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Cancel Culture for a Dummy: Alfian Sa’at Wants to Lecture Xiaxue?

Cancel Culture for a Dummy: Alfian Sa’at Wants to Lecture Xiaxue?

Singaporean playwright's armchair ignorance at its "finest".

Cancel Culture for a Dummy: Alfian Sa’at Wants to Lecture Xiaxue?

2400 1600 Michael Petraeus

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ingapore’s intellectual heavyweight, provocative enfant terrible, eternal talent Alfian Sa’at thinks he knows a thing or two about cancel culture and decided to lecture Xiaxue about it. Sadly, it turns out that the 30 second Google search – that he surely based his “response” on – was rather full of holes, emphasizing his utter ignorance of – and hypocrisy about – this, and many other, issues.

Not that it’s particularly surprising coming from someone who is merely a knock-off transplant of the “edgy” Western culture of denigration of one’s nation for little else than cheap publicity masquerading as “art”.

As I explained in one of the posts before my own Facebook page was taken down due to repeated assaults of cancel mob, Alfian represents the people who refused to grow up and now have to somehow justify their existence by trampling decades of productive effort of several generations of their predecessors building the country that now gave birth to spoiled brats like him.

But, since late is always better than never, let’s attempt to educate the lost Malaysian boy who appears to be too ignorant in his conceit to understand what’s going on around him.

Cancel Culture for a Dummy

Dear Alfian, cancel culture is not about signing petitions, burning sneakers and sending angry complaints to companies. It’s about targeted harassment that aims to erase a person from existence, be it real or digital, merely on the basis of their opinion that the angry mob disagrees with.

Let me present you a blunt example:

Personally, I think Alfian Sa’at is an ungrateful idiot, a spoiled brat, a tumor on the healthy tissues of the otherwise remarkable society of the best country in the world. And a traitor to it, who revels in making treasonous statements to look “edgy”, hopelessly vying for attention, trying to trigger some emotional reaction from onlookers that his “art” and dreary, unimaginative pile of characters he labels as “poetry” never could.

But for all my disdain for him, his views and even his work it never crossed my mind to petition whatever theatres his plays may be held at or whatever bookstores that may carry volumes with his name, to stop giving him space, to remove his work, to block him from presenting anything that he does. I don’t want him banned from Facebook or Twitter, or wherever else he likes to peddle his delusions. I don’t want his poems erased or piled up and burned for a barbecue on a sunny day (even if I think that would be by far the best use for them).

Is it now clear what cancel culture is about?

Naturally, one cannot expect some of the biggest whiners, crying all the time how they are being targeted and “oppressed” – even as they haven’t lost a single platform and enjoy a growing following – to understand what cancel culture means. After all, Alfian himself wanted to run workshops on dissent in Singapore – so he seems to be quite into active resistance by all means, regardless of consequences.

All of a sudden sympathizers of “equality” and “justice”, which are just their fancy slogans obscuring their sympathy for socialist state interventionism, talk about “free choice” and “free markets”, and how companies can make their decisions. Hypocrites.

Of course in his bottomless ignorance of international affairs, Alfian brought up Colin Kaepernick as an example – surely someone he closely identifies with, because both of them happily shat on the countries that have given them everything.

But contrary to what Alfian claims, Colin Kaepernick wasn’t ‘cancelled’ by anyone, even if many people wanted him gone in one way or another (Nike even ran an international campaign around him – damn, I’d love to have been cancelled like that – in the meanwhile I’ve been robbed of a few years of my work and barely salvaged access to about 10% of my original followers).

NFL did not block Kaepernick’s employment either – not that the league itself would be even able to do that since it’s up to decisions of individual teams to employ players they want.

Turns out the self-identified Singapore-born Malaysian didn’t even care to take about 30 seconds to learn how sport industry works – and yet he’s out here on social media swiping, lecturing others about things he was too lazy to even check.

Why doesn’t that surprise me?

Colin Kaepernick left San Francisco 49ers quite voluntarily – he wasn’t kicked out and later he wasn’t really shunned afterwards either, regardless of the victimhood narrative he peddled to explain his dry spell.

Back in 2016 Kaepernick had three surgeries and wasn’t a starting quarterback. And after the end of the season the team brought on a new coach and sat down with the player to discuss his diminished suitability for the tactics that he wanted to play. They would likely have released him but, instead, Kaepernick decided to leave on his own. At no point was there any shred of a hint that he was being cancelled by the team for his behavior.

His bloated ego blinded his judgment (incidentally, that’s another thing he happens to share with Alfian).

The truth about Colin Kaepernick was that he just wasn’t good enough to land a job for the money he wanted.

