Indranee Rajah defending uncle with holey moley shirt

From ‘Indranee Rajah stands up for man mocked for hole in shirt’, 22 March 2014, article by Goh Chin Lian, ST

People still do not appreciate enough that their actions can have unintended consequences for others, especially on social media, said Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah in a Facebook post on Saturday. The Tanjong Pagar GRC MP was defending a resident in her ward whose attire Miss Singapore Universe 2013 finalist Jesslyn Tan had mocked in a recent Facebook post.

Mr Koh Hee Huat, 55, was asleep in the MRT and wearing a T-shirt with a hole in it. Ms Tan, 25, posted a photograph of him on Wednesday with the caption: “Holey moley. Sibei trendy worzxxz.”

…”If anyone merits a boost, it is this quiet, hardworking, unassuming man. He may not be sibei trendy but he is definitely ‘SIBEI HO.'”

Before she took part in MSU, Jesslyn was a 2012 FHM model, and when asked what superpowers she would like to have in an interview segment, she replied that she wanted Wolverine’s healing powers. Not to mention razor sharp claws so that she can take a vicious swipe at innocent passengers on a train. She probably thinks it’s a better idea to have Invisible Woman’s powers now.

01102011_batman1

Jessyln’s intrusion of privacy and insensitivity is one thing, but as a MSU wannabe, poking fun at someone’s dress sense and suggesting that he can’t afford to buy new clothes is against the image of a compassionate, world-peace loving beauty queen that every contestant aspires towards. Imagine sending a representative like Jesslyn to help rebuild a school for impoverished kids, only for her to spend more time commenting on the kids’ shabby uniforms (or lack of) rather than do anything remotely charitable.  It also takes some serious cheek to comment on others’ outfits considering the kind of fashion abominations that MSUs have had to put on over the years. Oh, and THAT spelling. I can’t tell if ‘worzxxz’ is a typo or the language of an alien insectoid race.  She happens to be a Bachelor of Communication graduate too, maybe one who specialises in exotic languages.

MP Indranee was quick to come to Koh’s rescue, explaining why he wears ‘holey’ shirts to work and how he works his ass off till 3 am at Ye Shanghai Teochew Muay stall. Koh was apparently so affected by the post that he thought of quitting the job, and if an aspiring MSU can’t be bothered to come forward to apologise personally or even buy him some new shirts out of goodwill, then it’ll take an MP to soothe some nerves and offer protection. Thankfully for Jessyln, his salvation comes in form of Indranee, and not some furious kopitiam friends out for revenge who also happen to be Ah Long associates.

Or this guy.

This guy knows Teochew Muay Thai worzzxxzzz!

If I ever get verbally abused by Stompers for wearing ugly Crocs on the train, I doubt my MP would speak up for me, even if I threaten to kill myself because I got cyberbullied by a beauty queen. In fact, people get ruthlessly mocked for the way the dress all the time, the sloppy uni student, the aunty with a bucket on her head, the oversexy bareback with bra showing. Where were our MPs then?

There are many people like Koh out there, of course, sweating it out to earn a living and having to tolerate snobs like Jessyln Tan. They may not have holes in their clothing but have deeper holes in their pockets than most of us. If they weren’t sensationally victimised like Koh here on social media, would our MPs share real-life sob stories so readily with the rest of us outside of election rallies where such anecdotes are potential speech (and vote) winners?  You don’t need a beauty queen shooting her mouth off before you realise people like Koh exist and celebrate them for making sure we have porridge supper to eat at 3am. I’m also not sure if there’s an unintentional pun with Indranee describing Koh as ‘SIBEI HO’ following this ‘HOLE’ in a shirt saga. It sure was ‘SIBEI SUAY’ for Jessyln to get caught, though.

Well, if you do drop by for supper at Mr Koh’s Bukit Merah stall (thanks to his MP’s free publicity), try to refrain from inspecting his shirt, or it’d look like people are flocking to Ye Shanghai just for a glimpse of the famous hole like it were national treasure rather than the Teochew Muay. Meanwhile, it’ll probably be a while before we see Jessyln participating in any kind of pageant whatsoever, nor should she even think of going into fashion consultancy. I’d also suggest that she think twice before appearing in public wearing ‘trendy’ ripped jeans, before someone goes up to her and says: Hey Jessyln! HOLE SAY BOH??

