So Despacito has been banned from any government-run radio and TV stations in Malaysia (RTM channels only, we are still hearing it on private radio stations). For some people, that may be a blessing in disguise, considering how overplayed that song has become. Whenever I hear that song I roll my eyes but faithfully sing and dance along with it, as I’m sure most people do at this point. But at the same time - of all the songs to ban - why this one? Government officials claim that this decision was made due to the many complaints RTM was receiving about the lyrics being unsuitable for the public (not that Spanish is a common language to know in Malaysia).
The reactions to this media ban were mixed. Many, like me, are fine with this ban because we’re all sick of the song. But on the other hand, one has to ask what makes this song so inappropriate. There are no English versions of Despacito that the Puerto Rican natives Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee released, unless you count Justin Bieber casually coming in for a couple of relatively appropriate bars in a remix. The song is in Spanish, so a majority of Malaysians have no idea what the song is about, it’s just a catchy tune to dance to.
For those of you who don't speak Spanish, here are some of the raunchiest lyrics we could find translated for your convenience:
"I want to undress you with kisses slowly, sign the walls of your labyrinth, and make you whole body a manuscript... When you kiss me so skillfully, I think that you're malicious delicately... Let me surpass your danger zones, Til I make you scream and forget your name."
Most people would not have even known that the song is about slow love making (now you know, if you weren’t aware of this before), until RTM and Amanah began to publicise this. And while it’s within their rights to ban a song they deem inappropriate, that still doesn’t stop it from being played on private radio stations and music streaming services. And it is important to point out that Despacito is tame in comparison to other songs that are allowed to be played on the radio. Take, for example, Fifth Harmony’s Work from Home or Beyonce’s song, Blow. Not exactly the most kid friendly songs when you take the time to decipher the innuendos. There have been many songs over the years that have either been banned or censored within Malaysia. For instance, Elle Goulding’s song, Love me Like You Do while the clean version of the song was released, the music video accompanying it was heavily censored due to scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey that were in it. That film is banned in its entirety due to its explicit sexual content.
This is not the only time censorship in Malaysia has caused controversy. In March, there was the whole mishap with the Beauty and the Beast film and its ‘gay moments’ that were deemed inappropriate for children in Malaysia to see. This eventually led to the Disney movie to get a PG-13 rating and released with no screen cuts.