Naked Ladies and Undressing Room censored by IMDA

From ‘Two plays at upcoming M1 Fringe Festival exceed R18 rating’

Two performances at next year’s M1 Singapore Fringe Festival will have to be changed or dropped after the Info-Communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) assessed that they contained excessive nudity.

In a statement on Friday (Nov 25), the IMDA said the two performances, Naked Ladies and Undressing Room, exceeded the R18 rating under the Arts Entertainment Classification Code (AECC) due to “excessive nudity which included scenes of audience-participants stripping naked, and graphic depictions of exposed genitalia”

…Naked Ladies and Undressing Room were singled out for criticisms in a Facebook post by a group called Singaporeans Defending Family and Marriage. The post questioned whether the festival was trying to pass off pornography as art.

Undressing Room, by Singapore dancer Ming Poon, is a one-to-one performance between the artist and a participant who will be challenged to bare all in a private space.

Naked Ladies is a performance lecture about the history of the naked female body by Canadian artist and academic Thea Fitz-James. She undresses during the performance and will be naked for large parts of the show.

In Ming Poon’s Undressing Room, a random member of the audience is brought into a private room where the performer proceeds to silently take off your clothes. R18 or not, I can’t imagine anyone participating in this awkward act while keeping a straight face, whatever your sexual orientation. The Singaporeans Defending Marriage and Family and its vivid imagination, however, proceeds to add ‘exploring each other (sic) naked body’ in its Facebook post, citing the work as an excuse for sexual assault. No sane artist will tear your clothes off for no reason and start, as Trump would say, grope you by the pussy, without risking jail. Incidentally, if people didn’t explore each others’ body naked, there would be NO FAMILY to defend.

More disappointingly, it took a complaint by a legion of prudes masquerading of saviours of humanity to prod the IMDA into making the cut. Would they have made the same call to Minsters to act on the ‘porn disguised as art’ cabaret show Crazy Horse back in 2005? Could this lot be anymore hypocritical about the harmful effects of sex and nudity on the national psyche – sharing a anti-nudity Facebook post in one tab, and discreetly surfing Pornhub in another? People like these are why we can’t have nice things, and instead of visiting museums and festivals and enjoying provocative art, we’re at home grilling the kids and promising them Nintendo DS consoles if they score more than 250 for their fucking PSLE.

But maybe it’s not about drawing a line between art and porn, but between art and crazy nudie stunt. The educated person’s Jackass if you will. Like stripping naked and asking an audience member to stare at you while you’re both sitting on custom-made toilet bowls, for instance.

In 2011, T Venkanna charged his audience $250 for posing with him while he was butt naked at the Art Stage MBS. According to the Singaporean Defenders of all things good and moral, this would be as close to ‘prostituting’ the arts sector as you can get.

Or this extreme WTF-ish piece that involves plopping eggs out of your vagina onto a canvas. I hear there are shows in Thailand where performers do similar vaginal stuff with drink cans.

It’s also arguable if you could classify snipping off your pubic hair for an audience as art. But maybe that’s what art, especially those that involve icky private parts, is supposed to convey, to stimulate internal monologues like: Hey, is this art? How does this make me feel? What am I doing here? I paid money for this? How abstract is that pair of glasses on the gallery floor?

Glasses (spectacles) placed on the floor in an art gallery at SFMONA as a prank by TJ Khayatan and his friend to see how people would react.

You’d figure anyone by the age of 18 years would be able to appreciate such conflicts without needing to see a psychiatrist for trauma. You’d think the smorgasbord of online porn would inure us from images of people unnecessarily touching themselves in all sorts of places in the name of art. But NOOOO, the IMDA still doesn’t think we’re discerning enough to handle such controversy, vindicating a Facebook group that also champions discrimination in the name of an illusory greater cause. This coming from a society where key leaders commit personal indiscretions despite their families, and bored married people pay for VPN tokens to sign up with still banned Ashley Madison.

Dress code for everyone in public places

From ‘Mind how we dress in public’, 8 July 2016, ST Forum

(Benjamin Sim Buke Huang): The case where a dentist was jailed for molesting an MRT passenger who was wearing shorts (“Dentist jailed 6 weeks for molesting woman on MRT”; July 2) reminds me of the kampung days, when adolescent girls were told by their parents not to wear hot pants or shorts in public.

