Scenes more objectionable than brief kiss passed muster

I am dismayed that a brief kiss between two male characters - meant as comic relief - has been removed from Les Miserables after complaints from the public ("Les Miz same-sex kiss scene cut after public complaints"; Sunday).

I watched the production with my family on June 1, two days before the kissing scene was removed.

During the Beggars At The Feast scene, the brief peck was part of the plot for the villain Thenardier to make fun of a wedding guest.

None of us watching it felt offended, as we thought it was funny, and did not link it to homosexual behaviour. In fact, this never occurred to me till the issue was blown out of proportion by audiences who complained.

I am by no means a supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement. However, I believe the intention of the show's producer was harmless, and there is no way the action is linked to an expression of love or homosexuality.

The brief kiss was not even a major part of the scene. It was meant to liven up the atmosphere of the comical wedding banquet scene. The people who complained are just nitpicking, displaying no sound understanding of the context of the story.

With such myopic restrictions on classification, is this scene a breach of licensing conditions, as the Media Development Authority has said? Or is the insistence it was a breach a curb of artistic expression?

I wonder how our arts industry can flourish if such narrow-minded perceptions continue to persist.

Is Singapore not always wanting to attract world-class acts to perform here? This can obviously be a stumbling block when arts companies consider bringing their productions into Singapore.

In Les Miserables, there are other objectionable scenes, such as slavery in the opening act, prostitution at the harbour, child abuse of Cosette and violence at the barricades. I found some of the prostitution scenes rather crude. There was also a scene where the boy character Gavroche pointed his middle finger at another villain, Inspector Javert.

With young audiences watching the performance, are these scenes not worse than an innocent peck on the lips? Yet, they all passed classification criteria for a "General" rating.

Vivien Tan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'Scenes more objectionable than brief kiss passed muster'. Print Edition | Subscribe