Entry VII – Reality TV; how it is affecting the conduct of girls

Monkey see, monkey do.

The imagery that one often conjures up in their mind when presented with that phrase would be boys up to no good.

This phrase, however, is unisex, and girls fare not much better than guys if presented repeatedly with certain behaviours to follow. It’s just the behaviors girls choose to follow are one’s that aren’t as explicitly ‘naughty’ as what one would see guys doing.

For instance, a study in the U.S found that reality TV had affected the behaviour and attitudes of girls who watched it more.

According to the study, researchers found a notable difference between girls who regularly consume reality TV and those who didn’t. Reality TV viewers also had an outlook of life that differed from peers who had preferred other kinds of programming. Some of the differences included the likelihood to gossip, the level of trust between girls, their competitiveness and their perspective of themselves

Many who watched reality TV felt that gossiping was a norm amongst girls, whereas there were a considerably less number of girls among those who didn’t watch that felt so. In addition, for girls who watched reality TV, many found it harder to trust other girls, but among those who didn’t watch it, they also experienced less difficulty. This, I feel is most likely due to many reality TV programs featuring scenes of women getting together to talk about another contestant, and how they dislike him or her.

Reality TV consumers were also found to be more competitive than their counterparts who didn’t consume such programs. This, I felt, was probably due to the competition element in many reality programs.

Most interestingly, to me, was the fact that girls who consumed reality TV programs saw themselves as mature, smart, funny and outgoing; they also thought of themselves as role models and were more likely to seek leadership roles.

As you can see, the idea of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ isn’t limited to guys only, and girls are susceptible to such influence also

After all, why not? Based on what I have learnt in my Communications, it is logical to assume that the mass media would affect either gender as much. As long as people are not discerning, they are susceptible to the media’s influence.

According to the Powerful Effects Theory, the mass media can be influential, especially when the audience is passive. This would explain, to some degree, why many girls are influenced by the reality TV programs, and have allowed the behaviour in these programs to define who they are.

However, as shown in the study, not ALL girls were affected – only 28% of the girls who watched reality TV felt they had to be mean to get what they want-  and as such the Limited Effects Theory would apply. For the remaining 72%, they were active and able to resist the influence of the women shown on screen, and were able to discern what their personal identity should or shouldn’t be from the programs.

The cultivation theory by George Gerbner would also be applicable to the girls who found it difficult to trust other girls, after they had watched Reality TV. Often in Reality TV programs, such as Survivor, there would be ‘interviews’ where women would talk about why they hated another girl, and the reasons they voted that person out. Perhaps such scenes have led girls to believe that all women in real life are ‘gossipers’, thus they cultivated a Mean World Syndrome, and think of other females as worse than they actually are.

Upon viewing the study in light of communication theories, it is no surprise that the results are what they were.

That being said, I do feel that it is unfortunate that the mass media can affect people’s behaviour to such an extent. In my opinion,  everyone should take steps to guard against the influence of media, and learn to cultivate a set of values and morals to abide by, rather than being thrown about by whatever the media gives us. This would definitely reduce the statistics of people  being influenced by media

What do you think? Does monkey see, monkey do, apply to you or people you know? In what ways do you think one can guard himself or herself from the influence of media?

For the article, please see here: http://www.divaasia.com/article/14776


Entry VI – Westernised to which part of the west?

I think most will agree that Singapore has been heavily westernized. But the question now is which part of the west?

Being a British colony in our early years, much of our education was later modelled after the British; likewise for our English. Since then, till today, our education has always strived towards producing students with Queens’ English. Unfortunately,  we often end up speaking Singlish, much to the lament of our leaders and policy makers, who have expressed much desire to stop us from using it. Despite our stubbornness with sticking to Singlish, I think many Singaporeans would still probably be able to drop the ‘lahs’ and ‘lehs’, ‘deys’ and ‘siaols’, and speak, to some degree, an English that sounds like what the Queen of Britain might understand.

Recently though, our former Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at a conference held by the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS), has suggested that Singaporeans learn American English.

He reasoned that it was necessary to learn American English as America’s media has had increasing dominance in Singapore. He also felt that America’s financial dominance should warrant us to adapt to their English, if we are to have improved business communication with them.

This stirred a media response, and RazorTV, a website by the Straits times, has done some coverage on how Singaporeans feel about the matter.

Their coverage may be found on the AsiaOne portal: http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20110915-299602.html

In their report, Razor TV interviewed several Singaporeans on their feelings towards Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s speech. They also quizzed Singaporeans on the differences between American and British English, as well as asked several experts on the implications of adopting American English.

