'Smart joke' vid backfires on teen

Child star and YouTube personality Amos Yee has come out to say that he was just making an "intelligent joke", and not mocking Chinese New Year festivities.

The 14-year-old - an aspiring film-maker and actor, who played a minor role in Jack Neo's We Not Naughty - has come under fire for a video he uploaded onto his YouTube channel on Sunday. In the 1min 40sec clip, Amos called the Chinese New Year a rip-off of the Western New Year's Day.

"It's like somebody from China said: 'Hey, America has a New Year and we don't have one. Let's quickly copy that idea and make it a festive season for us,'" he said in the clip, speaking in American-accented English.

Speaking to my paper, the Secondary 2 student of Zhonghua Secondary School in Serangoon clarified that the video was satirical and not meant to insult anyone.

"I think most people are angry because I put in elements not typically found in the videos Singaporeans make," he added, referring to his Americanised speech, "exquisite" brand of comedy and the fact that he was a young person who was prominent for something other than excelling academically.

The clip has since garnered over 150,000 views. It was also posted on citizen-journalism website Stomp on Tuesday.

It has amassed a host of negative reactions online. Some netizens have called him an "insolent brat" and an "ignorant child", while others drew similarities between him and other YouTube personalities.

Said Stomp contributor justacomment: "(He's) influenced by Peter Chao. I like Chao but not this kid."

Chao is an Asian video blogger from Canada, infamous for his coarse language, thick accent and video content that often accentuates Asian stereotypes.

However, Amos explained that he does not harbour any ill feelings towards Chinese New Year festivities. In fact, he enjoys visiting relatives and eating pineapple tarts, he said.

His video may have triggered an outcry in cyberspace, but some netizens have called on their peers not to overreact, considering Amos' age.

Said Stomp contributor thomthumb: "(He's) just a little pipsqueak bored out of his brains and letting off steam."

Stomp contributor lesterjason said: "It is just plain acting."

The video may have sparked mixed reactions, but it certainly isn't Amos' sole claim to fame.

Last year, he won accolades for Best Short Film and Best Actor at The New Paper's First Film Festival. Neo, who was the head judge at the festival, was reportedly so impressed by Amos that he cast him in a minor role in the movie We Not Naughty. The film opened in cinemas yesterday.

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