The reasons given were that they were “too revealing” and did not reflect well on the girls’ modesty or upbringing. There is definitely a good case for today’s parents to relook how our adolescent girls – and adults, for that matter – dress when in public.

Women wear shorts to many places, even to places of worship. This shows a lack of respect for others as well as for the religion.

Perhaps there can be some dress code – for both men and women – when they are in public places.

There is already a Singaporean dress code in public places, and it entails a lot of shorts, spaghetti straps  and flip flops. Even if you wore jeans, long skirts or yoga pants you still risk being harassed in a crowded train.

While other readers were focussed on the fact that the molester was a dentist, the complainant decided to draw attention to what the victim was wearing, specifically mentioning ‘hot pants’. By linking the crime and the pants and proposing that people dress more decently in public, he’s suggesting that the woman may not have been groped had she not ‘ASKED FOR IT’. In other words, it’s the woman’s fault for dressing sexily and turning men, even dentists, into rapists and molesters. Which is exactly what some people in the 80’s believed, not to mention our ‘kampung’ parents who had the cheek to control what girls wear when they’re walking about in sarong without underwear. AWARE should be up in arms over this letter, and likely to argue that if men can’t control their base desires then the problem lies with them, not with a woman who decided to flash her fair, inner thighs because it makes her feel ’empowered’. Or because the weather’s just too damn hot.

Anyway, even if by some bonkers, dystopian ruling we end up all abiding by a universal dress code because hot pants are so damn dangerous, we all know what colour that will be.

 

MDA censoring two men kissing in Les Miserables

From ‘Same-sex kiss cut from Singapore staging of Les Miserables’, 11 June 2016, article by Chew Hui Min, ST

A kissing scene between two male performers has been removed from the staging of Les Miserables after complaints from the public. The Media Development Authority (MDA) confirmed that action was taken upon “receiving feedback from members of the public”.

The show, now on at the Esplanade, was given a ‘General’ rating as the same-sex kiss was not highlighted in the script when it was submitted for classification, MDA said. The Straits Times understands that kiss did not appear in performances from June 3.

The scene involved a brief peck during the song Beggars at the Feast. It was not in many other productions of the long-running classic. MDA said it reviewed the performance after receiving feedback from members of the public.

After being advised that the scene exceeded its ‘General’ rating, the producers decided to remove it, MDA said. Earlier, Facebook user Alvin Ng posted in a Facebook group that he wrote to MDA to complain about the scene.

He wrote in a June 1 post that he saw the kiss in the second last scene during the opening performance of Les Miserables.

“This was never in the original production but now it’s been included here,” Mr Ng pointed out. He also appealed for others to lodge complaints too, if they saw the scene in other Les Miserables performances. On June 10, he posted that MDA has liaised with the producers of the show to remove the scene.

Do you hear the people complain?

The Facebook group in question is ‘We are Against Pink Dot Singapore’, and the exact words used by Alvin Ng was ‘gay kiss’. Though the play is set around 1832, I’m pretty sure ‘gay’ isn’t used here in the same context as ‘happy’. Also, clearly we’re not comfortable with people pushing boundaries. Sometimes we cut them off completely, like the boundary between Government email and the Internet. Am I right, IDA?

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Maybe MDA should ban the entire Beggars at the Feast song too, for it contains some lyrics that would offend morality ‘watchmen’ (as some commenters have praised) like Alvin Ng, such as:

Here comes a prince/There goes a Jew/This one’s a QUEER/But what can you do

It also contains the words ‘buggers’ and ‘blowing’. Yep. Just ban it, MDA, and while you’re at it, you could collaborate with IDA to ban the segment videos from Youtube too. After all, you stopped Ah Mei from singing a song about rainbows.

Personally not a fan of Les Miz, though I did catch the film version starring Borat, Wolverine and Catwoman, but there was no hint of homoeroticism in there at all, just a lot of shouty chest-thumping singing and people raising muskets. Wait a minute, isn’t this whole French revolution thing about ‘pushing boundaries’?

