copyright by Morgan McFinn
Pubic Publicity Stunt(ed)
ewspapers do not belong in restaurants. They may well be the equivalent of junk food for the mind, and reading one while eating can result in a fit of choking.
One such fit befell me during lunch this afternoon. It was a consequence of attempting to swallow a crispy morsel of deep fried chicken while simultaneously perusing a revolting cutlet of tittle-tattle from the Bangkok Post. The story was entitled, “Singapore Actor Fined for Obscenity,” and it was written by that remarkably prolific reporter named Reuters.
Very little that is worth knowing, and virtually everything that is not worth knowing has a space in the daily newspapers thanks to the omniscient Mr. Reuters. Being unaware of Reuters’ first name, I have perhaps mistakenly assumed he’s a he when, in fact, she’s a she. No doubt, this assumption on my part is an outgrowth of my male chauvinistic bigotry. So, Reuters, if your name is Rita, please forgive me. Ralph, however, seems a name better suited for this particular report.
The story has to do with a part-time actor who was fined for having exposed a portion of his buttocks and snipping off his pubic hair. The incident occurred at a Singapore shopping mall. The actor is reported to have described his performance as, “A spontaneous and three dimensional fine arts act."
Fine arts act, indeed.
The fine part amounted to 1,000 Singapore dollars.
A one-month holiday in a local jail cell is behind door number two if the self-shorn gentleman happens to have lost his wallet while his pants were down.
As if that weren’t punishment enough, Ralph reports that the young man—who, by the way, is also a navy sergeant—has been banned from performing again in public. In other words, from this point on, whenever the sergeant's privates exhibit that grubby-looking five o'clock shadow, he'll have to prune the plume in his room. Pretty harsh treatment if you ask me.
Mr. Reuters writes, "His arrest had raised fresh questions about Singapore's ability to open its doors to modern art."
I would fully agree with that statement, except I wonder why he wrote "had raised" instead of "has raised." In either case, I'm sure that the questions raised were fresh. Ralph concludes his objective communiqué by noting, "The authorities say they want art and entertainment to flourish but do not want it to corrupt what they term basic values."
Even a dimwit could read between the lines to realize that Ralph is chiding the government of Singapore.
And as well he might. Basic values my foot.
Just who the hell (or would they have me say "heck") do you people think you are? It's positively appalling. By God (oops, by gosh), I'll venture so far as to ordain it downright obscene that in a so-called civilized country like Singapore, an avant-garde artist is penalized for snipping his pubic hair in public.
What's next? Banning avant-garde bowel movements?
Just who do you people think you are? Or, have I already asked that question? Well, too bad. It's a question that bares reiteration. I mean, get on the bandwagon folks. Art is art.
I'm going to look up the word "art" in my dictionary, right now. Just a moment…. Okay . . . here it is. "Art, n. An appealing, attractive object; any of the fine arts, esp. painting, drawing, sculpture; skill."
Yes . . . well, I apparently am in possession of an uncultivated catalogue of definitions. Another moment, please, while I look up the term avant-garde in my French-English dictionary. All right . . . here we go. “Avant-garde, n. people with the latest inventive ideas."
Voila! Well now, I mean, bless those French.
Couple that with the part about "skill" from the old fogey definition of "art" and you should have a fairly good notion of what the beleaguered naval sergeant was trying to accomplish.
Allow me to spell it out for you backwater flounders from Singapore. The fellow is an avant-garde artist. As these terms are properly defined, he is a man who has a skill for dramatizing the latest inventive ideas.
Can you people possibly deny that exposing buttocks and snipping one's pubic hair at a shopping mall is an inventive idea?
Furthermore, stand up and be counted if you'd like to discredit the assertion that such a performance, especially when "spontaneous and three-dimensional" requires a great deal of skill.
This is certainly not the sort of handicraft you could expect to achieve with a chainsaw.
I'll have you know that I think the young man is a pioneer. His groundbreaking inventiveness may very well unleash upon the expanding wilderness of modern art a plethora of human industry that was, heretofore, considered commonplace fiddle sticks. This could develop into a huge cottage industry of anthropological customs that man has long yearned to promote towards the threshold of art.
Why not admit the public disposition of bowel movements into the arena of artistic performance?
Elitist snobbery, that's why not.
Do you realize how many people have been struggling to produce bowel movements their entire lives with nary a nod of recognition? Perhaps you would object on the basis that this is an activity requiring little effort.
Then obviously you’ve never eaten at a Polish joint named Waluda's on the North Side of Chicago. A meal or two there and you'll change your tune.
Suppose the citizens of Singapore were to refrain from producing bowel movements as a means of protesting their government's tyranny of "basic values.”
That sort of boycott could bring the nation to its knees.
No, no, no. If you really want art and entertainment to flourish, then you must rouse yourselves from the stupor of your old fashioned Asian dogma and follow the lead of the enlightened American-government-subsidized art community. That confederacy of avant-garde deviates has served up oodles of artistic and entertaining controversy for worldwide consumption.
And believe me, we who have been force fed those victuals are in no mood to refrain from voiding our cognitive bowels.
Law and order is one thing. No, excuse me. Law and order are two things. Let's say discipline is one thing. But surely art, as it is celebrated in the modern Western world, is quite something else.
Controversy, not creativity, is now the soul of art.
"Cane" a little bit of anarchy be too much to ask?
Get off your high horses you magistrates of Singapore, and join us at the trough.