Sharifah Amani, Yasmin Ahmad and the Critics


Recently, another product of Yasmin Ahmad, her own Audrey Hepburn, was sliced, diced and skewed from all sides after her winning speech at the 19th Festival Filem Malaysia Award ceremony. This has again increased my received email number, when we start debating about the incident. And it had turned ugly, really ugly.

For the uninitiated, Sharifah Amani, winner of this year’s Best Actress in FFM 19 said these following words:
I sound stupid if I speak in Malay“, and ;
kalau filem Malaysia mencemar budaya, let’s do it more often“.

I admit, what she said was wrongly sentenced and not supposed to be said during the said ceremony, or any grand ceremonies alike, especially the first sentence. I believe that’s the one which sparked this blaze and the second sentence, was just an innocent bystander.

I am disagreeing with her saying “I sound stupid if I speak in Malay“, but defend her saying “kalau filem Malaysia mencemar budaya, let’s do it more often“. She does have a point, and it’s a sentence said by the best FFM 19 actress that would shatter the ego of those who slammed Yasmin Ahmad‘s other works.

For the record, Sharifah Amani made a public apology.

The thing that got me pissed off was how we all reacted to it. I’m not pointing any fingers, so let’s use ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ or ‘they’. Have we all read what we wrote, and listen to what we said?

This is another case of typical Malaysian sesitivity. And most of us flaring up in this case are, indeed, the ever-so-sensitive Malays.

It’s nothing wrong to get mad about something. Everybody does. It’s how we handle anger that shows how matured we are. And from this scene, we don’t look so good on the maturity level. Remember the credit card ad, where this Chinese family eating at a restaurant, and the two brothers started showing off? At last the father settled the “dispute” by paying the bills himself.

Well, if the father’s immature, and high tempered, he might have scolded the two brothers for disturbing his peaceful meal. Instead, he just paid the bill himself when the brothers were still in showing off mode. Not a single sentence, but everybody, including the audience, understands. Now that’s how matured people handle situations. We don’t need to create a scene to settle a scene.

What’s this blaming her parents. I thought only primary (and sometimes secondary) students insult parents. Oh, and the comedian who does Yo Momma skit. What’s this saying she’s stupid? She already admitted she sounds stupid. Are we that better off than her by saying she’s stupid?

From a religious POV, who are we to say bad things to a God‘s creation, while we are too, His slaves.

Not that I’m saying we should just let a mistake be uncorrected, but the we should not include too much of our own personal feelings when giving a professional critic. A critic (as quoted by an AF critic) has 3 parts. First, one sees a fault. Then one finds out what exactly is at fault. Then one suggests the way to amend the fault. Most of us Malaysians only do the first 2 when we criticise something.

Apart from the Sharifah Amani case, I found it a wonder why did Yasmin‘s work is the only one publicly criticised so much? And it happened to all Yasmin‘s product, too. First time I heard her name, was when her advertisement went into parliament for showing how us Malaysians behave in an LRT. The name Adlin Aman Ramli suddenly is at the tip of everybody’s tongue.

Then there was Rabun, and a scene where a husband bathing his own wife (or vice versa, I can’t recall). The scene was not exactly what school boys would masturbate at (they’re old people, for gods’ sake), but was critically torn apart and later cut from the final movie.

Next in line, was Sepet. It seems that although many Malaysians, in this case the Malays, is proud of Malaysia‘s cultural diversity and multiracial tolerance, we cannot tolerate a Malay girl in love with a Chinese boy. The fear of Murtad (conversion out of Islam) being the most prominent reason, although the girl was from a quite religious family (although was quite liberal) and did not show any signs of converting (she didn’t even wear anything but baju kurung most of the time, and they don’t even match the sneakers).

Prior to Sharifah‘s incident, was Gubra. This movie caused a bigger furore than the others, most probably becasue it deals more about religion than the others, and also because the hatred snowballed.

These created 3 types of people in Malaysia, those who’s against Yasmin, those who back her up, and those who simply do not care. I wanted to be in the 3rd type, but the way people bash Yasmin and her products led me to be in the second type. I mean, I don’t want to be someone who bash other people with hatred and negative emotions, that a simple critic could lead to a page full of foul words. Heck, one of the ‘religious’ person said it’s ALLOWED to use foul words in Islam. Well, if the foul words aren’t meant for you, then it’s okay, isn’t it?

So I chose to back up Yasmin. All I see in her, is that her products are quality products. I don’t even have the heart to buy a pirated copy of her movies. It far better and believable than most Malay movies. I can simply believe anything Hollywood throw at me (the A rated movies only), simply because I’ve never been there. But making our own movies, showing our own faces, speaking our own languages, about our own matter, one cannot just do it without much realism. Well, does any of our friends faked a seizure in a queue and we still fall in love with him/her?