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Miss Singapore Universe’s big yellow fan costume

From ‘Where’s the wow factor?’ article by Cheryl Faith Wee, 18 Oct 2013, ST

UNDETERRED by two creations in previous years that drew much flak, fashion designer Riyan Haffys has unveiled his third national costume for Miss Universe Singapore. Ms Shi Lim, 25, this year’s title winner, will don a shimmery green mermaid dress, complete with faux orchids and a big yellow fan, at the 62nd Miss Universe pageant in Moscow on Nov 9.

Mr Riyan, 23, decided to use orchids and an eye-catching yellow decoration reminiscent of sun rays. “The sun rays represent how Singapore has grown from its humble beginnings to a vibrant city.”

…Mr Kenny Lim, 36, director and designer of home-grown fashion label Depression, says: “My first impression was, why does the national costume resemble a peacock? There are too many colours going on.”

…Some Singaporeans have mixed feelings too. Illustrator Sharon Yang, 23, cannot decide if the yellow fan looks more like an umbrella or a peacock’s feathers. “Without the thing at the back, I guess the dress is pretty acceptable. But we can come up with something more creative than this predictable design.”

She's walking on sunshine

She’s walking on sunshine

In 2009, MSU Rachel Kum wore a giant Vanda Miss Joachim orchid on her back, which made her look like a garden fairy. 2 years later Valerie Lim was strutting her stuff in what resembles a red curtain. Shi Lim’s stark citrus yellow accessory looks like she’s piggybacking a giant slab of lemon meringue pie. From the back, I can imagine she’d look like a stalk of magic mushroom.

The MSU contest is not known for its subtlety, and for a tiny nation that has been struggling to come up with something remotely representative of a national costume, it’s not good enough to simply put on a nice sparkling dress; you must heave something along with it just to handicap yourself, such that it’s not the beauty of the actual woman behind the dress that scores points with the judges, but the majestic weight that threatens to collapse on top of her as she parades on stage in front of a worldwide audience. Anything less than a fruit dress would make you feel naked in the costume segment of MSU.

All flares without the festivity, the yellow fan costume is a few alterations away from passing off as an attire for a frilled lizard mascot. But if you insist on sun-bursting flamboyance, why not go all the way with the peacock plumage, like what Miss Mexico put on in the 2012 contest, the kind of apparel that shamans would wear on their graduation ceremony.  It can also camouflage our soldiers better than the pixellated No. 4. A pity that she didn’t win because if you preen around in that, the swirl of colours would have a hypnotised the judges into giving her full marks.

Everyone wants to see her Peacock-cock-cock

This is admittedly an improvement over the Merlion costume, but  something wilder next year please, a costume inspired by our reputation as a foodie haven rather than the same boring orchids, like a giant crab shell with mermaid suit perhaps, the crab representing a famed local delicacy as well as a nod to our humble fishing village origins. At least the shell/mermaid combination makes more sense than a sun-fan that looks like a defence mechanism against predators.

Singaporean girls getting 3/10 for fashion sense

From ‘Singapore women either wear too little or too much make-up: TV host Pauline Lan’, 26 April 2013, article by Jan Lee, ST

When Taiwanese TV host Pauline Lan was in town on Friday to launch the Singaporean version of her popular Taiwanese fashion and beauty show Lady First, she was not shy to blast the local women for fashion boo-boos. “A lot of Singaporean girls have either too little or too much make up on, it’s often not suited for the occasion,” she says.

Another mistake she thinks Singaporean girls make is wearing the wrong lingerie and underwear for different outfits.

Out of 10 marks for fashion sense, she gives local girls a mere three. Then she turns her attention to the Singapore men, saying it is their fault that the women do not try harder. Pointing out the men’s general sloppiness, she says: “Singaporean men don’t give Singaporean women the urge to dress up!”

