It’s impossible not to fall in love when you really know Malaysia. Located in South Asia, the peninsula is home to many religions and races including Malays, Indians, and Chinese. Because Malays are the dominant race, Malaysia is a Muslim country. West Malaysia borders Thailand in the north, and Singapore in the south. East Malaysia borders Indonesia and Brunei.Geographically, America and my hometown of Malaysia are an ocean apart. However, the cultural differences may not be what you expect.
People from all over the world, especially teenagers, love to go to the movies to relax and chill. And when I say chill, I mean literally. I stepped into the cool, air-conditioned lobby of a Malaysian theater. The lights were dark blue with pretty stylish light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Posters plastered the walls and movie characters could be found everywhere. A long line of people stood at the concession stands which sold the usual – popcorn, candy, drinks, etc. A dim hallway led to various theaters.
Inside the theater, it was pitch black, save the red lights on the side of the stairs that were supposed to guide you to your seat. Speaking of seats – when you first buy a ticket, you can book your spot in the theater, reducing the need to line up for seating. The chairs are all connected in one row – if someone moves in their seat, the entire row feels it. Before show time, there are no advertisements playing at all. Trailers last about fifteen minutes before the real movie actually starts. The movie is played in its original language with subtitles appearing in both Bahasa Malaysia (the national language of Malaysia) and Mandarin.
Not only is the atmosphere quite different, but there is actually a Censorship Board in Malaysia – and it’s quite strict. The rating is also split up differently – U is for General Audiences, P-13 is for viewers below age 13 to have parental supervision, 16 is for ages 16 and above, and 18 is for ages 18 and above. Cinemas have the right to refuse minors entrance to movies if they are not old enough according to the rating. For example, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was heavily censored due to sexual content to meet Malaysia’s standard of P-13.
“The censoring is very obvious,” Yee Ann Soo, a 17-year-old student, explained. “There is one scene inTwilight where the girl is giving birth, and in the next, she’s lying on the bed, half-dead. They cut out the entire childbirth scene.”
Titanic was also heavily censored, cutting out parts of the nudity scene and removing the sex scene in the cargo entirely. The censoring allowed Titanic to be rated a U.
“It’s pointless because viewers don’t know what happened – they can’t see the story in it’s full,” said Yee Ann. “It’s not exciting anymore. You miss out on what the directors wanted you to see.”
Even so, Yee Ann loves the movies and goes to the theater about once a week with her friends. Part of the reason why could be that the movie fare in Malaysia is three times less expensive than the movie fare in USA. Whatever it is, the younger generations of Malaysia and America have a favorite pastime in common – chilling in the movie theater.
Check out my phone interview with THE WANTED !!!
Q: How are you guys doing today?
The Wanted: Just chilling! [laughter] Chatting away on the phone.
Q: The ICE AGE movies are really popular among American kids, were they a part of your childhood?
Nathan: Definitely, definitely. I think I’m fortunate enough to be in the stage where, uh, I have been lucky to grow up with these films and it’s by far quite the best-animated franchise. So now I’m very fortunate to be part of it. It’s very easy for kids to relate to the characters. It really gets across the message of how important family is.
Q: Nathan, you say that on your Twitter, you’re actually the real life Sid the Sloth. How do you identify with him?
Nathan: He usually says the wrong thing at the wrong time. And there’s the same looks between us. I usually do mess things up in awkward situations and I make people feel genuinely quite awkward. I do my best. [laughter]
Q: How was the making of the Ice Age video different from the making of your regular music video?
Siva: This video had a green screen. We’ve never worked with a green screen before, and we were standing on makeshift icebergs. It was fun. We made it in the afternoon, and there was this big power cut and we piled up the whole block. It was weird. The residents weren’t very happy.
Q: What was it like apologizing to the angry residents?
Max: It was in LA. They were a little bit angry, but we said they could come in and watch what we were doing in the darkness. When we finally got the lights back on they watched us film it and that really cheered them up. And the video is coming out next week, if you want to see it.
Q: How does chasing the sun link to Ice Age 4?
Jay: I think the part where they play it in the movie is pretty cool, where all the young guys are in this ravine, dancing around, they were going crazy, a little bit like partying. It’s a great moment and hopefully when they play it at the credits everyone’s spirit high. I hope they leave the movie still feeling good. We’ve seen the movie, so don’t be jealous.
Q: How was the movie?
Siva: Awesome. Really really funny. And Scrat, the little creature. He’s back again, with all his tricks. It’s just fun to watch. It’s a fresh funny movie.
Q: Manny, Sid and Diego find themselves in a whole different environment. They battle pirates, and different creatures. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s scary. Since you’ve been thrown into the spotlight, what is the funniest and scariest experiences you’ve had in your new environment?
Nathan: Good question! I’d say the scariest moment that we’ve had, was when we first got together, we were playing very small venues. The most we played for was 77 kids. The next day, we played in front of 77 thousand people at Wembley Stadium. It was quite a jump from one extreme to the other. So that was quite a scary moment for us. As for funniest… I have a short memory, so I’d say that my funniest moment over the last few weeks is definitely watching the Ice Age films.
Q: Besides Ice Age 4, what’s your favorite movie for kids?
Jay: Asides from the three awesome Ice Age movies, I think that the Lion King is an original classic and it should always be watched by everyone.
Max: I think E.T. is a great one for kids.
Siva: Beauty and the Beast is also a good one.
Tom: Toy Story!
Nathan: Toy Story 3. It’s heartbreaking. I cried about five times when I was watching it.
Max: I’ll give you one more. Big, with Tom Hanks in it. It just shows that being a kid actually is great. It’s so important. And it shows that you don’t need to grow up too fast.
Q: What is the best thing about America?
Nathan: The people of America are so optimistic. So welcoming, so endearing. And you especially, you’re so cute!
Siva: I think America has a great spirit – if you put your mind to something, you can do anything you want. Kids in America do grow up thinking that if they want to be, they can be the President of the United States. That’s really cool. I’d say that the movies are amazing. For example, the Ice Age films.
Nathan: I’d like to say, not just because you’re so young and we’re being overly nice, but we’ve been doing interviews all morning and you’ve been by far the best. You’re really, really, really good. [Applause]
Q: What’s it like traveling together?
Max: It’s really cool. I think for Justin Bieber, he’s young and he’s on the road by himself, I think maybe he might get kinda lonely sometimes, but the fact that we’ve got each other, it’s so much easier and a lot more fun as well.
Q: Does it get awkward sometimes?
Jay: We’re like the pack in Ice Age. Each one has their different roles. There’s the awkward one – that’s Nathan. Of course there’s also the tough one, so Max looks after us. Everyone has their different roles and we all fit in nicely.
Cierra Ramirez and Raini Rodriguez talk to KidsPickFlicks about growing up, stage fright and the difference between making a TV show and a movie, particularly their movie GIRL IN PROGRESS. @ www.KidspickFlicks