Loyal Followers

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Malaysians – a gossipholic society?

The Italian poet and novelist, Cesare Pavese, widely considered as among the major authors of the 20th century in Italy, left a brief note before his suicide.

The last sentence in that brief note says, “don’t gossip too much.”

Malaysians, and I must say, especially the Malays, are obviously not taking that advice to heart.

It is simply amazing that nowadays Malaysians are so caught up by the need to know what somebody else – especially celebrities - is doing. We have become a nation full of kepohs!

The advent of information technologies in the 21st century and of course the near free availability of connectivity in our country currently have contrived to elevate gossiping to something of a national obsession. Day in and day out all of us, to a certain extent, partake in acts of gossiping, be it political, social or even economics in nature.

However, what is really irksome is the proliferation of blatant breaches of privacy by way of the publications of, more often than not, photographs of some celebrities on the internet. This is often followed by unsolicited and gratuitous form of self righteous comments about the photographs and the celebrities in question. Ultimately, there will also be the usual self-righteous advice such as “kembalilah ke jalan Allah” aimed  at the celebrities in question.

Yesterday I read about a certain young lady singer whose pictures in a wet long t-shirt were splashed (no pun intended) all over the internet world. Those pictures were apparently taken during a private pool party. I also saw a picture of another lady actress wearing a bare-back dinner gown making its round on the internet.

Needless to say, both set of pictures drew the usual “you-are-a-bad-Muslim-gal-kembalilah-ke-jalan-Allah” kind of comments from the moral nazis.

Today I visited a news portal and the major “news” on that portal today is about a Malaysian top student who is now studying abroad – who inevitably must be of the female gender (this kind of things actually only happen to the female sex. The males are quite obviously less interesting and significantly of no gossiping value) – who posted some pictures of herself on her fb page.

Apparently, before she went abroad, she used to wear the tudung. Her current picture shows her having blonde hair and wearing laced up legging.

Almost instantaneously, the closet mullahs began attacking her on her fb page with the usual “kembalilah ke jalan Allah” advice. She has since, apparently, deleted her fb page as a consequence.

Which begs the question, first and foremost, why are we so kepoh about whatever others wear or do? The next question, why are we not only so kepoh, but are so quick to judge other people simply by what they wear? I mean, we don’t even know these people and yet we are so quick to draw a moralistic line, compare that line to that of ours and impose ours on hers.

What makes us believe that a girl in tights or bikinis or a wet t-shirt is of lower moralistic value than those who wear the tudungs, hijabs or baju kurung?

Which brings all of us to the next frightening conclusion and that is, to the contemporary society, externalities are more important than the internals. It is like our whole moral compass is dictated by what we can see in three dimensions and that’s it. Nothing else matters.

And so if a girl wears a tudung or a baju kurung, she is quite obviously better, moral wise, than a girl wearing a plunging neck-line t-shirt. Little do we know the plunging neck-line girl works 2 hours a day as a volunteer worker at a day care center as opposed to the girl in baju kurung who don’t even think to help anybody in this world.

Umberto Eco, in his speech, “The Loss of Privacy” (published in “Turning Back the Clock”: Harvill Secker, 2007) noted, with accuracy if I may add, that “the first thing that the globalisation of communication through the internet threatened was the notion of boundaries.”

He then cleverly pointed out that the globalisation of communication as such shows two aspects of ourselves which were hitherto not quite as obvious. Firstly, there reside in  everyone of us, what I would call, a “flasher” tendency, ie, the need to be seen. Secondly, there is also correspondingly, a need to see, which I would call the “voyeuristic” tendency.

He might be right on both counts.

Facebook, for example, serves to prove that most of us, if not all, feel the need to constantly exhibit ourselves to the world by uploading our own pictures or “updating” our status profile, no matter how inane they are or might be. Eco himself referred to a website where a person felt the need to post pictures of his own colon notwithstanding the sheer insignificance of such pictures.

Thus we would have pictures of ourselves eating nasi lemak on our fb pages. Or a profile status which reads “I am now at MARA building, KL.”

Correspondingly, there is also a desire to be a kepoh voyeur, ie to know what others are doing or to pry on others. How else do we explain the popularity of the so-called reality tv shows which portray the live of an entire family 24 hours a day? Most of us, it appears, are closet voyeurs!

