S’pore child actor draws flak for CNY video

Amos Yee, 14, sparks a storm of online criticism after uploading a satirical video titled 'Chinese New Year'. (Photo: Screengrab from YouTube)
Amos Yee, 14, sparks a storm of online criticism after uploading a satirical video titled 'Chinese New Year'. (Photo: Screengrab from YouTube)

Fourteen-year-old Amos Yee has sparked a storm of online criticism after uploading a video that mocks the upcoming festive season — what he calls "a joke".

Not too amusing to most viewers, unfortunately.

Many have hurled names and insults at the "We Not Naughty" child actor since last Sunday, when the satirical video was first posted on YouTube.

Yee first found fame last year through The New Paper's inaugural short film competition where he won both the Best Actor and Best Short Film awards.

The recent video, aptly named "Chinese New Year", has been making its rounds on several social media platforms. As of Friday afternoon, it had garnered some 18,600 views and 5,500 dislikes.

Throughout one minute and 40 seconds, Yee, who comes from a traditional Chinese family, can be seen dissing the Chinese New Year while speaking in a heavy American accent.

"We already have a new year so why do we have Chinese New Year?" he exclaimed.

"It's like somebody from China said, 'Hey America has a new year and we don't have one. Oh let's quickly copy that idea and then make it a festive season for us'," he continued.

"After all we've been copying America for food, cars, machines and other stuff so, no harm doing it here… And we'll make the most creative name for the copy of the New Year; we'll call it Chinese New Year."

The Zhonghua Secondary School student also poked fun at the origins of the zodiac, which he 'explained' stems from a desire to act at the zoo.

The quick-thinking teen was quick to clarify, however, towards the end of the video that the clip "was just my (his) fake representation".

"All I'm saying is that it really doesn't make sense to me 'cos it's just rehashing the same idea again," he added.

Yee's act did not sit well with most viewers. The bulk of the 4,500 comments left on the YouTube page were less than friendly, with many users throwing profanities at the boy.

Wrote YouTube user archidoug, "Such disgrace. Know your roots brat.. if not read up before you make such a video."

Another read, "I feel so ashamed for him, childish prick who thinks he's got the world figured out. This kid needs to apologise."

A few were more forgiving of the child's play, however.

"I think people miss the point that Amos Yee actually KNOWS that CNY is NOT a ripoff of the western new year. He's just pulling something out, not entirely factual, to make fun of it," wrote YouTube user AbosolutelyParaside.

According to TNP, Yee, who typically gets up to 2,000 views per day for each video, has expressed that he is "open to criticism".

"I love feedback… The video is a joke executed well, but it attracted a lot of hate," he acknowledged. "(But) it shows that people are interested in me."

Last week, the young star also raised brows at a press conference when he criticised veteran film-maker Jack Neo's upcoming "We Not Naughty". Neo, 51, had hand-picked the boy for his role in the movie, reported XinMSN.

"There's something a bit wrong with the structure… There shouldn't be so much weird transitions," Yee told XinMSN. "And that bothers me. In fact my whole family agrees that it looks freaking messy."