My grandmother reminisced about her teenage years on the entertainment that were served and the fun that she had, until it made me put myself in her shoes and take a trip down her memory lane, and I believe that all of you here will have fun imagining what I will say after this like a 6D movie, or doing it like the 60s, a blockbuster experience.
How many of you here are movie-goers and will go to watch every movie that is launched? The cinema was one of the main source of entertainment for the society in the 60s since the TV industry in Malaysia was not yet strong and most of them didn’t have one at home. It was costly to purchase a heavy, box-like TV just to have only two channels. Not to mention about the endless knockings that have to be done in order to get a perfect picture. The Malaysian filming industry was dominated by Hindi and Indonesian movies. In case if you’re wondering, our local visual and sound entertainment industry grew much later than the other Asian and Western industries, as what I was told by my grandmother. She said that she would have dates with my grandfather to the movie premiere screenings that usually occurred at midnight, a day before the actual release date. The tickets were limited, but it wasn’t restricted to certain groups compared to the movie premiers that we have today which are usually done in a closed event where only invited personnel is allowed to experience the movie firsthand. When you go to the booth or buying the tickets online, you must be contemplating which hall should you choose. Comfortable seats? Bigger screen? Layered sound? Private and exclusive? Family friendly? Just name it, there’s a hall for everything, ranging from many prices. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case back then. The price usually cost around RM3. Even the student promotion every Wednesday is RM10, excluding popcorn and soft drinks. I guess that was why they had the privilege to watch without any reluctance.
When was the last time all of you ride on a merry-go-round? Do you still remember the view that you had when you reach the peak of a Ferris wheel? Funfairs used to be the go-to place for family and friends. The funfair had a variety of family-friendly rides from the lightest to the most thrilling ones. They were also famous for their haunted house and the game booths where guys would win their girls over by winning them plush toys. One interesting part of the funfair that set it apart from the funfair that we had nowadays was the main stage where bands and amateur artists would perform weekly. Most known celebrities at that time started by performing at funfairs or joined a singing competition at this venue. All of you must have known the famous rides at funfairs as I mentioned earlier, the merry-go-round or the carousel, the Ferris wheel, the swings, the pirate ship and more. The ride fees at that time only cost cents so that was why it was affordable for everyone to enter.
I don’t watch The Greatest Showman, but the circus was indeed one of the main source of entertainment alongside the cinema and the funfair. The circus was run by foreign companies, usually from England or China. The circus would travel from town to town, and believe me, when the people heard that the circus was coming, they would rush for the front seats. Speaking about the seats, the seats were long benches like the ones we had at our school canteens. It was basically like the film, performers walking on trapeze, fire shows and whatnot, but the audience most looked forward to the animal shows. The circus would have birds and monkeys on the show, but sometimes they could watch lion or tiger shows if they were lucky. They were mostly amazed by the intelligence of the animals performing the show. However, the circus is now not popular among the society due to its controversial debate of any animal abuse that occurred due to the circus companies forcing and overwork the animals.
I guess that by now, all of you must have imagined the craze and fun if you’re in these places. Of course, it was fun in the 60s, but I believe that the important message that my grandmother wanted to tell me, the younger generation is that they had fun being with their circle of family and friends and doing things together. As millennials, we might have been disconnected with each other although we thought by making a chat group is enough. We should get back to the real conversations, the real laugh, not just by capslocking ‘hahaha’ or adding an emoji to our texts. Let’s get real, let’s feel real.