Slapping on TV does not reflect reality

From ‘Love the show but not the slapping’, 28 Jan 2012, ST Forum

(Esther Wong): MY FAMILY and I enjoy watching Double Bonus on Channel 8 at 9pm from Monday to Friday.

However, the frequent slapping scenes are uncalled for and are very disturbing.

I hope the Channel 8 drama team can cut down on these scenes because they do not reflect reality and are likely to teach wrong family values, especially to young children who watch the drama serial.

Zoe gets it

If everyone were to disapprove of Channel 8 dramas ‘not reflecting reality’, the station would go bankrupt from lack of entertainment value, not that I’m a fan myself. Just look at the gung-ho action setpieces and bomb-in-a-dustbin hijinks in C.L.I.F. In fact, the trailer of Double Bonus itself (click pic above), with its cheesy recycled from the 80’s special effects,  dry-ice masquerading as celestial clouds, and the presence of two gorgeous Pan-Asian hunks, already says a lot about the gratuitous fantasy  in this serial without you having to watch a single episode. Like its name suggests, Double Bonus is your obligatory Chinese New Year drama special designed to promote family togetherness, with plenty of images of people eating at a table and doomed to climax to fever pitch with the entire cast breaking the third wall and wishing viewers long life and prosperity ahead and making you feel like hugging your Ah Gong right away. Long-time fans of local drama would remember CNY clones like ‘Prosperity‘, ‘Happy Family’, ‘Reunion Dinner’ and ‘Uncle, Where’s My Ang Pow?’. OK the last one was made up.

Times like these you can’t just bank on veterans like Zoe Tay or foreign eye candy anymore, which explains why scriptwriters, already running short of ideas other than cashing in on rape scenes, need to woo viewers with some good old fashioned family violence, something which Taiwanese family-spat marathon melodrama like ‘Ai’ is famous for. The Pan-Asians, the goofy costumes, the supernatural angle, are light-hearted elements just to suit the occasion and getting in the way  of what the folks at Channel 8 really aspire to produce: An all-out domestic slap-happy scandal-a-minute Armageddon. If you look at the trailer closely you’ll notice friendlier acts of violence like the ‘forehead push’, which could inadvertently cause as much harm as a whiplash in a car accident. Hugs and kisses just don’t do it for viewers anymore. We are instinctively attracted to domestic abuse like we rubberneck at car crashes, which is why slapping works. We like to see people ‘lose it’ as a vicarious, sadistic pleasure, and nothing serves up the tension like an impending slap to the face, especially after random objects like vases, plates and windows have been destroyed.

Slapping is probably unheard of in the writer’s sanitised window of the world, but to say slapping doesn’t reflect reality is like denying the existence of masturbation. Perhaps she should go out more often, chances are she may even catch a rare public slapping act in action. Teachers and supervisors of orphanages are known to punish by slapping, and I’m pretty sure some passionate couples still abuse each other in the heat of argument (and still make love after, perhaps with different forms of ‘slapping’). Ordinary citizens have been known to slap policemen, and so too women clashing over male lovers.  Google the definition ‘catfight’ and you’ll find ‘slapping’. Even today’s kids reverse the domestic order of discipline by giving a tight one to their mothers and boast online about it, like Adelyn Ho Seh Bo.

So, slapping, despite most people restraining themselves from delivering one to their spouses, bosses, MPs , other people’s annoying children or a kinky lover, is very REAL indeed. It’s the only bloodless physical act where one can feel so good after unleashing one, but wracked with guilt just a second later. How often do we vent ‘I feel like giving him a tight slap’ or ‘He deserves to be slapped’? In a way, the act of slapping is like learning what sex is. You have to see it with your own eyes or experience one yourself, and since slapping has been in existence since God knows when, it’s unfair to blame the media for taking the drama one slap too far, though one should deduct points for lack of imagination. The alternative to insulting a character in a show is to flame his Facebook account, but you don’t need TV for that do we.


One Response

  1. Esther Wong should let her kids watch Sesame Street, why are they watching Double Bonus?

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