superhero name when he’s serving time in jail. No wonder she was irritated; she must have been asked the same question a million times. Nobody cares if you name your son ‘Tan Ah Kow’ anymore. Too bad the writer of the Batman article wasn’t Kimberly Spykerman.

Kudos to Ch5 newsreader Chew Wui Lynn for keeping po-faced when reporting Batman’s arrest. And she passed the pronunciation with flying colours. This is how you say ‘Batman Bin Suparman’ like a pro, ‘bart-mon (as in monday)’.

Not so for the rest of the world, who say Batman as, literally, Bat-Man. Holy Java Chip Frappucino!

But let’s go beyond the Internet sensation and the most famous Singaporean other than LKY, or the Dark Knight, and try to uncover the origins of ‘batman’ if its Javanese source is disputed. In 1912, a CAPTAIN BATMAN was fined $10 for stowing away a ‘decrepit Chinaman’ into the ‘Colony’. In Melbourne, there’s a place called Batman’s Hill, named after founder John Batman (1801-1839). All this happening, of course, way before the father of the creator of DC’s Batman was even born.

In the military, a ‘batman’ is an obsolete term for a soldier assigned to an officer as a ‘manservant’, and is tasked with ‘batting’, or basically being at the beck and call of your boss.  You could say that the comic’s butler Alfred is a ‘Batman’ in his own way. In 1951, the Singapore Free Press published a report with the headline ‘Batman in theft case’,  so it’s not the first time that a real-life ‘Batman’ has committed a crime.

A batman is also an ancient unit of mass, as defined by the Ottoman empire, roughly working out to be today’s 7.6 kg. The Turkish province Batman, the Batman River and the Batman airport all hint at a possible connection with the Javanese ‘Batman’. ‘But-man’ itself isn’t immune to mockery either (think ‘Buttman’). Either Batman bin Suparman’s parents are closet superhero geeks, or are well versed in the ancient Ottoman metric system. What the journo should have done to uncover the mystery of Batman as a first name, is to get a Javanese or Turkish phonebook rather than a local one. Only then will you get some insight into how, well, Batman Begins.

About these ads

Cartoonist Leslie Chew in contempt of court

From ‘Attorney-General’s Chambers acts against cartoonist Leslie Chew’, 25 July 2013, article by Walter Sim, ST

The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has commenced legal proceedings in the High Court against Chew Peng Ee, better known as Leslie Chew, for a series of comic strips published on Facebook.

He is alleged to have committed contempt of court by scandalising the Judiciary of the Republic of Singapore. The AGC said in a statement issued Thursday: “The present legal proceedings are aimed at protecting the administration of justice in the Republic of Singapore and upholding the integrity of one of our key public institutions.”

The case will be heard before the High Court on Aug 12. Chew is the illustrator behind Demon-cratic Singapore, a Facebook page that was started in May 2011.

Centre to this case are four comics published on 20 July 2011, 3 January 2012, 5 January 2012 and 16 June 2012 on the Facebook page, which claims that Demon-cratic Singapore is the “full name” of a fictional country, “often referred to as Singapore for short”. It also says the series is a “totally fictional comic with entirely fictional characters based on wholly fictional events”.

Despite his arrest for sedition earlier this year, Chew continued to mock this ‘fictional’ country’s government while other artists in his plight would have toned down the political barbs or stopped drawing altogether. In the 3 Jan 2012 strip, the AGC may have taken offence to the use of the term ‘Kangaroo Court’ and the suggestion that the courts give preferential treatment to celebrities when they get into trouble, in this case ‘Quan Feng Feng’. Just a week prior to this, Mediacorp host Quan Yifeng was sentenced to 15 months’ probation for trashing a taxi, citing mental illness in her defence. Chew may be talented with colouring pencils but subtlety is clearly not his forte. For one, he tweaked the name of every character but left ‘Singapore’ intact.