Actually, realism is not good for a movie. In real world, we’re stiff, and our feelings do not travel outwards that much. So a level of ‘acting’ is essential to make us feel the moment, and believe the story. Yasmin‘s movies, is believable, since she managed to instill balance in her actor’s performance.

If this goes on, I would fear, that many directors had to cling to cliches and stereotypes as to not anger those who, well, loves those kind of movies. We would have to endure about 2 hours of slapstick, recycled lines, blatant lies, and poor acting, not to mention technical glitches. Outsiders would have to see us in those kind of movies, being those kind of characters, and not bei
ng ourselves.

Are we afraid of our own reflection?

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10 responses to “Sharifah Amani, Yasmin Ahmad and the Critics”

  1. I guess the critics are like any other angsty teenagers. They think they’re right no matter what but when it comes to relieving their own responsibilites, they shy away from it.

  2. To compare those thin-skinned fuddy duddies with angsty teenagers is an insult to these angsty teenagers. At least angsty teenagers are not so deluded that they think they are constantly correct, nor possess God complex that make them think as if they are the ones who control what everyone should see, or what shouldn’t be seen. Or how the culture is preserved, by remaining stagnant and dumb.

  3. leenmafia : I guess you do agree with me that our mindset isn’t mature enough, yes?

    the great swifty : Everybody do believe and do what they think is right, all the time. It’s just our ego stops us from actually listening to what others think, not matter how what they’s thinking sounds ‘righter’. Admitting defeat is just not our best feat. Those who do, manage to control their ego, and accept the real reality, not the perceived ‘reality’.

  4. LaR…org buat baik mesti ade org tak suka punye…kebaikan punye byk tapi siLap Lagi kecik dpd kuman pon org nampak…Let it be…
    Jd diri sendiri pd ikut ckp org jd hipokrit then semua sama n dunia akan bosan dgn semua yg sama stereotaip…sebab tu La ada Lg yg masih pakai taipwriter…huh…ape sani merepek nie…

    ok ok chaiyok2…

    aLL The Best utk sesiapa yang memperjuangkan hak asasi diri sendiri untuk dunia…

    p/s:no magical props,music but stiLL wangi jd saksi best…hah ha ha…

    hang giLa ka sani….

  5. LaR…org buat baik mesti ade org tak suka punye…kebaikan punye byk tapi siLap Lagi kecik dpd kuman pon org nampak…Let it be…
    Jd diri sendiri pd ikut ckp org jd hipokrit then semua sama n dunia akan bosan dgn semua yg sama stereotaip…sebab tu La ada Lg yg masih pakai taipwriter…huh…ape sani merepek nie…

    ok ok chaiyok2…

    aLL The Best utk sesiapa yang memperjuangkan hak asasi diri sendiri untuk dunia…

    p/s:no magical props,music but stiLL wangi jd saksi best…hah ha ha…

    hang giLa ka sani….

  6. Say it Lizzam! And honestly I’m tired of all the constant lashing to her even after she made a public apology.

    I do not know what they want from her anymore.

  7. Anon/Sani : err..aku tak tau nak reply camna…maca ada valid point somewhere tapi ayat merapu…hang mabuk teh tarik ka sani?

    lynn : I don’t think ‘they’ know either. It’s like “aku tak puas ati la denga dia, tapi aku tak tau kenapa…”

    sani : err…sani, semangat apa yer?

  8. at 1st i dont have interest in giving any comment on Amani’s behaviour..

    yeah she made mistake… simply put, she is not matured enough to see things in a bigger picture.. her vision is myopic, and as org muda, she ikut kepala & kata hati (regardless whether it’s right or wrong).. due to that (the vision), she does not think further of what are the effects from what she said..

    for me, it is not about she dont want to speak Bahasa or she wants to speak english, as the reason for chaotic situation now. it is how she say it, make her look sombong (altho she doesnt mean that).. and you know in our culture, young artist to be sombong like that is totally unacceptable.. that’s why people sheesh sheeshh-ing about her.. it’s not about what she said but the way she say it..

    then again, she is still immature.. so i guess we can give room to that, aight?

  9. wlady : when I watched the show again, I watch SA’s facial expression when she was saying the words. When she was saying the “I sound stupid…” sentence, she was in a jovial mood, almost like she’s talking to her friends. Now here’s where she sounded immature.

    But when she said the “…let’s do it more often…” sentence, she paused a while, almost like thinking, and I believe, that with the trohy in her hands, and she’s giving a winning speech, is the perfect time to tak revenge on those who looked down on her. The words were said with vengeance in her eyes. It’s just with both sentences combined, added with our sensitivity and media play, we do not get what she meant. Just read in the papers, where what she said was translated into several versions, with some of them had twisted the meaning to another level!