Was there a publicity component in there too? Absolutely. Of course teams are going to look at the entire package that a player brings, including his public image – and, yes, they were under no obligation to sign him. But if Tom Brady had kneeled and then left his club, does anybody seriously think he wouldn’t have landed a massive deal with some other team right the next day? There would be queues outside his house.

Scores of others players kneeled during the American anthem in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019. Somehow they are still playing.

So, no, Colin Kaepernick wasn’t sidelined because of his controversial behavior. He left the club failing to realize that he was too mediocre a player, making more noise than good plays, and wanted to be paid too much for anybody to employ him. During his time off the pitch he was even tried by a few teams, but ultimately landed no offers. Nobody shunned him, he wasn’t ostracized, he didn’t, like Nike claimed in its ad, “sacrifice everything”.

Of course becoming a martyr was highly beneficial as it did the exact opposite of cancellation – it put spotlight on Kaepernick.

To claim that it’s somehow comparable to being hounded by people who disagree with you and then petition your bosses, investors, partners, sponsors to fire you, to ban you from social media platforms, to destroy your life’s work, to call the police on you and send you death threats is a mind-numbing display of stupidity.

Though not really surprising coming from someone who not only sided with Malaysia violating Singaporean sovereignty but had the cheek to chide the city-state for “jingoism” when Mahathir was attacking it.

These are exactly the double standards of cancel culture embraced by the woke crowd and the sympathetic media, desperately trying to push a certain ideological narrative. Something that Alfian is not only obviously oblivious to – but also has kept drawing benefits from over the years.

Because yes, you can see the same in Singapore too.

For all the cries and whines of the fans of opposition activists and parties – who today have the cheek to claim they want a more diverse discourse in the parliament (lol!) – not one of them has been cancelled by the supposedly “oppressive” government. The worst that happened was when New Naratif was refused registration in Singapore over its hefty foreign funding. But it wasn’t banned from the country and is freely publishing its misguided, manipulative content – as long as it does not contain outright lies, like in the case of PJ Thum, who published false information about POFMA and was compelled by law to correct it.

He still has his Youtube channel and his website. He still takes money from foreign donors peddling ideas as preposterous as reunification of Singapore with Malaysia, while denigrating the city-state, its society and its history whenever there’s an opportunity to.

Terry Xu, who employed Malaysians masquerading as Singaporeans and is now, thus, pretending to be running a site about the entire region, is still an opposition hero preaching how bad it is to hire cheap labor, while benefiting from it. His social media accounts are perfectly fine, he’s enjoying a reach of hundreds of thousands of people every week and even had the guts to file a police report about me – surely out of jealousy that facts that I publish get more traction than his lies.

In the meanwhile my page was unpublished because I tried to protect myself from the cancel mob, as my personal account has been regularly harassed for the past several years. I only have access to messenger right now, after being banned for writing about how someone else called me a Nazi – while the offending comment and the author were not found by Facebook to be in violation of any rules.

My life, my business, years of work have all been badly affected as a result. And not only mine – I’m not some singled out martyr here. People are losing years of efforts with a click of a button under pressure of angry morons all over the world and here comes a coddled brat who loves to whine how bad Singapore is and waves it off as if it was some sort of a mirage. And give him five more minutes and then he’s going to complain how bad the PAP is.

When Raeesah Khan – new MP no less – was found to have peddled scandalous accusations about Singaporean judiciary or law enforcement, transplanting foreign ideas of some ingrained racial privilege, riling up ethnic discontent, she was immediately defended by the same people who ganged up on Xiaxue or me.

Or Ivan Lim, when he was off-handedly accused by somebody who didn’t like him of “arrogant” and “elitist” behavior 20 years ago – and subsequently lynched and had to pull out of the election.

And now the middle-aged sage, freethinker, “national treasure” and “loving critic”, who had the temerity to question LKY’s legacy just as the nation mourned him, comes out to preach ignoring everything that has happened in the past months and rediscovers free market rules that he suddenly uses to dismiss the idea that cancel culture even exists.

Meaningful art is rooted in reality – it’s an outcrop of its observation and evaluation, an intellectually demanding endeavor that requires insight and considerable knowledge to then challenge its spectator. Sadly, modern day “artists” have grown to believe art is about expressing themselves in denial or rejection of the reality. They have no duty to the society, only to themselves – it’s all about “me, me, me”. Small wonder they can neither create anything valuable nor even talk about the world from the echo chambers they have locked themselves in.

I think it explains how we went from Mona Lisa to a banana taped to a wall.

And how we ended up with playwrights whose main stage is social media.

Banana duct-taped to a wall sells for $120,000 at Art Basel

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Michael Petraeus

Economist, marketer, designer and business strategist publishing about the past, present and the future.

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