Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Paper Heart" - Teh Gayz = Singapore's "Paper Heart".

(Original image from Reel Movie Critic.)

So occasionally this badly drawn, gay male unfeminist pig ventures out of this lovely barn and into the city--not unlike the original pig in the city, Babe. I did it a week ago to watch Paper Heart, a mockumentary about people falling and staying in love. From the internet reviews, I learnt that film involves the central character, Charlyne Yi, interviewing friends, bikers, lawyers, scientists and even a gay couple on their respective definition or experience of love.

People talking about love sounds harmless enough, I thought. Except when I trotted to the cinema did I realise that the movie was rated NC-16.

"Oh dear," I thought, "them gays must have talked about sticking straws into nostrils or something." Little did I realise that it was worse than that, because throughout the movie, there was no gay couple at all! The censors had to eradicate the entire segment, yet stuck an NC-16 rating for reasons unbeknownst to me.

Just what was so offensive about the gay people in the movie?

My cursory research reveals Teh Horraz: they "plug for gay marriage... are also white and male"; in their interview, "the word "sex" goes unmentioned"; the two are "long committed... [though one of them] has an "urn containing the ashes of [his] late boyfriend (referred to as an “ex in a box”)"; he actually "describes the death of [that] boyfriend, his voice breaking as he attempts to lighten the moment with a quip"; the film also doesn't "dramatise the romance of [the] two burly gay New Yorkers the same way" other interviewees were in a puppet-theatre setup mastered by Yi (see picture below).

(Picture from Paper Heart Official Website)

So this is just how we roll in conservatism-loving Singapore.

Two years ago, when an NTU research on Singaporean receptivity of media representation of gay people in the media surfaced in the Straits Times, with the findings that "68.6per cent of respondents 'generally held negative attitudes', 22.9per cent had positive attitudes and 8.5per cent were neutral", these results were used to justify Singapore not repealing its anti-sodomy law, Penal Code Section 377A. The rationale, which a lot of people used, hinged on the findings obtained from this study, suggesting that Singaporeans were far too conservative to accept homosexuals content on their television, much less in real-life.

Well and good, except for the question of just how much gay representation does the average Singaporean receive in our local media in the first place? Accounting the fact that the media authorities exercise such a heavy-hand at not only preventing positive homosexual content from appearing, but also quick to penalise the media providers who rock the boat with a hefty fine.

People obviously need to be shielded from the terrorising images of gay people because of their homosexual lifestyle and agenda. Just read this subversive description of an average day in gay-agenda manoeuvring undertaken by this gay man:
I work my ass off at an unfulfilling job. I pay my bills. I pay my taxes. I do my best to keep my house in order. I try to be a good citizen. I try to be a good neighbor. I worry about the future of the planet. I recycle. I'm usually in bed by 10:00 PM. I give to charity. I help others in need. I just want to have a comforting home. I feed the cat. I visit with the elderly. I go to Mass. I work in my garden. I argue with my spouse. I support high school sports. I just want to have a few good friends who understand and appreciate me. And on the weekend, I watch a film, drink a few beers, and go to bed. (Source.)
Appalling, simply appalling!!!

Clearly, Singaporeans' negative reactions to homosexual content--however imagined--supports the case of continuing the status quo, because we all know that positive or neutral representation of homosexuals in the media will not actually help to educate people's image of gay people. We are after all moving away from a conservative society, where the idea of open and accepted homosexuality is simply new to a lot of people and wrought with misconceptions--like all new things, get old and familiar with time, to a Conservative society, where the idea of open and accepted homosexuality must actively be kept new and wrought with misconceptions for its people--eternally other, never familiar.

So that's why Teh Gayz had to go in the movie. Flying Spaghetti Monsters forbid that we might actually uncover the essential point that makes gay people gay: the heart, which strangely enough isn't so different as it is similar to the average, straight Singaporean.

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