Erykah Badu will not be the last international artist to be the object of controversy or have a concert cancelled at the eleventh hour. As long as hypocrisy prevails among certain sections of society and the government, this is bound to happen again.
We are always neck to neck in competition with Singapore over many things, but one thing we can never wrest from them - is being the centre for performing arts and culture in Southeast Asia. The kind of restrictions imposed on artiste coming to perform here is ridiculous at best - don't take off your shirt, don't lie on the stage, no short dresses, nothing skimpy........with all these conditions, one would think ours is a squeaky clean society.
|Gwen played the good girl and decided to comply.|
But that is not the case. If it were, then fair enough, we wouldn't want the "rakyat" traumatised by the sight of a bare chest glistening with sweat or a woman's naked thighs on public display which would be oh so "haram".
|Beyonce decided to give Malaysia a pass.|
If you think Beyonce prancing about on stage is obscene, her famous thunder thighs exposed, just go to any Malaysian nightspot, what do you think the girls there will be wearing? And as I have seen myself, sometimes the skimpiest dressed would be a mere school girl. But of course when said girl goes to school the next day, the "tudung" would be part of her uniform.
Malaysian youths are not sheltered, they are as exposed as can be - whether they are covered head to foot or not. Just like youths in other countries, western or asian. So the masses are not going to get traumatised or wring their hands over the display of some flesh or body art.
The ones who are getting offended are a minority who bark the loudest. They keep harping on religion, religion, religion. But considering that elections might be just around the corner, the government obviously does not want to take any risk in appearing to be lax about the - "The Sacred Word". Remember those churches that fell victim to arson attacks?
I was reading the coverage of the Badu controversy on several foreign news websites and was highly amused. The impression given was that our government highly prizes decency to the extent that we are a squeaky clean nation, and that religious sensibilities dominate.
You know how Thailand is seen as the "Sex Capital" of the region? We are a bit like that too, it's just that it is all hidden under the veneer of "Squeaky Clean Muslim Nation", which is what makes us hypocrites.
What do I mean by this? Even in western countries which have so called lax moral values, there are only so many things that people can get away with. But here in Malaysia you can be caught out and still hold public office, or if booted out, still have enough of a thick skin to seek re-election.
Do Malaysian politicians who have been tainted by sex and corruption scandals resign voluntarily? Do their parties put pressure on them to resign? Are they depicted in the press as bad role models to the "rakyat"? From what I remember most of these politicians usually seem more angry at being caught than feeling ashamed for their misdeeds.
Ok forget the politicians, from as far back as I can remember, even during school days there were teachers who made sure each lesson had at least one dirty joke to go with it. And I don't think these teachers were unique to my school in anyway. So yes students get corrupted from school, from their very own teachers who think jokes are not funny unless there is some form of sexual innuendo in it. And after hearing these jokes, the students will march off to "Agama" and "Moral" classes.
Things are not squeaky clean in the working world either, those who laugh at the bosses' dirty jokes have a future and those who don't, um don't. It still amazes me, the kind of subtle and not so subtle sexual harassment that is pervasive in the Malaysian workplace. It is as if the very notion of sexual harassment lawsuits has not made it to our shores yet.
So pornographic material is illegal and even kissing scenes don't escape the sharp eyes of the censors - but sex thrives in the Malaysian online world, especially in the blogosphere - It is amazing the kind of stuff the authors of these sites can churn out on a daily basis. And in daily life they are the epitome of good Muslims I suppose. It is interesting that such blogs/sites are written by those whose religion advocates such purity, as PAS Youth and other minority groups will keep telling the rest of us.
Ah well maybe the religious authorities are not cyber savvy enough to know what is going on in the virtual world. But guys have you looked at the newsstands, even the ones in the provision shops, all those tabloids with funny sounding names and weird stories in it - "Genie has sex with girl", "Man has sex with Pontianak a 100 times".
Where do they get these stories? Did they interview the Pontianak or the man? Does the genie have a penchant for young girls? Did he confess it to the tabloid writer over a cup of teh tarik....? I really wish I had taken some photos of these magazines.
Oh you know what, the next time I head out, I'm gonna get a couple of these mags and share some of those bizarre stories and photos here on my blog ;)