Blogger Alex Au of Yawning Bread was lucky to escape with an apology and removal of his post for likewise SCANDALISING the courts by suggesting that another celebrity, plastic surgeon Woffles Wu, was let off easy after getting an elderly scapegoat to take the rap for his speeding offence. Incidentally, Chew also took a swipe at the Woffles (or rather, Waffles) Wu verdict in his 16 July 12 post. Does a picture paint a thousand contemptuous words here? Or perhaps it’s the ‘Kangaroo Court’ jibe that got the AGC hopping mad. In 2008, a trio wearing kangaroo T-shirts to the Supreme court were slapped with jail terms up to 15 days for ‘scandalising the Singapore judiciary’, their depiction of the proverbial marsupial in judges’ robes considered the ‘worst insult possible’. Worse than calling the law ‘stupid’ or a ‘senile old fart’ perhaps?

Worse than wearing the F word

2 days after the Quan Feng Feng strip, Chew published ‘Justice is Dead part 2′, which featured a ‘Romanian diplomat and a ‘New Zealander’ fleeing the country to escape jail time. The obvious diplomat reference would be Silviu Ionescu, who fled Singapore after knocking down and killing someone in 2009, went on trial in 2010, and only sentenced to 3 years in prison in May this year.   The ‘New Zealander’ is likely to be Robert Stephen Dahlberg, who was sentenced to 5 months jail in 2012 for being involved in a Suntec brawl in 2010. After the assault he jumped bail and was only brought to justice because he SURRENDERED.

Well you sure took your own sweet time, Justice. Not sure how a ‘kangaroo court’ insult is akin to calling one’s mother a whore in the legal sense, but I would think the speed at which these foreigners are made to pay for their crimes is an insult more to kangaroos than the Judiciary. Except when the crime involves ‘scandalising the judiciary’, like what 77 year old writer Alan Shadrake was charged for some insulting passages in his book ‘Once A Jolly Hangman’. Unlike the other foreigners, Shadrake didn’t run over innocent people or bash their heads in, but he served more than a month’s worth of prison time. Did I mention he was 77 YEARS OLD?

A certain Lord Anthony Lester called the ‘contempt of court’ offence ‘outmoded and archaic’, but what more can you expect really from a system that’s unwilling to let go of an anti-gay law like Section 377A? I wonder if the term ‘dinosaur court’ would make more sense instead.

Chen Show Mao posting disrespectful cartoon on Facebook

From ‘Chen Show Mao’s Facebook post shows lack of respect’, 15 July 2013, Voices, Today

(Gary Chua Sheng Yang): Over the last few weeks, the verbal sparring over the issue of hawker centre cleaning has been kept relatively civil by the Workers’ Party (WP) and the People’s Action Party. On Saturday, though, WP Member of Parliament (MP) Chen Show Mao posted a caricature on his Facebook page depicting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his colleagues Mr K Shanmugam and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan as three dwarves with cleaning gear.

While he probably intended it to be funny, it displays a lack of respect in the political arena and not something I expect of an MP, much less an established lawyer like Mr Chen. The WP has spoken of building a First World Parliament. Is this the behaviour it would condone from one of its MPs?

The party should respond with facts if the allegations against its MPs are inaccurate and, if the allegations are proven correct, accept the mistake and apologise unreservedly. This action by Mr Chen is disconcerting to neutrals and suggests that the WP may not be ready to be taken seriously as a political party.

Come, clean!

Come, clean!

Chen Show Mao’s caption for this post was ‘I heard the news today, oh Boy’ –Good Men on the march, though the quote may also be attributed to a Beatles’ lyric in  ‘A Day in the Life’. There’s nothing really scathing, humiliating or even FUNNY about the caricature, and in fact it even puts the ministers in a good light because they’re depicted as ‘getting their hands dirty’ to do the job, though you’re more likely to see a baby in a politician’s hand than a bucket or rubber hose. At least Breakfast Network putting Tan Chuan Jin’s face on an equally diminutive Ewok was ridiculous enough for the Minister to have a hearty chuckle about it. All part of this big-head-on-little-bodies fetish that people seem to have when it comes to minister caricatures. Even LKY has a Mini-me of himself.

