When things are banned, it’s pathetic. Who bans things? People who are frightened. It’s fear. So what are they frightened of? Of people writing or saying something? And why are they frightened? When someone bans something, it’s very revealing ...says Paul Theroux in an interview with Kristina Tom in today's Star. He was referring to the Singaporean government's banning of the film of his novel Saint Jack.
The film has just been unbanned and Ben Slater who has written a book about the making of Bogdanovich's film comments:
One thing I say in the book is that Singapore has changed radically, so that was never in doubt! Censorship is still a daily reality in Singapore, but I feel that the unbanning of Saint Jack is a very crucial symbolic act - the film stands in for a past that Singapore's authorities have spent 28 years trying to eradicate, so by saying "You can watch it now", it is finally accepting that it's OK for people to reconsider those times. But the fact remains, the world of Saint Jack has disappeared. You can't go back there, but you can now take a look at the movie".Just as one country loosens up about its past, another clamps down. Read yesterday in the Star that the Malaysian government's decision to ban Amir's The Last Communist has been made final. Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said:
It will be like allowing a film portraying Osama Bin Laden as a humble and charitable man to be screened in the United States. ... People who don’t know about Chin Peng will think what a ‘poor old man’ he is.A plausible reason? Are Malaysian audiences so undiscerning - particularly those gullible arty-farties who go to see Amir's films? Or does this banning also speak most loudly about the insecurities of the banners?
Your comments as always greatly appreciated.
The Lost Communist (13/5/06)
Too Many Amirs and Two Minutes of Fame (23/5/06)
Index: On Censorship