Local Movies: Progressive, or Disoriented?

Looking through the list of local movies being produced since the past two years, one must admit that the local movie industry is definitely going somewhere. Some may say that the local movie industry is improving and constantly increasing in terms of global recognition. In terms of its video and audio quality, special effects and use of CGI, I must agree that we are improving. Compared to the local movies in the 90s, our cinematography is far better nowadays. However, movies are not just about the quality of its cinematography. Rather, it is an art of expression, a depiction of culture and an important medium to convey messages to the people which will thus shape their thought and acts. It is important for us to note that movies have a very strong impact on its viewers, so strong that it could bring a negative effect on the viewers.

When I read yesterday’s (12 June 2007) newspaper and came across an article about actors Pierre Andre and Fasha Sandha performing a kissing act on film, it got me thinking deep. Although the actors did not actually physically kiss each other as the scene was made with the assistance of camera effects, the real issue here is not about whether they really kissed each other or not. The issue is about conveying a message to the society which could, and would, affect them significantly. Looking back through the movies that we have produced since the past two years, I began to question whether we are actually progressing or disorienting. The only progress – if only ‘progress’ is the appropriate term to use here – is that our movies are practically being influenced, bit by bit, by the Western culture and style of producing movies.

True, not everything from the West is bad. However, not everything from the West is good also. Therefore, we have to be very critical and have a high sense of cultural confidence in ourselves. When we look back into the fact that movies have a very significant effect on the society, it means that we have to be really careful about what we are showing to the people. We Malaysians have within ourselves strong cultural and religious values which I believe is seriously disintegrating, part of which is the effect of movies from the West. Therefore, why do we need to make our movies Westernized?

Movies such as Gubra, Sepet, Mukhsin and 9 September are movies which are, in such a way, teaching the young generation of our country trends and lifestyles of which have no cultural or religious roots in our society. Coupling, let alone kissing, was never a culture in our society. It is a culture imported from the West, mainly from Western movies that penetrate our media. Therefore, I do not see the need for us to emulate the West. True, there are positive things that we can learn from the Western movies, but never ever rule out the negative things. Our movie industry must have their own identity, and help to shape the society by conveying positive cultural and religious values.

Our prominent academician and motivational expert who is also the President of International Women Society of Malaysia, Dr. Robiah K. Hamzah, said in an article published in Berita Harian that the movie industry must assist in the development of the society. They must focus on portraying a clear identity and message, and not just focus on gaining popularity by imitating the West.

Most of our movies focus on depicting, and sometimes exaggerating, the reality that is happening in our society. The problem is, the reality is already far from our cultural and religious roots. Thus, what our movies are doing is that they merely contribute towards intensifying the Westernization process that is already going on in the society. This should be a grave concern for all. I firmly believe that we have no need to depict and exaggerate the reality of the society to the society. The society knows their reality, for they live in it day in and day out. If, really, the purpose of studying and showing reality is to find ways to solve its problems, than it should not be made entertainment. Not everyone in the society has the proactive mentality to respond to the messages portrayed in the movies in a positive way. Most people look at movies as mere entertainment, and these people get influenced by them to the extent that it changes their lifestyle.

Wouldn’t it be better, far better, if our local movie producers could produce movies that would focus on educating the society towards having strong cultural confidence, and to hold firmly to the roots and fundamental values of their religion. To my understanding, our local movie industry is getting disoriented. For, to be progressive is not to be westernized, but rather to achieve our full potential as a civilization. We cannot build a sustainable civilization based on the culture of others, but we have to hold firm to the roots of our local culture and religious values. Therefore, it is time that we seriously review what our local movie producers are producing, so that the movies that we show to our society will be beneficial and play a significant part in nation building.

Most importantly, it is noteworthy for us to ponder upon a verse in the Holy Quran that illustrates the beauty and outcome of good and meaningful message;See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high).” (Surah Ibrahim, chapter 14: verse 24)
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12:40 pm ×

To think that kissing in movies is due to western influence i think you are wrong. Asian society has been in shackles and fear mode for so long , they wont even admit that they knew to kiss hundreds of years ago.
People from the west never needed to teach us how to make babies .
Art imitates life. Movies are a form of art. Unless you're talking about cicak man.
Indian art has depicted men kissing women a hundred years ago. The shahs, who were muslim enjoyed these forms of art until islam became more rigid in its views.
I think that to put the blame on the west for everything is distasteful as we all express ourselves differently.
Now society is progressing in a way where kissing is no longer taboo, or vile.
It is alright to give love and show it in movies.
a kiss does not advocate immorality, unless you have immoral thoughts.
A kiss advocates love. There are always lessons to be learned . With art , it is best to keep an open mind and heart,. Religion and art should not be mixed.

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