One should still be careful when publishing political cartoons here, as the Demon-cratic Singapore artist found out when he was arrested for sedition. If you are less artistically inclined but dying to show off some funny bone, you may joke about a fellow party MP-to-be on Facebook provided you’re of a certain rank, namely Emeritus Senior Minister rank. Just ask Tin Pei Ling.  I think this is really about bad timing rather than ‘disrespect’, considering that both Vivian Balakrishnan and the PM himself have been nagging non-stop at WP leader Low Thia Khiang to sort this thing out. Perhaps not the best time to make a joke about the hawker situation if the ruling party is breathing down your neck waiting for an apology.

Chen’s flair for sketching is apparent from his Facebook page. In 2011, he posted a self-portrait created on his iPad. For those old enough you’d see the Beatles connection too.

He did not comment, however, if the 3 dwarves pic was in fact his handiwork, and it would be a mistake to admit so, because that implies that instead of helping your team work out a defence against allegations of lying in these desperate times, you’re cutting out photos of PAP ministers’ heads, gluing them on paper, and doodling around them like you have all the time in the world.

Water Wally peeping at boy in the shower

From ‘PUB music video draws flak online’, 22 May 2013, article by Nigel Chen, My Paper

…Water Wally, the national water agency PUB’s water-droplet mascot, has been drawing mixed reactions for a music video which was posted online on April 15. The video, Water Wally Shower Dance, which was uploaded on PUB’s website and YouTube, features the mascot in a rap ditty, reminding children and adults to keep showers to under five minutes.

…PUB said that, by the end of the year, pupils in 185 primary schools would have learnt how to do the Shower Dance as part of its “Time to Save” programme. So far, pupils in 28 primary schools have been taught the dance….However, the video has drawn some flak online, with 186 dislikes on YouTube, compared to just 50 likes, as of 7.40pm yesterday.

…Ms Candy Kang, creative director of advertising agency Available, said: “The comedic nature of the dance, coupled with the exaggerated movements, detracts one’s attention from the original message of the video.” She also pointed out that a particular scene where Water Wally walks in on a boy showering in a bathroom is “inappropriate”.

Ms Kang added: “It shows someone (Water Wally) intruding on a boy’s privacy while he showers, which could also be seen as an outrage of modesty.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 8

Water Wally has a habit of barging into toilets. In the ‘Adventures of Water Wally’ cartoon, the perky little droplet charged into a forest latrine to turn off running showers and taps in the episode ‘Camp H20′. Although he has been accused of being a creepy paedophile or a serial murderer inspired by Psycho in this PUB video, Wally is portrayed as a heroic little squirt in the animated series who lives in an alternative universe where entering uninvited into showers to remind people not to waste water is the neighbourly, considerate thing to do.

In fact, Wally’s wide-eyed intrusion may be exactly the reason for the video’s success; by scaring little children into not bathing at all. I, for one, would hesitate to take a shit now without making sure the door is locked, though I would also be wary of Wally magically leaping out of the toilet bowl when I flush and dragging me into a raging vortex of my own piss and excrement. I didn’t think Wally needed to even handle a door knob. He could have transformed into a little puddle, seep beneath and door and watch you bathe all he wants before casting a charm that makes you para-para non-stop.

The ‘Shower Dance’ itself, if you ignore the terrible Black Eyed Peas influenced rap, is a mash-up of various genres of the art form spanning decades of pop culture. Allow me to break the moves down to argue why the Shower Dance has nothing to do with showers or contagious epilepsy at all.

The Hippy Hippy Shake

The Hippy Hippy Shake

The Robot

The Robot

Gwiyomi/Para Para

Gwiyomi/Para Para

Zombie Walk

Zombie Walk

I tried doing the first sequence of the Shower Dance while bathing myself and all it did was get the entire bathroom wet, not my naked body. With all that outburst of energy splashing around it’s not easy to ‘keep it to 5′. It also doesn’t emphasise on scrubbing behind the ears, under your armpits or between your toes. It’s probably more efficient to bathe with a scoop and pail, or use targetted wetting by directing the showerhead at dirty areas, but how can anyone boogie while holding some damn thing in your hand?