But of course, in Malaysia, as in any other things, we have to take it a step further.

After blithely exposing ourselves on the internet with our pictures, thereby satisfying our primordial flasher tendency, we would go on prying on others, thereby satisfying our voyeur instinct. Most people in other societies would stop there.

No. We, Malaysians will not stop there. We than have to satisfy our yet-to-be-scientifically-or-philosophically-explained “Mullahistic tendency”.

We would then judge the person in the pictures which we have – morally and rightfully, to our mind, pried upon – and offer her (inevitably it is a “her”) our advice, which we consider, is our God given right and in fact is the one and only right thing to do.

“Kembalilah ke jalan Allah.”

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's the syndrome of form over substance

Kris said...

And at the end of the day, it's all a sham. This self righteous stand that most here take is not even skin deep. As deep as the words they utter no more when they pass judgement....

As anon 12:17 said, form over substance.....

Anonymous said...

Spot on!

Salah kuman seberang laut nampak.. salah gajah depan mata buat2 tak nampak..

Humans are truly pathetic..

RCZ

noobsession said...

We are in a fffuuuuuuuu up world..
I don't want to live in this world anymore..

Anonymous said...

Judge us by our...

Ethical Clothing - MoD http://www.mod.gov.my/information/defence-policy/dress-code.html?lang=en

- siew eng

C++ said...

Bhai Art...

Err... do I need to comment or not?? ... hahaha..

Firstly... if you don't one anyone kaypoh about you... then don't disclose yourself at either FB / Youtube / Myspace / Friendster and all social media sites including Blogs...

That's the way it is..

Anonymous said...

Trouble is that intelligent, well-written and thought-provoking articles like this one preach to the converted (no pun or metaphor intended). Sadly, hypocrites and part time mullahs with extra long fingers for pointing at people don't tend to read these sort of columns.I agree though. Kepohmania is endemic.

Anonymous said...

I thought corruption and greed are far more evil in Islam than what people wear.

Should the corrupts be asked to 'kembali ke jalan Allah'?

QH Lim said...

Such comments can only ever be written by a Muslim. Coming out from any non-Muslim would be amounting to challenging the constitution and special rights of Malays and undermining Islam.

Nor Arlene Tan said...

Awesome write up! Too many kepohs here having too much free time.... they ought to devote their free time to more meaningful volunteer work...

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Wan Azizah of Parti Krliru rakyat wears a headscarf.Many people thinks her hubby Anuar Ibrahim is a saint.

wawa

Anonymous said...

Aahhh, the standard sermon preached by the "holier than thou" mullahs. Now lets see if these "holier than thou" mullahs will issue a fatwa that all muslim females must wear the burqa. Bolehland is fast becoming another Taliban Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

Wearing hijab is a must for Muslim women, no one can comment any further as this is Allah's rule. Whether the Muslim woman practices good deeds , prays 5x or not do not link together with the burqa or hijab on the head. Not sure why comments like "Doesn't mean the woman that wears hijab are always better than those who don't". Hijab is just a must, simple as that!

Azli Jamil said...

As "Melayu mudah lupa", I suppose we gossip to fill the time, in between patting ourselves on the back for reasons only known to ourselves. Nonetheless, we Malays should make use of the time doing good instead of simply feeling good.

Anonymous said...

Well-written article on what is truly happening. To a lot of people, form takes precedence over substance. People are judged by their outward appearance rather than their character.

FC said...

you are right just because they dressed like a whore does not mean they are a whore. they are good and moralistic women who coincidentally wearing a whore's uniform.

FC

Cheap Flights said...

Dress are doesn't matter in only matter what you wore that is suited on you....Cheap Flights |Cheap Flights to Beijing

Geronimo said...

The last time I heard our many 'mullahs' wanted to travel to London, determined to convince Sufiah Yusof to get her to give up prostitution as a career. Have they done so or was it just hot air as usual?

dean. said...

word!

Anonymous said...

if you're a Muslim then u should know it's not about moral value but it's about her Islamic value. if she not wearing tudung, obviously she lacks in that. Some people were advising her and some were insulting her. the one who insulted her is to blame for this kepohness. the one who advised her is just doing their responsibility of fardhu kifayah.

