Wednesday, June 14, 2017

MALAYSIA’S AND THE MELAYU MIDDLE CLASS AND NEUVO RICHE MALINGED BY TELEVISION DRAMAS

…AND THE DEVELOPMENTS IN MANY ASPECTS THAT THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN EXPERIENCEING THAT THE PRODUCERS AND TELEVISION STATIONS HAD ESCAPED TO NOTICE.
By Mansor Puteh


It is highly improbably that no one has thus far made any attempt to look closely the type of television dramas, limited serials or television features known locally as ‘telemovies’ that had been produced and broadcast on Malaysian television to study their impact on society, and also how much the producers and television stations care and accept the physical and social as well as cultural and psychological developments of the people and country all these years.


If these had escaped them, then surely, the production of the dramas and even feature films are done on the most superficial level and meant purely for puerile entertainment with the producers and television stations not giving any regard for what has been happening around them.

Do they ever look outside of their office windows to see the new skyline and views that are fast changing?

I remember when I make my first return trip back to the country from America where I was studying; and I paid my Mak Lang and his family a visit at their house in Gombak, Kuala Lumpur.

I was surprised to see an elevated road outside of the window in the kitchen that was not there earlier where I had seen trees, the last time I was in the same kitchen sitting on the same chair and eating probably the same kind of food she was serving.

And not only that, I also realized that almost every household in my extended family now has a phone in the house when there were none before; and those who had them were rare and so few that if we had to call anyone, we had to drop a ten-sen coin in the public phone, and to do that we had to walk some distance to get to the nearest one.

And surely, everybody could realize how the many bicycles that they had to use to ride to go to school and work which clogged the streets, had become less and in their places are now more motor vehicles of many designs and types which came from many countries, and later from our own too, called Proton and Perodua.

New social, cultural, economic, psychological and pseudo-political issues had emerged from unusual places and more so with the advent of the internet and repealing of the International Security Act (ISA) with many more people becoming brash and crass at the same time; with unfortunately had cast aside those who had better views and aspirations for the country amongst the intellectuals to feel marginalized.

Who cares for intelligent views anyway, when anybody can have views of their own however ludicrous and suspicious as to why they had dared to voice them out with some gathering in groups wearing tee-shirts of the same colors and designs, parading through the city center screaming slogans that seemed to have been imported lock stock and barrel from some countries in the west that had happened in an earlier generation.

These are some of the disturbing developments that have emerged from the many that had been produced and broadcast.

And what have they managed to bring into the imagination of their viewers? Have the television executives themselves and other experts in psychology, sociology and politics done so?

Most likely not.

So the issues have to fall into the lap of someone who majored in film to undertake however tedious and at most times boring.

The most glaring thing that one can see in most of the television dramas and telemovies is how they are mostly on the Melayu ‘middle class’ and the so-called neuvo riche.

It’s as if the producers do not know the various levels in the Melayu society to know how to profile them properly and adequately.

The problem lies with the television stations whose staff did not care; most of who are not qualified in film or scriptwriting to know how to evaluate which proposals to accept.

So in the end they form an unholy alliance with those who bother to submit their materials and projects to them and get them approved simply because the stations’ executives did not know any better.

So over the years we can see how the same type of characters and scenes are used in most of the dramas and stories on the same issues.

The standard scenes are the living room, bedroom, inside of cars, mostly the luxurious ones, hotel coffeehouses, boardrooms and shopping complexes.

And what about the titles? They must have these words, ‘cinta’, ‘kasih’, ‘sayang’, ‘asmara’ and such words.

And the dialogue lines are mostly suitable for radio dramas that do not leave much to the imagination of the listeners or viewers.

In the end, the portrayal of the Melayu middle class is severely maligned with the characters who talk like they are simple kampung folks but who live in the lap of luxury who squabble over petty issues and whose emotions are mostly the knee-jerk kind of reaction.

And the middle class Melayu characters have all been stereotyped in the most crass way, simply because the writers and directors and producers and television executives did not know any better.

As a result what could have become a treasure throve of images that the future generation of Malaysians could see and study, by watching these productions, cannot happen.

One could see a bit of that in some of the old Malayan films produced by the studios then, but one can hardly do the same by watching the recently produced television dramas and films.

Something drastic has to be done to arrest this so that Malaysia television and cinema can be redeveloped to be useful to all and not just to the television stations to fill slots.

Unfortunately, maligning the Melayu middle class and the neuvo riche, only means one thing: That the producers of the television dramas and even feature films are not sensitive because they are not qualified, as much as the executives at the television stations.

And the Melayu middle class and neuvo riche too do not seem to care because they do not know who they are and they hardly watch Malaysian television anyway.



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