News and Fun 2006

From Peter Hassan Brown | blog

(Before you read on – the secret is out: THERE IS CENSORSHIP ON THE NET! I tried to send this out as “Sex, Lies & Black Metal” but it didn’t go out. So I altered the title to: “Black Metal part 2”. But it still didn’t go out…but this one was sent out…draw your own conclusions)

{wt} – probably a tmnet add-on to your email client, or a keyword blocker on the tmnet mail server.

Hi there

Gong Si Fa Chi – a Happy New Year to everyone

I don’t normally touch on social issues because I am a foreigner and I consider it a breach of etiquette to criticise the country that has been kind and generous enough to play host to me and give me a place to live and breathe and work. Thank you Malaysia, I’m really sincerely very grateful.

But sometimes things make you feel so angry and frustrated that you feel you really must speak (or rather write) out to get it off your chest.

As a result of what happened on New Years Eve we independent musicians are in a predicament and we have to help ourselves and each other to find a way out of it. So it seemed a shame that only 50 guys turned up for the meeting at Paul’s Place last Saturday afternoon, and most of them were more than half-an hour late. No journalists came except one who was a sometime member of an alternative band. Other journalists who had an interest in the scene as band members or followers of music did not show up – or maybe they didn’t know about it. During the meeting a pro-tem committee was formed with veteran undergroundie Joe Kidd as president, to represent the interests of Independent musicians and bands and also to make Paul’s Place into a club to get round this Entertainment Law.

That’s a very good move and a very constructive way to go. But at risk of being a grouch and a spanner, it doesn’t seem to me to be facing one main issue. Which is: How can I or anyone else as an event organiser put on an event if I can’t even publicise it because it’s not allowed to be open to the public? That’s the problem as I see it. I must be able to get a permit in a place that’s alcohol free to put on a show featuring bands of all kinds without being accused of encouraging people of a certain religion or under age to drink liquour, and without the gig being slandered and libeled as a Black Metal gig by irresponsible journalists and editors. Last week one national newspaper printed that “the organiser of the Black Metal gig at PP was charged yesterday with…” As this term Black Metal has been identified in the public’s minds as associated with devil, worship and the ritual slaughter of virgins (courtesy of a film that was shown on TV1 two weeks ago) then the use of this phrase (without “alleged” in front of it) is surely defamatory – is it not? – you lawyers tell me.

Also laws have to be equitably administered and enforced: I doubt if any authorities bothered that girl friends and boyfriends were sitting together at the recent gig by Peter Pan. So why are they making an issue of sexes mixing at Paul’s Place? Why is this issue of sexual morality being raised, when magazines targetting teens and twenties are allowed to publish the results of “surveys” indicating that their readers are having a lot of fun changing partners and experimenting with kinky sex – and the message is: it’s really cool – when at the same time it’s not really cool to play the music you really like in front of an audience who’ve not come to lick each other’s whatevers but just to innocently enjoy the music.

Or is it just the moneyed English speaking elite who have freedom. If you’re orang miskin you get picked up in the park for holding hands and condemned as Satanists if you dare choose your own music to play. This is a very selective society with a very uneven playground it seems to me. These magazine publishers never get the moral squad coming in to their offices and raiding them – they never seem to have any problem with censorship. Yet if some youngsters are selling “Zines” they have done a few copies of on their home computer, or T-shirts or CDs even those with holograms, they get arrested and possibly prosecuted (we have to wait until 30th for the news about that) for contravening the Printing and Publications Act.

Anyway to get back to the gnitty gritty about problems faced by us independent geezers – another matter is that we not only need to turn up to meetings in support of our cause but also if the music is to survive we have to support it by getting out our wallets. Paul has spent a huge amount on PP and it’s running costs even in the normal times are quite considerable. If 30,000 ordinary Malaysians can fork out RM40 to go and see a band like Peter Pan that’s not really anything special (according to people I’ve talked to), then we ought to be able to pay RM20 at least for a several band gig at PP. It was encouraging that the gig on 31st December netted more than 200 punters – so there definitely is the support – we just have to rally it and keep it on the boil as it were.

(I have to say these are just my views – they are not necessarily endorsed by others among the independent music scene)

A footnote on the Fatwa (nice alliteration that)… Today there was issued a fatwa, declaring, according to the newspaper, that “merely listening to heavy metal music was not wrong,” but that “devil worship, free sex, drinking liquor, defiling the holy book and other acts against Islam” are what is causing the problem amongst youth. So what is the necessity of a fatwa when all these things have been traditionally haram in Islam? The NFC declares that the Black Metal Cult (whatever this is) is a “deviationist teaching”…In other words it’s a wrong form of Islam?! My goodness I never knew that all these guys in Mayhem and Venom and their fans were deviationist Muslims. They’ve kept it very secret all this time!

Who are these cult followers in Malaysia? Do they exist outside the imaginings of film directors and newspaper writers? Certainly no-one that we know who is in a hardcore or heavy metal band is involved in this kind of culture: drinking goat’s blood, having ritual sex with virgins, tearing up or burning holy texts. They are just ordinary Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Christian young people who follow their religion correctly but have a passion for music. There is no evidence at all that listening or playing this music leads people to engage in Black Metal Culture as described luridly in the press and presented in TV dramas. Why should we all be penalised because of this hysteria?

Peter Hassan Brown can be contacted at lemang@tm.net.my.

    • Shane
    • April 3rd, 2006

    I think Malaysia still has some way to go in terms of dealing with what you just talked about. Reading your first paragraph on “Sex Lies and Blackmetal” brought to mind a Singaporean band called the UnXpected. They’re a decent pub band, also band-for-hire, and maintain a fairly popular blog called Sex Lies and Radiohead.

    http://sexliesandradiohead.liquidblade.com

    the way singaporeans deal with this kind of censorship, from my observation as a foreigner, is to do things underground. But i’ve a feeling the singaporean government is a lot more resilient than they portray themselves to be – as in, there’s a lot of “close one eye” going on.

    i just hope that internet censorship in malaysia is not as bad as what’s happening in china.

    hang in there, mate ;-)

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