Friday, April 24, 2009

Representing Malay culture, notes #1

Watch the clip below, from P. Ramlee's "Sumpah Orang Minyak" ("Curse of the Texas Oil-man").



The Malays are represented as subservient, obedient, and silent -- reproduced by the feudal structure. The women are good at entertaining the court. The men are spectators. The lyrics say that a "dirty rag" is to be given to wipe the tears away ("kain lah yang buruk/kain yang buruk/ berikan saya/buat menyapu/buat menyapu si air mata). Even "tears" are personified as something alien to the person shedding the tears.

The poor and the powerless deserve old and dirty rags to wipe off his/her sorrow of being aleinated in a world he/she labors in to help glorify the world of the rich and powerful.

The theme of subjugation, alienation, and subservience is played throughout the ages in structuring the consciousness of the Malays.

In the video, the faces of the masses are depressed, dull, universalizing, and one-dimensional whereas the hero, or anti-hero, is fashioned with the look of a bendahara, well-groomed and ready to dominate the masses using the manifestations of his authoritarian personality.


One ought to study the Power/Knowledge matrix of cultural construction to get to the dialectics and dialogics of dehumanization.

What is the film-maker's role in this scheme of storytelling -- is he representing reality, perpetuating hegemony, or distorting truth?

Was P. Ramlee the media strategist an apologist to the bourgeoisie-ness of the Oriental Despotic Malay mode of production?

3 comments:

T H E . M A L A Y . P R E S S said...

im currently working on this bro...insyaAllah ill publish it once approved. im with u on this!

Tamerlane said...

What about madu tiga? Do all the malays look depressed? what about that movie whatever its name where he tries to be arabian in goheadgostan. I dont think you can judge malay culture from one p ramlee movie or genre of film. A filmaker has to take ito o consideration his target audience, ROI, socio political sentiments and also make money at the end of the day.Not all malay will tikam mata with a garpu over a love lost and not every indian will be dancing in the street when it rains after a tamil film. unfortunately,many still try to be sivaji the boss..

Anonymous said...

My take on this is very clear. P Ramlie and his contemporary had done their best to create awareness in the way they knew best but typical Melayu mindset which are still prevailing from Batang Ai to Kuala Lumpur, the Melayu love to watch P Ramlie and to most of them it is a joke for them to laugh at and that's it.
Must we blame P Ramlie and his gang for failing to communicate to their audience or is there something which is much stronger that nothing can penetrate the Malays mind as at now till for the next 20, 30,50 years or at infinity.
Good Luck Dr, been there done that!!! Berkorban apa saja - what a fun to be Malaysian.

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