How do Malaysians know who Maria Ozawa is?
By Zan Azlee
OVER the weekend, and even up until today, the trending hashtag and topic on social media in Malaysia, especially on Twitter and Instagram, has been #MariaOzawa.
If you don’t believe me, just check it out online.
Ozawa, it seems, had posted several pictures on her Instagram account showing she was on holiday in Kuala Lumpur with her boyfriend, Jose Sarasola. And these photos were regrammed and retweeted so many times.
But wait a minute? Who is Maria Ozawa and why is she a trending hashtag on Malaysia’s social media map? I for one have never heard of her. Is she someone famous? Is she a politician? Is she an actress or performer of some sort?
A quick Google search told me she was once a very famous adult film star – yes… a porn star! No wonder her name didn’t ring a bell. As a Malaysian, I am so protected and shielded by the moral police that I’ve never been exposed to that industry.
As far as I’m concerned, pornography and adult films only exist in morally decrepit and corrupt countries, which, according to our moral police, are countries situated to the west of Malaysia.
And God forbid we ever become like them.
And thankfully, we will continue to be protected here in Malaysia because of all the moral policing that still goes on. The Multimedia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have and will continue to block immoral websites (ahem… and politically unfriendly ones as well).
Back in the 1990s, then-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had promised Malaysians the Internet would never be censored. This was part of an initiative to build Malaysia’s very own Silicon Valley and create a knowledge-based society.
Clearly, though, that’s a long-forgotten promise.
In the past few years, the authorities have blocked and banned all kinds of websites. Porn sites are blocked and even certain news portals, some of which are not merely blocked but banned totally.
We also have the religious authorities, who enforce all kinds of moral restrictions on the population such as censoring and banning films and movies that they deem unfit for public consumption.
You might remember the recent hullabaloo over Disney’s remake of the Beauty and the Beast children classic.
Local censors had wanted to cut a song-and-dance scene that apparently referred to a character as being gay. Disney wasn’t too happy with that and the screening was shelved for a while.
Oh what a fracas it caused.
The religious authorities were so afraid the two-minute scene would cause a whole section of the Malaysian population to suddenly change their sexual orientations and turn into homosexuals.
And then there’s the banning of books.
The Malaysian government has banned many, many books over the past few years.
Publishers have been brought to court and writers have been forced to stop writing. Faisal Tehrani is one example.
Which is why it was funny to me how #MariaOzawa made it to Malaysia’s trending list.
It seems many, many Malaysians know who she is. Her presence in Malaysia even received wide media coverage with major news outlets (both mainstream and alternative) reporting on her being in the country, such as The Star, New Straits Times, Malay Mail Online, BFM 89.9 and many more.
It seems everyone’s very familiar with her work.
But wait a minute – how is this possible? Thanks to our moral policemen, shouldn’t we be an extremely moral society, one that upholds all the values of a strictly religious country and that rejects anything and anyone even remotely associated with immorality… like porn stars and the porn industry?
Unless of course, it is actually impossible to systematically police morality because morality is really a matter of personal choice and responsibility.
[This article was originally written for and published at AsianCorrespondent.com]
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Hi, Mr Zan. Just wanted to rectify one thing: Malay Mail has actually been around since 1896, younger than The Straits Times (predecessor to Malaysia’s New Straits Times) by 51 years. So, I wouldn’t say that MM is strictly an online news portal. Though to be fair, I can see why people are much unaware of the print versions compared to the online site…
By the way, love your Film Club.
The are two operations… The Malay Mail print newspaper and MMO (The Malay Mail Online).
Oh.. thanks for watching The Fat Bidin Film Club!! Yeyyy!! We have a viewer!! Heheh! 😊