Saturday 20 October 2012

Sex.Violence.FamilyValues press con: About that trailer...

On Wednesday, the producers of local movie Sex.Violence.FamilyValues held a press conference to address the revoking of the M18 rating by MDA, resulting in the movie ban.

It had been reported that this was the consequence of complaints about the movie's "dirrrty" online trailer.

At the press con, director Ken Kwek said: "To anyone who might have been offended by the two trailers of the film, we ask that they withhold judgment until they have had the opportunity to see the film in its entirety."

Asked if he would've cut the trailer differently if he had known the outcome, Kwek replied:

"Trailers are cut and made so that they are attractive for the public to come and see the film. So in many ways, the trailer has to be provocative and, to some extent, they have to be representative, albeit in a somewhat reduced way, of what the film is about and what it says."

But if the trailer is representative of the movie, then won't people who are offended by the trailer be also offended by the movie?

This somewhat goes against the earlier request for people to "withhold judgment until they have had the opportunity to see the film in its entirety".

Kwek continued: "If you were to say, well, given the sensitivity of the climate, we should've cut a less provocative trailer, then we would have attracted fewer eyeballs and we would've sold the film less well. So you see, you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't."

So the result is that you have attracted more eyeballs, but those eyeballs have nowhere to go to see your movie.

In this case, you're damned if you do, but you would've been less damned if you didn't because you could've at least shown your movie to the fewer eyeballs.

Kwek also said: "We as producers do not believe that the Singapore audience is too immature to understand satire. I certainly, as a filmmaker, do not set out to make any film on the premise that Singaporeans do not have a sense of humour or are unable to laugh at themselves and their own foibles."

If this were true, then why did people complain about the trailer?

Kwek also said: "I must assert very firmly that I did not make a film that is in any way demeaning or offensive to any ethnic community."

He may not have intended to make an offensive film, but clearly, somebody has been offended. The road to hell and all that.

Nobody is accusing the film-makers of being racist, but the Indian joke in the trailer is certainly racist, albeit for "satirical purposes".

Sorry if I'm dwelling on this, but I've been down this road a few times myself.

See The story of a story.

And 'God of Fortune gives as much hope as your lovely chubby Santa Claus'.

And That’s insensitive! (Or how not to say something insensitive about Japan).

And even Educating Phua Chu Kang - and failing.

Intent is irrelevant. If you've offended someone, well, then you were offensive. Suck it up and try to be more careful next time.

Unfortunately, this could lead to self-censorship, which is a dirty word to many. So the tendency is to dismiss those who are offended as being overly sensitive.

Instead of "self-censorship", let's use the word "editing".

When you're making a movie or TV show (or writing a blog or newspaper column), potentially a lot of people are going to see your work, which increases the chances of someone getting offended.

Then it becomes a numbers game. How many people have to be offended (not only offended, but offended enough to complain) before you admit to yourself, "Aiyah, I screwed up"?

Or should it take only one?

Fortunately for the Sex.Violence.FamilyValues producers, they have many supporters, which makes it easier for them to dismiss the detractors.

Good luck on the appeal. I hope they make their money back.

UPDATE: Sex.Violence.FamilyValues given R21 rating with edits