Saturday, July 01, 2006

Singapore, Politics and Clowns

Increasingly, I think that Singapore needs a few more clowns, a few more jesters, in order to raise a few highly political issues. But of course, the word clown evokes seemingly negative connotations- we are reminded of a person who talks nonsense, someone who cannot be taken seriously. Hence, is it even concievable for a clown to bring up serious issues involving the country? Or am I just talking rubbish?

There are very few people in this country that will stand up openly to point out the flaws in the running of our nation. This might be because of a fear of repercussion (of all sorts, imagined or otherwise). But there is one person who is rather remarkable, in that he made a number of films portraying the Singapore system in a light which might be considered unfavorable, and yet was able to publise the films and win acclaim from the Singapore public, and even the Government. In a sense, it is like slapping a person in the face and yet being praised for it. It is sheer genius.

Now, it may dismay you to know that this 'genius' I am talking about is Jack Neo. Yes, you may cringe at his movies, which tend to be lame, but you have to admit that it is a remarkable proof of concept. We should use humor to sheathe issues which would otherwise be dangerous to point out.

The idea of using satire to disguise political issues is certainly not new. I have just learnt that there was a jester named Stańczyk who used his job to criticize and warn his contemporaries, and whose witty jokes often pertained to current political or court matters. In recent times, there was the Bar Chor Mee satire which was even well recieved (or well tolerated) by some government figures. It appears, then, that humor is a good way for people to talk about important issues without any fear of being dealt with.

I must admit, though, that in a truly mature society the use of humor in such a fashion may be redundant. It may even tend to trivialise the issued so parodied. But in a less than mature society, any publicity of the issues tends to be for the better rather than for the worse.

Hence, to the clowns !

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem with the masses is that if political issues are not oversimplified, written in a language straight out of phua chu kang, and accompanied with juvenile humour, it is rarely heard of, even if it contains far more insightful and inspiring points. Doesn't say much about the calibre of the local (chinese) populace does it? It was not without reason that LKY wanted to maintain a chinese majority in singapore.