Most of the interviewed Singaporeans felt that it doesn’t matter, and that as long as everyone can understand one another, it is ok. Some also expressed sentiments that Singaporeans who sounded too American or British, would come across as ‘fake’ to other locals. Others also said they don’t mind the implementation of American English as long as it benefits us, and also felt that the media is being dominated by it already.

When quizzed about the differences between American and British English; whether it was pronunciation or spelling, many of the interviewees failed to distinguish the two.

Experts who were asked about the matter felt that the difference between the two English’s grammars were difficult to pinpoint, and many would probably not see it save for the grammarians. The most distinct difference, they felt, would probably be spelling and vocabulary, as certain words such as colour, were spelt differently, and certain words may exist for British but not so for American English. That said, however, the reality is that Singapore has also seen the vocabularies being blended in everyday speech, due to the influence of British in the education system, and American media, and the differences are now also blurred. Ultimately, one expert feels that as long as we hit the internationally acceptable level of English, it would be alright.

From a communication standpoint, I can see how this issue is of debate, as it involves a very aspect of our culture – language. Having British English being used since Singapore was founded, it has very much become part of us, and is, in some ways, the seed from which Singlish grew. It’s grammar, it’s spelling, has in some ways become part of our belief of what English should be, and has been passed down for generations. For many of us, we have been programmed to structure our sentences with British syntax in mind, even if we add in the ‘lahs’ and ‘lohs’ from time to time.

Nevertheless, we have also been influenced by a lot of American media lately, and most of our TV shows, as well as movies, are from the US. Also, America is still no doubt a financial powerhouse, even if they are currently suffering from not a few financial difficulties.  As such I agree with Mr Lee Kuan Yew that we should consider using American English from now on. if not, it may lead to intercultural communication difficulties In future, especially in business dealings with the US. For instance, due to the current British English system, the likelihood of making errors related to the differences between British and American English is a bit higher. If errors are made, it may be perceived by American business counterparts as unprofessionalism from Singaporeans, thus creating cultural barriers in our business dealings. To counter this, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s idea is thus valid.

However, I also agree with the interviewed Singaporean public and experts, who said it may be difficult to change immediately, and time would be needed. I think many Singaporeans can identify with those interviewed also, in the sense that they are confused by the differences of American and British English. Since British English has been part of our culture of so long, and programmed into us, it would require some time to be unlearned, and for a different English to be learnt. Perhaps, as the experts say, the better way to approach educating American English is to just teach the next generation, rather than try to change the older generation. Also,  Singaporeans might need time to adapt to hearing the American accent. As said by one of the interviewees, our culture has somewhat programmed some of  us to think that locals with accent are ‘fake’ or superficial. If some of the populace speak with accent, and others English, we might even have cultural barriers within our own country related to the American accent, which is not too desirable, since we have enough barriers along racial and religious lines, and need not add another.

In sum, I think that Singapore should slowly work towards having an English that is more American, but while at the time remember our culture. This would help minimize intercultural barriers to communication within ourselves, and with the US.

What do you think? Should Singapore’s English be changed?

Entry V – Aliens have groups also, but Starscream is an ex-member.

This post in the nutshell: Who said giant transforming robotic aliens are difficult to relate to if watched on a screen? A cartoon series proves otherwise. They too can have many human-like features that allow us to relate  to them.

Back in the day when the Transformers first live action movie was being produced (in 2007); many fans were concerned as to how true the producer, Michael Bay, would stick to the franchise’s lore and history. When it was made known that Bay wanted to emphasize more on the human characters so that the general audience can relate to the show more, it raised eyebrows for many fans, who wanted there to be more focus on their favourite shape-shifting robots. Well, Bay continued with his plans for human focus, and produced the next 2 films with similar ideas.

4 years later, we have Bay to thank for the experience of 3 Transformers films, and this ‘thanks’ was pretty much well given since the third movie broke box office records for revenue.

Nevertheless, many fans still voiced their complaints, and some demanded a reboot of the movie series, saying Bay ruined the personalities of the Cybertronians (collective term for Autobots and Decepticons),  often citing Optimus Prime’s violent face destroying tendencies as an example. For the uninformed, these fans felt that in the movies, Optimus Prime almost always aimed for his enemies’ heads, and he either rips them up with melee weapons or blasts holes right through them with his cannons at point blank range; this is a stark contrast from the much kinder and forgiving Optimus Prime of the comics and cartoons, whose belief is that every Cybertronian can be redeemed, and that the Decepticons may yet turn from their evil ways; killing was seen only as a very last resort. Though I was not a major fan, and have never watched much of the original cartoons, I still had a vague of Optimus’ forgiving nature, and such, I also found the Optimus Prime of the live action films to be somewhat vicious, and that his true personality was not honoured well in the movies.

