I only caught a bit of the National Day Parade 2010. But with the amount of money and resources put into the rehearsals and into the ceremony (not talking about the unpaid labour), we could probably solve destitution in Singapore.
On to happier things, the NDP is all about sex.
You have the pure untainted virgins that are the PAP members of parliament, clad in white, symbolising not only their uncorrupted characters and political personalities, but also their scandal-free family-man/womanhood. Almost neocolonial, but it's rather Western and Christian to view the symbolism of white as purity of character, soul and in the case of brides, virginity.
Then, you have thousands of nubile schoolkids performing in front of them. They are "doing it" for the nation. They prance around in the vagina that is the Padang, look up to their masters that are the VIPs and the cameramen. The historic City Hall is a breast with an erect nipple by the way. And everyone is oriented towards suckling its colonial teat.
Remember that NDP is celebrated in a context of growing infertility and low replacement rates, necessitating government intervention in the form of immigration of foreign talent. The symbols of fertility and virility run amok in NDP.
The parachuters represent the sperm being ejaculated from the air and finding their destined path onto the Padang. This is no bullshit semiotics. There is always something very vagineral about architectural structures designed for spectatorship. Look at football stadiums and the Colosseum. They represent this (heterosexual) male gaze and fascination with the vagina.
And the crowd cheers each time the parachuter lands safely, paralleling the joy when the sperm meets the egg and shazzam, credit goes to some deity.
The jet plane formation is also rather phallic. They move vertically upwards in unison before splitting up to make a symmetric shape, representing both a blossoming flower and how the happy ending in a dodgy massage parlour conspires.
Speaking of phallic. Look at those armoured vehicles and tanks. The vehicle specialists stand erect next to their turrets as they salute their masters in a stately manner. This shows that they are in control of their gun and that they know what to do in times of need - procreate, not fornicate. The serious look is a look of one who knows he has to do "the job".
The tank turrets represents the penis. Always erect, yet subservient to the state. As the penises, I mean tanks, make their parade before the VIPs (also seen in the decentralised celebrations in the slums, I mean, heartlands), they are lowered, showing obedience to their masters. And when they are raised in all their erect glory, producers of the TV show added in some audio work, involving wild cheers. It appears we have a complex against erectile dysfunction, and that any semblance of an erection is worthy of a national holiday.
The parade commander too is all cock, as in penis cock, not Hokkien cock. They are different species altogether by the way. He holds his sword firmly, stately and vertically, lingum incarnate. His posture too represents the ever erect penis, ever ready for newer duties. The formations behind him represent testicles, with each unit (sperm) knowing their role and waiting to be instructed on what to do. Of course, these sperms, I mean performers, will know when to run wild later in the NDP show.
The parade commander does his sword salutation, a military tradition. But we all know the military is penis-infested. Lingums everywhere that will make any flaming homosexual man blush like the cultural stereotype of a school girl. As the commander raises and lowers his sword, it symbolises that erection may be commanded and summoned as and when to fulfill its necessary duties. At the same time, it represents the dick worship, or rather, kowtowing to SR Nathan, the guy who suddenly becomes very important and relevant for one day, other than that charity show with acrobats and crying celebs.
The sword/penis is not in its sheath/vagina because there is a parade to be done. This represents the suspension of pleasure for the greater cause, that is the national cause. I can hear Lee Hsien Loong going "oooo yess, more more".
You see, Singapore is shackled by an influential form of religiosity that defines sex in the frames of procreation, rather than recreation. Pleasurable sex would be sinful, according to Victorian morality. And then we have religious and/or conservative Singaporeans saying that Western values corrupt us, when they are actually steeped in Western values themselves to protect against these perceived cultural ills. Fuck you, understand?
I did not get to see the president do an inspection and then a tour on a rover around the parade ground (similar to NDPs conducted at the National Stadium). His inspection represents the government (although the president is technically, on paper, by right, more powerful than the government. DON'T LAUGH!) inspecting the sperm count of Singaporeans.
"Hello, sperm! Why aren't you working today? Got fertilise or not? I give you 5-day work week liao! Must fuck! Must fuck! Do the job!"
Then there's the part of the NDP when the president would make a tour on a rover around the parade grounds. This represents the foreplay of the orifice (I'm open-minded, because it can be both the vagina, anus, mouth, ear) before things get heated up on the parade grounds.
Of course, the climax would be the 4-5 minute long orgasm of fireworks. This sustained ejaculation (speaking from a masculinist heterosexist point of view, because if you're from COOS for example, female orgasms don't exist) is represented by the display of fireworks. It also symbolises the orgasmic climax of sex, and the ideal of shooting off your load, into the sky nonetheless.
Perhaps it represents a reaction against the sexual asceticism and the low birth rates of Singapore. Here we have a vagina of a Padang, laying agape, but the "fireworks" are blowing up everywhere around it. Like taxpayers' money, they represent sexual wastage. But who gives a shit? People still cheer because after seeing 2 hours of erections, another ideal set for heterosexual procreative Singaporeans to achieve, they need to finish the job. Cum on me Singapore.
It is also apt that the two finalists of the latest installment of Singapore Idol perform. You have the guy, Sezairi and the girl, Sylvia, representing a heterosexual union, singing in harmony (they sang well by the way). So heng, right? We could have had Taufik and Sylvester, or Hady and Jonathan, in their awkward homoeroticity glory. But Singaporeans have too much to handle on their plates, so they'll settle for interracial unions for the moment. Homosexual unions will have to wait.
Did Kit Chan emerge from a mini vagina of sorts? That represents what the government want - babies!
Speaking of babies, I am reminded of the emphasis of youth every NDP, where school children are volunteered to perform. Child labour of sorts. And are rationally rewarded with points, an inception into a (Singaporean) economic logic of numericisation (we are all digits in the economic imperative of the PAP government).
But it is highly ironic that the achievements and potentials of youth are articulated within the frames of nationalist discourses, reflective of a particular Soviet Union. It is highly ironic that we still have National Service to rob young male athletes of their youth and opportunity, all the while promoting Singapore to be a sporting culture. The age of 16-21 are the make-or-break years of an athlete. No wonder the government is making so much cheerful noise about the achievement of our female athletes, as it is an attempt to drown out and divert attention away from the realities in which the growth of our male athletes are stunted, if not destroyed. The government should just keep it real and say we want Singapore to be a vibrant sports hub for female athletes! Female athletes can follow their dreams; male athletes can follow state orders.
It is all the more ironic that Singaporean men are generally subjected to 2 years (plus another 10 years of obligation) of regimentation, of body, mind and sexuality, geared towards one cause in nation-building, baby-making. But in a fast-paced economy, goal-oriented education and other relevant policies, expectations change and materialism thrives. People marry later, have fewer kids and have larger generational age gaps, in turn changing socialisation. Ok, enough of the rant.
Well, the NDP is oversaturated with penises and vaginas, enough to make a George Lim Heng Chye alternate-tab whatever gay pornography website he was browsing and shoot another email to the Straits Times forum, complaining about the immorality of symbolism in a public performance.
This year, we fly our flags, which means get our penises erect, and live the dreams of a state faced with the duty to arrest declining birth rates, by making babies via legitimate means. Last year, we "came" together. This year, we still need to be erect. I wonder what next year's NDP brings...