A Status Report On ‘Racism’ In Singapore 2017 Re The Inimitable Case Of Shrey Bhargava
Looking down from above, Singapore’s founding fathers would doubtless be tickled pink if asked to give their report card on the 2017 status of race relations in Little Red Dot. They would unhesitatingly declaim: what nation in the world today wouldn’t love to have the type of prevailing ‘racist’ problems that presently haunt the multi-cultural city state. For if the ‘racial’ incident highlighted by Mr. Shrey Bhargava along with the eristic storm that followed, is emblematic of the sort of modern-day ‘racism’ plaguing the heterogenous island state, then, tiny Singapore is indeed blessed and in good shape. More on the details of Mr. Bhargava’s bellyaching of racism later … but going by what happened here, it appears the 50-odd-year policy of government-enforced peaceful co-existence for its various races is paying off and bodes well for the future of race relations for the next 50 in the nation.
Now, why do I term it ‘blessed’ with respect to the Bhargava sort of ‘racism’ in Singapore? Well, the answer will be self-evident by way of contrast in the following comparison. Lately, two notable incidents of racism in the U.S. — one in LA, the other in Denver in the same time period in late May as Mr. Bhargava’s infamous ‘racism’ incident in Singapore — point to the prevalence and depth of day-to-day racism in America 250 years into its race-relation management/experiment. The first involved Lebron James. He is the current African-American NBA superstar, the next Michael Jordan of basketball. His newly purchased $20-million gated home in Los Angeles was vandalized with N-word graffiti spray-painted on its entrance gate. The second concerned a Caucasian sports columnist of the Denver Post. Terry Frei, a 7-time state sportswriter of the year, sounded off on Tweeter his disapproval of the winner of the recently completed Indy 500 — the premiere Formula One-type auto racing in America — all because for the first time in its 100-plus-year auto-racing history, the 2017 winner happened to be a Japanese. Terry Frei’s subsequent half-hearted apology wasn’t enough to save his job.
So now let’s take a moment to review what actually did happen to Mr. Bhargava and the firestorm of controversy it generated. In a nutshell, the allegation of racism raised by Mr. Bhargava boils down to a case of auditioneer’s remorse. To better explain it by analogy, it’s likened to a part-time porn-star scrupling over whether to go through the action but accepted the shoot nonetheless only to subsequently fault the casting director for demeaning her dignity and self-worth. Mr. Bhargava, an aspiring Singaporean Indian actor, considers his being told by an audition director — a local Singaporean Chinese — to more vigorously portray the role of a ‘full-blown Indian man’ to be insulting, demeaning and racist. Initially, he hesitated for a moment or two but accepted the role just the same as instructed only to regret it, and cry foul and level charges of racism.
But don’t get me wrong here about my being dismissive of Mr. Shrey Bhargava’s ululations. He’s certainly entitled to his take on racism and to airing his personal sensibilities over the matter — it’s all good. However, on this particular controversy of alleged racism, the defining line is clearly drawn between the conservative and the liberal opinion-makers of the day, being respectively exemplified by the SBB and the SFL camps. [ Usage note on acronyms per my definition: SBB, short for Singapore Barbie with Brains aka blogger Xiaxue whose hard-hitting, cogent broadside against the alleged racism takes the cake as opposed to the Singapore Flaming Liberal (SFL) camp typified by playwright Alfian Sa’at’s wishy-washy pro-Bhargava treacle posted on his FB June 1. ]
Finally FWIW, here’s a not so facetious test extracted from one of my recent articles on evaluating if you are a ‘natural racist’… caveat: sample it at your own peril:-)
(Postscript: here’s some food for thought for Singaporean movie director Jack Neo of ‘Ah Boys To Men’ series fame … I suppose it would now seem inadvisable to even consider hiring Shrey Bhargava for his auditioned role in the said movie, in view of all the negative publicity he has ginned up. But I believe the opposite is true here; that he be hired precisely for that counter-intuitive reason, i.e., the PR per se justifies it … provided Shrey the upstanding Indian young actor proved himself versatile enough — that would mean his executing beautifully the exaggerated role of a ‘full-blown Indian man’ if need be for the above comedy film as per the director’s specification.)