Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Censorship For The Win?

Censorship For The Win?

Browsing during the weekend I came across this TV series being aired in Malaysia.
It’s called “ghost”.

 Intriguing. The promo ad looked and felt like one of those US drama series. “Ghost Whisperer” to be exact. “Ghost”, starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze also came to mind. Personally I found this concept to be quite new in regards to the Malaysian entertainment industry. 

So I watched a short clip summarizing the first season. I noticed that in essence the series is both “Ghost Whisperer” and the movie “Ghost”; conjoined at the hip and given a not so inconspicuous title of “ghost”…substituting the upper-case G with a lower case g.

But apart from that, I also noticed the clever trickery employed by the directors to get past the censors.
Look at this scene. Notice anything wrong?

At first glance, we see what looks like a dude at a bar, getting his drunk on. Good set-up scene usually employed as an excuse to show hot women in skirts, corny pick up lines,  man on man action (no not that kind of action, I meant a bar brawl, you smut!),  and murder.

BUT, the dude is a Malay, and it is against the law for Malays to consume alcohol. You’d think that with a scene like this, the Board would be molesting the director’s anus with a big black CENSORED bar by now.

Ah, but the producers are smart fellows, the actual scene went something like this…

Scene opens with a shot of various “cultured” glasses on the counter top with suspicious looking liquids.

In the background the intro to “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga can be clearly heard. For those unfamiliar with the intro lyrics, here they are

“I’ve had a little bit too much, all of the people start to rush”

Bold move Mr Director, bold move…

Guy: Hi there cutie in the foreground whose backdrop is laced with flammable fluids.

Girl: What do you think of my friend over there?

Guy: That hot, sexy, popular chick who is way out of my league and is totally checking me out?...

Not interested.


Girl: Fag…


Guy: Whatever, I am going to compliment you by calling you avril lavigne, in an attempt to get a free drink.

Girl: What can I get you??

Guy: gimme a coke, ON THE ROCKS.

OK the scene didn’t go EXACTLY like that but the jist of it is accurate, and he in fact did order a coke real quick, ON THE ROCKS of course to “add macho”. Aha, good save Mr Director. And if that’s not enough, they managed to sneak this in. 

At a different camera angle, we see not bottles of poison, but cans of soft drinks and what looks like a coffee machine. Well played again Mr. Director.

“But Gary, The censors could argue that if that place served even a little alcohol, why would a Malay girl be allowed to bartend since Muslims are not supposed to even handle alcohol, LOLOLOLOL!!!1”

Because the presence of the soft drinks coffee machine adds weight to the argument that the “bar”  either serves zero alcohol or the girl was hired solely to arrange glasses in a pretty manner.

“But Gary, why would a bar employ a girl to do that? <_ o:p="">

Because shut uppppp…

Onwards to another example,

Scene opens at a house party with some entrée, and what’s that in the background?

White wine perhaps?

The guests seem to be hanging on to multi-coloured beverages

Very colourful indeed…


But wait!! What are those?

1.5 litre bottle of soft drinks in the corner!  

Could my eyes be deceiving me?

No, it’s true!

It’s unmistakable! And not a bottle of alchy in sight!


It’s much more noticeable in the video clip, but here we can see the guy in white opening up the cap of what can only be assumed to be diet coke and filling his glass with it. 

ghost-2, censorhip board-0

Pics are taken from this clip 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8y2svYitiQ   - somewhere in the middle

And this

And there you have it, good stealth play by the creators in not compromising scenes but yet sticking to their morals, and by-passing the censors at the same time.

I’d say that this is a big leap forward for not only the entertainment industry in Malaysia, but also in terms of general acceptance of modern society norms. The series is bolder than the majority of Malaysian series out there, incorporating a half and half of English and Malay as the spoken language too.

Now if only they casted more fresh talent, rather than the same people I’ve seen years ago…

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