== zed tan ==

NLB: Ban these books/films too.

And Tango Makes Three Banned Books Censorship National Library of Singapore NLB Queer Singapore Zed

First done by Bertha Henson.

On the Iliad, by Joshua Chiang.

Ng Yi-Sheng on What You Can Do About it.

Article on the banning of books by NLB on Today Online.

(Updated 23:50, 10 Jul 2014: Clarified several of the entries, improved formatting.)

(Updated 00:00, 11 Jul 2014: Added link to Joshua Chiang’s open letter)

(Updated 00:015, 11 Jul 2014: Added link Ng Yi-Sheng’s appeal to writers and readers)

I considered applying for a job at NLB a short while ago, and I figured that with all this brouhaha on whether or not certain books should be banned I should take the opportunity to buff up my resumé by recommending more books to ban. Now, what many people don’t understand is how much of an impact literature and film make on a young mind. I had a friend in Primary 5 who introduced me to Tom Clancy’s (RIP) testosterone-pumped novels. He subsequently wrote the word “fuck” in one of his essays, and was promptly dragged off to the principal’s office. With what I can only assume is timely intervention from the moral authorities, he went on to become a productive member of society (might even be a pastor somewhere. Not quite sure. I haven’t had the benefit of such intervention myself). So yes, keep morally suspect books out of children’s hands. Unfortunately, there have been several books that have been flying under the moral radar for ages. Here I have attempted to list books that I would identify as anti-family, subversive, and maybe even downright vile:

(Right now all these are just notes in point form. To be fleshed out in a while, but right now I’ve got other things to do. But check it out — you know I’m right)

  • Alice in Wonderland (any reference to):

    • Drug references: Alice eats and drinks a number of dubious things that alter her reality in Carrol’s book and the Disney film.

    • Child abuse subtext: Alice escapes to Wonderland to run away from whatever awful unmentioned reality she was in. Addressed in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010),  possibly referenced in Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch (2011).

    • Deception privileged over honesty — Mad Hatter, Tweedledum/dee and the Liar’s Paradox, Cheshire cat etc. Basically _Alice in Wonderland _privileges fantasy and weaving tales over reality. Being unable to differentiate between the poetry of fiction and outright lying, their sensitive minds would assume that lying and storytelling is fantastical and magical, and therefore an acceptable part of the moral ecosystem.

  • Finding Nemo (any reference to):

    • FACT: The largest clownfish changes gender when there are no other clownfish of the opposite gender around.

    • Queer subtext: Nemo’s dad is never attracted to Dory, though they form a relationship of co-dependence. Very much like queer allies.

    • Incest subtext (see first point above).

  • Twilight (if it weren’t obvious already):

    • Domestic abuse subtext

    • Actually less of a subtext than a bloody explicitly looming overtone disguised as romance.

    • Actually maybe don’t ban this one. This one articulates highly traditional (perhaps even to an extreme) ideas of dominant, silent and violent brooding males and subservient, helpless females. Sounds pretty family friendly.

  • Snow White (any reference to):

    • Rape subtext: On many levels. Come on, seven dwarves? She has to be kissed by Prince Charming in her sleep in order to break the spell of the poisoned apple. This may sound romantic and all, but it also sounds creepily similar to how date rapes work.
  • Shakespeare (many, and any reference to):

    • Queer subtext (read it up!): Brutus/Ceaser, Hamlet/Horatio, Coriolanus/the other guy etc etc.

    • Shakespeare was also reportedly gay.

  • Any Batman comic that has Robin in it (all this material is derived from reading Brooker’s Hunting the Dark Knight):

    • Queer subtext. Robin was introduced to emphasise Batman’s masculinity by providing a more “feminine” body as foil. They introduced Batgirl later because the Batman and Robin relationship was seemingly creeping over from “no-homo bros” to “yea-homo”. Of course Batman was never attracted to Batgirl, so it essentially doesn’t prove anything.

    • Queer subtext (2): The carnivalesque costumes and sets that situates the Joker as Batman’s “opposite” is often read as antagonistic and, yes, that of a polar opposite. But what it can and also should be read as is that both parties are each other’s contrapositive (i.e. they are “alternate reality” versions of each other, but of course residing within the same space-time reality). Joker is queer Batman, is suppressed Batman, is a side that Batman can never fully remove nor should he. In one of the DC multiverse comics, the universe where Batman exists without Joker is the universe where Batman takes the place of joker. So basically, Batman has a repressed queer side.

  • Lord of the Rings (any reference to):

    • Queer subtext: Women all hang at a distance, while all the men have intimate and sweaty fun. The (all male cast of) hobbits love singing, poetry and dancing, and they hold hands. Also, everybody remembers Gandalf as Ian McKellen. More seriously, Gandalf and all other members of the all-male “fellowship” have no female love interest except for Aragorn, and some of their “no-homo bro” gestures border on being “well, I like you, so I’m bullying you” interactions (e.g. Gimli and Legolas).

    • (Do note that Legolas’ love interest in The Hobbit is entirely the work of Peter Jackson’s adaptation, and has nothing to do with the original work at all. It was bloody shoehorned in. See above re: Batman & Robin)

  • _ X-Men_ (any reference to, and all other work of fiction regarding mutants and superpowers):

    • Queer subtext: What is interesting about X-men is that all their super-abilities are seemingly framed as or are framed by disabilities. Professor X’s mental largess is framed by his utter physical impotence. Cyclops has laser eyes, but has to wear special sunglasses all the time — sunglasses that in any other semiotic instance would signify blindness. Wolverine (fascinating one by the way) has an indestructible skeleton, which means that in and out of the comics, he has to be utterly destroyed, crippled, disabled in order for the invulnerable adamantium to shine through. Rogue can absorb another person’s life energy by touching them skin to skin, but instead of making her more powerful it has turned into a literal social impairment (not unlike a metaphor for venereal and/or auto-immune disease). The list could go on. Point is: Queerness in film and literature tends to be marked by disability — a physical or social outsideness that usually prevents a character from assimilating into normal society (requires citation on disability/queer theory). All your X-men characters (yes, even Cyclops. I mean, they all wear spandex suits, come on) are queer.

    • Queer subtext (2): Jamesbender, Stewart and McKellen. Enuff’ said.

(Disclaimer: I’ve got work to do, so this is all you’re probably getting for a long while. If someone is willing pay me, this can be extended to a fully cited academically written article. Because all these queer readings are there, it just takes a less inhibited mind to see it.)