Friday, October 23, 2009

Our state of best interest.

I was thinking more about my last entry on the censoring of "Paper Hearts", when I realised something quite startling: the reflexive reaction I had with the cutting of Teh Gayz was to accuse the latter of something deplorable, like talking about "sticking straws into nostrils or something", which I think speaks of the power of the censorship veil--that it has been normalised to suggest that it only beneficially covers and hides what is necessarily detrimentally sordid and immoral. Even if we don't know the content that's been smothered, we are prone and trained to automatically assume the worst, and exercise faith that a few people on our censorship board have done what is to be considered in our best interest.

Nudity,
explicit violence,
foul language,
explicit sex,
pornography,
religious-hate,
racial-hate,
the abject grotesque:
human shitting,
human pissing,
human birthing,
anti-government sentiments, which in Singapore parlance,
political oppositional parties,
etc.

Singapore's stand is that homosexual content can only be presented in our local media in a "balanced" manner, entailing both 'yes' and 'no' arguments. For every argument that homosexuality is genetic, we must argue that nature is not morally deterministic. For every argument that there's little difference between homosex and heterosex, we have to talk about the high incident rates of gay men acquiring HIV, even if they forget that gay women exist too. We are led to believe that this act of balancing is to prevent Singapore's seemingly tenuous family bonds and values from being disturbed by the forces of homosexuality.

But in our search for balance, do we demand that anti-gay sentiments be balanced with positive portrayal of gay people?

No.

Because this "balance" that we espouse is one born of anti-gay sentiments. In a society where anti-sodomy laws are maintained as symbolic gesturing of our societal disapproval, the balance of our status quo is default negativity towards gay people. In that light, we are mistaken to believe that positive portrayal of homosexuality will be the countervailing influence that we need, since Singapore's need for balance hinges on a untraditional definition that tips the scales to a specific side.

So we can't have a couple talking quite casually about how they fell in love, decided to set themselves in a committed relationship--not unlike a straight marriage, and suggest that they'll live happily ever after without ever planning to destroy our (straight) family values or turn your children gay.

In a piece that wants such punishing "balance", we are supposed to accept that the censor's cuts are indeed the force of balance, insofar as in removing this encounter of a perfectly functional and traditional gay couple, we are returned to our state of best interest in hate, fear and ignorance towards gay people.

I regret that even I, a gay male unfeminist pig, have internalised this homophobia so seamlessly.

1 comment:

  1. It happens to the best of us, my badly drawn friend.

    ReplyDelete

Please avoid (1) victim-blaming, (2) justifying any particular instance of oppression/exploitation, (3) explaining that we live in a post-feminist/racist/ablist/enter-oppression-here world, or (4) Mansplaining at all. Barn writers are free to moderate their own posts how ever they deem fit, and not obligated to entertain any comment. If you suspect it might seem offensive, don't comment.

(See our note on comments.)