The Internet reacts to the hideous Miss Universe Singapore 2018 dress
It's only been a couple of days since the unveiling of Miss Universe Singapore's Trump-Kim Summit inspired dress, but it's already all over the Internet. Every Lee, Muthu and Mohammed has been jumping on the hashtag, #MissUniverseSingaporePhotoshopBattle, to join in this deeply embarrassing cultural conversation with their own interpretation of what truly symbolises Singapore. From food items like durian and Old Chang Kee to political memes of Lee Kuan Yew's iconic tearful moment during the separation of Singapore and Malaya, the virality of the dress has travelled beyond our shores, landing on international newsrooms such as Fox News, Vox and Washington Post. All jokes aside, it's baffling how the hands of two misogynistic men can be plastered on the crotch of a Miss Universe dress. It's not lost on us that Trump himself used to own the broadcast rights to the pageant until only a few years ago in 2015. Comedian Sharul Channa said it best: "Print the MRT line on the dress. It would be a better breakdown than this one." However, we're not one to lay down criticism without offering up any solutions of our own, so here are two subjects that could have potentially inspired the dress.
The little-known Chetti Melaka community
The Chetti Melaka is a fascinating community, with a unique culture that blends together Indian, Malay and Chinese influences. Also known as Peranakan Indians, they speak a language, Chetti Creole, which combines Tamil, Malay, and Chinese dialects; wear traditional outfits that reflect Javanese, Bugis, Acehnese, Batak and Tamil fashions; and have a cuisine that marries Indian, Malay, and Peranakan Chinese culinary styles. While Peranakan culture has been fetishized and overdone in recent years, the Chetti Melaka community was only recently under the spotlight when the Indian Heritage Centre reached out to the community to co-create the exhibition, 'Chetti Melaka of the Strats: Rediscovering Peranakan Indian Communities'. The exhibition, which consists of never-before-seen objects, will be on view until 5 May 2019. What better way to export Singapore's multiculturism on a global stage than a dress that brings together three of Singapore's main races. It's an important point to reiterate once again during these divisive, nationalist-driven times.
Hawker culture in Singapore
Since the announcement of Singapore's plans to nominate our hawker culture for inscription on the UNESCO Representative List by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally 2018, more than 150,000 individuals have pledged their support for the nomination of our hawker culture online. With the launch of the travelling Our SG Hawker Culture Exhibition, more Singaporeans will be pledging their support and sharing their favourite memories, leading up to the submission of the nomination documents in March 2019. With all the debate and discussions surrounding the social enterprise-run hawker centre model in the past year, it would be timely and apt for a dress to champion our hawkers and our unique food heritage.
Well, if you are still hungry for more, check out the unveiling of the current Miss Universe Singapore dress in slo-mo below before diving into the comments of some of Singapore's cultural personalities. And if you thought Miss Universe Singapore's dress was God-awful, wait till you see Vietnam's baguette monstrosity.