For some, no shame, just fame

Comment by JUNE H.L. WONG

For most, what happens in the bedroom should stay right there. But for younger ones today, there’s no problem in proclaiming their most secret of trysts. What’s more, they can find fame – or infamy.
THERE are certain bodily functions and activities you keep private. You know, those functions that usually occur in privies and the bedroom.
But of late, the attitude is you don’t need to close and lock the door on such activities any more; rather, you invite an audience in.
For example, when South Korean rapper Psy sat on the loo with his pants down in his Gangnam Style video, early audiences gasped and giggled in embarrassment at the sight.
Subsequently, that scene has been repeated in countless parodies ad nauseam and the shock value is no more.
Similarly, while pornography has been around a long time, it was stuff that professional actors did for show but “normal” people didn’t. If you filmed it, it was strictly for private consumption.
Well, along came Facebook, which really should have been called Openbook because it provides space for people to share all sorts of things, including sexually explicit material.
The most disturbing aspect about Facebook, blogs and YouTube is the easy access they provide to an audience and therefore instant fame.
Narcissistic self-glorification without justification is almost the norm. That “I’m famous for being famous” mantra that is most identified with the Kardashians has infected millions around the world. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it gets you noticed.
Which was what that National University of Singapore law student and his girlfriend did.
According to reports, the couple started innocuously enough. They met on Facebook and, like million of others, started posting photos of themselves.
Then they started taking nude shots of themselves and “After taking more and more photos, we started to want some sort of recognition for our work so we uploaded them on Facebook,” said Alvin Tan Jye Yee.
When those photos got flagged and removed by site administrators, Tan, 24, and Vivian Lee, 23, started an erotic blog last month showing photographs and videos of themselves having sex. Suddenly, they are famous and they seem mighty proud of it.
What has taken many aback is that, in the onslaught of publicity, they have responded with icy-cool insouciance that is as brazen as their postings.
It is this completely unrepentant attitude that stuns many – it’s so un-Asian, un-Malaysian.
Lee was quoted as saying that she was not worried whether her parents and family were upset – even though she said she got the “mother of scoldings” from them – nor what others thought of them. In fact, they would carry on as they enjoyed what they did.
Now these two young people are not aimless school dropouts with no future nor purpose in life: she is a business studies graduate and he is an Asean scholar which is no mean feat. One can assume these are bright young adults who knew exactly what they were doing when they did what they did.
Yet, one cannot help wonder: What the blazes were they thinking?
Did they really think it was all right to “star” in their own porn and make it public? Did they not think it was shameful and inappropriate behaviour? Did they believe that there was no stigma attached to their actions nor consequences to their actions?
From their responses, it appears that they really do think so: yes, it’s all right and dandy. And they could be right, as disturbing as the thought is to older folk.
Really, it is the older generation who are most flustered and shocked by the duo’s actions. The younger ones are generally blasé to it; after all, they have grown up on a diet of overt eroticism and sexuality that is all over MTV, the Internet, movies, graphic novels and manga.
For them, as old restrictions, mores and morals become increasingly ambiguous, the line between the sacred and the profane has blurred.
What’s more, to Netizens, what Tan and Lee did is nothing new. At most, there’s a bit of a novelty factor because they are Malaysians.
There is talk that the couple may be charged for breaking Singapore’s Films Act for producing and uploading porn and Tan might be expelled for breaching NUS’s students code of conduct.
Again, the couple have responded with indifference. Tan, a final year student, is reportedly on leave from NUS and has started his own firm which he said was “doing pretty well, so that’s actually my career plan anyway”.
Not only that, thanks to their erotic antics, Tan claimed they have been asked to endorse sex toys and lingerie by Singapore companies!
Indeed, Tan’s clearly articulated intention to leverage on their new-found fame – “We want Alvin and Vivian to become a household name, ... known for being a sexually open duo” – makes you wonder whether it was all carefully orchestrated by two wily people who know that this is the kind of publicity that can lead to quick and good money.
And because there is always the next scandal, the next shocking antic coming up on Facebook or YouTube, they will go from infamy back to anonymity by, say, next Monday.
So why worry, what was good for a Kardashian can be good for a Tan and Lee. Or put it another way: what is one person’s shame is another’s fame.