MDA did not elaborate on the context of the ‘brief peck’, whether it was on the lips, forehead or on the cheeks, but label it as a ‘same-sex kiss’ and it becomes grossly distorted from something cheeky, even ‘bromantic’, to a full-blown pro-family, anti-LGBT, pink-dotty issue likely to rile both camps into another futile war. There was also a controversial, impromptu ‘same-sex’ kiss between two actresses during a Star Awards some years back. Not sure if Alvin Ng was complaining then. Those two ladies still have their jobs, and I don’t see the Star Awards producers making sure that men only sit next to women to minimise the risk of any gay kissing whatsoever.

The whole point of a ‘General’ rating then, is that the show is suitable for children, though I don’t see how Les Miz would appeal to young impressionable minds.  What MDA, and the anti-Pink Dot people, should be worried about, really, is same-sex gratuitousness in CARTOONS.

Spongebob kisses Squidward on his nob. DISGUSTING.

Tom and Jerry same-sex slow dancing? UNACCEPTABLE

Who would have thought Bugs Bunny would be a serial sex-sex kisser as well. JUST LOOK AT THIS WASCALLY WABBIT DOING QUEER SHIT!

Smooching Yosemite Sam

Marrying Elmer Fudd. Oh the humanity!

Perhaps in their next run the Les Miz producers should not only ensure they comply with the licensing conditions by removing suggestively gay scenes, or better still rename their play to ‘Miserables’ without the suggestive ‘Les’ in it too. You can push your boundaries elsewhere.

Singles village for the unmarried to find love

From ‘Build singles village to help young people get hitched’, 16 March 2016, ST Forum

(Chua Boon Hou): While I respect the decision of those who have opted to remain single, a check with my single friends revealed that most of them did not choose to be so (“More young people staying single“; last Friday). Our working schedules are so packed that we simply cannot find the time or opportunity to meet other singles.

We have to think out of the box to increase the odds of a meeting exponentially. Most of my friends got attached during their university days, when they stayed in hostels and had chances to mingle in places like the canteen and library.

Hence, building a singles’ village would be a good way to go. For this to work, a lot of criteria will have to be fulfilled.

First, the rent to stay in the village must not be high. However, the term of rental should be restricted to two years as singles are there to find love, not access cheap housing. Second, these rental units have to be small or even shoebox-size. We do not want those staying there to be too comfortable with living alone.

Wi-Fi or other entertainment should not be provided in the units. Those who want to watch TV or surf the Internet will have to go to community halls. All day-to-day activities, such as laundry, must be done in public places, so that singles will have the chance to meet and chat with strangers.

There can also be meetings or outings planned every weekend, or even every night. At the end of the day, even if one does not leave the village with a soulmate, one will leave with more friends than before.

Thanks Chua Boon Hou for giving me an idea for a YA dystopian novel. This is the synopsis.

2049. It is one year to SG100, the hundredth anniversary of Yewtopia, the city-state formerly known as Singapore. Project Red Seed, the covert supplementation of the citizens with the novel hormone Ovaryn to boost the birth rate has led to an unexpected rash of sudden deaths. Desperate to repopulate the country, the Silver Council has rounded up all the unmarried into enclaves for birthing, while their elderly parents are summoned to the National Sanctuary where they will be placed under temporary hibernation. Failure to consummate whilst in residency would be punishable by a 6 month compulsory service to the Seedlot as subjects for the Annual Procreation Harvest, where subjects essentially serve as living sperm and egg farms.

Selected for residency is 25 year old Ban Hock, who was sacked from work for a minor ‘personal indiscretion’ on the pretext of making up the numbers at New Bidadari, a village modelled after every Luddite’s fantasy. Without the Internet or contact with the outside world, residents were forced to attend procreation programs. Trapped in the routine of  awkward conversation, campfire games and the dreaded Laundry Hour, Hock, with the help of like-minded rebels; a giant with the face of a murderer but a heart of gold, a 40 year old spinster with a history of horrific ex-boyfriends and a secret transgender, plan their escape from their prison. The Ministry of Family, Fertility and Social Services, on the other hand, already has a contingency plan in place against those unwilling to serve the nation’s Prime Motive, with devastating consequences. Spearheaded by the cunning Vice minister of State and Tiger Mum Violetta Dranker, Hock and company would find themselves the target of the ‘Love Mercenary’ known only as the ‘Matchmaker’, an agent deployed only when all other programs fail.

