Controlled Controversy

From ChannelNewsAsia:

SINGAPORE: Controversy and art go hand-in-hand, said Information, Communications and the Arts Minister Lee Boon
Yang, who spoke to reporters at the opening of the Singapore Art Show on Thursday evening.

And he is optimistic that with one out of every three Singaporeans participating in at least one arts and cultural activity a year, this industry is set to develop further.

Sadly, I think it’s prety clear MICA’s message to artists in Singapore. Art has to make money as an “industry” to justify it’s existence here-no art for Art’s sake, we’re afraid. Also, note that the good Minister’s definition of “controversy” here actually implies the kind that occurs accidentally (context: removal of an art piece that was too similar to an already existing American one), not the kind that occurs deliberately in the hopes of sparking political malcontent or social movement.

I can’t decide if the good minister’s words count for irony or self-fulfilling prophecy.

In case you’re wondering why, his statement comes at a time when Singaporean homosexuals are indignant that their proposed screening of two movies with homosexual content was turned down by the MDA, as was an Art exhibition featuring kissing homosexuals (visit Yawning Bread for more information.

I’m beginning to think Singapore’s repressed Arts scene is a carefully calculated move by the government to give us international media coverage at regular intervls, just so the rest of the world knows we’re still around. Perhaps Martyn See is actually being paid to produce his banned-before-production works which are almost-certainly promised screenings in almost every international film festival in a perverse symbiotic relationship with our government. Maybe he’s just another Merlion (albert not white, and spewing stuff more disgusting than seawater), an artificial Singaporean fabrication made to promote Singapore overseas.

(My version of the Merlion originally had skinny, handcuffed arms but I decided to cut them out in case it was seditious-the STB, which owns the Merlion, has guidelines only for food or souvenirs products. I will be more than willing to take down this image, STB!!! ((what can I say, I’m not Martyn)))


For some strange reason I can’t fanthom, though, the government didn’t ban Happy Endings, a play ostensibly about young Singaporean (forbidden and illegal) love set in a JC, nor the upcoming Hitting (On) Women, another play about lesbians. I’ve also seen a play dealing with paedophilic/homosexual content which touched on religious issues, which totally blew my mind (that they were allowed). I guess MICA either trusts the play-going audience to be mature and understanding or believes that plays aren’t quite as powerful as cinema in polluting the minds of our citizens.

Or that they’ll never hit the heartland because of their high entry prices.

(I know 15 wasn’t by Martyn, but it’s the one that I think set off the trend of banned-famous)

Friday Funnies

Sometimes I say something mean and I feel guilty for it. Then I watch Lisa Lampanelli and find catharsis.

You can watch the entire Dirty Girl (in 22 inexplicable parts) on YouTube. Be warned, though, that she’s not for everyone (especially racially-correct-Singaporeans).

On the other hand, if you like your jokes Christian and told by a cute guy, you might instead enjoy Dane Cook instead.

He makes me shudder. I think I subconsciously feel that only ugly people should be allowed to make fun of others.

Alternately, if you really prefer more subtle, nicer (and much weirder) forms of humour, try Demetri Martin.

Clearification is a Vista Viral, and a rather heavy-handed one at that. But still weirdly enjoyable. I am surprised, though, that it isn’t in SilverLight.

Algorithm March

It’s banal, cute and disturbing…

What’s even more disturbing is that in Cebu they have an entire prison doing it. The Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center looks like a fun place… I also found videos of them doing Thriller, In the Navy and something called the “Jumbo Hotdogs”.

Something tells me these prisoners also practice the dance of the Jumbo Hotdogs back in their bunks as well as in the courtyards.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

They just don’t write lyrics set to ancient greek philosophical dialogs anymore.

In case you’re wondering, it’s loosely based on Aristophane’s explanation of Love in Plato’s Symposium. Which I think is a much nicer legacy from the ancient greeks than 300.

The movie’s pretty good, too.

Where have all the flowers gone?

It’s one of my favourite songs, only I heard it first in French, so I looked for an English version. I discovered it came in various languages, including German, sung by one Marlene Dietrich, a famous 60s singer. Here’s a YouTube video of her performance in German:

And the much more hilarious version where she performs it in English. I snorted at every painful phrase and half-expected her to take up a gun to fire on her pink-backdrop-worshipping audience.

I think it’s a cultural stereotype from watching too many movies with evil Germans. A german accent singing about flowers sounds improbably funny.Of course, considering that Ms Dietrich first sang this song as a frontline performer (she was a prominent anti-Nazi) during WW2, I guess singing it in a cutesy grass-snorting-hippy-manner wouldn’t have been very respectful.

In case you’re interested, here’s the original singer (I think he’s playing a ukelele):

As a less funny note, just to (un/re)confirm the existence of my cultural stereotypes, here’s a clip where Ms Dietrich, as Frau Bertholt, educates her friend on the non-complicity of the majority of Germans for the deeds of the Nazis.

Fundamentally Happy

Watched Fundamentally Happy yesterday with F. It was a good play for its budget, raising some issues that I thought were interesting (it’s about paedophilia, selective memory, religous duty) and stepsiding religous complications that might have crippled it.

Fundamentally Happy Image

Here’s a YouTube clip of a past season’s run, somewhat different from the version I caught (gee, you can find everything on YouTube).

As we sat down, F raised a point that I hadn’t noticed- the number of people in the theatre. All in all, there were only about 100(+- 20). F asked how it was possible thay could have made money, considering that a ticket only cost S$30 and with the play running for only two nights.

Doing the math, we figured (well, I figured, because numbers interest me) they could probably rake in something like S$6K in revenue at best, and what with site rentals it probably couldn’t turn much of a profit, much less feed the actors.

And this got me guilty, because I had used my expired student pass to purchase a ticket for myself at a concession rate (F is still a student, so no guilt for him). Evil Alex, who had shortchanged the hardworking artists of a whole S$12 for an hour’s worth of good and thought-provoking entertainment!

So I resolve to pay full admission should I ever go for a play again! Never again shall my hands be sullied by the blood of starving artists!

Seriously, though, I know they get governmental subsidies. But hey, you wouldn’t stinge on charity just because you knew kidney-problem patients got medical subsidies, would you?

College Saga

Ugh. I can’t believe I wasted 40 minutes of my life watching this crap. It’s College Saga, a real-life dramatization of squaresoft RPG elements.

**Warning – watch only if in possession of sufficient Squaresoft RPG knowledge **

The lead is Singaporean. Or at least, he owns a POSB ATM card – the old metal-coloured kind, so he has to have lived in Singapore at some time in the past. Since he knows the difference between being a Republican and a Democrat I’d say he’s been suitably Americanized.

Give me back 40 minutes Mark Leung!!!