Following a local actor’s Facebook post accusing the casting team behind “Ah Boys To Men 4” of racial insensitivity during his auditions, Singaporeans have expressed opposing views on the matter.
Popspoken first shared the story of Shrey Bhargava‘s Facebook post detailing his audition experience on Saturday night (May 27).
Those who do not share Shrey’s view think the actor is being “too sensitive”, and “may have confused racial discrimination with racial proportions in Singapore”. Some also bring up suspension of disbelief when consuming entertainment, and how reality and film, where stereotypes are used as a device, are separate.
Local blogger Xiaxue is among the critics who have spoken out, taking to Facebook late Saturday night to air her views. Here is a truncated version of her post, with the full status available via this link.
Actors are hired to act in a fictional ROLE. Not as themselves, nor what their perception of the role should be like. Sometimes the roles are comical caricatures. You object? Good, go write your own movie and star in it.
Movies are chockful of stereotypes. So? If the story needs a stereotype it will have a stereotype. You think Christoph Waltz, an Austrian-German portraying a sociopathic Nazi, won the Academy Award by whining to the director about how he is very hurt that Germans are always portrayed as nazis in film, especially when modern Germany isn’t filled with nazis anymore and this is a painful stereotype? No he didn’t, because the story needed a stereotypical Nazi. So he did what actors do. ACT.
I’m sorry you are so easily triggered but exaggerated accents are FUNNY. This is true of EVERY accent, be it the affected French, the stuffy English, the over affectionate Italian, the cowboy Texan, the confused Asian, the villainous Russian. Jian Yang in Silicon Valley speaks in a typical exaggerated Chinese accent where rice turns to lice. It’s hilarious. If Jack Neo is racist for asking an Indian person to speak in an Indian accent, then he must be the most self-hating racist ever because he is Liang Si Mei, who is a typical uneducated and kiasu Chinese auntie, the sort you meet at wet markets.
God forbid any Indians are allowed to speak in a heavy Indian accent in any local film from now on. All of them must speak in a polished, respectable way because Shrey says so! It’s COMEDY, where every character regardless of race is a funny caricature. It’s not a propaganda film to promote Singaporean Indians in Singapore/overseas. You want propaganda go film it yourself.
Wait, but here’s what I’m confused about. You are ok with a Singaporean Indian role speaking colloquial Singlish, but not ok with him speaking in a heavy Indian accent. Why is an Indian accent somehow considered more embarrassing than grammatically wrong English when both are portrayed as comical?
Singaporean Indians in movies should not speak in an Indian accent? What made you the supreme authority on how all Indians should be portrayed like? There are indeed Indians with thick Indian accents, why shouldn’t they be represented in movies? Must they be made to feel ashamed of their accent just because YOU find it so disgraceful that you felt disgusted with yourself after speaking it? And what’s a “regular international accent” anyway? Is it the accent uppity people have when they study overseas, think they are very worldly when they come back and suddenly develop a fake accent while finding their own farts smell really good? I think I know that one.
And then we go to the subtle passive aggressive attacks on the ‘majority race’, even though Shrey has left it unnamed. What’s the deal here? What did Chinese people do?! Because we find Indian accents funny we are now racist, even though so many of us wish for Tharman to be the next PM (myself included)? Hello we also find Lulu funny, she speaks with a Cheena Chinese accent. Singaporeans, not just the ‘majority race’, find Irene Ang in Phua Chu Kang funny, and she’s a caricature of a loudmouth Chinese auntie.
Whether you like it or not, stereotype humour will always have an audience. It isn’t racism because the characters are there for people to identify with, not to mock. Forrest Gump plays a low intelligence character but nobody is mocking him when they watch the show. There is a difference.
Stop saying bullshitty things like you are nothing more than the colour of your skin to your entire country just because in this ONE instance you were asked to speak in a comical exaggerated accent. Ridiculous. I suppose whenever someone asks me to sing Kill Bill I will break down because my only self worth is being a horse for entertainment.
And lastly… nobody made you feel like a foreigner in your own country. You are a Singaporean asked to play a Singaporean role in a Singaporean movie. I literally cannot think of anything that can make someone feel more Singaporean, except maybe when they are handed keys to their BTO or given a voting slip.
Stop being so hypersensitive and uptight ffs. The self importance masked as noble social justice is palpable. Through your post, you claim that ABTM is racist but all the exchange showed is that they find the accent funny and think the movie audience will like it. You, on the other hand, find the accent embarrassing and disgraceful, and think you are one of the Singaporean Indians who are better than those who speak like that. I’ll leave this here to let people decide which is worse.
Read Shrey Bhargava’s original Facebook post here.
Popspoken has reached out to J Team Productions for comment.