ICYMI, controversial Malaysian director Namewee released a film based on real events titled Babi that highlights polarising topics in Malaysia such as abuse of power, racial discrimination, hate speech and sexual exploitation within the backdrop of a multi-racial high school.
The film has since been recognised and even nominated for awards at Berlin International Film Festival, Bangkok International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival and the Golden Horse Award.
Despite its success overseas, the film caused an uproar back in Malaysia. Only a day after news broke of Babi’s success, the Federal Territory PN Youth Information Unit filed a police report against the film, citing that the poster was racially provocative. The reason being that the poster has incendiary words like “Melayu bodoh”, “Cina babi”, and “India k*ling.”
Recently, Namewee broke his silence by uploading a video to his Facebook account titled, “Bodoh ke? Poster filem [BABI] yang dituduh menghina orang” which translates to “Are you stupid? Babi’s movie poster is accused of insulting people”.
In the video, the director expresses his true feelings about the situation that’s currently taking place and how his movie is being received in Malaysia. He begins by stating that once he returns to Malaysia, he will be investigated by authorities.
The video spans 16 minutes but here are the key points…
Babi is meant to promote racial togetherness
Despite what the tabloids are publishing, Namewee sets the record straight by stating his true intentions with the film. Unlike the accusations, Babi is supposed to promote racial togetherness and harmony, not the inverse. By highlighting conflicts that have allegedly happened in the past, Namewee hopes that history would not repeat itself.
Babi isn’t really the insult you think it is
For years, the slur “Cina babi” has been thrown about almost nonchalantly due to its prevalence in our country. The reason for this being that the Chinese have been stereotyped as the main consumers of pork, which is a type of meat that is considered haram by Muslims.
However, to Namewee and other Chinese people, being called “Cina babi” just isn’t insulting anymore. In fact, pigs are just another type of animal created by God. According to the director, he doesn’t care if people were to call him that slur because pigs are actually pretty damn cute.
This mindset does not extend towards the majority of Malaysians though since the title of the film disturbed many Malay-Muslims. Taking the word as an insult, Babi was deemed offensive and even sparked arguments online. Namewee explained that those who have a “filthy heart” will always see the negative in everything, no matter how innocuous the situation is.
Namewee debunks claims and calls out the government’s hypocrisy
As mentioned before, the members of PN filed a police report because they feel Namewee was provoking Malays via his poster. With that, Namewee uses the same logic against them.
In the video, two movie posters, KL Gangster and Hantu Boceng, were displayed due to their commercial success. The director explained that despite the damning images of rempit culture, parangs and guns on the poster, the films were still received well and green-lit for many theatrical releases in Malaysia.
This begs the question: Why does the government understand that these posters do not promote hateful messages for these films, but not for his?
A movie is not solely based on its poster and Namewee is baffled how his poster could be the subject of such scrutiny.
Namewee never submitted his movie to LPF Malaysia
Contrary to popular belief, the film was never submitted to the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia (Lembaga Penapis Filem – LPF). It was only approved for release in Taiwan. Therefore, he couldn’t possibly have bad intentions with the film if it was never meant to be showed in our country in the first place.
He did call out the people who made the police report for wanting attention since they tipped off the media prior to making the report. Namewee then accused them of inciting hatred by manipulating the media since the person who made the report only emphasised the “Melayu bodoh” aspect of the poster, ignoring the other slurs like “Cina babi” and “India k*ling” that were also present.
Since the film was only premiered at festivals and in Taiwan, the film is garnering minimal revenue. Using his own pocket money and investing all his time and energy, Namewee didn’t expect to get a return of investment. His goal was only to spread the message of the movie and let everyone know the problems Malaysia has with racial inequality.
Namewee had to venture outside of Malaysia to gain success
He then called out the LPF for being too conservative and preserving the old generation instead of welcoming youths to screen films. To Namewee, submitting Babi would be a waste of time, for he knew the executives would never approve of such a controversial and evocative film.
Therefore, he believes that if this persists, Malaysia would never progress. Instead we’d be watching the same recycled, trashy romcoms and absurd horror films that bring no substance or discussions to the table.
That is why he ventured out of Malaysia to continue his passion, for he believes that he could never gain success staying in a country that represses him.
Namewee disproves racist claims
He mentions how he’s always been a participating member of society by donating to several charities, including Malay orphanages.
Other than that, he always collaborates with Malay artists and actors for his films, even including Bahasa Melayu subtitles for all of his works.
Above all, Namewee says that he always declares himself as a Malaysian when he accepts awards and praise.
Namewee addresses his past
As an outspoken critic of the government since he entered the public spotlight years ago with his song ‘Negarakuku’ that parodied the national anthem, Namewee’s reputation has been tarnished by media coverage that paints him as a racist and anti-nationalist. Because of that, his work has been severely affected since Malaysians have a negative and warped perspective of him.
According to him, he has not been able to release his album in Malaysia for the past 10 years due to the sensitivity of Malaysians.
As a final parting message, he thanks his crew and cast members for helping him realise his dream as well as pleads for those who are watching to not follow in the current footsteps of our film industry. He challenges others to think outside the box and create art that truly makes a difference.
Watch Namewee’s rant in-full below: