Outraged? Look the other way

Eric Khoo’s erotic film In The Room sparks debate on censorship.
Eric Khoo’s erotic film In The Room sparks debate on censorship. PHOTO: ZHAO WEI FILMS

I refer to John Lui's column (Time To End Censorship Dance, Life, Dec 4), where he responds to the Media Development Authority (MDA) not giving Eric Khoo's erotic film In The Room a classification for commercial release.

Singapore is not the only country in the world that censors films. Great works such as Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom and Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris were banned from theatrical distribution in their uncut format for many years in societies with more liberal attitudes towards sex and nudity.

Still, this is no excuse for the Films Consultative Panel and the MDA not to do a better job in discerning between gratuitous smut - including those Amy Yip flicks that made their way to our screens during the early days of movie classification - and explicit sex scenes in films made with artistry.

Can two sex scenes on celluloid erode our moral fibre any more than, say, the "entertainment" which purportedly occurs in some seedy bars in town?

By their very nature, the system of film classification and theatrical exhibition already segments the audience into niches.

Should MDA see the need to exercise further restrictions, it can always impose a limited theatrical release for In The Room, including John Lui's excellent suggestion to confine its screening to art film cinemas such as The Projector.

The average person on the street who feels outraged by its depiction of sex and nudity is always welcome to look the other way.

Our society and the MDA must become more creative and flexible in anchoring this country to sensible core values while broadening the space for those with more open minds to express themselves.

Sylvester Toh

We are celebrating SG50 this year and Singapore has become a first- world nation. Singaporeans are mature enough to choose what sort of art, movies and music they want to enjoy. Those who do not support Eric Khoo's movie should just not watch it.

Ace Kindredzen Cheong

Keeping In The Room unclassified for a wider release in Singapore may cause local film-makers to leave for more vibrant spaces abroad. Local audiences may have to flock to foreign shores to watch creative works from Singaporeans.

Lee Teck Chuan

Media Development Authority has done the right thing by not classifying the film. Just because Eric Khoo is an acclaimed film-maker, this does not make his film viewable. With so many sexually explicit films out there, Singapore needs MDA as the gatekeeper.

Jennifer Kok

In his commentary, John Lui suggests that arthouse cinemas be granted the same status as film festivals and given more leeway.

I disagree.

Firstly, by what criteria should Media Development Authority define arthouse cinemas to distinguish them from commercial ones?

The question is a tricky one.

Secondly, using Lui's suggestion, any film-maker who wants to show his film uncensored can apply to have his classification limited to arthouse cinemas.

This is unfair to large commercial chains such as Shaw, Golden Village and Cathay because they are restricted by virtue of their size and reach.

While I support the push for less censorship, I do not think MDA is unfair in this case.

Desmond Koh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2015, with the headline 'Outraged? Look the other way'. Print Edition | Subscribe