If a local fashion guru slams us for dressing sloppily, we’d probably accept the charge. A foreigner, on the other hand, without an intimate understanding of our crazy weather, is less qualified to judge. But more importantly, an outsider scouting the streets for fashion boo-boos can’t be sure that they’re catching badly dressed SINGAPOREANS or other foreigners since there’s so many of the latter about. It’s also a misconception that women here dress up to impress fellow Singaporean men, whether they’re in flip-flops and shorts or suit and tie. Women dress up to impress OTHER women.  So, bros, go easy on the shoeshine and ties. The babe in the skimpy hot pants is more interested in what your girlfriend thinks than you.

But what’s creepy is fashionistas checking out whether your undergarments match your outfit. Does Pauline Lan have X-ray vision or go around peeking down ladies’ blouses? Isn’t underwear NOT meant to be seen at all? Or do some girls expose themselves intentionally like so:

Brazen lack of dress sense

Lan isn’t the first foreign image guru to remind us that we’re horrid dressers. Television personality Jeannie Mai refers to flip-flops as FLIP-NOTS, and endorses ‘wearapy’, which basically means to dress ‘emotionally’, advocating the use of ‘energetic’ and ‘bold’ colours to lift your mood or confidence. Seems psychologically sound, though I’m less convinced by wearing purple at a public speaking event to ‘convey ROYALTY’ unless you’re giving a tribute to the Joker at a Batman Comics Convention. Or you’re just Groovy, Baby!

Good for public speaking

In 2012, French designer Roland Mouret was shocked by the ‘fashion disasters’ in his hotel, especially sloppy men with their ‘wrong shorts and flip flops’ and suggested that there should be a law against awful dressing in swanky places.  He must have avoided hawker centres like the plague. Shame. In 1994, image consultant Robert Pante said most Singaporeans wear clothes that ‘even burglars would not steal’ (‘Most Singaporeans dress badly, says image guru’, 14 Oct 1994, ST). But burglars generally DON’T steal clothes at all; the only people who do so are those with a panty or school uniform fetish.

Singaporean women know better than to take Pauline’s abysmal rating seriously. After all, this is a woman who wears a beaver’s dam on her head.

No Tau Huay allowed at Diner en Blanc

From ‘Bloggers upset over Diner En Blanc rule’, 24 Aug 2012, article by Celine Asril, insing.com

Local food is discouraged at exclusive dinner event titled ‘Dîner en Blanc – Singapore’, and this is not sitting well among some bloggers in Singapore even before they could sit down for a meal. The hush-hush food party is a mass picnic pop-up event taking place at an undisclosed location in the city, set to take place on 30 August.

It apparently started on Tuesday, 21 August, when food blogger Daniel Ang – of Daniel’s Food Diary – posted an entry about Dîner en Blanc. In his post, he provided details about the event. He also jokingly included a list of white-coloured local dishes that diners may take along. Then, four days later, he tweeted, at 2.52pm: “Dear fellow bloggers, this is the post I was told to removed by Dîner en Blanc. I hope I have your support [link provided].” This is the first time he has been asked to remove his blog post, he claims.

When asked why, Ang said, “The French organisers conveyed to the PR company that they were not happy with my post. The argument is that chicken rice and tau huay [bean curd] are not in line with their image.”

Prawns aren’t white

Daniel’s suggestion of local fare such as soon kuey and pohpiah was clearly tongue-in-cheek, though the reaction to Diner En Blanc being a stickler for some fancy-ball theme rules has been overwhelming, verging on a possible boycott and a counter-event being proposed by some powerful bloggers to show who’s boss when it comes to local cuisine. Typical of passionate Singaporeans when something so close to their hearts (and stomachs) is being dissed as ‘peasant food’ by stuck-up foreigners: Organise a copycat local gastronomical event just to irritate the hell out of them. The sheer animosity that Singaporeans feel when our beloved tau huay gets snubbed just goes to show how dearly we identify with the stuff we eat everyday, with the nationalistic fervour and vengeance as if someone defecated on our national flag. What are we, hawker Nazis now?

