The hoo-ha over the by now famous PinkDot2017 ad at Cathay Cineleisure is a classic case of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
Cathay Organisation has emerged very nicely on the side of the angels, pardon the totally intended pun, with scant apologies to religious groups and others who seek to impose their values on others. When asked by the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) to remove or amend the tagline “Supporting the Freedom to Love”, Cathay refused, saying that as an entertainment company, it has “always believed in an all-inclusive society where there is a place for everyone to call home”.
Indeed, the Cathay spokesperson added: “Since making the statement, Cathay has received, and is grateful for the tremendous outpouring of positive support from the public through emails and social media. We hope that this positivity can be felt by all, and wish for greater acceptance and understanding amongst fellow Singaporeans.”
As the Jay-Z song puts it, What more can I say? Well done, Cathay.
But there is much more to say, seriously. The Bad in this strange trinity melodrama is ASAS. Badasas or Badass, as the case may be. I ask only one simple question: What have the organisers of the upcoming PinkDot2017 rally at Hong Lim Park on July 1 done to ASAS? And why is ASAS even bothering them over the largely unobjectionable ad? If national Paralympian Theresa Goh, hotshot singer Nathan Hartono and actor Ebi Shankara are happy to be the event’s ambassadors, it is good enough for me – and for thousands of other Singaporeans! No ifs, no buts.
So why is ASAS involved in the first place? It appears to be worried that family values – the importance of the family as a unit and the foundation of society – would be undermined by the rally and the ad’s tagline. As to why anyone is asking the body to be so concerned, I don’t know. Why is ASAS so kaypoh?
The family under threat psychosis is really quite a stretch. Family values have withstood the test of time and weathered all sorts of social challenges – or the family as a unit would long have been an extinct species and vanished from the face of the earth together with the dodos and dinosaurs. The unit is still alive and strong, it is not all that fragile that it needs so much overbearing protection from “hostile” LGBTs.
The family as a unit has also been evolving. The husband is no longer the only or main breadwinner, the wife is no longer the only homemaker, the rigid patriarchical norms – all these roles and values have been changing, mostly for the better.
It is not that long ago that an allegedly religious and self-righteous group staged a coup d’etat at the Association of Women Action and Research and tried to impose its own family “values” on the group. In a dramatic and very public counter-attack, the founders and their backers fought back and regained control, much to the relief of the majority of members as well as interested Singaporeans. AWARE continues to be as admirably inclusive and advocative of women and family issues and values as it has ever been from its founding.
It is ugly to be intolerant.
It is downright unethical and uglier still if at all you are the unseen hand pushing an agenda on behalf of people who have nothing whatsoever to do with professional advertising standards or with industry-specific matters.
In the end, the LGBT fraternity and its friends and supporters may have the last laugh. All this publicity cannot but be good for getting the crowds to Hong Lim Park three weeks from now.
More youthful, urban Tokyo2020 Olympics – and more women too
Looks like the Olympics will be a little bit less country and quaint and much more modern and interesting to watch. No more tug-of-war and croquet and roque, I suppose.
More dynamic gender equality, for sure. The IOC has just approved a mixed 4x400m relay, along with 14 other mixed events, including mixed triathlon, mixed archery and mixed BMX freestyle (motocross stunt riding on BMX bikes). There will 18 mixed events in Tokyo, double the number in Rio de Janeiro.
Imagine an Elaine Thompson type running in a relay with an Usain Bolt of the future. Awesome.
Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.