Jitzmak said...

dude. it isnt about voyeur-ism or a fascination to gossip about celebrities... in fact, that's another thing altogether from what you're actually saying. i agree with you tho'. what i have noticed for a long long time now, is that the malays are very prone to gossiping about other women, and not just celebrities. it's about being RIGHT in their mind's eye. form over substance, my friend. celebrities or not, they will judge you and criticise you if you dont dress or behave a certain way. it is a very real occurence not just towards celebrities, but towards their colleagues, friends, cousins, etc. just keep your eyes and ears open next time in an office or at a family event. you cant miss it. judgemental righteousness is pervasive! watch out!

Jitzmak said...

And if you dont conform, they will make your life... HELL!

Anonymous said...

Nope. Wearing hijab is not stated in the quran. Fardhu kifayH? Also not in quran. So who teaches you this?

Anonymous said...

anon 5jan 17:34.. they say hair is aurat but according to my friend, cant find it, mentioned in Quran, ..not sure how true!! can u or anybody quote which surah say hair is aurat??? just curious....to find out the truth

Anonymous said...

..why we live in a judgmentalist society? ..bcos are brought up like that and conditioned to think 'only certain practise here are right, others in other countries are not'.

..they afraid cant go heaven if..

FYI, this aurat matter was debated in syeds(outsidethebox) blog, the blogger maintains that hair is not mentioned.

FC said...

you mean syed akbar ali who mistakenly put the satire of drunken bernanke as real news in his blog (later delete it). also the one who mistakenly believe and post pictures of child street magic in india and portray it as iranian hudud punishment for kids (later edited the post) or the syed akbar ali whom keep repeating in his blog again and again that harun din transfer djinn using a bus even after the respected ustaz denied it on youtube video. just want to make sure you referring to the same guy i had in my mind. lol.

FC

Anonymous said...

FC, u dont have to refer to syeds for verification, go and read the holybook yrself to see whether it is mentioned,..easy to read, it's not rocket science, bro

Anonymous said...

gossipholic society aside, some actually act like 'self appointed moral policeman', they report to state religious agency if they see their frens drinking....or who go out with 'who'...suspicious of immoral intent !!


btw, there no khalwat law in indonesia, how come??

Nurul said...

I'm a hijab-donning woman, obviously I am sensitive to the Islamic rules on dress codes, but I am with Art on this. Our society is one that quickly sums up the level of morality, or even personality, of a muslim woman based solely on whether or not the dress code is adhered to. Morality is much more intrinsic. To me, the point here is that we should stress on moral values - and perhaps yes, even the physicalities that show adherence to the religion - but the moral values MUST be stressed upon first. I don't see that happening.

Furthermore, in Islam we are asked to respect the privacy of others. We're not supposed to embarrass others, or as we say it, 'membuka aib'. Why are these righteous Muslims not adhering to that? And doesn't Islam teach us that when we are so busy judging the sins of others, it means we're not using enough of our time reflecting upon our own sins?

Anonymous said...

..no wonder my frens behave differently when they oversea, they complain too many busy-bodies back home.

one quote this: God judges but man want to judge.

art harun said...

Salam Nurul,

Your views are refreshing to note. People of your standing are getting rarer in Malaysia, and indeed, elsewhere too.

Anonymous said...

yip! even politician like Datuk hassan ali join in, to act like 'moral police',reportedly he also try to identify who's in 'apostate' status..not sure what politician's agenda!!

Now,heard he was sacked,sadly, tuhan cant save him, he claims he is defender of islam but now he has to defend himself.

Anonymous said...

hello readers!!want more info on hijab,go to masjidtucson.org, type the subject and click search

asyraf ahmad said...

'kembali ke jalan Allah' is a better n easier comment than the rest...

silvershamir said...

Allah says in the Quran...dalam dada manusia ada seketul daging. Kalau busuk ia maka busuk lah seluruhnya...Its all in the heart...

Anonymous said...

an arab novelist quoted this in aljazeera: the greatest problem in the muslim world is ignorance.

silvershamir, agreed,its all in the heart,.. guess, emphasis on form..bcos they want to be identified as 'good' muslim

Anonymous said...

recent observation...nowaday,there a trend for pre-teen girls to wear tudung, i am not sure it's their religious calling at this young age or peer pressure but even to argue, covering their bosom, they still have not reach puberty.

Anonymous said...

Art,
I like your writings, keep doing it !