In response to the furore organiser Clemen Chiang quipped: “The diners have to ask themselves if they are comfortable eating you tiao (fried dough sticks) and drinking champagne. If you feel comfortable putting you tiao on your table, carry on.”(Is Tau Hway too low-class for posh picnic?, 25 Aug 2012, ST). Come off it, NOBODY eats you tiao with champagne. You should pair it with hot almond milk paste or Horlicks, both foods in line with the White theme. Chiang also mentioned that this is really an extravagant pot-luck of sorts, that ‘da-paoing’ is not encouraged, similar to another European invention called the Slow Food movement, something which will probably never take off among ravenous buffet-loving Singaporeans who take less time to finish their food than browse menus.

Some good does come out of such culinary revolt though; thanks to some complaints of curry smells last year, we got ourselves an annual CURRY festival. There’s nothing wrong, or illegal, with having silly pretentious dining restrictions for some party; that’s the whole point of having a THEME, or men owning dinner jackets and bow-ties. For example, foldable tables must be 28″ by 32″ and white. Plastic cutlery and paper plates are forbidden (even if they’re white). Only wine and champagne are allowed, while beer and hard liquour are banned (I suppose Guinness stout wouldn’t make the cut too). But silliest of all is how you’d have to CARRY your own table (not to mention the expensive chinaware) there, dressed like you came out of a Jane Austen novel, or the hospital. In this HEAT. Anyway, if you’re not happy with the rules, if you think it’s snob-porn,  if you don’t want to risk being labelled a ‘cheapskate’, if you don’t want to end up looking like you participated in a Wet T-shirt contest instead of a classy Frenchie picnic, you just don’t attend, plain and simple. You could sign up for the nearest hobo convention for all I care.

Actually, we had Diner en Blancs all along

If I held an ALL-MEAT only party and force my attendees to come dressed only in leather or fur, I would piss off plenty of vegetarians. If I organised a Bollywood party and people come in blackface, someone may make a police report. People who could afford it hold all kinds of weird fetishistic parties in secret all the time, like the Secret Cooks’ Nyamatori feast where people eat off naked bodies. Whether it’s a self-indulgent, ‘atas’ black-tie event with ridiculous standards of etiquette, a swinger’s orgy or a tea party where everyone dresses as a character from Alice In Wonderland, what these people do for fun is really none of my business. In the case of DeB, however, the use of symbolic ‘white’ as a theme also suggests a kind of holy ‘purity’, while some may associate it with Western colonialist opulence and race segregation, as what ‘exclusive’ clubs like Singapore Swimming Club used to do in the fifties, banning locals from the premises even if they dressed to the nines and could discuss cricket like a pro with the nearest cigar-munching Englishman.

Chai Tau Kway (white version) may not make the DeB list of suggested foods, but perhaps they would reconsider if Chan Chun Sing were invited VIP and decided to bring it with him to the party in a bid to win bloggers over. I mean, he could even attend the event straight from Parliament without changing. As local Gangnam style goofs ‘Dee Kosh’ and Co would sing: Give me Tau Huay.

Scoot uniform like Star Trek

From ‘Scoot or Star Trek?’ 24 June 2012, article by Cheryl Faith Wee, Sunday Times

Tennis outfit, Star Trek uniform or Yves Saint Laurent couture? New budget airline Scoot’s cabin crew attire has caught some people’s attention – but not always in a good way. While parent company Singapore Airlines has seen its fortunes soar, thanks in part to the iconic sarong kebaya worn by its stewardesses, Scoot’s sporty, stretchy sheath has drawn criticism from some passengers.

Mr Jourdan Ng, 29, who works in the finance industry, took a Scoot flight to Sydney two weeks ago. He says the black and yellow body-skimming V-neck dress accentuates curves, but ‘for quite a lot of the stewardesses, it is not very flattering’. ‘The sporty material of the dress makes them look like they had just finished a game of tennis before coming on board,’ he adds. ‘It might be a bit too casual.’