Will Hock and his motley crew break free of the Ministry’s clutches, or will they succumb to the intoxicant of love and resign to a life of manufactured matrimony?

 

MP David Ong’s affair a personal indiscretion

From ‘Few public signs of trouble before alleged affair prompted David Ong to resign as MP’, 13 March 2016, article by Chua Chin Hon in Today

An extramarital affair with a fellow People’s Action Party (PAP) member was behind Mr David Ong’s move to resign as the Bukit Batok MP, multiple media reports said.

Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao broke the news first on Saturday night (March 12). In an online report citing unnamed sources, the newspaper identified the woman involved in the alleged affair with Mr Ong as Ms Wendy Lim, 41, a senior executive in the logistics industry. She is said to be a member of the Bukit Batok PAP Women’s Wing.

According to Zaobao, she is an active PAP member who took part in many grassroots activities in Bukit Batok. She also assisted Mr Ong during the 2015 General Election. Channel NewsAsia reported that the affair had been going on for about six months. TODAY understands that the scandal came to light after Ms Lim’s husband lodged a complaint.

Mr Ong has given no detailed explanation, in public, for his resignation. But in a statement to the media earlier on Saturday, he admitted to “personal indiscretion on my part which I deeply regret”.

It was only a matter of hours after Ong’s shock announcement when the media hounds sniffed out the identity of his paramour. But other than the impact of this scandal on both parties’ families, the media also happily reminded us of other politicians’ past ‘indiscretions’ when they’ve probably already moved on with their lives. Ong didn’t just let down his party, those who voted for him barely a year ago, his wife and kids, but also reminded the world about those shamed for similar reasons in the past. People may forget Michael Palmer or Yaw Shin Leong, but not the Internet.

When Palmer dropped the bombshell in 2012, he called his affair a ‘grave mistake‘. He also humbly requested for the public to ‘respect his family’s privacy during this very difficult time’, which merely prompted rumours, jokes and pictures to explode all over the Internet and make things more ‘difficult’.  Ong chose the term ‘personal indiscretion’, a catch-all euphemism that can range from getting caught picking your nose in public to punching someone in the nose. Yaw simply disappeared from the face of the earth and till today his lover’s identity remains under wraps. The Ongs, the Palmers and the Yaws of the world will be fondly remembered and haunted for their mistakes despite not breaking any laws, while those who spend actual jail-time, the Phey Yew Koks or the Choo Wee Khiangs remain as curious footnotes of history.

It doesn’t matter how you sugarcoat an affair, how many tears you shed at the press conference, or how competent you are at your job. It’s the end of your political career if a moral failing is exposed, and the reason why it’s such a big deal in public service is that PAP constantly invokes its Virgin Mary image, selling itself as a clean, transparent, honest government, a reputation embodied in the symbolic white uniform. For a government that demands that the Opposition ‘comes clean’ with everything from sudden resignations to town council accounts, dishonesty among its ranks in any form, even on a personal level, cannot be tolerated. It’s a stain that needs to be removed.

The cost? The loss of an otherwise decent MP and the resource-usurping scramble for a by-election to fill the gap, a contest that PAP doesn’t have a good report card of, losing twice in the last 4 years. If Chee Soon Juan comes into Parliament via the ‘backdoor’ of Bukit Batok thanks to Ong’s shenanigans behind his wife’s back, the PAP may have second thoughts as to whether his resigning was in fact the ‘right’ thing to do after all. I suspect BB residents wouldn’t vote in an Opposition candidate just to ‘punish’ the ruling party because cheating on your wife is the worst sin imaginable, but probably adopt a ‘no harm done’ attitude if the 70% majority has just 1 more Opposition voice added to it.

