On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Unkind cut for international superspy

According to a report in The  Star on
Friday, the board concluded that numerous cuts would  disrupt the flow of the film.

Unless you have been in deep  freeze, Malaysians would be able  to recall that not too long ago,  Austin Power's 1997 hit International Man of
Mystery was  screened on RTM.

Although there were cuts here  and there,
our psychedelic hero  still came out
smashing, as he  would say.

That movie was screened on  television
with its dose of sexual  innuendoes and
double-talk, and  escaped the scissors of
our censors.

But two years later, the censors are back and they have become more demanding,
ready to  pounce on our superhero.

It's a sin, suddenly, for Malaysians to watch Powers lose his  “mojo'' (sexual libido) in the  Swinging Sixties.

Our swinging spy has suddenly  become the
villain overnight. It's  certainly not a
very groovy thing  for our censors to

Malaysians laughed too fast  when they
mocked and ridiculed  the Singaporean
authorities for  initially trying to
replace the  word “shagged'' with

The equally puritanical Singaporean censors, too, had felt the  need for its cinema goers to behave.

Thanks to them, Singapore  found itself a
subject of global  ridicule, with Austin
Powers  fans laughing as hysterically
as  the nefarious Dr Evil.

But at least the Singapore authorities realised before it was  too late that the move was ludicrous, and
eventually allowed  the movie to be
screened without  making any changes to
the title.

Malaysian authorities, however, seem to be frozen in some  kind of time zone.

The movie is merely a parody  of James
Bond, whose movies  were thick with
explicit and implicit sexual innuendos of the 
agent's sexual abilities.

One wonders why no Bond  film, some with
Agent 007 sleeping with at least three different  women in one movie, escaped  the censor board's scissors.

Meanwhile, the Austin Powers  movies
which make fun of such  libidinous heroes
by exaggerating their sexual prowess to the 
point of ludicrity is not spared.

Obviously, the censors are also  unaware
that many people have  already watched
the sequel.

Film-goers fed-up with foot dragging only have to visit their  neighbourhood pasar malam  VCD seller to get a pirated copy  of the movie.

Even those who genuinely  want to
“behave'' and watch the  movie on the
big screen and not  patronise VCD
suppliers now  have no choice but to
resort to  the evil of piracy.

The saddest part of this episode is that the report of the ban  came on a day when the Cyberjaya project was

Those behind the project are  well aware
of the need to fend  off attempts to
exercise censorship on the Internet.

Coincidentally, in launching  Cyberjaya,
Multimedia Development Corporation executive 
chairman Tan Sri Dr Othman  Yeop
Abdullah voiced his concern about enforcement of cyber  laws which they said could stifle  the market.

Dr Othman also said a world class studio would be constructed as part of the
Entertainment  Village in Cyberjaya by

Before we do that, it might be  a good
idea if the censor board  can be
consistent in its review of  movies.
There is obviously no  clear

Our censors should also realise  that
Malaysians are quite mature  in their

Most, if not all, know when a  movie is a
joke, and Austin Powers is one big joke of a hero, and  hardly the beautiful stranger  that he is made out to be.

Finally, the authorities should  realise
that the joke is on us if  they persist
in their Victorian  standards.

It is obviously not a groovy  thing to do
to Malaysia's image.