…Local corporate design and production house Esta designed the uniforms for the budget carrier, which started operating flights earlier this month. Male cabin crew wear polo T-shirts with midnight-blue jeans. Esta creative director Esther Tay, 58, says the dress was inspired by current fashion silhouettes and took about a month to design. Its curved, contouring panels are meant to be understated yet chic and stylish.

Similarly, fresh graduate Christine Song, 23, who is contemplating booking a Scoot flight to Australia later this year, says the design ‘does not have that professional uniform feel and is just like a formal work dress’.

… Keith Png of clothing boutique Hide & Seek, who designs his own labels Koops and Keith Png Bespoke, likens the Scoot uniform to an evening dress from the Yves Saint Laurent 1966 Autumn-Winter collection – a long couture dress in navy-blue wool, encrusted with a pink silhouette that resembles a woman’s arched body. Png, 34, says: ‘Scoot’s uniform resembles this signature dress and I like it.’

As ‘iconic’ and timeless as SIA’s uniform is, it’s easy to forget that  the sarong kebaya, and even the stewardesses’ slippers, have also been criticised in the past for lacking functionality and professionalism. Ditch the stifling elegance for something more ‘casual’ and you get passengers complaining that they were suited up at World of Sports. If I needed a flight attendant to rush to my aid on a plane, I’d probably have a higher chance of survival if my rescuer wore something ‘tennis-friendly’ rather than tiptoe gingerly to my seat in a shrink-wrap kebaya. If I were held hostage by a terrorist, it would also be comforting to know that somewhere in the back someone is whispering orders to ‘Set Phasers On Stun’.

Wimble-scoot

Personally, I think the female dress has its own kooky, adventurous style which fits the whimsy way the budget airline is named, despite making the ladies look like one of Marvel’s original Avengers, the WASP. The male top and dark pants however, as flaunted previously a few months back when the uniform was first launched, made them look like flight technicians rather than flight stewards, or like ground crew who load up baggage instead of cabin crew. Even the waiters at Crystal Jade dress better than this. Taking the plunge from SIA’s suit and tie to T-shirt is stretching the dress code from  ‘casual’ to ‘laidback slacker’.  Not sure if ESTA had changed the design to the current ‘polo-T’ since then, but they should at least consider making them a sleeker, tighter-fit if you want men to command greater presence like Jean-Luc Picard  instead of being mistaken for ball-boy stowaways.

Marvel’s own Tinkerbell

Koops’ Keith Png, on the other hand, summons YSL retro stylings, comparing the female dress to something more glamorous befitting of a catwalk. Such arty affection for something as mundane as a budget airline uniform could also explain the similarity in the playful tones between his fashion label Koops and Scoot. Here, there’s no ‘pink silhouette’ of an arched female anatomy, just a stripe of yellow that mimics the markings of winged stinging insects rather than high fashion. More ‘cartoon’ than ‘couture’, rather.

Yes, Scoot Lives

 

Xiaxue taking revenge on Facebook bullies

From ‘Blogger Xiaxue fights back against Facebook abuse’, 25 May 2012, article by Grace Chua and Jessica Lim, ST

MEN who this week called popular blogger Xiaxue a ‘stupid bimbo’ and a ‘whore’ online are getting a taste of their own medicine. She is fighting back by posting their photos and information on her blog, in an attempt to show that they do not have much of a leg to stand on in the looks and intelligence department themselves.

The furore started when photos of her with two friends, taken without permission from their blogs, surfaced on the Facebook page of political website Temasek Review on Monday, Tuesday and yesterday, with an invitation to caption them. The photos of the three – Xiaxue and her friends Qiu Qiu and Sophie – were taken at a People’s Action Party (PAP) rally in Aljunied GRC during last May’s general election. In the photo, Xiaxue, 28, and Qiu Qiu, 24, have PAP logos on their faces.

…Commenters responded to the Temasek Review’s invitation readily: ‘Cheap b****,’ said one. ‘Pretty and sexy girls, which part of Geylang they work?’, said another. To get back at them, she trawled Facebook for their photos and information – and Facebook was obliging, because many of their profiles were public.

