I wasn’t going to bother talking about this, but then there’s this beautiful picture that needs to be shared, so I might as well discuss both the incident and the commentary all at once.
The story is this- a girl (some say Ah Lian) was sitting in the reserved seat. A middle aged lady (auntie) asked her for it. Ah Lian gave up her seat. Auntie claimed that Ah Lian was giving her black face. Took out her camera, wanting to take picture. Shouting match ensued. Video was taken. Everyone enjoying the lulz.
I was reading another story about this cab driver who suspected he was about to be robbed and tried to take a picture of his would-be assailant… and subsequently got assaulted for it, pretty badly.
What is this obsession with taking pictures of people? I can understand if you want to discreetly take a picture of a cute girl or something, but why would you be so bo liao (brazen?) to take a picture of someone who’s obviously pissed off with you in some way? Asking for trouble, right?
And what is this frustration with eye contact or “black face”? I don’t get it. If you want to give me “black face”, go ahead, by all means. It’s your face, not mine. It’s not my problem. Why should I get worked up because you’re doing something stupid with your face?
Anyway- I wanted to talk about the picture, which I love, and lots of other people do, too- over three hundred shares the last time I saw it.
Why so popular?
Allow me to avoid being politically correct for a moment- I think we all share a common loathing of these aunties.
I don’t mean to say that all older Singaporean women are like this- just the noisy, obnoxious ones with the entitlement mentality. The image captures it beautifully- the loud prints, the umbrella, the handbag, the raised arm and the open mouth- these are the ones that are typically mean to service staff, smack the bus seats before they sit on them, and generally give out dirty looks wherever they go. They’re also probably the ones that like to compare children, to gossip and to generally be a bloody nuisance.
I like that this is going viral, I like that we seem to be reaching a critical mass where we collectively agree that this sort of auntie-ness is annoying and frustrating- so much so to the point where we don’t even really complain about it anymore, we just sort of accept it and poke fun at it. Aunties will be aunties. They are a part of Singapore.
If I had the time, energy and artistic ability, I’d write an entire series of comics with the auntie as anti-hero- immortalized now by the polka dot prints and the umbrella. The adventures of Auntie and Ah Lian. With guest appearances by Steven Lim, Aaron Tan and the like. Somehow I feel like they all contribute to the ridiculousness of Singapore, in a kinda good, funny way.
I especially like the reference to the MRT poster. Utilizing all these existing motifs instead of trying to create new ones. Art is inherently referential- you can’t create anything completely new and independent- you have to use existing ideas and put them through new things.