Malaysia Bans Hit Song ‘Despacito’

Written by Irfarina Ahmad Nazli

Despacito, a song by Luis Fonsi, has gained worldwide popularity over its catchy tune and strong influence of Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee. Originally written in Spanish, the song won numerous award nominations in year 2017, among them ‘Teen Choice Award for Choice Single: Male Artist’ and ‘MTV Video Music Award for the Best Song of the Summer’.

Image courtesy of Google

Even so, the song’s popularity did not settle well with a majority of the Malaysian public. Stating that there have been public complaints about the song containing obscenity, the Ministry of Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions (MCMC) has decided to ban its song and music video on government-run radio and television stations. Private companies including YouTube however, were unaffected by this ban. It was believed that the song, when translated fully to English, contained sexual innuendos and was a cause for concern.

“Let me surpass your danger zones until I make you scream and you forget your last name.”

“We will do it on the beach in Puerto Rico. Till the waves scream dear lord. So that my seal stays with you.”

“I want to see how much love fits in you”

These were part of the lyrics, rife with hidden sexual meanings. The song described the pursuit of a love interest, but after viewing the translation, many claimed it to be an “un-Islamic porn”.

While some celebrities and news portal did not report favorably over Malaysia’s action, others like the Sun (United Kingdom’s news portal) was in agreement, seeing that it was undoubtedly “un-Islamic”. The action of censoring or banning of lyrics and music videos is not new in Malaysia. Contents deemed inappropriate and touches on religious sensitivities, containing nudity or sexually explicit connotations will experience removal and will not be displayed for the public.

Lady Gaga would know this. The controversial pop singer takes the cake for having the most songs banned in Malaysia. Popular songs like ‘Telephone’, ‘The Edge of Glory’ and ‘Swine’, all by Lady Gaga have been on the banned list, mostly for depicting strong violence and vulgar use of language. There was also ‘Judas’, which was banned due to its relation to Christianity, but in an offensive way.

Sexually explicit content is highly commercialized nowadays, not just in songs but in television, films and magazines, making it a norm in today’s culture. Its audiences are widespread, creating the impression that we need to conform to identical standards share by many across the globe. This has resulted in change of value orientation, bearing towards media to show us what is worthy. It is a dangerous thought as many tend to perceive
information on print and electronic media to represent reality, when it naturally isn’t so but are inclined to be staged to appease to a wider audience.

Perhaps, to improve the situation, education institutions such as secondary schools and higher education institutions can form mock organizations assisting the MCMC and CFM to allow members of the public understand these agencies’ roles. At the moment, awareness on these agencies has not reached satisfactory level, unless the individual is required to learn about them in their courses such as mass communication and law. To have active members of the society, everyone should be given adequate exposure of the agencies including knowledge of its roles, in order to avoid an overlapping of roles and complaints.

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