…’She added: ‘What kind of men would say this kind of thing? Singaporean men are such bullies. They think I’m a nobody – just a random girl they can bully.’ Among the men who featured in her gallery of ‘bullies’ were several who are married with children.

…One of the victims of Xiaxue’s revenge, swim coach Lim Soon Chwee, 34, told The Straits Times last night that his comment, ‘Pretty and sexy girls, which part of Geylang they work?’ was incomplete. ‘I didn’t mean that at all,’ he said, adding that he was actually trying to defend her.

…Another man who got one back from Xiaxue, Mr Hong Xing, a 35-year-old father of one, was less forgiving, because the photo Xiaxue held up for ridicule also featured his wife and child. The engineer admitted that he had insinuated that Xiaxue was an underage prostitute, but said he preferred women in more conservative clothes.

‘Look at what she is wearing. When she bends down, you can see her breasts,’ he said, adding that he has seen prostitutes in Geylang who dress this way. He added that he might not have posted the comment if he had known she would see it, but that she should not have posted photographs of his family online. He said: ‘My wife feels really bad. This is between Xiaxue and me. She shouldn’t have attacked my family.’

This girl has a reputation of not giving a fuck, and whatever one’s position on such merciless revenge, this incident has unveiled the social cost of ridicule if you happen to step on the toes of someone immensely popular, while allowing yourself to be exposed via Facebook. Of course Xiaxue isn’t a ‘nobody’, some have even revered her as ‘a slice of Singapore’. Xiaxue.blogspot.com has even been archived by the National Library Board, somewhat like the Declaration of Independence from the National Treasure movie. A million light years from now, aliens will be downloading and translating her blog out of a time capsule and wondering what the ‘KNN’s scattered all over her posts mean.

Celebrities will be targetted from whatever portal there is available for mudslinging, should trolls choose to show their face or hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Most stars would ignore the verbal hooliganism, but Xiaxue has answered, somewhat defiantly, the ‘What if celebrities bite back?’ question. The very convenience of commenting on a Facebook  page or website without the hassle of registering and thinking of passwords has made people forget their place in cyberspace, that the target of their insults, especially one with the classic hallmarks of a narcissism complex (like everyone else who posts stuff on Facebook), is bound to find out through not just her loyal fanbase but from her haters as well. It’s time to finally figure out those privacy settings instead of checking out ex-flame photos, guys.

One could argue one has every right to throw baseless insults at the expense of people you hardly know in the name of ‘entertainment’.  In real life it’s called gossip, and celebrities used to take the slimeballing as part and parcel of the job, while some comedians do it for a living.   When a site claiming to be a ‘socio-political’ blog like TR encourages such behaviour with a seemingly innocuous ‘caption contest’, it’s obvious that you’re not going to get anything remotely ‘political’, witty or smart. I’ve seen the pic myself and all I could think of is whether one of the girls was a spokesperson for Pepsi Cola instead of a PAP supporter from the way her face was painted. One of the victims featured in the ST article even tried to deflect attention away from his prostitute insults by talking about Xiaxue’s BOOBS. It’s like you just dumped cowdung on someone’s head and then saying that you smelled like shit before that anyway. Not clever at all, man.

The web is no longer the venting channel we were once so used to where you can get away with snide, anonymous remarks, curse any saint, god, politician or grandmother you want and leave no trail behind. You could get charged for concocting hoaxes of NS men getting killed (via another ‘Temasek’ clone site), threatened for relaying some juicy tidbits about the PM’s brother(Temasek Emeritus), or blasted for inserting LOLs in all the wrong places. Hell, it’s much easier these days to get into trouble name-calling than downloading hardcore bestiality porn. Xiaxue decided to save on lawyer fees and instead dished out a characteristically bitchy mode of punishment, the online equivalent of catching a molester, pulling down his trousers, strapping him in public and having his wife and kids recoil in horror instead of calling the police. Not a pretty sight, but somehow painfully, worryingly effective. Xiaxue playing the avenging vigilante-angel card is likely to start a anti-bullying meme among blogger celebrities with a similar reputation for attracting all sorts of ‘whore’ accusations, that you’re no longer ‘pwned’ if your occupation, hobbies, innocent pets, embarrassing Bejewelled scores and ugly photos get leaked onto a revenge post, but ‘Xiaxued’. All you need are tens of thousands of followers and have a face that at least some men will get an erection to.

