Saturday, January 7, 2012

Are Malaysian Chinese Men profile being "emasculated" in the popular media spotlight? A case of mis-perception that needs revising NOW before it's too late. If you're serious about being fair in media, read this.

Am I being made the "villain" in my industry?
Recently, I welcomed a friend who came back from Singapore. He's planning to settle in KL after working in Singapore for 10 years. We had a good talk. Interestingly, we fall into the topic of why being a Chinese male in Malaysia can be quite unwelcoming.You see, he was at the Immigration check-point, and the officer was quite rude to him. But personally, I know how he felt. That's because I myself am aware of this kind of second-class treatment. I've acted in a few Malay drama productions before, and have encountered a few times where I'm being given "the treatment". Don't get me wrong here. This is NOT a complaint or some senseless rant, but merely an honest observation. The purpose of this entry is to help readers be more conscious of how popular media is sub-consciously shaping your mind and perception everyday towards yourself and the society you're placed in now. It's time to be mature and take a mirror for evaluation.

Anyone missing in the picture here?

To Create a Hero, You Must First Conjure a Villain
Especially in the local production, I feel the growing hostility that is quite strange to me at first, but soon I realised the source of it. We can blame the political parties or the media, either way, the Malaysian Chinese Male segment suffered horribly in terms of representation in the entertainment media. I can only speak for my own profile, since it's only fair to write from experience. You see, in any village group - to emerge as a hero, one needs a villain to fight and to blame all sorts of misfortune. And here's where I believe the Chinese male is being lighted and defamed as the villain.. I've encountered many times being treated like a pariah by production managers, even though I have been punctual and remembered my lines correctly. I'm not saying all production managers are like that, but a few too many still exists unfortunately.

A group of multi-racial talents, 
and not even one Malaysian Chinese Man?
All Chinese Men Well-to-Do Meh?
The thing about me - I must find the root cause of being cast as a villain in our multi-racial society. Some people hated me you know, for no rationale reason except that I'm a Malaysian Chinese male. As I delved deeper, I discovered the first most common misperception about the Chinese Male is - they think we are all very well-to-do, rich people. That's the problem about money, a form of hardware. Where on Earth do people from other races think that Chinese men are all from rich backgrounds? This group of people needs to get out from their homes more, and go visit the night market and Chinese food-stalls on the street. They are all Chinese folks trying to earn a meagre living. And you can label them as rich?

Billboard ad, but where's 
my Malaysian Chinese Man?
Apa-apa Saja (Anything goes)
The second reason why Chinese Male are being targeted is because simply we the men just let it happen without consciously realising the subconscious "messages" being transmitted by the media today. We do not make a stand or explain the real situation to certain bigots in our society. What made the situation worst is that there's really a lack of positive media portrayal of the Chinese Male in its proper light to other races (not just among the same race). Personally for me, this year I have a secret resolution to, in my own small way, make other segments of our society to view Chinese Men differently and not in a stereotypical way. My language skills is limited to only good in BM and English. Yet, there's very very limited acting roles for a profile like mine. I consider myself to be the smart and intelligent sort, not the gangster, cina-apek, that the majority of our society is so accustomed to view us in the media. That's why I rejected some of these roles offered: gangster, Japanese soldier, cina apek, typical uncle. Unlike our Female Chinese (ah-moi), they are greatly worshiped on the pedestal. Same as the Malay Male.

Definitely not buying anything there
Lopsided Portrayal of Society in Media
If you go around the city today, you will notice all these giant billboards advertisements. How many Malaysian Chinese men you see being represented in a big, positive way? (not the funny, nerdy, geeky or silly roles) And how many Malaysian Chinese Female and Malay Males being represented in a sophisticated, mature and attractive roles? Plenty. The disparity is so obvious and wide. Is it because there's this some strange code that restricts the Malaysian Chinese Male profile being lifted up to the air and NOT given the proper positive main star representation in mainstream media outlets? Is there some form of dislike from the entertainment and culture ministry that prohibits Malaysian Chinese Men from being portrayed in a big way for any commercial brand? Do you know that only 15% front-camera talent work (which encompasses acting for local TV and advertising) goes to Malaysian Chinese, and more than half of that percentage goes to Chinese Female. An even smaller percentage actually goes to local Malaysian Chinese Male.  If a woman has a lopsided breast, she has to go for operation because that means cancer. If a society has a lopsided portrayal of all societal profiles, that means there's a growing dissent brewing. Consciously or sub-consciously, we need to be aware what is happening. Or else this "cancer" just eats us away. Don't tell me the only "media representation" we, the Malaysian Chinese Male get is through a small drawing in the bear statue below.

