Dear Straight People,
Singapore’s national broadcaster Mediacorp, has once again, pushed outdated harmful LGBT stereotypes with their latest drama, ‘Silent Walls 密宅’.
Boasting 20 episodes, the Channel 8 series follows the misfortunes of four different families who move into a creepy mansion across four time periods.
The Ochre Pictures production premiered on Singapore TV in the primetime slot of 9pm on 15 March. But one of its storylines is causing a stir for all the wrong reasons.
The show features a gay couple; a young student named Kai De (played by Alfred Sun) and his dance instructor boyfriend Nigel (played by Adam Chen).
The large age gap between the couple is problematic in itself, as it reinforces the harmful stereotype that gay men are predators and groomers. But that is not the worst of it.
In ‘Silent Walls’, Nigel has AIDs, which implies that he cheated on Kai De. Nigel eventually succumbs to the disease, and a heartbroken Kai De commits suicide to join Nigel in the afterlife.
Not only does this problematic storyline strenghten the notion that gay men are all diseased and promiscuous, it also suggests that gay couples will always meet a tragic fate.
This is not the first time that Singapore’s national broadcaster has come under fire for its problematic portrayals of the LGBT community.
In 2020, criticism was directed at “My Guardian Angels” (单翼天使) for its portrayal of a homosexual basketball coach played by Chase Tan, who is depicted as a gay paedophile with AIDs who sexually abuses numerous young boys. His character is eventually jailed with no redemption arc.
Following the uproar, Mediacorp issued a statement explaining that they had “no intention to disrespect or discriminate against any persons or community”.
However, it seems like Mediacorp has forgotten the past controversy, as evidenced by the fact that they have once again, portrayed the gay community in an unncessarily negative light.
WHY SINGAPORE NEEDS TO STOP PUSHING NEGATIVE LGBT STEREOTYPES ON TV
In Singapore, LGBT+ media representation is practically non-existent on mainstream media. The only time we see gay characters on TV is when they have AIDs.
Singapore TV dramas may be on the decline. But they are still popular with middle aged conservatives, many of whom are parents of LGBT+ children.
The elderly population typically already have distorted views about the gay community. By showcasing these outdated stereotypes on national TV, it only strengthens their antiquated convictions. This makes it even more difficult for parents to reconcile with their queer children.
If it’s too much to request for positive LGBT depictions in popular media, then I prefer no representation of LGBTQ+ in mainstream media.
No media representation is better than harmful media representation.
Written by Sean Foo: @mrseanfoo
Watch Getaway; Singapore Gay BL Web Series
Since we are on the topic of LGBT media representation in Singapore, here is a shoutout to Dear Straight People’s own original production ‘Getaway’.
Produced in 2022, ‘Getaway’ made history as Singapore’s first gay BL web series. Comprising 5 episodes, ‘Getaway’ is based on an original story from a gay creator that features gay characters portrayed in a positive light.
You Might Also Like To Read:
- Guide To Every Singapore LGBT Short Film And Web Series Available On YouTube
- A Personal Perspective Of How The Chase Tan Mediacorp Controversy Affected Me