From relief efforts to the Kpop craze to the reopening of live events and cinemas ― 2021 in the Malaysian entertainment industry

·6-min read
It was a bumpy road for Malaysia's entertainment industry in 2021. ― Pictures via Instagram/ TA Nam Ron/ Naim Daniel/ Altimet/ Aleena Murang
It was a bumpy road for Malaysia's entertainment industry in 2021. ― Pictures via Instagram/ TA Nam Ron/ Naim Daniel/ Altimet/ Aleena Murang

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 ― Covid-19 brought the entertainment industry to a standstill in 2020, and while many had hoped for 2021 to be better ― it was a bumpy ride.

Many events and shows were still being done virtually earlier in the year, with the second quarter offering some hope of a recovery with the national vaccination drive.

Many local celebrities rallied behind and the reopening of live events and cinemas in the third quarter of the year.

While it was slow on the business side of things, many industry practitioners did not forget those who were struggling to cope with relief efforts.

Here’s a quick look at the local entertainment industry in 2021.

Relief efforts for the rakyat

As many continued to struggle to make ends meet during the pandemic due to the closure of many sectors, local celebrities started their own relief efforts to help.

The #BenderaPutih movement, a Rakyat initiative, sparked on Twitter in late June to assist those in need without them having to feel embarrassed to ask for help.

The movement called out to those in need of food or other essentials to raise a white flag outside their homes to enable necessary aids to be delivered by their fellow Malaysians.

Local artists such as actresses Sharifah Amani and Izara Aishah as well as radio host, Fara Fauzana were among the celebrities who had used their social media platform to spread the #BenderaPutih movement by calling the public to lookout for their neighbours who might need help.

Other celebrities such as rapper and producer Altimet, actor Sharnaaz Ahmad, singer Naim Daniel and many more mobilised their own relief efforts by supplying daily essential packs and opening food banks to help those in need.

Actress and singer, Elizabeth Tan donated half of her July’s salary as part of her initiative to help Malaysians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This wasn’t the only time local celebrities came to the rakyat’s aid this year as the ongoing flood crisis struck various parts in Malaysia, saw many celebrities assisting yet again with what they could.

While some celebrities were affected by the flood, those who were not helped with efforts to clean-up as well as collect and provide essential items to flood victims.

Celebrities such as Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza, Wawa Zainal, Caprice, Neelofa and more were involved with relief efforts for flood victims.

Local actor, Amerul Affendi even took to his Twitter, urging the public to stop watching his new film Prebet Sapu and asked them to help the flood victims instead.

The return of live events and cinemas

It was announced some live events sectors had been given the green light to resume operations in March.

The caveat came in September as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the reopening of the entertainment sector only to fully-vaccinated Malaysians.

The news was warmly welcomed by industry players especially cinemas operators who had lost over RM600 million due to the closure of cinemas more than a year ago.

The closures of cinemas had also affected over 20,000 workers in the industry.

Kpop Craze

A customer posing with his BTS Meal at the McDonald’s outlet in Seksyen 3, Shah Alam. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
A customer posing with his BTS Meal at the McDonald’s outlet in Seksyen 3, Shah Alam. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

In May this year, popular Kpop group, BTS, introduced a special meal set in collaboration with fast food franchise, McDonalds and Malaysia was the first country in Asia to get a hold of it.

The set contains the boyband’s signature order, namely 10 pieces of Chicken McNuggets, a medium serving of fries, a medium Coca-Cola, and sweet chili and cajun dipping sauces inspired by popular recipes from McDonald’s South Korea that came in a BTS-themed paper bag.

The launching of the BTS meal set resulted in the crashing of both the McDonald’s delivery app as well as the online delivery service on their website.

The special collaboration meal also made it to the top trending topics in Malaysia on Twitter.

In November, short form mobile video application, TikTok released insights and trends of Kpop on TikTok in a collaborative study with Kpop fandom data service, Kpop Radar.

The study revealed growth in Kpop content on TikTok over the last three years, with the number of such videos tripling from 33.5 million in 2019 to over 97 million in September 2021.

It was also revealed that Malaysia ranked at number 10 for countries obsessed with Kpop content with 2.8 per cent of Kpop-related video creation.

Other countries listed in the top 10 list include Indonesia, Philippines, Russia, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Making the news

Sarawakian musician, Aleena Murang bagged a few international awards for her Warrior Spirit music video.

Sarawakian musician, Aleena Murang bagged several international awards for her ‘Warrior Spirit’ music video. ― Picture via Instagram/ Aleena Murang
Sarawakian musician, Aleena Murang bagged several international awards for her ‘Warrior Spirit’ music video. ― Picture via Instagram/ Aleena Murang

The singer-songwriter and sape player won two awards at the International Music Video Awards in the UK in July this year where she took home the Best Asia & Pacific Music Video and Honourable Mention for Best Costume awards for her latest music video, Warrior Spirit.

In December, Aleena’s Warrior Spirit also won the Best World Music Video award at the Buenos Aires Music Video Festival 2021 in Argentina.

Earlier in June, local filmmaker Chiu Keng Guan who made his directorial debut in China, where his film On Your Mark raked in a total of RMB37 million (RM24 million) at the box office over the opening weekend.

The award-winning director is best known and loved in Malaysia for films such as OlaBola, The Journey and Think Big Big.

His latest outing, was a heart-warming story about a boy diagnosed with multiple sclerosis who achieves his dream of running a marathon with the help of his taxi driver dad.

The film became the number one film in China on opening day in terms of viewership and film schedule, collecting RM8.7 million when it premiered on June 18.

Meanwhile, the local entertainment industry was shocked after an email from a TV station regarding a controversial casting requirement circulated on social media.

The screenshot of the email by the TV station revealed that talents must have at least one million followers on their social media as a requirement.

This triggered outrage on social media among local artists.

Actress Sharifah Amani shared the screenshot of the ‘requirement’ on her Instagram urging other local artistes to leave and stop working with the said company.

“If you think this is ridiculous and unfair, speak up about it. Know better, do better not only for yourself but for the wellbeing of others as well,” Sharifah wrote in her post.

Award winning director, Namron, took a humorous yet sarcastic approach on the talent requirement issue by posting a shirtless photo of him on his social media in order to garner more followers.

“I accepted the challenge from a TV station and some local producers who wanted at least a million followers on social media.

“Road to one million followers,” Namron wrote on his post adding he would offer a full frontal if he managed to get a million followers before 2022.

Other artists who are against the ‘one million followers requirement’ included actress Nabila Huda, actor Beto Kusyairy, Iedil Putra and more.

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