We enjoy scandals because it’s rare to see a PAP man looking like a pale shadow of his former self. We bask in the Schadenfreude of a public humiliation because we see a powerful individual falling prey to very human impulses; to lie, to cheat, to scratch that itch in his sweaty loins. We know for certain that his shamed face is real, not one streaked with crocodile tears. In fact, a ‘Sorry honey I cheated on you’ face is a politician at his most honest. It is a face for posterity. A face that serves as a sobering lesson for the high and mighty, that if you play with fire, you’ll not only get burnt, but incinerated.

So time to work on your shame face, David. Learn from Palmer below.

I Love Children campaign is ‘scaremongering’

From ‘Fertility ads give birth to controversy’, 5 Feb 2016, article by Tan Weizhen, ST

A voluntary welfare group advocating early parenthood has defended an advertising campaign featuring four controversial cartoons.

The ads – which show sperm and eggs in situations such as rowing together in a boat or playing darts – were placed in train stations by I Love Children (ILC) this week, with slogans like “Even the best marksman could miss the target” and “Women are born with a finite number of eggs”.

The group hopes they will encourage people to conceive earlier while they are more fertile, but they have been criticised by some members of the public for being distasteful and insensitive.

Women’s rights group the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) has called the campaign “scaremongering“, saying it might have an emotional impact on women who might be infertile or who have had miscarriages.

i-love-children-ad-10-data

It’s not just married folks without children who’ll be irked by the naggy tone of the ads. Even those with curious kids who’ve seen the ad will have trouble explaining to them what a sperm is and where it comes from, before they start asking you whether those two happy creatures are new Pokemons.

Like all evangelical fertility campaigns, I Love Children only presents a one-sided rosy picture of childbearing, and with it being launched in perfect timing with CNY, it’ll only add more fuel to the fire for those having to face the traditional interrogation by pesky relatives during visiting. This sudden urgency to bump up baby stats is a far cry from the ‘anti-natalist’ movement in the 70’s, where you’re advised to ‘take your time’ before settling down. If you ‘take your time’ these days, you’ll get parents giving you dirty looks assuming you’re a ‘children-hater’. You can ‘take your time’ to choose the right primary school, the right career, the right house, but when it comes to babies, it’s ‘WTF are you waiting for already!’

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From ‘Fertility and the Family:An overview of Pro-natalist Population Policies in Singapore’ Theresa Wong, Branda S.A Yeoh

To be fair, it’s hard to come up with a fertility campaign with the right nuance. Some mild threatening is needed for it to be effective. Like ‘Children – Life would be empty without them’. This would make sense in the 90’s. Today, if you don’t have children of your own, there’s always Netflix and line dancing to fill the gaping void in your otherwise lonely, miserable existence.

In 2013, some NTU students came up with a ‘Singaporean Fairytale’, which featured ‘negative stereotypes’ in the form of a Golden Goose laying eggs, with the terrifying warning that your ‘egg making device may become rusty and old’. Again, the usual scare tactics of that timebomb ticking away in your oven. Time to put a bun in it!

In 2012, Mentos created ‘National Night’, urging you to ‘perform your civic duty’, and tapping your partner’s body like an ‘EZ-link card’. Cringeworthy, but for different reasons.

ILC, you don’t need to tell me what I already know. Jubilee Babies, SG50 baby bonuses, enhanced parental benefits. We already have agents out there, intentionally or unintentionally, promoting procreation for free ALL THE TIME. Not just the Government, parents and kaypoh aunties, but every father mother son who’s ever posted a montage of their bundle of flippin’ joy on Facebook. I’m reminded of putting my sperm to good use everytime I send a Whatsapp message to a friend with his baby as his icon.  If I see a baby dressed like Obi Wan Kenobi, I get the urge to impregnate the nearest womb I see. When I see a mini-series about families with 8 kids it gives me a newfound passion for harem-making.

So there’s no need for pro-lifers to hire graphic designers to draw cartoon sperm and ova rowing a boat, doing pole vaults or doing the Lambada to give us the warm, tingly  ‘AWWWWW..SO CUTE..LET’S HAVE SEX NOW’ moment. In fact, these ads do the exact opposite. Like a badgering aunty telling you so-and-so just had a fourth kid and still got that promotion at work. It saps the romance right out of any form of sexual intercourse, oral, vaginal or otherwise. Unless you people are telling me ‘Screw romance and do it like they do on the Discovery Channel!’

