In face-conscious Malaysia, blowing the country's mind with a sex tape is not just the domain of celebrities.
Mere civilians, simply by posting a little online kink, can become celebrities overnight.
If Alvin Tan, 24, and Vivian Lee, 23, were American or European, they would be just another forgettable sex-blogging couple. But they're ethnic Chinese Malaysians, an education-focused, conservative, close-knit demographic that dominates the nation's business world. Both appear to be high achievers: Lee is a recent college graduate and Tan, according to the Channel News Asia, is a law student at the National University of Singapore.
Their now-suspended "Sumptuous Erotica" blog, an archive of raw photos and videos shot during their intimate couplings, has made them the talk of Malaysia. News of their blog has appeared in almost every major publication in the country.
According to the Malaysia Insider, a police chief says the couple may have violated "obscenity" laws. The Malaysia Star ran devoted an entire story to a psychiatrist's unflattering appraisal of the duo's mental health. Yet another piece in the Star quotes various parents suggesting Tan should be castrated and totally unsubstantiated assertions that the couple must be on drugs. "It is all right for Westerners to do this but not Asians," Lee told The Star. "This is double standard. I cannot understand why people have to judge us.”
What's behind this obsession with a couple of attention-seeking, twenty-something amateur pornographers?
It's not the porn per se. Even in Muslim-majority Southeast Asian nations such as Malaysia, online pornography is accessible. The country mostly seems fixated on the fact that two young, ethnic Chinese Malaysians would take a chainsaw to their family reputations. Perhaps doubly shocking to Malaysians is how they appear relatively unfazed by the notoriety.
In a YouTube clip, Tan asked, "What do we have to apologize for? Hurting your soft, sensitive feelings?"
The blog is down for now because of "family pressure," they explained, though it may return in the future.
"My parents ... are not as open or cool as Alvin's parents are," Lee said. "It's more of what you call a 'face' thing."