But isn’t Xiaxue herself guilty of flogging strangers, you say? Isn’t her meanness and sharp tongue the secret to her success ? In a 2007 post, she had a field day flaming the ‘7 most disgusting bloggers in Singapore’ , victims include the hapless Steven Lim (‘overhanging foreskin with smegma’),  Maia Lee (‘loserish’) and amateurs like Celeste Chen (‘attention whore’). In an attempt at satire she put herself in the list as well. So Xiaxue, of all people, in her ‘do onto others’ element, should expect to receive the same sort of treatment from those she chooses to be nasty to.  In 2005, someone was so offended by her he/she decided to hack her very bread and butter, her blog and e-mail accounts. Over New year in 2006, a netizen petitioned against her ‘racist’ post for a remark about foreign workers (banglas) molesting local girls at Orchard Road Xmas eve/New Year parties (Netizen petitons against blog, 29 Jan 2006, ST). Rival sex kitten blogger Dawn Yang slapped her with a lawyer’s letter for ‘defamatory remarks’ in 2008 (Xiaxue won’t say sorry to Dawn’, 23 July 2008, ST).

By putting random men in the spotlight and getting their families caught in ‘friendly fire’, Xiaxue seems undeterred from past experience and may be setting herself up for another round of hater retaliation. One of these guys may even file a police report for ‘harassment’, but I suppose that’s a risk she’s willing to take, just like these slap-happy morons who compared her to Miss XXX, underaged prostitute and asked for ‘prices’ while leaving their Facebook profiles open to scrutiny from not just Xiaxue herself, but their bosses and wives as well, like sticking an ang pow over your anus before a charging bull. People have mostly good things to say about her ‘heroics’, though.  AWARE treats her like some kind of Joan of Arc now, referring to her post as ‘EPIC’, just like nearly everyone else who read it. This incident also deserves a spot on Oprah because of how ‘You Go Girl-ish!’ it has all become.

Then I read that this woman is married and it makes me suddenly realise how woefully OLD I am. Ris Low, please don’t get any ideas, wherever you are.

UOB staff going blackface

From ‘Seeing red over blackface photos’, 12 Feb 2012, article by Jennani Durai, Sunday Times

Several Chinese employees of United Overseas Bank have raised eyebrows online after posting pictures of themselves in ‘blackface’ at a Bollywood-themed staff dinner. Pictures of last Friday’s event at the Fairmont Hotel were posted on social networking site Facebook yesterday. At least three men are pictured with their faces painted black, presumably because the event was Indian-themed and Indians have darker skin.

‘Blackface’ is widely seen as racially charged, especially in the United States. It originated as a form of theatrical make-up for performers to act out caricatures of dark-skinned people.

…A Chinese reader, who e-mailed the pictures to The Sunday Times, said she found them extremely offensive. ‘It’s one thing to wear a traditional costume to a Bollywood- themed dinner, but another thing altogether to paint your face black,’ said the reader, who wished to remain anonymous. She said the pictures were offensive because they were ‘appropriating someone else’s ethnicity and treating it like entertainment‘.

And she was shocked at the captions and comments on the pictures, in which friends of the men said their get-up was ‘hilarious’. ‘All these people wouldn’t like it if a bunch of American employees went to a Chinese-themed dinner and put double-sided tape on their eyelids to make them single-eyelids,’ the reader said.

…Counsellor P. Dinesh said painting their faces black was ‘no different from referring to someone of Indian descent as ‘black’ which is thoroughly unacceptable in any Singaporean context‘.

Still others acknowledged that there was nothing malicious in the intent of the men, but that it was a poor decision.

