I don’t understand the ratings and the hullabaloo over what was affluence porn with a tired Bollywood plot (Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham came to mind but I’m sure there’s something else that aligns better with CRA.) Might be a satirical, over-the-top take on new and old money in Singapore, though I wonder it was construed as such by the target audience.
Racism against minorities is endemic in Singapore. Job advertisements frequently only ask for those who can speak in English and Mandarin, and even if minorities are able to do so, they are told that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. Muslim women in hijabs are kept out of certain civil service jobs because of their headwear. While there are police bans on speaking in Tamil, there are yearly tax-funded programs to promote speaking in Mandarin. Minority representations are rife with stereotypes and the idea of the quintessential Singapore girl is one that embodies only East Asian beauty standards. The country’s ruling power has stated that Malay-Muslims in Singapore cannot be trusted in the armed forces due to their divided loyalties between religion and state. It has further accused them of being unable to ‘integrate’ an irony considering that Malay people are considered the original inhabitants of the land. The founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, holds views on genetics that would seem disconcertingly similar to eugenicist and white supremacist ideals, as he has touted the genetic superiority of the Chinese as stronger and hardier, with Indians not being as bright, but still better than the lazy, un-driven Malays. Chinese people wear Indians in ‘brown face’ and many elite public schools are reserved for them.
[. . .] Given this context, this movie is actually perpetuating the state of racism and Islamophobia in Singapore. The only Brown people in the movie are opening doors or in service of the elite Chinese in the movie. Minorities only exist in the periphery of the film. Why is this being lauded as revolutionary?
What people celebrating this movie are doing is bringing a Western racial framework to bear upon a Singaporean one.