Equating religion to morality is the biggest mistake human was brought up to believe. Morality can stand on its own without any religion partying around it. But the mere existence of religion needs morality to support its cause.

That's why you do see many people without having any strong belief in any religion having pretty high moral standard in terms of accountability, integrity and honesty. Also, one seems to believe doing all the rituals (without questioning) as prescribed by religion would keep one straight in terms of moral compass , or cleanse oneself from sin. But wait a minute, if religion is offering such service to cleanse people from sin with the prescribed rituals, then isn't religion encouraging people to commit more sin, then go back pay some $$$ for a ticket to heaven knowing they will never come back for refund if they do not get there ...ok ok, I need not to start a debate.

For that, I leave you this interesting news,
http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/news/crime/phoenix-mosque-leader-accused-of-molestation-12-22-2011

*ps, now you know why some people hate America, such news get splashed all over when it happened.

Al,
Have a nice day

Anonymous said...

islam is a political system in a country govern by muslims....

islam is a true religion in a country govern by non muslims....

muslims in the former want absolute power to govern in the name of god and total submission from the people

muslims in the latter want absolute freedom to practice the religion and total submission to the god

Ipoh said...

silvershamir says, "Allah says in the Quran...dalam dada manusia ada seketul daging. Kalau busuk ia maka busuk lah seluruhnya..."
Not true... no such qoute in the Quran!!!.

About hair...

Women should not have to
veil themselves


Dress Code for Women based on Quran

ramlii... said...

Good article. Firstly we must always emphasise that Islam is a religion from the Arabs. Thus it is not strange that myths and way of life of more than a 1000 years ago are found.

We as Malays must preserve our culture. Promoting Hijab which is not in the Quran is just promoting Arab culture.

Let us spread the news that in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars! Yes. Islam motherland.

That in Saudi Arabia women have to buy underwear from men only. Yes..

So many other medieval arab practices should not be mixed with the the concept of Islam.Slavery is allowed in Islam.

Women cannot go to England alone. Let alone go out of her house.. etc.

Women cannot vote in Islam..yes..Saudi Arabia.

So remember, we are Malays, our women play futsal, win swimming events, gymnastics events wearing swimsuits.

So there are men who love covered women but P RAmlee loves malay womens with curves..

kebam said...

"an arab novelist quoted this in aljazeera: the greatest problem in the muslim world is ignorance."

It is more true to say that the greatest problem in the Arab world is ignorance.

While Europeans have gone secular, the arabs are stucked in rigid religion.

The Arabs are scared to blasphemy thus they do not know what to do. Now they have the arab spring. How will things change if they are still stuck in the philosophy middle ages.

In thats sense that is ignorance. Science has proven that the world is not flat. Europeans have fly to the moon and back. When will Saudi Arabia or Egypt send men to the moon?

Malays must look to the East like Japan for advancement. That is the only way to replace ignorance with knowledge. So much to learn from Japan not only technology but also sex.

Here we have Malay women debating about covering hair etc.. what about sex? Or lack of it?

Does kembali ke jalan allah means no sex?

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Hi Art,

gossiping, kepoh and voyeuristic tendencies and traits -- not a Malay thing. Nor a female thing, either.
They transcend racial and gender barriers.
And if we agree on that, they're not peculiar to Malaysians either

Reality shows are a hit in the US, the UK and possibly the rest of the world.

Take care.

Mike said...

People need to mind their own business. People are so consumed with the life of other people especially celebrations. Who cares if this one celebration got a new hair cut and you don't like it. You should be focusing on your own life. Things like your health are a lot more important then other people's life's.

ssingh said...

This is nice collection of clothes store online fashion brand and designer website that offers women, men the ability to purchase fashion and trendy dresses.

No need for suit hire Canberra for special occasions when Overhsip will save hundreds over a suit hire Canberra store. Formal Suits from $79 save on suit hire

http://www.discounttalk.com.au/suit-hire-canberra/

Anonymous said...

Ipoh :

Nabi Muhammad s.a.w bersabda,


"Sesungguhnya dalam diri manusia itu ada seketul daging. Jika daging itu baik, maka baiklah seluruh anggota badannya tetapi seandainya daging itu rosak dan kotor, maka kotor dan rosaklah seluruh anggota badannya. Daging yang dimaksudkan ini adalah hati."


(Riwayat Bukhari dan Muslim daripada Nu'man bin Basyir