KUALA LUMPUR — The movie ‘Godzilla’, which opened early today was relaunched under a new title to comply with a new law requiring all creative, entertainment and cultural products to be more positive and heartwarming, as well as more sensitive and safer for the Malaysian audience.
The science-fiction action feature film, based on a Japanese TV series about a giant reptile running amuck in Tokyo, became the first creative product to be affected by the Harmonious and Positive Element in Entertainment (HAPEE) act, which falls under the purview of the Information Department of the Malaysian Information and Communication Ministry. The act, unanimously passed by Parliament in February, stipulates that any entertainment product, be it broadcast, printed, published online or performed live to the general Malaysian public, must not contain any element which are deemed negative, harmful to society or disrespectful to Malaysian values and sensitivities.
When contacted, Ministry spokesperson Pn. Laminah Gastono said that the movie was retitled ‘Go-zilla’ to “refocus the movie on the positive values such as being a ‘go-getter’ and reflects ‘constant improvement’ attitude”.
“The relaunched movie retains much of the original content, with most of the action sequences and dialogues largely untouched,” said Laminah. “The HAPEE editing committee is very much aware that Malaysian viewers are mature and can form logical, sensible decisions based on educated opinions. As such, we only edited around 45 per cent of the film, which contains aggression, violence, swearing, sexual innuendos, judgmental connotations, insulting barbs or negative elements that may cause fear and provoke certain audience members to react adversely.
“Our concern is the mental wellbeing of the Malaysian audience. Heaven knows we’re already being bombarded by so much negativity in the media every day, with bad news making the headlines with gory pictures turning our stomachs. We look to entertainment products such as movies, TV shows and songs to feel better, so the job of regulators is to ensure that the entertainment is truly positive, heartwarming and provides harmonious good feeling.”
Laminah added that HAPEE is an improved version of the censorship policy it replaces, both in spirit and in the tools used.
“The censorship regulation used previously only covered certain aspects of entertainment and applied varying standards for different products. As a result, we saw many cases of inconsistencies: some movies ended up showing too much negativity, while some others got butchered unnecessarily. And we also saw different treatments received by TV shows, movies, concerts and such, thanks to different entities handling each product. HAPEE happily takes over the role for all creative entertainment and edu-tainment products.
“And as for tools, we are also a lot more creative in protecting the eyes and ears of the Malaysian audience,” added Laminah. “Thanks to a robust new technology developed in-house, we no longer have to rely only on cutting, blurring or pixellating sexy scenes and bleeping curse words. We can now replace offensive elements with wholesome, family-friendly ones automatically, and even rewrite the storyline to be more healthy,” she said, before demonstrating the new, always smiling Go-zilla trudging around New York while meowing and purring like a kitten, spreading love and well-wishes all around.
Laminah also stated that Godzilla was the perfect movie to be the pioneer HAPEE-certified product.
“First of all, we replace the first syllable with ‘Go’, because as you know, the word is a sensitive one in Malaysia. To remove any possibility of anyone being confused between a giant reptile and a religious term, we decided that it was better to change it altogether. And what better way than to change it to such a positive, forward-thinking and innovative word such as ‘Go’! Always moving, always improving!
“We’ve also made sure that upon watching this film, the audience will feel nothing but happiness, joy and benign sentiments. Even the soundtrack has been automatically edited — the fear- and suspense-inducing parts have been replaced with tunes from popular children’s nursery rhymes,” adding that the Incy Wincy Spider song was her personal favourite. “In the end, no city gets destroyed, nobody dies, no fear is felt and absolutely no guns were fired — nay, even appears — in Go-zilla. Everyone lives happily ever after.”
Laminah said that the HAPEE committee is already in the process of editing a few films, TV shows and performances slotted to be released in the coming weeks and months.
“The X-Men: Days of Future Past will have all its negativity removed and edited. We find that ‘X’ has negative connotations, implying a ‘No’, so we’re changing that to a ‘Yes’. And since our committee finds ‘Days of Future Past’ is rather confusing, we’re editing that too,” she said proudly, adding that thanks to the HAPEE committee’s efficiency and technology, ‘Yes-Men: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow’ will open in theatres as scheduled on May 22. “So, without spoiling the plot, I say: do look forward to a positive, happy, conflict-less, non-mutated character-filled tale of love and remembrance of history.
“And while we’re talking about history, HAPEE will also revisit all the creative works already available in Malaysia, including those targeted to children,” added Laminah.
“Has anyone realised how violent children’s fairy tales and nursery rhymes are? In almost every one, somebody gets injured, maimed or brutally killed! Hansel & Gretel — death and cannibalism. Jack & Jill — horrific and bloody accident while climbing up the hill. Humpty Dumpty — broken limbs and certain death after falling off a wall. What insanity is all this? I suppose they are a reflection of the sad, angry old war-mongering days of our feudal ancestors.
“So we’ll clean them all up, and positivise everything.”