To help us keep track of our shower times, PUB distributed waterproof timers last year to stick on our walls. It’s probably a miracle device for people with OCD, but I want to get out of my bath after a long day REFRESHED, not feeling like I’m being buzzed out of bed for work. Rushing people into taking quick baths aside, we should also discourage couples from having prolonged sex in the shower and jilted teens from sitting in there crying all night with the water trickling down their sad faces like what they do in Mediacorp dramas.

Good try, Wally and PUB, but this shower dance thing is a total wash-out.

Demon-cratic Singapore creator arrested for sedition

From ‘Cartoonist arrested over complaint’, 24 April 2013, article by Feng Zengkun, ST

SINGAPOREAN cartoonist Leslie Chew, 37, was arrested last Friday by the police after a complaint was filed against him about one of his cartoons, his lawyer said yesterday. Mr Choo Zheng Xi, who is with law firm Peter Low LLC, said Mr Chew was held over the weekend and released on Sunday night after posting bail of $10,000. He will have to report to the police again on April 30.

…Mr Chew draws the cartoon strip, Demon-cratic Singapore, which is posted regularly on Facebook. According to a description on the strip’s Facebook page, it is “a totally fictional comic with entirely fictional characters based on wholly fictional events in a fictional country“.

Mr Choo said Mr Chew is being investigated for alleged sedition, in relation to a cartoon posted on March 27 regarding the Malay population. He added that Mr Chew was also questioned about a second cartoon which was not included in the complaint.

This was posted on Dec 14 last year, and was the subject of a letter sent by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to Mr Chew three days later, said Mr Choo. He said that in the letter, the AGC said the cartoon “scandalises our Courts through allegations and imputations that are scurrilous and false”. He added the cartoonist had not yet been charged.

Late last night, a cartoon depicting Mr Chew’s questioning by the police – whom he described as “very professional” – was uploaded on the Facebook page. Last night, the police said they were looking into the matter.

Chew’s cartoon was not discriminatory against Malays, but referred to the government of ‘Demon-cratic Singapore’ as a racist one. The strip that ‘scandalises’ the courts depicts a character called ‘Pinky’ Loong kicking a High Court Judge out of his office and also involves a cheating politician not so subtly named ‘Michael Phucker’. Other uncannily familiar characters in the Demon-cratic Universe include $8 KHAWTeo CHEE HONG, HAIRY Lee, THORNY Tan and Ho JINX. Incidentally, the evil party in Chew’s story is called ‘Party against People’. The entire cast sounds inspired by nicknames straight out of an EDMW or Sammyboy forum thread conceived by 13-year olds. Not exactly Mad Magazine material, I suppose.

Some authors have the nerve to do away with the ‘parallel universe’ angle and mock the PAP straight up. In 1971, 22 year old cartoonist Morgan Chua drew a cartoon of LKY riding a tank threatening to crush a baby symbolising the paper he worked for, the Singapore Herald. LKY’s also a favorite target of foreign humorists;  You can only purchase ‘Harry Lee Kuan Yew, A Pictorial Account of his Life and Times‘ online, a collection of lampoons by Rodney King, an Australian who worked here for more than a decade. In this book the ‘lovable old twerp’ ‘gets a good hand-bagging from Maggie Thatcher’ and ‘falls down a rubbish chute’. It would have been funnier if his caricature of LKY didn’t resemble the stereotype of a slant-eyed Asian.

