22 December 2013

What makes a hero? A viral video – and a checked shirt



All we want for Christmas is a hero.

But not just any hero.

A hero in a checked shirt.



What is a hero anyway? Like for everything else in life, I get my answer in an 80s pop song.
I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night.
He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast.
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.
That is, of course, Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler from the 1984 movie Footloose.

Younger readers may know it better as the song by the Fairy Godmother from Shrek 2.



It could also be the tune the local media was singing in its quest for the “mystery man” in a checked shirt who tried to stop rioters from destroying a bus during the Little India riot in a viral video two weeks ago.

And Mr Thangavel Govindarasu stepped forward.



I don’t know how fast, strong or “fresh from the fight” he is, but he’s got a checked shirt.

Then someone checked his checked shirt and it was different from the checked shirt worn by the hero in the video. Checkmate!

And so like any mystery man befitting his “mystery man” label, Mr Thangavel disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared, retracting his claim that he’s the sought-after hero.

But Mr Thangavel said he did protect the woman on the bus from rioters. So he was also a hero in his own way. Too bad it wasn’t on video.

This raises the question: If you’re a hero in a riot and no one is around to record it, do you make a sound?

Fortunately, someone was around to record the man carrying a samurai sword on the MRT train last week.



You’ve seen the picture. Everybody in the train carriage gave Samurai Jack a wide berth – well, everybody except for one hero sitting in a reserved seat with his eyes closed.

Why is he a hero?

Because while the other passengers were cowering from the rogue swordsman, our hero stood his ground.

Or rather, sat his ground.

Or rather, sat in the reserved seat with his eyes closed.

The question is, was he really such a sound sleeper that he was oblivious to the somewhat low-budget production of 47 Ronin going on around him? (Can't afford Keanu Reeves.)

Or was he just pretending to sleep because, die die (literally), he didn’t want to give up his precious reserved seat?

“You know how many old people and pregnant women I had to fight off to sit here? Sword or no sword, this reserved seat is mine!

“As long as samurai guy thinks I’m asleep, he won’t bother me. After all, I’ve had a lot of practice pretending to sleep to avoid eye contact with old people and pregnant women who need this seat more than I do.”

Act blur level: possum.

Why isn’t the media looking for him? Maybe because he wasn’t wearing a checked shirt.

One person who has had more than his share of media attention is my man crush, Mr Baey Yam Keng.



From giving advice to the prime minister on taking selfies to hunting down a high-rise used diaper thrower, the heroics of the Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC have been recorded on Instagram for all to behold and savour.

His haters could’ve made a meal out of the selfie Mr Baey took at last weekend’s ZoukOut with Mr Lincoln Cheng, the founder of Zouk who was arrested and found guilty of possession of controlled drugs as well as obscene magazines and videotapes 18 years ago.



“Is it appropriate for the MP to be consorting with a convicted lawbreaker? Is the selfie an endorsement of Mr Cheng’s lifestyle?”

Instead, everyone was distracted by Mr Baey’s $2.50 nasi padang and 50-cent bandung.

Someone claimed to have been charged more for the same food and thus brewed a storm in a teacup – or in this case, on a plastic plate.



Lest we forget, until last year, Mr Baey was managing director of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a public relations company where he’s still senior advisor. So he’s supposed to be an expert on PR.

An expert.

On public relations.

Supposed to be.

This weekend, the now famous nasi padang stall at Block 475, Tampines Street 44, is extending the $2.50 offer to “everyone” with proceeds going to the Tampines North welfare fund. Not sure if you can also get the 50-cent bandung though.



So is Mr Baey the hero I’m holding out for till the end of the night?

Based on his selfies at the gym, he is strong.

Based on his selfies at the Standard Chartered Marathon (albeit in the 10km race), he is fast.

And based on all his selfies, he looks pretty fresh from the fight.

On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him wear a checked shirt on Instagram.

Well, to paraphrase another movie song from the 80s: We don’t need another hero... in a checked shirt.

- Published in The New Paper, 22 December 2013

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