YouTubers Preetipls, whose real name is Preeti Nair, and her brother Subhas were made to issue an apology “for any hurt” caused by their satirical video created to criticize a NETS E-pay advertisement. They were also given a conditional warning by the police.
In the advertisement by NETS, actor Dennis Chew, who is ethnically Chinese, was dressed up as four different characters – including an Indian man and a Malay woman. For this, his face was darkened with make up and he posed in a hijab.
In response to the ad, Preeti and Subhas Nair released a satirical music video called K. Muthusamy – after the name given to the Indian character in the Nets advert. The music was a parody of Iggy Azalea’s “F*ck It Up”.
Following a strong backlash, Havas (the agency behind the ad) and Dennis issued an apology statement where they apologized for “any hurt that was unintentionally caused” aka “sorry you’re offended”.
“The message behind this advertising campaign is that e-payment is for everyone. For that reason, Dennis Chew, well-known for his ability to portray multiple characters in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of the campaign… We’re sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused.”Havas
The rappers also issued a similar apology, highlighting the insincerity of the above non-apology.
“The message behind this music video is that opportunities must be for everyone. For that reason, K Muthusamy, well-known for his ability to address privilege, power and censorship in a single production in a light-hearted way, was selected as the face of this music video… We’re sorry for any hurt that was unintentionally caused.”Preetipls & Subhas Nair
The Government’s overreaction
Of course, the government had to over react to a satire video, pointing out a whole “slippery slope” argument and requesting that all social media platforms blocked the video from being viewed in Singapore.
“Let’s say a Chinese now does a video attacking Indians, Malays using four-letter words, vulgar gestures, same kind of videos,” he told Channel News Asia. “And let’s say there are hundreds of thousands of such videos. How do you think the Indians and the Malays will feel? Would people feel safe? Would the minorities feel safe?”Minister Shanmugam
The rappers were also then called out for their “insincere” apology, and as of yesterday (14 August), they were given a conditional warning by the police.
In light of the above incident, a Facebook spokesperson informs that “Our Community Standards outline what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook and we remove content that violates these standards when we become aware of it. There are also times when we may have to restrict access to content because it violates a law in a particular country, even though it doesn’t violate our community standards.”
Exactly, the video doesn’t violate community standards. There was nothing wrong with what the video said in the first place. First of all, the vulgarities were based off Iggy Azalea’s original music, which was slain with vulgarities in the first place. That is what a parody is, taking the key characteristics of a song (usually the melody and key lyrics/rhymes) and putting it in a different context. Anyway, rap music is often filled with vulgarities. Do you mean to tell me that the siblings would not have gotten into trouble if they chose a song with less vulgarities?
Secondly, the song was sung in response to a more serious mistake made by NETS. It was meant to call out mistakes that the majority race consistently makes time and time again. And when they do, they just merely issue some non-apology hinting that you are being too sensitive. Why did the government make the music video a bigger issue than that of the NETS advertisement?
Thirdly, so apparently only those on the government’s side can issue a non-apology and not be called out for being “insincere”. Anyone going against them cannot do the same. Come on, if you expect a sincere apology, least you could do is issue a sincere apology. Apologize for being unaware/uninformed, not for the hurt you “unintentionally” caused.
Well, such a double standard is just a feature of our government today isn’t it?