'We're squeaky clean, but dirty-minded'

A #SG50ShadesOfGrey tag has gone viral with suggestive posts from Singaporeans

Writer Alvin Pang (above) started the meme #SG50 ShadesOfGrey to send up the erotic movie and to poke fun at life in Singapore. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Writer Alvin Pang (above) started the meme #SG50 ShadesOfGrey to send up the erotic movie and to poke fun at life in Singapore. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Writer Alvin Pang started the meme #SG50 ShadesOfGrey to send up the erotic movie (above) and to poke fun at life in Singapore. -- PHOTO: UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Last Wednesday, writer Alvin Pang urged his social media followers to share short, saucy snippets in a meme that pokes fun at life in Singapore as well as the erotic Fifty Shades Of Grey movie.

The #SG50ShadesOfGrey tag has since gone viral, with thousands of Singaporeans loosening up in innuendo-laced posts that fall just short of Twitterotica.

There have been more than 40,000 posts and more than one million views related to the hashtag on Twitter alone, according to online analytical tools Topsy and Keyhole.

The hashtag was a top trend on Twitter over the weekend and was reported yesterday by BBC Trending, the British broadcaster's online site following social media crazes.

It is adding new lustre overseas to the image of the stereotypical Singaporean, which was, before now, somewhat boring and grey.

Hong Kong has tied itself into the thread with #HK50ShadesOfGrey.

On Sunday, Manila housewife Ana Tan Santos, 47, a friend of Pang's, also started a hashtag for Manila stories which is called #MNL50ShadesOfGrey.

"The Singaporean thread is still way funnier," says Mrs Santos. "Singaporeans are very creative. I love it, you're such a pervy lot."

The Singapore meme was inadvertently launched just as the racy Fifty Shades Of Grey movie opened in cinemas here last week, with the much-hyped sex scenes uncut.

Meme responders offer what seem to be dirty jokes, but are actually spoofs of life in Singapore, making fun of crowded MRT trains, kopitiam coffee versus artisanal brews and other uniquely Singaporean slices of life.

Take, for instance, Pang's first contribution, since retweeted over 1,000 times - "Put it in now!" She gasped. Too late, they shot past the ERP gantry as he fumbled for a cashcard."

Pang, who turns 43 this year and was thinking of Singapore's upcoming 50th birthday celebrations when he suggested the meme on Facebook, said: "I just thought it would be a cool mash-up, a light-hearted look at Singapore. It's like a class writing assignment that has taken off, perhaps the hottest flash mob fiction exercise ever."

Mr Ervin Han, 40, is one of the lead responders to the meme - his first contribution has been shared more than 2,000 times since Valentine's Day. He is not at all surprised that the tag took off here.

"We are squeaky clean, but we're dirty-minded," says the managing director of design and animation production company Robot Playground Media.

His contribution reads: "Her legs shook as waves of pleasure rocked her body. Then the salesman asked, 'Auntie, you buying this Osim chair or not?'"

Like many of those responding to the meme, he has neither watched the movie nor read the bestselling erotic trilogy by E.L. James which inspired the film.

Poet Pooja Nansi, 33, says she responded to the meme because she was tired of the hype surrounding the film and books.

She wrote: "No, NO don't come yet! he panted with urgency. He ran to his car praying the parking auntie hadn't made her rounds."

Writer Christine Chia tried flipping through the books before posting a saucy short on Twitter yesterday. "It's pretty bad even for pornography," says the 36-year-old, who spent much more time reading the contributions to the #SG50ShadesOfGrey meme.

"It's a sign of progress that as a people, we are able to laugh at ourselves," she adds. "We may gripe about the HDB and MRT but we are fundamentally very fond and proud of these institutions, even though there's room for improvement.

"We are frustrated but also attached to these aspects of our life that are particularly Singaporean."


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