The Ad: Is it a Mountain or a Molehill?

I’m sure most of us would have already viewed the supposedly controversial commercial aired on 8TV, presumably to encourage good behaviour and tolerance during the Muslim Holy month of Ramadhan.  Although much has been said about the commercial being a blatant act at provoking and humiliating the “Chinese”, I have mixed feelings about this.

Here’s what I saw in that commercial:

In the ad, I saw a Malaysian girl, walking in the Pasar Ramadhan and acting in a childish manner; being obnoxious, rude, loud and greedy.  Then we were shown that this is NOT the right way to act, instead we should all be polite and considerate to our friends and others around us.  The following scene then depicted that same girl acting the way we are all encouraged to act.

Now what’s wrong with that?  Isn’t that how we were brought up to behave?  After all, the ad did show a comparison between what is good and what is bad.

Come on guys, you’re saying the advert is poking fun at a CHINESE?  Isn’t that already a RACIST remark to begin with?  Not once in the ad did the girl in mention announce, “Look, I’m a Chinese!  I am rude and ignorant of the feelings of others!”  How then can we conclude that she is a Chinese?  Or Malaysian Chinese for that matter?  She could very well be of mixed parentage, if we want to take it to that.

We are all Malaysians here, and yes, the commercial chose someone “with fair skin”  to play the part, but that does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with that.  To me, the commercial is laughable, but well, just take it all with a pinch of salt.  It is akin to a commercial in the cinema where a cinemagoer acts rudely by speaking loudly on the phone and everyone else asks him/her to be quiet and be considerate to others.  Nobody said anything about such an ad, now, did they?  What is difference then?

However, as for the segment where we are forewarned NOT to wear tight and revealing clothes, I feel that THAT is a rather sexist portrayal.  Yes, we should all dress decently at all times and appropriately for the occasion, but there is no reason to explicitly indicate that WOMEN are to NOT dress sexily.  Heck, even clothes that aren’t tight can be revealing too, if you know what I mean.  Yes, indeed a simple message to “Dress in an appropriate manner” would be a much better option.  After all, when we go to the beach, we can’t possibly be all covered up now, can we?  A better alternative to the version in the said commercial would be perhaps to have that girl walk with a guy friend who is dressed in singlet and shorts and THEN advise viewers that that is inappropriate dress code.

In conclusion, my take on this ad is that it is a silly one at most.  It’s trying to get a simple message across but because of misrepresentation and misunderstanding, it has offended some people who have misconstrued it as a racist slur. It’s a shame really, and I am not backing the TV station up, but all I am saying is if Malaysians still think of this commercial as a form of racial polarization, then these people aren’t ready to be Malaysians yet.

By the way, the video clip of the said commercial has been removed from YouTube following 8TV’s apology.

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3 Responses to The Ad: Is it a Mountain or a Molehill?

  1. beetrice says:

    personally, I didn’t find the ads ‘racist’, but they were a bit offensive nonetheless. for one, I reckon they could have had different people for each of the different circumstances instead of focusing on one person (why not include men? indians? caucasians? we’re supposed to be multiracial, no?)

    and definitely agreed on the ‘tight revealing clothing’ – not to mention that I found it ironic that during the last portion of that ad (with the three people standing there), the woman was wearing a rather fitted kebaya. how is that more appropriate than the earlier girl’s fitted top?

    and if they wanted to really promote unity, I think this ad actually did a much better job (and in a humorous way to boot!) –

    then again, I was taught from a young age to respect other races and their cultural differences – I’m not obliged to refrain from eating in public because it’s fasting month, but I do so out of respect. similarly, my Muslim friends don’t expect me to fast when I’m around them (but you should see the dirty looks I’ve seen some people give when they see those around them eating…even kids aren’t spared!)

    sorry for the long comment, but that ad just rubbed me the wrong way! 🙂

    The Giddy Tigress says: You’re right. The racial unity ad you recommended is waaaayyyy better than the 8TV one, and the actors are SO much better. Actually in the 8TV ad, apart from the girl wearing the tight kebaya, there was also a long-haired girl wearing quite a fitted top (not sleeveless, but still a little fitted). SIGH…anyway, I do agree that the said 8TV ad could have included more peoplw and not focused on one girl in particular.
    Anyway, it’s been retracted now. Let’s just hope the future ads that are screened will be more tasteful.

  2. Paik Ling says:

    I think it was the timing of the commercial. Why air it during Ramadhan if the intention was just to educate the public on manners? Why couldn’t they use a malay girl wearing a tudung as the actress. This is where I say that Petronas has the best unity ads ever. Of course they paid top dollar for the ads to be done with well known director.

  3. Adino says:

    I didn’t find it offensive either, but the effect it had on me was being very fearful and conscious of myself.

    I questioned if this was how others viewed me when I walked into any Malay store. I don’t behave at all like the girl in the ad, but still, does this reflect what they are thinking?

    I haven’t set foot in any Ramadhan bazaar since.

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