Sometimes, on an ordinary day, minding one’s own business, we cannot help but notice things that make us think beyond our private thoughts and about the wider world. And so it was one evening last month when I visited my father in hospital. I found him bored out of his wits.
“Why don’t you at least turn on the telly?” I asked.
“There’s nothing there.”
I wasn’t going to believe him so easily. So I fiddled with the remote to surf the channels. There were our handful of free-to-air channels (in other words, nothing worth watching), and another 6 or 7 cable channels. With the exception of the Cartoon Network, all the cable channels were Arabic. Three of them are imaged on this page – channels 15, 18 and 14. There were news, drama and even Arabic cartoons. Continue reading ‘Priorities, priorities’
Shame has no place in Singapore. We boast of being “first-world” and speak of striving to be “world-class” in this and that, while quietly engaging in third-world autocratic methods as if there is no contradiction.
Shame – the critically-acclaimed film directed by Steve McQueen – has also been effectively banned, joining a long list that includes A Jihad for Love (dir: Parvez Sharma), David the Tolhidan (dir: Mano Khalil) and Boy (dir: Auraeus Solito). Continue reading ‘A country without Shame’
It’s getting to the point where if you find homosexuality offensive and do not wish to be “confronted” with it, you’re going to need to withdraw from the modern world. For example, there’ll be films and music videos that fill the entertainment pages that you can’t watch. If your friends talk about them over dinner, you can’t participate.
Two films with big advertising budgets now playing in Singapore cinemas will be off your list because they contain homosexual characters. One may not be such a great loss, it being rather mediocre, but if you for ideological reasons cannot watch the better of the two (and far better), then it’s your loss.
The mediocre one is J Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and rated M18 by the Media Development Authority (MDA) on account of “some homosexual content”.
Continue reading ‘Playing gay and the new normal’
Published 22 January 2012
art and entertainment
If you have spare time this Chinese New Year, go see the digitally animated version of Qingming Shanghe Tu at the Singapore Expo (hall 3). It will be on until 6 February 2012. Admission for adults: $21; closes at 9 p.m.
However, do take a barf bag with you.
Continue reading ‘Go see the animated scroll with barf bag in hand’
Ten years ago, I would have been quick to write, with great agitation, about letters such as the one by a Josephine Tay, published in the Straits Times on 26 November 2011. She took issue with naming an orchid after Elton John, suggesting that the move signalled open encouragement and endorsement by the government.
Now, I am still annoyed with battle-axes like her, but no longer greatly. My pouncing reflexes are not what they used to be. Perhaps I am mellower with age, but mostly, it’s a sense that the crest of the mountain has been crossed. There’s still much rough ground to cover before we reach the end of the journey, if indeed we even know what “end” means, but the incline is such that the risk of sliding backwards just because someone is pushing against us is much smaller.
Continue reading ‘Orchids, fathers, sons and anti-gay battle-axes’
Manga is a popular medium among the Japanese. Unlike American cartoons, manga has a tradition of dealing with social and political issues as well. I have no idea how often Singapore-related issues make it into manga but I doubt if our government is as thrilled as Alan Shadrake about this one, after the break:
Continue reading ‘Shadrake makes it into manga’
It wouldn’t go unnoticed, though whether the Straits Times editors fully realised the significance of what they were doing is an open question. Channel NewsAsia’s report, by contrast, didn’t have a photo showing David Furnish though he was mentioned in the text. It’s entirely in keeping with the general observation that Channel NewsAsia is more politically timid. Facebook had several postings by gay men pointing out the printed photograph of singer Elton John with his husband David Furnish and baby Zachary, among which was this posting by Alan Seah:
Continue reading ‘Doritaenopsis Sir Elton John’
One of the few good things the late Balaji Sadasivan implemented when Minister of State for Health, was universal ante-natal screening for HIV, allowing for early intervention. From four cases of mother-to-child transmission in 2004, it was brought down to zero in 2008 and 2009. However, two more cases popped up in 2010.
It is truly tragic for anyone to be born with an infection as serious as HIV.
One of the films at the 24th Singapore International Film Festival touches on this. Living with the Tiger (Thursday, 22 Sept 2011, 9:30 pm, Lido cinema) follows two children at Baan Gerda, a small community in Thailand that cares for about 80 children affected by HIV.
Continue reading ‘Seeing a tiger when it’s just a cat’
I think I have mentioned it before that I find Glee unwatchable. I have tried — twice, I think — to watch the TV show, but on both occasions, couldn’t tolerate it beyond the 20th minute. It was just too shallow for me.
Then a friend texted me the other day saying “Every teenager should be taken to watch Glee Concert” referring to the 3D version now showing in cinemas. I assume he had taken his son there.
Mystified by such enthusiasm, I asked, “Why so?”
His reply: “. . . has a real life gay teenager sharing his coming out and his growth to self acceptance. . . very affirming. Must be the first time an overtly affirming gay character and person are in a PG13 movie.”
Continue reading ‘Gleep service’
When someone says of another: “Oh, it’s brave of him to do that,” the remark may tell us more of the speaker than the person spoken about. Why was whatever he did brave? What were the mental associations we linked to that act that made it seem courageous? Yet, when we hear such descriptions of bravery, “no one asks what it tells us about ourselves,” said playwright Tan Tarn How, underlining a view that as a society, we rarely engage in self-reflection.
His new play, Fear of Writing, explores questions like this. That’s what artists do: they hold a mirror to society.
Artists, however, often get the blues. Tarn How is no exception. “The play posits the possibility that in Singapore, political art is irrelevant,” he says of his work. He’s had this thought for some time: that political art changes almost nothing here. It’s not getting through to people.
Why not is the question. What is it about ourselves as a dull and smug society that is so non-responsive?
Quickly thinking of a counter-example, I asked, “Do you consider what Mr Brown does as a form of political art?”
Continue reading ‘Do Singaporeans even look at their own fears?’