If you are an avid fan of the P Ramlee movies, especially the comedies, you would not be surprised to discover that the man uses a lot of what would be considered coarse and harsh language today. For example, the infamous “kepala hotak kau berjambul” that does not make any sense what so ever was probably first heard in Seniman Bujang Lapok when the manager, Kemat Hassan scolded a subordinate who could not make it to work that day. It seemed perfectly fine, in fact it incites an intense want to just laugh out loud. It was full of camaraderie and we felt comfortable in the zone. However, have that similar line pronounced by one of our comics today, the rule would be this is a PG13 movie for its harsh or (horror!) vulgar language. Looks like the movies today have been cleaned up or have it not? So, did we just grow much sensitive or did we just decide to think that we’re much more civilised nowadays?
Having read The Malaysian Way of Life where there is one cleverly written article by someone I could not bother to look up now, it was deduced that Malay Language is probably one of the very few languages in the world that does not portray any foul words when it is used in the media which is pretty much on the contrary for many of the users of the language itself. Self censorship is pretty much non-existent and thus signifying why the ubiquitous way of parents punishing their child by “cilikan” their mouth for experimenting with some of the restricted words. It would suffice to say that many of the words used has connections to the genitalia of either male or female or even references to sexual connotations.
But just as the F word in English Language dictionary has developed itself to now be a noun, adjective, adverb from its former function as a verb, the Malay Language has also found its own way to say things in a twofold way that it brings subtle double meanings. So you can restrict what they say in a straight forward manner but you can’t stop them from implying something because they could say it was perfectly innocent. Cunning eyh? Indeed, man finds a way to do what it wants even when it doesn’t appear so. For example, take this scene in the movie MySpy that I watched in the cinemas last year:
Scene: AC and Harun were trapped in a refrigerator without bare minimum clothing on their back. In order to overcome the chill, they decided to hug each other. This was what they said
AC: Kau ada rasa apa-apa tak?
Harun: Kau rasa apa? Aku ada juga terasa...
AC: Kau rasa apa??
Harun: Adalah sesuatu...
The rest of the movie was also filled with dialogues as such and as a movie-goer, it is not inaccurate to point out that elements of racial defamatory, female discrimination, homophobia and discrimination against transgender would be the jokes to poke our hearts in current movies. Needless to say, such kitsch brand of comedy just does not work with me and I reckon also towards a majority of other spectators. However, it is the small kids nowadays that grow up watching these movies that we should worry about because in our effort to stop our children from cursing, we are teaching them to be bigots. Teaching them that when a man hugs another man, there is surely something to worry about. That women who do not have a pretty face cannot wear decent clothing. This stereotype, that perception which now seem to colour the landscape of our current society.
It’s time we rethink what are the underlying values of our societies, whether it is alright to laugh at things that we ought not to because in the end, it is not what you say but how you say it.