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the simple life

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Film / Singapore GaGa

Singapore GaGa is a treat.

Hours after it ended, friends were still making references to the documentary and making inquires of the One-Dollar Tissue Lady.

At its purest level, it is a documentary disguised as a comedy, giving it the best possible chance of reaching a mainstream audience. Not many can resist missing out on our audacious National Treasure, Ying the juggler; the musicality of Yew Hong Chow whose voice itself is a generous instrument and the irresistible One-Dollar Tissue Lady who is above everything, a survivor.

But it is beyond this physical level where it touches the sublime.

Melvyn the busker opens the film. A song. The heart-breaking Wasted Days and Wasted Nights. The distant, profile view of the camera is intense and culminates in the reverberating "Why should I keep loving you/ When I know that you're not true?

Someone said Singapore GaGa is a love song to Singapore. For me, it must be one of those bittersweet ones, frustrating yet stubbornly hopeful, and raises more questions than answers.

Why should I keep loving Singapore? The question stuck in my head. The film refuse to yield, prodding along, teasing, charming me with its quirkiness and ends up again with Wasted Days and Wasted Nights and had me laughing again at the post-credits sequence.

Eventually, I found my answer. I had to first overcome some preconceptions. I was expecting the people in the film to tell me how they love this country, despite being ignored, prejudiced against, lambasted and exiled outside the confines of the mainstream. That wasn't the case.

I had to also understand what love for a country was. A GaGa kind of love? Perhaps the title is unfortunate. It was more likely a love more commonly associated with the older generation, signifying commitment rather than desire and the long haul rather than gratification. It could also be a love in spite of. Love without conditions. Agape love perhaps?

The people in the film are simply amazing. They all have deep passions; whether its Jesus, music, singing, performing, life partners or Singapore. In most cases, its a love that is unrequited and unresponsive. But our heroes are unrepentant; they love and stay in love through thick and thin. They busk, they sing, they juggle, they teach, they take care of their mates, they praise the Lord; they don't give up.

Why should I keep loving Singapore? Perhaps because I'm committed to. I was born here and maybe that's good enough. And like our heroes in the film, I should love her despite her deep insecurities, her bureaucratic failings, her false pretences, her confusing contractions and her hurtful disregard and contempt for me.

Singapore GaGa? Maybe not. But I'm learning to love.


At 7/07/2005 01:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got it sir. Everything in a nutshell. I think I see a nail on a head.

S Tan


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