Anyway, this post isn’t about uniquely Singaporean ways of losing weight. It’s just that Molly happened to see that bit about water. And Molly now feels obliged to apologize to her NDP-watching readers if the water references in the previous post about the PureNation actually spoiled their experience of watching the NDP. Believe me, Molly really didn’t know what the NDP was going to feature when she was writing the blog entry.
Molly did very much appreciate the commentary that accompanied the NDP though. None of those performances really made sense to that puny bimbotic mind of Molly’s and it was great that the commentary was there to tell Molly exactly what each performance meant. The commentators were brilliant people. Well, at least the people who wrote their scripts were. While Molly thought that the bunch of primary school kids looked somewhat hapless in the performance, the commentators knew that the kids were actually enjoying themselves. They knew that each and every spectator was there for a common reason. Yes, one would expect any spectator to harbor suicidal thoughts at the NDP. (And if the commentary was scripted, kudos to the scriptwriters for their prophetic abilities.)
But what if . . . what if some kids out there were actually cursing their plight of being chosen to perform? (“Why can’t I be preparing for my exams like the other kids? Now I’m going to lose out?”)
What if someone was waving his middle finger along with the joyous singing?
What if a number of circum-scripted soldiers were cursing the state machinery in their minds in the midst of overly loud marching orders, trying to reclaim the minds that have been stolen from them?
What if the uniquely Singaporean narrative deconstructs itself?
Actually Molly was wondering if having primary school kids labor for NDP performances constituted involuntary (and unpaid) child labor. But since the commentary didn’t say anything of this sort, Molly assumes that she’s just being overly imaginative as usual.
The NDP actually teaches us valuable lessons about being Singaporean. If we treat the NDP performances (or was it supposed to be one seamless performance?) as artistic ventures, perhaps we might expect to be allowed to sit down in our living rooms and view the performance(s) and interpret it (them) for ourselves. But as a particular song goes, we are Singapore, Singaporeans. How could we make meaning for ourselves? Heck, are we even supposed to know that artistic performances can be interpreted?
Meaning has to be stable in Singapore, whether we are talking about the NDP or the blogosphere. Those who blog with indeterminacy are ultimately irresponsible. We have to be told what something means. We need responsible writers/performances and responsibly irresponsible readers/audiences.
There are plenty of voices. We have the Chinese, the Malay, the Indian and the others voices. We have the young, the old, the male and the female. We have the leaders and the followers. Everyone is represented. Everyone is given a voice, even inflicted with one. But not everyone can make noise.
We can’t have more than one meaning, can we? History is about how we have progressed and will continue to progress (under the leadership of wonderful leaders) and only about that. It’s not about ISD arrests, even though these are supposed to have been critical to the nation’s security, progress and development. (How could we forget things that are so important to our PureNation?)
The spectators at the NDP are the biggest group of responsible performers. And probably the most consummate. They act out the script without rehearsals. They get into character easily and get out just as easily. Even the potential black sheep amongst them are made good because they are rendered invisible. The NDP makes a spectacle of the spectators and we the couch potatoes of Singapore enjoy every second of it, whether we are being blindly nationalistic, passionately patriotic or cynically ironic.
Are we, in fact, no different from the soldiers obeying every command of the RSM?
Some people try to resist.
Maybe Molly placed her laptop on top of her TV set, with her browser playing Martyn See’s Nation Builders on Google Video.
But what counter-texts can/do we resort to?
Does Martyn See’s short film have to be about this mass of marginalized poor and old people who collect cardboards and aluminum cans for a living?
One moment in the film was particularly memorable. For me anyway. It was the moment when a woman said that she might use her income to buy durians.
(Was she telling the truth?)
Can we always justifiably interpret can-collection as a mark of poverty? We can purport to give the can-collecting elderly citizens a voice, but do we allow them to have multiple meanings?
Thank goodness Nation Builders doesn't come with a commentary telling you what each and every scene means.
Do we point fingers at the policy-makers and leaders of Singapore for failing to eradicate poverty? Or do we point fingers at the policy-makers for eradicating poverty all too successfully, through the method of removing poverty from visibility, through the purification processes of our PureNation?
Can we have room for polysemy? Or do we insist on a polyphonic but not polysemic nation? (But can the above questions not be rhetorical?)
How do we perform the NDP? How do we blog? How do we watch and read?
Indeed, this is yet another pointless entry. There’s a point to being pointless. There shouldn’t be a point to being pointless. The point is yours. The pointless is yours.