Two weeks ago, I was shocked by a trending music video Empat Dara (the four virgins) that is so bad in editing and so revolting for its lyrics. In the midst of hustle and bustle, and in the middle of doom and gloom due to COVID-19, watching such bad Malaysian production can be extremely depressive (at least it is for me). However, I find the base melody quite similar to classic Malay poetry, therefore I decided to do some diggings.
Before we watch the horrible (yet funny) piece, lets first listen to the classic one by Noraniza Idris.
The classic Empat Dara sings about the dilemma of a young man, choosing from the four demure and talented virgins to make his ‘courting move’. It inherits the conservative values of Malaysian culture.
The COVID-19 (2020) Version
According to Faizal Tahir, the ‘production’ of the music video was triggered by Elly Mazlein in her now viral Instagram video challenge to him. Without taking too long to think, he sportingly sent out invitation to Elly Mazlein and Zizi Kirana to produce a music video entitled Empat Dara 2020. Faizal said, “Dia (Elly) mintak masuk, kita masuk lah (since she has asked, so I just comply)!”
Due to the COVID-19 CMCO, I believe the safest (probably the easiest) way to collaborate is to combine each other’s footage after shooting respective parts in front of a green screen, then combine together by one editor. This reduces the additional costs in transportation and studio rental, also minimises the risk of contracting unwanted diseases (including COVID-19 of course).
However, unexpectedly, the result is simply horrific yet funny. Every character sticks out from the flat background like a sore thumb – few floats above the ground without any shadow, few are of different proportions compared to the others. Under pre-COVID-19 circumstances, this level of art might be normal for student projects, yet this is now being uploaded for public consumption.
To be honest, the real highlight is in the rolling credit. Different from usual names, this one is filled with descriptions about the personnel or the reasons for not having one, like “not enough budget” and “done by a neighbour’s cousin”. It is brutally honest. Under many restrictions of CMCO, many activities are not scale-able, therefore the income of everyone is severely limited which directly impact the expenses on arts. In this case, it’s the creativity and ingenuity that prevail.
This piece of abomination might not be a masterpiece, but it perfectly embodies the difficulties during COVID-19 pandemic and the Malaysian resilience in trying to have fun. It may not be the best art, but it will be the icon of 2020.