Tuesday, March 15, 2005

My thoughts on Sepet

I'm probably one of the few who weren't completely bowled over by the Malaysian-made film, Sepet. It was cute-lah and I enjoyed it but you ain't getting any rave reviews from me. I liked the direction of the film, the actors were ok, but I found some of the dialogue a bit contrived, especially coming from some of the actors who didn't really seem to understand the significance of the dialogue. I was fond of Orked, who reminded me of a friend of mine. The Chinese dude was dull-lah. If you were to ask me who my favourite character was, I'd say the maid, and perhaps the mother although I felt there was some soap-opera acting going on.

I appreciated that Yasmin Ahmad (director and scriptwriter) weaved some social commentary in the film - my favourite was when the maid mentioned how Orked (Malay) managed to get a scholarship to study in London with only 5As whereas Ah Loong (Chinese) had scored 7As and didn't get squat from the government. How typical, how sad, how incredibly unfair. How I wished that it wasn't taken as a matter-of-fact, and that there should have been further discussion on this issue in the film. Ah well, Sepet is supposed to be a love story, not a social commentary on Malaysian society (but oh, I would be so interested to watch a film brave enough to deal with these issues!)

There was a line that Orked uttered that I didn't feel right with - "You can love someone based on their race, their culture but it's when you hate them, then it becomes a problem".

Am I the only one who feels that yes, loving someone BASED on their race could be just as wrong as hating them? It's still a form of discrimination. For example, to love someone because he's Chinese - what does that mean? You're still basing your feelings towards how you perceive an entire group of people should be. What is a "typical Chinese" anyway? Aren't we all individuals? Did Orked think that she could only be interested in Chinese guys because Malay guys aren't into John Woo movies and wouldn't have a similar outlook on life as she does?

The ending was such a cop-out, so CLICHE. I knew that the story was about an interracial romance and I was hoping that Yasmin Ahmad wouldn't resort to an easy ending to such a troubled situation but ah, she did. Liked the touch of the mysterious phone call and quote at the end of the movie though.

I had my *squeal* moment on the sarongs. I love sarongs, what can I say. I can't get enough of them. And like the female Malay characters in Sepet, I do walk around the house, clad only in a sarong. Ok, that was a little off tangent here, but I had to give props to the sarongs.

I liked Yasmin's eye, and how the scenes were set up in the film.. Despite being critical of Sepet, I do feel that this film is a step forward for Malaysian film. I'm looking forward to more of her films in the future.


p/s many thanks to Marita who helped stimulate discussion on interracial romances (or rather, loving someone because of their race).

9 Comments:

At 1:48 PM, Blogger Marita Paige said...

And I would really like to have more meaty conversations like that.Sometimes I get so frustrated when people talk all day and say nothing. Why not use our gift of gab on topics that really make us think, eh? Thanks for asking me that question, by the way. :)

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger Dee M said...

Hey... that's quite right.I actually like that line because I don't like generalising people based on their race/culture.Then again,to love them because of that is also generalising right?Interesting point!I guess it just boils down to the fact that if you see someone not as a person but as a group of people,that's when things may get confusing & wrong altogether

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Dee M said...

By the way,the Petronas Morocco advert,the driver in it is the actor of Sepet-Chee Seong..heh

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Dermot said...

Okay but where do you draw the line between loving someone because of their race and and being attracted to them because of their race?
For example, I'm a pasty white Irishman, who up until 5 years ago lived in a country where everyone else was pasty white Irish people (not quite advertising myself well here but the truth can be cruel sometimes...).
For me Irish people are not that attractive, they've been here with me all my life and are just normal, more like family really. So when I meet someone from another country, they're attractive because they look different and they behave different due to their different cultural upbringings, this is an exciting person to meet.
So am I being racist to my own race of pasty white people? Or am I being racist by being attracted to other races and cultures?

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger Dermot said...

Okay but where do you draw the line between loving someone because of their race and and being attracted to them because of their race?
For example, I'm a pasty white Irishman, who up until 5 years ago lived in a country where everyone else was pasty white Irish people (not quite advertising myself well here but the truth can be cruel sometimes...).
For me Irish people are not that attractive, they've been here with me all my life and are just normal, more like family really. So when I meet someone from another country, they're attractive because they look different and they behave different due to their different cultural upbringings, this is an exciting person to meet.
So am I being racist to my own race of pasty white people? Or am I being racist by being attracted to other races and cultures?

 
At 1:43 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

Dermot, I'm not implying that any interracial romantic interest is racist - heck, I'm mixed-race myself.

Dee put it quite well actually: "guess it just boils down to the fact that if you see someone not as a person but as a group of people,that's when things may get confusing & wrong altogether".

You said it yourself, "So when I meet someone from another country, they're attractive because they look different and they behave different due to their different cultural upbringings, this is an exciting person to meet." For sure, but it doesn't mean that you completely disqualify Irish girls, do you? After all, you could meet an Irish girl who grew up in Ecuador with her expat family, thus having a different cultural upbringing than you. My point is that it's a form of discrimination to like someone because of their supposed cultural characteristics: for example, "I like Chinese girls because they are traditional, they are home-makers, and are not as aggressive as white women".

To be enchanted with another culture is one thing, but we are also all individuals, with our own personal interests and life experiences that do not always fit in what one perceives our "cultural group" should be like.

It's such a different world today with the internet, tv and air travel. Lots of people these days have lived overseas, or travelled like yourself. All these experiences and exposure has changed us, to a point where one would question, "what is a typical ____?"

Personally, I would like someone to be attracted to me because of ME, and not because they are enamoured with my "exotic" culture.

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger Marita Paige said...

Cayce, you say it, girl! For the record, I cannot, and I repeat CANNOT stand how UN-colour/country/race/whatever-blind we can be. You know me, Cayce, you know how I'd be ranting about this. So I don't have to say it here or else I'd end up writing an essay about it. But you know me, girl. You know me.

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

Oh, you fiesty little opinionated hot babe, you. ;-)

 
At 8:31 AM, Blogger Dermot said...

I'm sorry but I was was just being a little extreme to stir up the discussion a little, perhaps I was a bit too successful....
An Ecuadorian Irish girl, hmm sounds intriguing (how do you spell that word, it doesn't look right but the spell-checker accepts it, anyway...)
Never been one to stereotype, after all I suffer the stereotype everytime I step out of the Ireland, imagine everyone you meet saying the exact same thing "You don't drink, but, but, but you're Irish! All Irish drink!", no-one outside Ireland understands that you can be Irish and not drink and that the two are not mutualy inclusive!
Besides beautiful people are beautiful people no matter where they come from or their inner or outer colour.....

 

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