Friday, February 18, 2011

Double Standards

In Oscar contender “The Kids Are All Right,” Annette Bening plays a controlling, short fused career woman who works in a hospital and found her status as a parent of two kids challenged by an interloping stranger who also happened to have slept with her marriage partner. You don't have be perched on a moral high horse to be upset by the turn of events, and empathise with her climatic outburst at the destroyer of conjugal bliss, "If you want a family so much, you go out and make your own!"

Director Lisa Cholodenko has managed, albeit sneakily, to shock us out of our comfort zone with a situation where moral elasticity is confronted by a sturdier, more traditional concept of living. The twist here is that the family unit under assault is a lesbian couple, and the external threat is the straight sperm donor who fathered their children.

The Singapore censors are not interested in the moral dilemma, real or fictional. As far as they are concerned, "The majority of the members agreed with the board that the film ... has exceeded the film classification guidelines." According to the Board of Film Censors' classification guidelines, "'films should not promote or normalize a homosexual lifestyle." "The Kids Are All Right" was slapped with category R21, applying to "films that may contain adult issues, themes and more explicit scenes," and limited its release to one single print. Lesley Ho, former director of the Singapore International Film Festival, howled, "I thought we had grown up. I am flabbergasted." Grown ups who plan to shell out for the pricey cinema ticket please take note: even with a R21 rating, the "more explicit scenes" are snipped off.

Although then PM Goh Chok Tong told Time magazine in 2003 that his Government was openly employing gays, even in sensitive jobs, the official line has always been that it recognizes homosexuals as part of the city-state's society, but that they are not accepted by most citizens. However, that doesn't stop MM Lee Kuan Yew from accepting them as PAP MPs, "As far as I'm concerned, if she does her work as an MP, she looks after her constituents, she makes sensible speeches, she's making a contribution, her private life is her life, that's that." He goes on, "You know, there are two standards. It's one thing the people at large, it's another thing, your minister or your prime minister being such a person."

Sigh, that double standard again - one for the common man, and one for the privileged class. One wonders if the Singapore Penal Code of 377a was intended to be a malleable instrument of law, pliable for the favoured and the anointed few.

2 comments:

  1. This film is widely available for download on torrents and a good film it is.

    Not that I condone piracy but we're not given much options...

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