The cutting of three same-sex kisses from the movie The Hours diminishes us. It speaks volumes about how underdeveloped we Singaporeans are as modern cultural citizens of the world.
The irony is that today, we Singaporeans have done the same thing. Our boorish actions have also connected a group of people, both real and fictional, across time - albeit in reverse. By cutting up this brilliant movie, we have reached from present to past - to censure a wonderful group of artists and their works of art. In a single narrow-minded stroke, we have robbed a this movie of three heartfelt scenes, insulted the integrity of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book and reached all the way back to 1925 to slap Virginia Woolf herself for daring to write so poignantly about something we all know exists - the expression of feelings between people of the same sex.
We may smile at this irony. But it's a sad smile.
These great artists and their timeless creations deserve better. And so do we.
These kisses would not have required an R(A) rating or have been censored had they been heterosexual. Poignant and passionate as they are, they are just kisses. The only reason we are being denied them is because they are between people of the same sex. Well, it is time we got over our squeamishness about same-sex affection. Most modern communities in the world already have and it's time we did too. If we don't, we can kiss our dreams of being a creative and cultural city goodbye. Let's stop pretending that gay men and women are not all around us. They are our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters - and they most certainly are our 'unmarried' uncles and aunts. Most of us wouldn't want these precious people to disappear from our lives. By the same token, neither should they be invisible in art - which after all, is simply a mirror held up to life.
Virginia Woolf herself was attracted to both men and women. In Mrs. Dalloway, she describes how Mrs Clarissa Dalloway - though married to a member of Parliament - reminisces about a kiss exchanged with a woman years earlier. From Virginia Woolf and through Michael Cunningham and the makers of this heartfelt movie, this magical kiss reverberates across time to us. Let's accept it with grace and gratitude.