01 March 2007

Incredible wife makes disappearing act

Oscar winner Melissa Etheridge's words were edited out by Mediacorp's Channel 5. Perhaps they were too 'global' for our provincial minds? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

This is slightly off topic, but I find it unfortunate that you perpetuate the myth of Singlish as "a mangled mix of English and Chinese". You even had a post on Singlish in the same vein some time ago, if I remember correctly. Singapore Colloquial English, or Singlish, is a contact language with its own grammar and lexicon. There is nothing "mangled" about it, and it's perefectly possible to speak "bad Singlish" as any native Singlish speaker would attest: many foreigners do when they try to sound Singaporean but end up producing ungrammatical Singlish sentences. Contact languages are not a rare phenomenon at all, and there is even an example of a contact language that was granted official status - Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea. Actually, English speakers everywhere speak their regional dialects and not "Good English". No one stigmatizes Hiberno-English. Although it is barely comprehensible to the speakers of, say, Estuary English, the Irish are not worse off because of that. The same is true of other languages as well. Who would dare to call Swiss German (a language vastly different from the "standard" variety both lexically and grammatically) "bad German"? And the fact that Tamil speakers everywhere borrow English words liberally and use them as roots with Tamil grammatical affixes attached doesn't make Tamil "a mangled mix".

Anonymous said...

being anti gay is not necessarily provincial, nor is lesbianism necessarily cosmopolitan; such prejudice is as bad as the anti gay prejudice you criticize

the incident is valuable in revealing the hidden hand of the mediacorp censor; we need more examples like this to know where the "boundary markers" are

Anonymous said...

Hello, I do find Alex point about the MDA being the prosecutor and the judge at the same time, the inherent intransparcy etc disturbing too. But the, this is neither a new nor an exciting phenomenon in Singapore, we all know that. Loking at recent court cases involoving for instance figures of opposition parties, clearly the same phenomenon appears - yet with more drastic consequences.

Yet, I am always paticularly bothred by two issues when it comes to Singapore-style censorship:

1) What does it cost, who does all this work, why are we wasting all this effort and money - in the time of internet and traveling, in an open, tiny, comsopolitan place like Singapore? Crazy. The cost-benefit ratio is absolutely devastating here, they really take care to even change DVDs that are sold in low copy numbers etc (I once bought the French Movie "SWIMMING POOL" when I was naive and didnt know about censorship in Singapore. Half the movie is erotic scenes - but important to the story - they cut it all out so the movie was half the lenght and made absolutley no sense! Where does this stop, they dont sell a porn movie which shows only the credits do they?).

2) The common reasoning why we need censorship goes like this: "We have to censor BECAUSE we are multi-racial mutli-religous" (see parliament report 15th Feb, it was repeated again). This is a no-no-argument as in my view it has 2 major flaws:

A - we are not THAT multi racial, a solid majority (77%) is one race and then we have some more races, like so many other countries. There are many countries that have the one dominant racial group <60% or even <50% (like Canada, Malaysia, Brazil). SOME OF THESE COUNTRIES have no censorship, and most of those countries have a good press freedom index (between 5 and 20).

B - Singapore is just as multi-racial as NZ, USA, South Africa - all countries without censorship and with a entirely free press (index around 10)! In contrast, there are many countries that love censorship that are TOTALLY MONORACIAL, such as North Korea, China, Vietnam, Burma, Russia, ... (>90% one dominant race). I plottet that once as a correlation (mutiracial versus press freedom) of 20 representative countries - there is NO correlation, and Singapore very obviously falls into the category "not free, not so multiracial" (close to Vietnam, Thailand, index all above 50). Infact, ALL COUNTIRES with a press freedom index of >50 (meaning, bad) are not-so-multiracial, up to totally monoracial, check it out yourself at:


Hmmm. Yet we hear this line "multi... - so have to censor" time and again, and it doenst become right by repeating it so often.

And, to the first commenter: "Who would dare to call Swiss German "bad German"? - most Germans would, in fact! I am very sure about that... but I do agree that good Singlish has its merits and is a great contact language.


Anonymous said...

"being anti gay is not necessarily provincial, nor is lesbianism necessarily cosmopolitan; such prejudice is as bad as the anti gay prejudice you criticize"

To censor one's public acknowledgment of one's family for their support is plain bigoted. Family is family and it not up to anyone else to decide otherwise. To censor it on TV is just plain disrepect to the person and her wife who is being acknowledged.

Suppose you don't subscribe to polygamy but would you show disrespect to a Muslim man by refusing to acknowledge his 2nd, 3rd and/or 4th wives or support a censor's move to censor his acceptance speech should he thank them?

Yuri/Dee said...

On one hand, many people feel comfortable speaking a certain type of language. On the other hand, it's difficult for many to transit between a dialect and the standard language.

Such are the problems for almost every language. Kind of makes you wish that we could mind read one another, no? But that too leads to another world of complexities.

In the end, though a dialect can be considered important for cultural and historical purposes, wouldn't using too many dialects hamper communication? After all, we depend on a certain percentage to be able to speak a standard language and to understand a certain dialect(s).

Anonymous said...

you seem to object to the first paragraph; so you think lesbianism is cosmopolitan?

to anwer the 1025 comment: why do they censor? because they can; if they dont, they would look wimpy

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for your blog, there'd be so many double-going ons that slip right past.

P.S. Andy Ho has come up with the most ridiculous reason for why gays should support the ban of Leslie Kee's book in the ST today. What planet are these "journalists" from?

Anonymous said...

That is why Singapore has the MDA.

It is the media control nazi unit that will allow the movie 'Brokeback Mountain' to be shown in Singapore,all for publicity... but will censor out anti-PAP agendas.
I am not surprised.

I like to address 01 March, 2007 01:54, on the issue of 'Singlish'.
This fusion of English n S'pore Chinese was bound to happen.
Good,n entertaining, however, the downside is the inability to 'write good English' and speak it as well.
There is 'Spanglish', a mixed fusion of English n Spanish/Mexican.
Again, the same equation.

Perhaps 'mangled' is the politically incorrect adjective to use? How about 'intertwined'?

Teck Soon said...

How to interview for the job of censor? This sounds like a fun job. Watch risque things on TV and film all day and cut them...I bet the salary is good too! I want to be the censor for the porn. Who holds this job now? Is it public information?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to say though that Singlish happens to be a blend of Chinese (more accurately, mainly Chinese dialects), English AND Malay. Alex should know better than to perpetuate this Sinocentric myth--as Tan Hwee Hwee did in her book Mammon Inc. Otherwise we'd just call it Chinglish, won't we?

Also, in St Life's reporting of the Oscars, they mentioned how Etheridge thanked her wife--with some editorialising of course. Wife became "wife" (the inverted commas did not escape my attention). One can imagine the furore if it was reported that an award winner gave thanks to "God". Alfian. : )

Anonymous said...

Good,n entertaining, however, the downside is the inability to 'write good English' and speak it as well.

This "downside" (not surprisingly characteristic of a certain socioeconomic class) should be blamed squarely on the education system. Somehow children who grow up speaking any of the Swiss German dialects don't have trouble with standard German, and no one lectures them on the inadequacies of their native language in the globalized world. Same is true about Mandarin in Singapore. If it were not for the blanket ban on the dialects and huge problems with MT teaching, the standard of Mandarin in Singapore could've been much higher. Language shift in Singapore might've been inevitable but it was completely mismanaged, due, in no small part, to the strange ideas about language learning held by the political leaders.