On Malaysian tv, whenever a man and woman who are alone draw close, the scene cuts to them having breakfast the next morning. After watching late night tv here, I've just discovered that I've missed a lot of scenes through the years. Late night tv spares nothing.
It's a bit of a culture shock because I've been sheltered from what is 'inappropriate' for a long time. In Malaysia, there is a lot of debate and jokes over what is appropriate and not appropriate. My friend who works in advertising was raging about how shooting a deodarant ad is one of the most challenging jobs in the industry. Here's why.
There are few things here that are out of bounds. The open and intelligent debate about things that would naturally be swept under the carpet, is refreshing. But on the flip side, when it's no holds barred, I'm sometimes exposed to things that I don't want to be exposed to and I'm incensed by the debating of issues I think need no debating. Personally, I believe the needs of society trumps the need of the individual, a collective thinking generally attributed to Asians. But the problem is that in these times when society itself is dynamic and torn over polarising issues, what society wants is hard to distinguish.
But back to tv. Even watching Masterchef is a minefield. Not because of Masterchef, but the ads in between which show steamy clips from other shows, ads of tampons, etc. (I guess 8pm is late night for Aussie kids who are supposed to be in bed by 7pm) When the ads are about bodily functions that Number One as yet does not know of, I can see the frown as his mind processes the ad and thinks that things do not add up.
I encountered a toughie last week. An ad appeared for a programme called Can of Worms, where a controversial question is asked and a panel is required to answer Yes or No with no fence sitting allowed. It was advertising its next question.
spells out the ad.
"Is it a normal, healthy part of adult life?'
As I inwardly groan, he asks, "What is porn?"
"It is..errr.. a type of movie," I say.
I hold my breath and pray, "Don't ask me what type of movie, don't ask me what type of movie..."
Fortunately, he didn't... but my breath is still held, waiting for the other shoe to drop.