The funny little cartoon spot is all we get?
No balance representation in media means no balance everything else
This unbalanced hierarchy of profiles portrayal has seeped into personal relationships as well. I have a Chinese gay friend who totally worships his Malay boyfriend. Everything he gives him. All for the sake of sticking with him. In bed, I asked him who makes the most effort? My Chinese friend said he did all for his Malay boyfriend. And what does his Malay boyfriend do to reciprocate his feelings and goodwill? Nothing. I advised my Chinese friend, there's no point for him to stick it out for him. Do you think you could marry him? Even whatever properties he has can never be shared with you due to the difference in profile. And worst, his boyfriend already feel his position is much more superior than him, thanks in large part to how the media is affirming his image and perceived self-worth. Better lose him and start putting more value in your own self-worth as a Malaysian Chinese Male. Another example is the Malaysian Chinese females, not all, but they are more empowered in many ways than their male counterparts in the media spotlight. I have done business with a few Malaysian Chinese female bosses, and they are all very confident. There's one Chinese male boss however, which I've dealt business before, and perhaps, due to his lack of confidence in himself as a Malaysian Chinese man (perhaps sub-consciously lack of positive representation of his profile in the media today), resorted to cheating me of the pay for some advertising works I've completed for him. Shame on him or forgive him? There are weird bosses festering in our Corporate Malaysia today. And that affects the workers greatly. Our culture and system indirectly profuses the half-hearted attitude towards work, conscious racial profiling and blind pride towards our own self-proclaimed superiority.

I'll buy anything he endorses.
My friend Kumar, from Myanmar.
What you get today is inherited. No self-made man, really.
The third reason other races can taint the image of the Chinese Male profile is because we lack the confidence. I see many of my other Chinese friends being very adherent to the rules and fearful. But that kind of attitude would actually make other people be more daring to put you down. This is a question of confidence. Dare not speak up. Scared to lose their jobs or something in that category. I cannot blame my fellow brothers on this issue, simply because the mainstream media does nothing to uphold the image of the Malaysian Chinese men. Our roles are sort of inherited from our forefathers, so probably the media feels no need to keep up-to-date the change. The Chinese male role is to make money, to become a businessmen and to make more money. But how about some of us who wants to be an actor or be in the arts in our own country, without caring so much about money? Isn't there any opportunity for us to make a decent living like our Malay brethren who are able to make a living in all artistic fields imaginable and excel (even though hardwork is less required on their part)? The solution to all these lopsided-ness is confidence.

Remember we're all on the SAME side
So what is there for a Malaysian Chinese Man to be confident about? At least the very confidence to face the world and attend classy events. Here's where a Personal Development Coach like myself comes in. Not all of us are born rich, yet still exists certain narrow-minded folks in the production field that thinks we are. Yet, many of these attributes that Chinese Men have could be the very reason other people hate us for or even jealous of? But why? What we have could easily be theirs too. Except some political people usually wants to divide us from them through mainstream media. You from me. He from she. Again, I can only speak for myself as a Chinese Male. In so many ways, I feel that we are "emasculated" from our position in the media spotlight, probably out of some unspoken loathe or some unsubstantiated fear (and even hatred). The image concocted by others on us are so lack of depth, borders on the old, tiring and boring stereotypes. It's sickening to watch all our local shows who cannot think beyond their own race, religion and culture. Stop, please. This is affecting my self-image as a Malaysian Chinese Male. I want to be proud of 1Malaysia, but that is not happening at the moment (not superficially, please). Most people don't use their software (mind) because it's harder to think, or maybe they're just too plain lazy? Their brains are hardwired already in the hardware (religion, culture and race). Look around you today. Try to predict what is the "unseen" in the seen. See beyond the obvious. The truth is around us - portrayed in the media now. You look around, decide and take action. Not like my friend who went overseas to work. More like action to change this mainstream perception and break stereotypical roles right now, right here. This is because Malaysia is the only country we have.

Below are the links to my past SUCCESS stories in helping shape my students of all diverse races:
Full Attendance
Fashion Students Showcase
Bigger Class
Taking Students on Roadshows
International Students
Student on Magazine Cover
Student Casting Session for Real Jobs
Students Photo Shoot
Students Performing for Event