I have been writing this column since 2008. It was so long ago we were still looking for Mas Selamat.
So it’s inevitable that I have received a few complaints over the years. Just a few.
For example, in 2010, I wrote about SMRT bus commuters being overcharged after the new distance-based fare system was implemented.
I called it a “betrayal of public trust” and added with other-worldly prescience: “Such incompetence has resulted only in minor financial loss, but what if the transport companies are just as inept in the maintenance of vehicles?”
Well, the answer to that question last week was that some students were late for their A-level exams. It stopped being a hypothetical a long time ago.
But the Land Transport Authority (LTA) disagreed with my column, writing in to complain that it was “really not a fair comment”.
I have since written numerous articles about the even more numerous train breakdowns due to the transport companies being inept.
Yet I haven’t heard anything from LTA since 2010. Hmm, I wonder why.
But of all the people who have written in to complain about this column, there is one group I fear even more than LTA.
Adam Lambert fans.
They scare me to death.
In 2013, I wrote about the Media Development Authority giving a Lambert concert in Singapore “an advisory rating for those 16 and above with the consumer advice, ‘some mature content’ as it will feature two songs from Adam Lambert’s audio album, Trespassing – Outlaws Of Love and Shady – whose lyrics are based on the singer’s personal experiences and lifestyle.”
In the column, I wondered what exactly “outlaws of love” were and came up with a few possibilities, such as teachers having sex with their underage students in HDB stairwells.
The Glamberts weren’t amused.
First, they attacked me on Twitter: “That’s gotta be the most bizarre nonsensical shit I’ve ever read.”
And “What kind of sick mind does that jerk have anyway?”
And “Yeah. Ignorant asshat.”
Then they fired their e-mails:
“I’d like to question the research and professionalism put into the writing of this piece...
“Is it talking about the NC16 advisory rating on Adam Lambert’s concert?
“What is the relevance of bringing up the comfort and ‘ergonomic advantages’ of sexual activities in HDB staircases and the author’s ‘own experiments’?
“Also, what is S M Ong trying to say when he writes ‘while a couple may fear being caught having sex in the stairwell (though that may be part of the thrill), it would be far more traumatising for me to chance upon you having sex in the stairwell (especially if I don’t have a camera phone with me)’?
“Is he trying to promote exhibitionism?”
That hurt. I had been called plenty of awful things in my lifetime but never an exhibitionism promoter.
I learnt my lesson, though.
I would never do anything to offend Lambert fans again.
I’ll just stick to offending Clay Aiken fans.
And maybe LTA.
But unfortunately, not everyone has learnt the lesson.
Like the people who created and signed the online “Petition against Adam Lambert performing in Countdown 2016” last week.
The petition said the US singer is “a performer fraught with controversy even in his home country” and is “well-known for his active promotion of a highly sexualised lifestyle and LGBT rights, both of which are contrary to mainstream Singaporean values”.
In other words, he is an outlaw of love. Ahem.
Of course, the Glamberts would retaliate, as I have experienced their wrath first-hand.
Another online petition called “We want Adam Lambert performing in Countdown 2016” was created and so far, it has collected more signatures than the first petition.
I didn’t sign either one because both are wrong.
There is no “Countdown 2016”.
The MediaCorp New Year’s Eve show that Lambert may or may not be performing in is actually called Celebrate 2016.
Up to now, MediaCorp’s only response to the controversy is “Celebrate 2016 will be suitable for family audiences and conform with broadcast regulations,” which basically says nothing at all.
The national broadcaster just can’t seem to catch a break with its New Year’s Eve show.
Two New Year’s Eves ago, the show was lambasted for being too “cheena” by theatre doyen Ivan Heng, who is married to another man.
So a show that was once criticised by an openly gay man for not being diverse enough is now being criticised for being perhaps a little too diverse by having an openly gay man on the show.
MediaCorp just can’t win.
For now, it seems that Lambert is still set to perform in Celebrate 2016 (not Countdown 2016). Glamberts, rejoice!
Heaven forbid anyone accuses MediaCorp of promoting exhibitionism.
I’ve been there.
No one likes getting complaints.
- Published in The New Paper, 29 November 2015