Sunday 27 March 2011

Why Seth Rogen should be Singapore's tourism spokesman

Dear Singapore Tourism Board,

I have an exciting new idea to boost the number of visitors to our beautiful island:

Hire Seth Rogen as our tourism spokesman!

Before you send me another cease and desist letter from your lawyer, please hear me out.

As you may know, there is a YouTube video of Rogen’s recent appearance on the Conan O’Brien talk show in the US where he talked about being in Singapore to promote his movie The Green Hornet.

Some Singaporeans are understandably upset by the video, where the Canadian-born movie star said our country seemed “barbaric” because “that dude” sprayed some graffiti “in the 80s” (it was actually in 1994) and we “whacked him with a cane”.

Rogen added that “it was very frightening” to be in Singapore because of the death penalty for drug smuggling, which he called his “second career”.

So we let him come to our country to sell his little insect movie (though we really only cared about his co-star Jay Chou) and he repays our hospitality by going on some foreign talk show to spread misinformation about us?

How ungracious! Talk about insensitive.

Maybe we should have executed him.

So how does all this make Rogen a great tourism shill for Singapore?

A month ago, there was a The New Paper report that backpackers don’t like Singapore because our country is “air-conditioned and pleasant” and lacks danger, according to travel writer Barry Neild.

He said: “Without anecdotes about how they risked life, limb and lower intestines, backpackers lose their raison d’etre.”

But as Rogen pointed out, there are dangers aplenty here and I don’t think he even tried our Indian rojak.

On O’Brien’s show, Rogen joked that chewing gum, mouths and “chewing of any sort” were outlawed in Singapore. O’Brien’s response was: “So they’re very hardcore there.”

Yeah, Coco, we’re very hardcore! And barbaric! And frightening!

It’s about time we get away from this wussy, buttoned-up image of being a top destination for expats, especially women, because of our low crime rate and “excellent lifestyle”, according to a recent survey by a UK recruitment company.

And being the world’s second “coolest” nationality, according to CNNGo – because we’re a nation of computer geeks.

Now, thanks to Rogen, we can have a new tourism tagline: “Singapore – come here if you dare.

Backpackers will be flocking to our island!

One caveat about Rogen being our Singapore tourism spokesman though, he has to get the facts right. Singaporeans do vote – except those who live in a constituency where there’s a walkover.

He also needs to learn to pronounce “benevolent dictatorship” correctly. On O’Brien’s show, he said “benelovent”.

We don’t want another Ris Low on our hands, do we?

Please feel free to call me anytime to discuss my idea.

S M Ong

- Published in The New Paper, 27 March 2011