You can, however, publish a book full of toon politicians here if you’re careful enough. Greg Nonis gave us ‘Hello Chok Tong, Goodbye Kuan Yew’ in 1991. Today, if you’re lucky, the authorities will tolerate your satire if you bypass the censors and post comics on your own blog or Facebook, provided you cover yourself with the appropriate disclaimers and give your characters names that would trigger a knowing smirk in your reader but not an angry lawyer’s letter. My Sketch Times features a DR ‘WOLF WU‘ who’s ‘helping to change the way traffic procedures are performed’. S’pore Says posted a cartoon of a ‘Mr Wong’ in a Monkey King head vice getting a headache when the mantra ‘Mas Selamat’ is chanted. The Cartoon Press, which I must say boasts some of the best pencilwork I’ve seen so far, has a turkey with what looks very much like Lim Swee Say’s head.  Some of this stuff is actually funnier than Demon-cratic Singapore, which has ‘episodes’ with too much text and one too many cringingly lame name-puns.

Anyway here’s a random picture of our Prime Minister in a pink shirt. Hmm..I wonder if anyone has made a caricature of this already.

 

CHIJ girls please stand up

From ‘Poster with CHIJ logo ‘insulting’: school chairperson’, 18 Jan 2012, article by Jeanette Tan, sg.yahoo news.

A poster featuring a naughty message has scandalised some people from the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) schools in Singapore. The large circular poster, which depicted the school’s crest at its centre, included a caption in bold capitals that read: “In need of a one night stand: CHIJ girls please stand up!”

…Its (CHIJ board of management) chairperson, Vivienne Lim, told the paper that the unauthorised use of the school’s logo in the poster was “highly inappropriate and demeaning”, adding that it was “insulting” for “thousands of CHIJ alumni and current CHIJ students, some of whom are as young as six years old.”

The poster is believed to have been created as a decorative part of a school-themed party held at Filter Members Club, a nightspot located near Mohamed Sultan Road, last Saturday, alongside a similar one featuring the Anglo-Chinese School logo carrying the caption: “In need of a sugar daddy: Where my AC boys at?”

…“I think it’s highly offensive and ridiculous,” said Kimberly Gwee, 17, who graduated from CHIJ Toa Payoh (Secondary) a year ago. She felt that the poster slandered the names of both CHIJ and ACS. “Each school (CHIJ and ACS) already has bad publicity from rumours that circulate from generation to generation, but this is a whole new level of offence… to slander CHIJ’s name with sexual slurs is really too much.”

20-year-old Isabel Francis, another CHIJ alumnus, agreed, saying that the poster implies that girls who are or were from CHIJ are sleazy. “It’s so in your face; I’m not sure why no one is suing yet,” she added.

Can't Help It, Joking

Can’t Help It, Joking

Holy Infant Jesus! Using the CHIJ crest to promote a dress-up event is not so much insulting to alumni as it is corny and unimaginative. Filter club should know better than to question the chastity of CHIJ girls, hinting not just at naughty cosplay kinkiness, but paedophilia as well. There are, of course, many ways of promoting a ‘Back to school’ theme, and even if AC boys don’t mind being referred to as sugar daddies who drive desperate CHIJ girls about in Daddy’s car, brandishing a prestigious school brand renown for its absetemious preachings is just asking for it. It’s like draping Dora the explorer in lingerie.

This also isn’t the first time CHIJ fiercely defended its squeaky-clean, God fearing, girl-next-door image. You know they mean business when they take action even against the national paper, not to mention a club. In 2006, the board threatened to sue SPH, in particular the Sunday Times for a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ take on ‘IJ’ girls as part of an unofficial ‘Singapore Encyclopedia’, for the following defamatory sentence.

IJ girls is a generalisation for girls who study in CHIJ schools and who like to hem their school uniforms real short, wear their belts real low on their hips, and are allegedly EASY when it comes to the opposite sex.

Chairperson at the time Donna Marie Aeria again made reference to the many ’6 year olds’ damaged by this shameful stereotype. She also happens to be trained as a lawyer, not a nun. (Incidentally, the current IJ board does have a couple of nuns, but twice as many MEN). In the same offending article, there was a cartoon of a ‘chain-smoking sarong party girl’, according to a proud parent of a CHIJ student in the Royal Ballet Academy. Nowhere in the ST paragraph above was SPG hinted at, and sometimes it only takes a backfiring complaint from an uptight parent to perpetuate a myth that wasn’t even there in the first place.

