Imagining Modernity in Contemporary Malaysia: Non-Western Soap Opera and the Negative Urban Morality



This chapter is concerned with how urban Malay women negotiate and imagine modernity mediated through imported television dramas. In the earliest phase of television broadcasting in Malaysia (during the 1960s and 70s), Western soap operas were reported as being the most popular programs among local audiences. This trend continued after the privatization of the television industry in the early 1980s. Many Western soap operas, particularly those from the United States, such as Dallas, Dynasty, Baywatch, and Beverly Hills 90210, were the most popular programs.1 However, the images of modernity in these American soap operas, with their emphases on consumerism, materialistic lifestyles, and sexuality, were criticized by local authorities as a threat to Malay cultural life. Therefore, from the early 1980s onwards, authorities sought to counter the perceived negative influences of American popular culture by promoting images of modernity from culturally proximate, non-Anglo-American locales. Nowadays, soap opera remains a popular television genre that Malay women utilize to engage modernity discourse.


Local Authority Cultural Resource Muslim Woman Moral Learning Soap Opera 
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© Azizah Hamzah and Md Azalanshah Md Syed 2013

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