The law professor Alan Dershowitz once said that everyone wants to censor something. Jews want to censor Holocaust deniers. Evangelicals want to censor The Da Vinci Code. Feminists want to censor sexist pornography. I want to censor reflections which are really only a summary of class.
Case in point: I’m in the office, technically working, and I peruse the latest updates on the writer’s strike on IMDB.com. Lo and behold, there’s a post about Singapore. Media in Singapore? In the international press! How could this be?
I immediately assumed we had censored something else, but it seems doubtful to me that Singapore censorship would make the international news. Oh no, apparently the MDA has made a rap. And I have to tell you, it’s awful.
It doesn’t tell you about the MDA and how it can help you. It doesn’t describe its function in society. I don’t believe it ever intented to. It was supposed to show the creativity of the MDA (although any fans of the Black Eyed Peas or Gorillaz will recognize the symphonic stylings, and iPod ad aficionados can immediately notice the derivative nature of the chorus’s visual design.)
To me, it epitomizes how Singapore can really get things wrong. Somebody in a high position approved this video. They thought they were being so daring, showing civil servants dancing and rapping and wearing superhero costumes and impersonating a Godfather. And it could have been, if they had gone all the way with it. Serious people having fun can be quite funny. But they couldn’t bring themselves to do it. Because they’re not fun jobs!! There’s no fun in manpower management or the processing of grant applications. And we’re stuck with rhymes like: (All grammar errors are theirs.)
“Media-Action is one of my directions/
Community and international relations.”
Or this creative gem:
“The time has come to build our talents/
These are the strength for the new challenge.”
I sure hope it sounds better in the Mandarin version. Or at least rhymes….
I know nothing about the production company who made this video (If you do, please reply to the post.) I suspect the fun part of the idea came from them. And shockingly enough, the fun part was well-received when they pitched the idea. Then somewhere down the line in the development process, some woman (or man, but in my fantasy it’s a woman) says, “But it can’t be all fun. We have to show them we do serious work.” And then everyone else around the table, because they all wanted a raise, nodded and agreed. Why did no one stop this woman? Throw their Razr phone at her? Why did no one say, “That’s a terrible idea!! If it’s not completely fun, then it looks like we’re not in on the joke. Then we become the joke.”
And then we’re stuck with the piece we have now, neither serious nor fun. And worst of all, not funny. Where are our censors when we really need them?