But any school, convent or otherwise, would have its share of ‘good girls gone bad’. In 2000, it was reported that 6 CHIJ Toa Payoh girls were arrested for suspected drug-taking within school premises (6 arrested CHIJ girls sent for drug tests, 5 July 2000). 2 years later, another group of CHIJ girls were caught consuming ketamine in the school toilet (Schoolgirls admit to using drugs, 16 Dec 2002).  Serial shoplifter and former CHIJ girl Goh Lee Yin was caught for stealing items ranging from canned fruit to jelly powder WHILE ON BAIL. Not quite close to the slut stereotype, but one particular former CHIJ girl  and now based in LA actress named Gwyendoline Yeo (she’s the NIECE of George Yeo) did state for the record that she ‘wouldn’t mind playing Singaporean porn starlet Annabel Chong in a movie’. The latter was from RGS, not CHIJ. Praise the lord.

But the only reason why people take notice when CHIJ girls make the news whenever they get into trouble is because they ARE from CHIJ, a proud unit founded on all things holy and virtuous that anything so much as a student winking at a boy is frowned upon, a position which is ripe for double standards. Last year, a CHIJ teacher dressed up as Lady GIGI to perk up her lessons, an obvious reference to Lady GAGA, a celebrity known for her dazzling style but also obnoxious blasphemy. The Lady herself also openly embraces homosexual and transgender lovin’ in ‘Born this Way’, not something that IJ teachers would like their flock to ‘stand up’ for.

This is a Convent, for God’s sake, with very powerful leaders who put their wagging fingers to litigious use whenever one dares besmirch the school crest or does fetishistic things to used uniforms (like posing as a schoolgirl and selling them online) Hell hath no fury like women from Infant Jesus scorned, and anyone who insists on gracing Filter’s Vice Convent event in an IJ uniform risks getting their ears pulled.

F-word allowed in PG13 films

From ‘New PG13 rating introduced’, 15 July 2011, article in asiaone.com

The Media Development Authority (MDA) today introduced a new classification rating, PG13, for shows on TV, movies, or on DVD.

Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts, announced this at an event at the National Library on Friday morning.

PG13 is an advisory rating that falls between the PG or Parental Guidance rating, and NC16, which is a restricted rating for those aged 16 and above.

She explained: “For instance, for a movie like The Dark Knight, which I am told contained themes of fear and menace, is now classified as PG when it may not be suitable for the very young ones. NC 16 on the other hand, may be too restrictive. With this new PG13 rating, parents of young children can be better guided in their media choices.”

Based on Grace Fu’s reasoning, all 7 Harry Potter movies should have been rated PG-13, for having ‘dark’ themes like black magic, implied murder and ‘fear’ of Lord Valdemort. And yet no such ratings exist for the books,  which any child below 13 can buy off the shelves and immerse in the gritty details themselves, only because no parent has the time to screen JK Rowling’s material before dispensing ‘guidance’ to their kids about how evil the dark arts are. Why are we shielding children from ‘fear and menace’ when this is already happening in schools in a more debilitating form? (Fear of failure, menacing bullies, parents and psychotic teachers). Why are parents reading ‘Three Little Pigs’ to their kids then? (Fear of house blowing down, menace of Big Bad Wolf).

The ‘G’ rating is practically unheard of, and usually spells box office disaster for films, almost entirely cartoons, bearing this sterile rating. Does the G-rated ‘Sammy’s Adventures’ ring a bell? (Plot: A sea turtle travels the world while it is being changed by global warming. Sounds like an epic adventure already. Doesn’t he at least get chased by a shark?) Even seemingly innocuous animation films like ‘Legend of the Guardians:The Owls of Ga Hoole’, ‘Madagascar’ and even the Spongebob Squarepants movie were slapped with a PG rating. So does it really matter if Transformers:Dark Side of the Moon were rated PG-13 (if the first shot of the female lead’s curvy posterior is anything to go by) or PG? ‘Parental guidance’ is an obsolete concept because parents don’t ‘guide’ anymore; they either prevent their kids from viewing films altogether or just wait for them to ask Daddy questions such as what’s a woman doing lying semi naked in a man’s bed.