Ms R. Yasotha, who works in publishing, said her first reaction was that the men had ‘clearly never had any Indian friends’. ‘They just wanted to have fun, so I’m not going to be up in arms about it, but it’s idiotic and juvenile,’ said the 28-year-old.

One has to be careful about using colour references, or even shades of ‘blackness’, here.  The offensive minstrel show of the past was aimed at actual Blacks or African-Americans.  It also explains why there’s a ‘White Chicks’ movie but not ‘Black Chicks’.  Similarly, UOB’s cosmetic caricature at a BOLLYWOOD theme party is taken as a racial insult to, as what the reporter euphemistically states,  ‘DARKER’ skinned Indians. In fact, it’s not just ‘black’ that is deemed offensive to Indians like P.Dinesh in the above article, even describing some as ‘DARK‘ would get you in trouble.  On the other hand, the term ‘FAIR-skinned’ on a White person is not just an acceptable statement of fact anymore, but has become a universal compliment, even for non-Whites. The most successful Bollywood icons also happen to be ‘fairer’-skinned than what these guys were trying to depict anyway. It’s probably unfair to judge these guys as ‘never having had any Indian friends’. In fact, if your best friend happens to be Indian and even he finds Chinese ‘blackface’ funny, all the more reason for you to pull it off.

If you were mugged and asked to describe your assailant to the police and know for a fact that he has genuinely ‘black’ skin, but are uncomfortable with using ‘black’, is it then socially acceptable to refer to him as ‘dark-skinned’, when this could very well imply a very tan Chinese, or Filipino/Myanmese/Malay? How far can a non-Indian go, then, to make a spectacle without overdoing ethnic stereotypes? You can dress like an Indian, but not make your face up to look physically like one or even sound like one.   Companies shouldn’t hold a ‘Bollywood’ theme party, but rather a ‘Sari, Bindi and Dhoti’ costume party, which sounds as much fun as a Parents and Teachers Get-Together on Racial Harmony Day.

Some famous White actors have dolled themselves up to look like Indians in the movies, such as Sir Alec Guiness of Obiwan Kenobi fame as mystic Godbole in A Passage to India. (He also played an ARAB in Lawrence of Arabia) The quintessential Indian, Gandhi, was played by Indian/English/Russian Jewish thespian Ben Kingsley. Legendary comedian Peter Sellers poked fun at the Indian stereotype in 1968’s The Party. Mike Myers, obviously inspired by Sellers, ravaged Hinduism in The Love Guru despite keeping the colour of his face intact, but the movie was still allowed for screening here. From these examples and Robert Downey Jr’s critically acclaimed portrayal as a ‘Black’ soldier in 2008’s Tropic Thunder, it seems that even the West has ‘lightened’ up (hurr hurr) to anything resembling  ‘blackface’. Or it just means that you can get away with darkening your face for dramatic or satirical purposes if you’re a Hollywood actor, but not if you’re an ordinary person fooling around at a Dinner and Dance, whereby you’ll be accused of being culturally ignorant, ‘idiotic’ and ‘juvenile’. Would critics be less harsh if these jokers merely made their faces ‘dark brown’ ? Ironically, these guys may be wishing that they had painted their faces ‘blacker’, so that they would be less recognisable from the photo. They also wouldn’t be BLACKlisted if not for FACEbook.

A commenter on this blog highlighted a genuine celebrity ‘blackface’ which was not picked up by the media, when Glenn Ong charcoaled his face to look like the late King of Pop at a Mediacorp ‘Retro Bash’ event last year (Would he draw less flak for ‘whitening’ his face instead, white being the colour of the older Michael Jackson’s face?). A  familiar brand of toothpaste was also slammed for its depiction of blackface minstrels in the late eighties. Although the original ‘Darkie’ changed its name TWICE to DAKKIE and then the My Little Pony-sounding DARLIE as we know it today, the Chinese name remains, literally, Black Man’s Toothpaste, which has more racial intonations than its current English version suggests. Note how the ‘blackface’ logo was made ‘whiter’, when it’s not so much the original face (which to me looks more like a Black man than a White face painted black), but the name of the product that’s the problem.

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