In preparation for this year’s national costume segment of the Miss Universe pageant, Singapore not only turned itself into a meme, it failed to follow the theme.

Other than having the dress open up like a tourism board brochure, showcasing our Marina Bay skyline — what about this costume depicts Singapore?

Featuring two of the world’s most dangerous and unpredictable leaders is already controversial. The dress is an insecure and sensationalist cry for international recognition.

To some, the Miss Universe pageant might just another emblem of mass culture, one that is nearing obscurity with its glaring incongruence alongside the #MeToo movement.

But mass culture is still culture. It naturally reflects deeper socio-cultural issues; in other cases pop culture is often a marketable, trickled-down version of high culture.

This dress reflects our postcolonial anxiety, which have repeatedly shown in our cringeworthy B-grade attempts to represent ourselves. It seems, in our bid for approval from other nations and superpowers, we erase ourselves in the process of finding an authentic national identity.

Yet, it’s far from the truth that Singapore lacks high or mass forms of arts & culture to speak of. If Louis Vuitton and Vans could weave Yayoi Kusama and Van Gogh into their collections, then who’s to say we aren’t allowed to strut down runways in Georgette Chen and Sarkasi Said-inspired wear, or even fuse that with some familiar HDB colours or the Merlion scales?

Until we learn to reject our worship of dominant global cultures and start doing the dirty work of loving ourselves, we’re always going to have kitsch creations that continuously draw the same response from us: “dunno whether to laugh or cry”.

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Also on Popspoken: The Worst Comments On The Miss Universe Singapore Costume

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