It’s ironic that the Classification Guidelines published by MDA should itself be given a R21 rating. Just look at the filth it contains below. The expletive ‘pundai’ (Tamil equivalent of cunt) is totally new to me, not to mention to any kid smart enough to look up this document himself to answer the question ‘Why PG13?’

 It’s also strange how they muffled the F word in this table, but allowed it in all its uncensored glory earlier in the document.

Coarse language and gestures with sexual connotations are not allowed in G films as they are easily imitated by young children. In PG13 films, expletives such as ‘fuck’ may be permitted if infrequent. Stronger language is acceptable in NC16 films. When classifying M18 and R21 films, consideration would be given to the degree of offensiveness (i.e. vulgarity and religious association) and frequency of such language.

Here’s the guidelines again on the differences in the extent of nudity allowable in a PG and a PG13 film.

PG: Discreet portrayal of back nudity is allowed if it is brief and in a nonsexual context. Full frontal and side nudity is not allowed.

PG13 Discreet and fleeting side profile nudity may be allowed in a non-sexual context. Full frontal nudity is not allowed. However, infrequent portrayal of female frontal nudity of the upper body may be allowed only under exceptional circumstances and in a non-sexual context. For example, films which feature historical or dramatised events such as the World War II Holocaust, tribal ways of life, or health programmes.

I’ve no idea what ‘side nudity’ means, does it mean an adult woman with a side view of her breasts exposed? What about a woman with her ‘side-view’ buttocks and thighs exposed but not her breasts? What about those positions in between a back and side nudity, where you can see a bit of both back and front? Is a topless man allowed in a PG film?What about full frontal naked 7 year olds? Or breastfeeding? What about an attractive woman doing a mammogram, compared to say, a granny?

This sub-classification is simply creating further ambiguity within itself and words like ‘discreet’, ‘infrequent’ and ‘fleeting’ are all annoyingly subjective.  It trivialises adolescence as a period not only hopelessly vulnerable to filmic elements, but one that can be segregated neatly in terms of how ready you are to handle words like ‘fuck’ or ‘side nudity’. Today’s 12 twelve year olds are no longer what they used to be 20 years ago, at the rate they’re already being exposed to ‘Strong and realistic depictions of violence and gore’ (R21 Violence) from video games and the Internet. PG 13 also serves as an excuse for the censors to snip offending parts of NC-16 films just to make the cut (pun intended) for the lower, more accessible rating. So although it appears that the MDA is making more options available, this is an unnecessary step backward in our bid to be a more open, mature society.  They forgot the ‘single print’ rating though, which you’re likely to see more often than a G rated movie these days.

This time with pornography

From ‘Too much sex in this city for kids’, 24 Jan 2011, Voices, Today

(Tan Boon Kwang): RECENTLY, adult shops and suggestive trailers on television have mushroomed.

…What is alarming are the visually explicit displays/graphics adult shops openly use to attract customers. Nude and semi nude prints of men and women in suggestive poses are displayed on the storefronts along with adult toys of unusual human anatomical shapes, sizes and colour.

They boast names such as “Sex in the City”, “Condomania”, “and I Love Sex” etc which are not only an inappropriate influence on the young, but misleading especially coupled with the store’s visuals.

In many countries, such shops are mandated by laws to use simple names such as “Adult Shop” with a heavy black curtain covering the display glass and on the inside of the door. They are not allowed to blatantly display any adult products, graphics or videos. Young and impressionable children are therefore not exposed to any audio or visual influence of a sexual nature.

