On 29 February, together Pineapple Concerts and Erykah Badu announced that the latter’s performance had been officially cancelled at what would have been the venue itself, KLCC’s Plenary Hall, on event date. A day after regional internet meme Dr. Rais Yatim announced the ban on Twitter. JUICE wasn’t surprised. Normally it would be a negative to be so blasé about arbitrary bans, but here we’ve become acclimatised to such occurrence. We have had a long history of restrictions and outright bans due to arbitrary reasoning — most comical when the authorities told a certain sterile rap rock band, out of all rock acts out there, to restrain themselves from jumping around on stage too much.
Strangely though, there have been acts who could have come under scrutiny of our moral police, yet they went under the radar and managed to perform anyway — probably because of their niche demographics and smaller scale gigs. Badu wasn’t the first time we made international news for reasons beyond having the tallest this or the biggest that, we could offer you a list but readers would tell us off for daring to address issues beyond nightlife and entertainment. So without further glib commentary, we’re sticking to exactly just that and offer you…
REASON FOR BAN: ALLAH BODY ART
MEDIA COVERAGE: INTERNATIONAL — FROM MUSIC SITES LIKE PITCHFORK TO BBC NEWS
Pineapple Concerts have been trying to bring Ms. Badu to our shores since the second Sunburst, which was almost successful until she cancelled last minute. Fortunately the frequently problem-addled event organiser finally managed to bring her to Malaysia… unfortunately, after much hype and nearing event date, an English paper made the mistake of printing the promo picture without editing out the Arabic word for god, which predates Islam and used by non-Muslims even now too, from the picture. The rest of the story is as you heard (our personal opinion can be found in the Last Word column of this issue). If there were any positive from this ban, the ever entertaining #yorais became a trending topic again. Congratulations to Dr. Rais Yatim are in order for being the first Malaysian to be named on Pitchfork – that makes him, what, hipper than even Yuna?
REASON FOR BAN: A CONSEQUENCE OF THE WHOLE BLACK METAL BROUHAHA
MEDIA COVERAGE: BOTH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SITES AND NEWS PUBLICATIONS
The unfortunate black metal witch hunt resulted in years-long aftershock. One of its effects felt years later was the banning of 228 metal bands, which included legends Metallica. JUICE isn’t sure how Metallica is considered black metal, but according to the National Fatwa Council, their use of inverted cross went against the teaching of Islam and might propel one out of the religion. No s#it Sherlock to the former, and the latter just deserves a facepalm. If your faith is to flaky that the desecrated symbol of another religion could convince you to abandon your religion, then you never had much of a faith in the first place. However Metallica was supposed to perform in Malaysia last year but they cancelled the show. We’re unsure whether the ban is still in effect.
BEYONCE & RIHANNA
REASON FOR BAN: TOO SEXY
MEDIA COVERAGE: INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL
Beyonce and Rihanna, being pop stars of the voluptuous and sexy sort, were easy target for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic party (PAS). Deemed too sexy for Malaysia (according to 1 youth PAS leader, support Rihanna equated to supporting Israel), they were initially imposed with a regulation to dress decently, but we wager they felt like that would defeat the entire purpose of their live act. While technically there wasn’t an outright ban, both cancelled their appearance in Malaysia.
REASON FOR BAN: QUESTIONING WHO DR. MAHATHIR IS
MEDIA COVERAGE: LOCAL POLITICAL COMMENTARIES
Quite possibly the most badass reason to get banned. M Nasir rhetorically asked “Siapa Mahathir? (who is Mahathir?)” when questioned by the press why he cancelled his performance at an event in 1996 even though Mahathir will be attending. M Nasir went missing from television and the stage for quite some time and if he weren’t already a legend then, he immediately became one.
SEARCH & WINGS
REASON FOR BAN: HAVING LONGHAIR AT ONE POINT
MEDIA COVERAGE: LOCAL
Malaysia has been attempting to “promote healthy values” since early on. Back in the glory days of rock kapak, Search and Wings were unstoppable proper rock gods – the kind you thought only existed in the States. This was oddly during the peak of Malaysia’s Islamicisation and moralising; the late ‘90s. Naturally the 2 bands were imposed with a weird ban from performing on national TV channel RTM due to, get this, sporting long locks. Initially resistant to the regulation, they refused to cut their hair in fear of losing their rock credibility to their fans. Eventually frontmen Amy and Awie agreed for a live haircut on RTM by the then Information Minister, Mohamad Rahmat. This was all for nothing though, RTM didn’t stay true to their words.
REASON FOR BAND: EXTREME PERFORMANCE
MEDIA COVERAGE: NO ONE CARED SAVED FOR THEIR DIEHARD FANS… AND HARIAN METRO
Most famous for appearing on the front cover of Harian Metro due to their apparent talent in corrupting the Malay youth with vulgar lyrics, Ben’s B!tches were also known for trashing the crap out of Paul’s Place’s stage – destroying their own equipment along with whatever else was on stage. This cult punk band has continued the tradition of being rowdy on stage at anywhere from a Jack Daniel’s sponsored concert to oddly even a Justea event, all resulted in them getting kicked off stage. While there was never an explicit ban on the group, there was an unspoken rule among smaller live venue operators to never invite the band. Until they’re replaced by the band’s friends that is.
REASON FOR BAN: GOING TOPLESS AND SHOWING SUPERMAN BODY ART
MEDIA COVERAGE: LOCAL MEDIA — GOSSIP RAGS
Malaysia’s sensitive moral police are not just averse to seeing the bare body of a female artiste, they get aroused by men too. Faizal Tahir invoked controversy when he hilariously took off his shirt during 8tv’s fourth anniversary to reveal a Superman insignia on his bare chest – guy has a Clark Kent fixation. Consequently, 8tv’s license to air live shows and delayed telecast was revoked for 3 months, and Faizal was banned from appearing on TV and the stage. Months after his ban was lifted, the mufti of Perlis, whom we wager was titillated by Faizal’s bare chest, issued a grievance to TV3 for scheduling Faizal for a performance at Konsert Jom Heboh.
REASON FOR BAN: PROMOTING ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ VALUES
MEDIA COVERAGE: LOCAL AND METAL SITES
Norwegian black metal band Mayhem would have gotten to perform here had it not been advertised in a local daily. Again citing “unacceptable values” as the reason for their ban, Deputy Cultural, Arts and Heritage Minister said he had listened to the band’s lyrics and was disgusted by them. Their slogan ‘bringing hell to your doorstep’ was seen as endorsing satanic worship, because authorities take everything literally.