Friday, May 9, 2008

Censorship in Singapore - Is the MDA for Real? Ban This Video!

OK, I couldn't resist this one... I'm breaking my rule of remaining impartial here, so please forgive me - anyone that travels from abroad (especially western countries) is at first amazed at the level of censorship in the media in Singapore. This includes, but not limited to, TV, DVD, Magazine, Cinemas and to some degree even the internet.

Amazement is the first reaction, but this soon turns to frustration and then ultimately a downright 'hatred with a passion' of the Media Development Authority (MDA). Is this organization for real?? Every country has some level of censorship, but it to so crazy here in Singapore, that the essence and meaning of some of the world's most popular oscar-award winning movies is completely lost.

After speaking with many friends and colleagues (Singaporeans), it is not until one views material untouched by the MDA (usually when travelling overseas) that they really understand the extent to which this organization goes. The type of censorship also often seems 'ad-hoc' - how is it that in Singapore I can view (in graphic detail) a real dead body on a news or documentary channel (which I cannot in most western countries) that makes me feek sick to my stomach, but the image of much lesser violence is pixelated or removed completely in fictional movies?

How can I follow the storyline of a movie, when there are 30 second gaps of silence while very 'light' swear words are cut, yet I can view some of the most offensive words available to the English language on public forums on the internet - eg, Facebook Singapore public network discussions and wall (net nanny won't filter this from the kids)? I watched one movie recently (Team America) which was almost 30-minutes shorter than the original due to cut scenes - nothing makes sense... even the theme song of the movie was changed.

I could continue for hours and cite thousands of examples, but I'll just get even more frustrated... magazines - perhaps the MDA doesn't realize it, but one can pass through immigration at Changi, walk in to the book store and buy magazines showing nude bodies then return back to SG with the same?? Is Changi still not Singapore? Does this not encourage travellers to bring what the MDA considers 'offensive' or questionable material in to the country?

Anway in summary, I strongly believe that censorship must exist... we must protect our kids from inappropriate material, but at the same time we cannot completely 'squash' artistic expression just because a few narrow-minded bureaucrats think that they have the knowledge of what is appropriate and what is not!! We live in the 21st century and it's high time that the over-conservatives wake up... I feel dreadfully sorry for anyone who has not seen some of the most classic award-winning movies of recent times without half of the film lying on cutting-room floors.

Finally, let me finish with a direct quote from the MDA website in response to the question "Why Must There be Censorship?" (it does not answer the question why the level of censorship needs to be so drastic and archaic, nor did I have an opportunity to respond to the 2003 survey they cite - wait a minute!!!!??? 2003??? - that's five years ago... Get Real MDA!!!):

MDA Response - "Censorship is practised in all societies to some degree and in varying forms -- whether by community groups, industry bodies or government agencies. In Singapore, censorship exists to protect the young from unsuitable content as well as to maintain stability and harmony in our multi-racial and multi-religious society, while allowing more choice for adults. Our surveys show that Singaporeans generally find censorship standards acceptable. For example, in the recent Censorship Review Committee 2003 survey, more than 70% of the respondents were satisfied with our content standards. Of course, censorship alone is not sufficient. Whether we are able to maintain the moral tone of our society depends largely on the industry, artists and the community and on what society as a whole considers to be acceptable standards for media content. Hence it is a shared responsibility among the various stakeholders, with censorship being complemented by public education for greater media awareness."


Below is a music video made by some of the very bureaucrats in question - this is so very bad, that I think they should have seriously considered cutting and censoring nearly the entire clip - sick to my stomach - get out of the ridiculous mode, start listening to the people that live in the country and let adults make their own choices - that's what the OFF button is for...


Anonymous said...

I am in total agreement with you. This video makes me sick and embarassed. The inmates have taken over the asylum.

dat said...

AUSSIEPETE: dude... i think you meant OSCAR-winning movies? The grammy's are for something else altogether.

Aussie Pete said...

Hiya dat... mate, you're spot on... of course I meant Oscars - thanks for the pick-up, I'll update the blog entry now...