A cable channel aired the trailer for an animated feature called Archer showing a couple in their underwear talking about “doing it again”, and maybe “this time with pornography”, so chimed the bra-clad female holding a television remote. This would have been amusing had it not aired at 1.30pm on a school day, when most children are home.

Other cable channels are equally guilty when they advertise their programming with a sampling of different episodes with a common theme, usually romance involving some scenes of passionate kissing, fondling and people in various states of undress.

What could be more misleading and intriguing to a curious child than having an ‘Adult Shop’ with a sinister yet alluring black curtain in front of it? It’s like the Narnia portal wardrobe staring in a child’s face. If your kid asks ‘Daddy, what’s an Adult shop’, are you then going to say ‘Um, it’s a shop that sells adult things… Look,  ice-cream!”. To me such titles for sex shops are more a matter of bad taste than evil magic spell words that cast dirty thoughts into virgin minds like how the word Popcorn! on a tank full of crunchy golden sweetness makes people salivate. Seriously, all this mollycoddling and protecting the innocent and vulnerable will just lead to suppressive procrastination of the inevitable chance encounter with ubiquitous internet porn, no matter how many blindfolds or hoods you smother your kid’s face with every time you pass by the notorious sex-shop stretch of Orchard Road, where ‘toys of unusual human anatomical shapes’ gesture and wiggle like those enchanted brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice,  seduce hapless window-shoppers into the wretched caverns of unholy smut, converting our kids to sex-fiend rapists or upskirt movie producers once they emerge.

Isn’t it strange that despite all this profuse flesh and erotic imagery bombarding us constantly, we’re still lagging in terms of babies? Perhaps we have been too blase about sex for our own good, and if we ever run out of immigrants to churn the economy, one extreme measure would be to take Mr Tan’s censoring stance on taking the glamour off rampant casual sex and chastity belting our kids until they get married and cherish the true propagative meaning of getting naked and penetrating each other. As for sex toys, one doesn’t need to go to town to be exposed. Neighbourhood shopping mall gift shoppes with novelty soap dispensers would do just as well. Ditto for movie trailers featuring unmarried people ‘in various states of undress’.

 

Grisly Toons

From Misleading – those TV programmes for children 23 August 1977 Letters to ST

Tom and Jerry, Tweety and Sylvester, Daffy Duck…Scooby Doo and the Road Runner series. What do they have in common? – The primary objective of amusing and entertaining, but through painful slapstuck and churlish violence.

You (Barbera, Hanna) are leading young impressionable children to think nothing of the considerable pain and suffering these comic characters have been inflicted with.

Oh I’m sure kids in those days would go around with sticks of dynamites, bait others with huge crushing boulders or lure them off cliffs after watching endless episodes of Road Runner. Later in the 80′s it’s not flattened bodies that irks people, but the whole existential morality of He-man vs Skeletor.

This deathtrap would fit nicely into any of the Saw movies


Cartoon villians escaping all the time

From Too much violence in new cartoons 6 Jan 1987 ST Forum

I fear that the children who watch these cartoons regularly may be adversely influences and led to think that it is right to use force to subdue wrong-do-ers.

In Mask, for example, Venom always escapes from the grasp of the law when the character’s evil plans are thwarted by Mask agents. Similarly, in Transformers and He-man, the evil forces of the Decepticons and Skeletor are never destroyed.

I would, therefor, urge it (SBC) to bring back non-violent, and hence better, cartoon series like the Scooby-Doo and Scrappy do show, the Flintstones, Superfriends, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Walt Disney’s Mickey and Donald Show.

Liu Jiaqing was 14 when he wrote this  and already beginning to sound like a strict father. I strongly object to the casual association between “non-violent and hence better”. You don’t see any blood splatter in Mask, He Man or Transformers. In fact, Scooby Do with its emphasis on the occult and ghostly images may be more detrimental to our children’s  psychological health. Alvin Chipmunk, constantly grating on John’s nerves, is an icon of disobedience. Wonder Woman in Superfriends wears skimpy attire. And don’t get me started on Donald Duck’s trouserless sailor top.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 279 other followers