In short, money wasted, which could have been put to better use helping people struggling with kids so badly they resort to giving them up for adoption, accidental teenage mums thinking of throwing their neonates down the rubbish chute, or going into some fund for assisted reproduction for desperate couples. If you Love Children so much, help children that are living NOW, not play bedroom Peeping Tom, matchmaker, and midwife.

This is all we need.

Madonna performing for the first time in Singapore

From ‘Madonna could perform in Singapore for the first time’, 29 Nov 2015, article by Jermyn Chow, ST

Queen of pop Madonna, who was banned from performing her controversial Girlie Show World Tour here in 1993, seems set to strut her stuff in Singapore for the very first time.

Home-grown concert promoter IMC Live told The Sunday Times it is in talks to bring the 57-year-old American star’s ongoing Rebel Heart tour here for a one-night concert for 30,000 at the National Stadium.

…For the Singapore gig to be given the go-ahead this time, The Sunday Times understands some songs may have to be dropped from the setlist.

Bitch, it’s Madonna, the only singer to continue chart-topping since the Michael Jackson ‘King of Pop’ era. I was a casual fan in the 80’s, when she brought the world timeless ballads like ‘Live to Tell’, ‘Crazy for you’ and sugary pop gems like ‘Holiday’ and ‘Open Your Heart’. She was Material Girl, Madge, Maddie, sex kitten, goddess, Kaballah practitioner all at once. When you look up ‘raunchy’ in the dictionary, you will find Madonna in a bustier.

She has come a long way since the days of the conical bra and Vogue. Things spiralled downhill after she remade American Pie. Today, she struggles to keep up with the Youtube and Spotify generation, sometimes ending up like the Auntie in denial gatecrashing a dubstep party when she should really should be line-dancing. Her ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ collaboration with Nicky Minaj is a case in point. Most singers her age would be more comfortable dueting with the Bee Gees instead.

Despite attempts to stay edgy and relevant, Madonna remains revered among the Pop Princess sorority, from the Britney Spearses to the Arianna Grandes. No one denies her accomplishments, but as iconic as she is, the fate of the Rebel Heart Tour remains at the mercy of the MDA, and a certain lot of Singaporeans among our midst who will stop at nothing to ban her from these shores,  the very same people who signed petitions against openly gay Adam Lambert from performing at the Jubilee Year End concert.

Other than being an active promoter of the LGBT cause, there are several more reasons why Madonna may find herself ‘Swept Away’ by the prudish powers that be.

  1. Hentai Demon Rape

In 2002, the ‘Drowned World Tour 2001′ DVD was banned for sale here as it featured an animation sequence of a monster raping an ‘Asian looking girl’. You can, of course, find the link to the video on Youtube.

2. Insulting Christianity

Another DVD ban. In the ‘Confessions’ tour, Madonna sang ‘Live to Tell’ while strung up on a cross.  This coming from the same woman who brought us the blasphemous ‘Like a Prayer’ video, where the cross was sexualised as a cleavage accessory to black lacy lingerie. And that was in 1989, way before Lady Gaga bugged the Christian community with less spicy stuff like ‘Judas’.

3. Random violence against men

The Guy Ritchie-directed video ‘What it Feels like For a Girl‘ was banned in 2001 because it depicted Madonna going on a misandrist rampage. An advisory warning by MDA alone would not be enough to protect our local men from being castrated on site if all the ladies in the house transform into Amazonian cannibals.

4. Lesbian kissing

This.

5. Drug references

One of Madonna’s more recent albums was titled MDNA, which is one letter away from controlled drug MDMA. You may know it as Ecstasy.

6. Kinky BDSM and Androgyny

Till today, the steamy Justify My Love video continues to stir loins. 20 years later we would have Fifty Shades of Grey. How many more reasons do we need to justify her ban?

If all goes well, we could have the first almost-sexagenarian to perform to a sold-out crowd in Singapore. Toned down or not, Madonna could earn more from this single show than all the Air Supply concerts combined.