Man at His Best

Singapore's First Inclusion Rider

Witness the very first use of the Hollywood term in our local context.

BY Joy Ling | Mar 7, 2018 | Film & TV

What is an inclusion rider?

If you daftly misheard it as “inclusion writer”, no one blames you. Not even Frances McDormand. Explaining that she’s only discovered it a week prior, the Oscar winning actress aroused curiosity and confusion with the last two words of her speech. It’s basically a legal term actors can embed in their contracts to guarantee a certain level of diversity in both cast and crew. Simply put, McDormand is urging fellow celebrities to leverage their power to have films better reflect the demographics of today’s world.

Do we have that here in Singapore?

Short answer– no. But do we have such concerns? Very much so. Just look at the recent Masterchef Singapore controversy. After attaining the rights to Gordon Ramsay’s prominent cooking contest, Mediacorp decided to have the programme only broadcast on Channel 8. That’s not the worst. Potential participants were also requested to rate their mandarin fluency for the application. The backlash is justified, seeing how the decision has effectively marginalized the non-chinese speaking races. It’s unbelievable that these issues were not perceived by the producers before going forward with it, but the ultimate choice to forgo inclusiveness for the majority only points to commercial profitability.

Why is it worse?

Firstly, it’s not even a fictional show. It’s a real contest with real people. We’re not even referring to the world on a large scale, we’re talking about our tiny nation. Surely depicting our diversity is imperative. Above that, language is a literal barrier here. Despite tensions in the States, all races share the same primary language. We have that here, but that language is not mandarin. Meaning not only are the remaining races not represented, their chance to partake is removed.

A local inclusion rider

Let’s ease up. Let's not follow the Singaporean stereotype of taking things too seriously. Here's a tongue-in-cheek sample of what a Singaporean inclusion rider could look like:

Clause 1: Inclusion Rider

1.1 As an active member of the cast, in the name of Frances McDormand, I use my authority as an actor to demand:

(a) For featured women to look like real women, because isn't the success of Greta Gerwig and Wonder Woman evidence enough;
(b) Racial equality, imagine our own version of Wakanda Forever;
(c) Legitimate LGBTQ content, it's gonna take us a while to get to Call Me By Your Name but it's a start; and
(d) Accurate depictions of the disabled (and not just people acting impaired);

1.2 I hereby declare for the production to stay woke.