When I heard that Transformers: Prime, a new animated series,  was making its way to Singapore airwaves, on OKTO, I was excited about it, and looked forward to what it had to offer.

Here’s a US trailer of the show.

It had just concluded earlier in the week, I was pleasantly surprised by the series; the CGI was relatively very well done for a cartoon, the Transformers – especially Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Megatron, were portrayed in a way that was very reminiscent of the epic movie designs. Compared to past Transformers cartoons, this seemed to have the best graphics yet. The music and sound effects were good too, with an epically composed score capable of rivalling that of Steve Jablosky’s (composer for the movie sound track.)  Most importantly, it had a storyline that was seemed to stay true to Transformers lore, and the characters were represented with the correct personalities – Optimus Prime wasn’t a face-ripper; it seemed like a perfect blend of movie and cartoon animation, on television. As you probably guessed, I got hooked.

I also felt that the cartoon had effectively countered Michael Bay’s ideas about the perspective to take on Transformers films. He felt that he had to focus on the human characters (Sam Witwicky and his girlfriend) to make the audience relate. The cartoons were instead more focused on the Cybertronians, and I found that I could still relate to the Transformers on the cartoon, even in episodes with little or no human involvement. Not to spoil the whole series for you, I would just like to make reference to one episode, in which I found was related also to a recent communications lecture topic; that on group communication.

In one other later episodes of the series, titled ‘Partners’ (alternate synopsis, click here), we see Starscream (the Decepticon 2nd in command) declaring his loyalty to Megatron and the Decepticons, and from an audience perspective, it seems like he had turned over a new leaf; this is because in all the past episodes, he was seen always trying to usurp the rule of Megatron. However, shortly after his declaration of loyalty at the start of the episode, his loyalties were put to the test as he witnessed a recently rejoined member of the Decepticon team, Airachnid (a female spider-like transformer with a helicopter vehicle mode), speaking ill words about him to Megatron. She previously was a rogue Decepticon, but has rejoined recently due to circumstances. Due to Airachnid’s gossip with Megatron, Starscream suffered verbal abuse and interrogation by the ruler the Decepticons, and then tested when Megatron paired him up with Airachnid on a mission to recover some artefact that they intend to use in their war against the Autobots. During the mission, Starscream had a squabble with Airachnid, and in the short fight that ensued, she managed to bind Starscream down with her webs, and left him to die. This occurred just as the Autobots also made their appearance to intervene in the Decepticon’s schemes. As such, the Autobots found the bound Starscream, and captured him. Starscream, probably feeling betrayed by his own kind, declared his willingness to join the Autobots. As the story progressed, one of the Autobots, Arcee (a female transformer with a motorbike vehicle mode), began to converse with the captured Starscream, and in so doing discovered some ugly truths about him, specifically that he had been responsible for the deaths of one of her friends. Enraged, she challenged Starscream to a duel to the death, and sought to kill him. His life was spared only due to the well timed appearance of Bumblebee (who in terms of Cybertronian age, is probably a teen or minor), and Arcee, not wanting to show an act of killing before Bumblebee, withdrew her blade. Starscream then fled the scene, and eventually declared Neutrality, stating he would be neither Autobot nor Decepticon.

This declaration of neutrality, and also depiction of choosing sides between Autobot and Decepticon, reminded me of the concepts on groups. First, both Autobots and Decepticons are groups similar to ours, and have their own norms and group identities. Autobots were marked by their belief of freedom being the right of all sentient beings, mercy, mutual respect and other values idealized by their leader, Optimus Prime. Decepticons, on the other hand, were known for their cunning, ruthlessness and deception. In terms of organization, the Transformers have something similar to us as well; For Autobots, they have an Energizer, Coordinator, Orienter (and probably more) rolled into one, Optimus Prime, and then they have an information givers – Ratchet (a male medic transformer) who uses his computer systems to find critical information about Decepticon activity, as well as Bumblebee, who is considered a scout. The Decepticons on the other hand, have a form of Groupthink going on, with Megatron leading and not allowing for much dissension, and any rebels (e.g Starscream) were often dealt with harshly. They also have an information seeker, Soundwave, who specializes in reconnaissance, and been dubbed by fans as the eyes and ears of the Decepticons.

Starscream, being a Decepticon, fitted in to his group norms; he was cunning and ruthless when needed. He was often a deceiver as well, often pretending to be loyal to Megatron, only to grab the next chance to try and terminate Megatron’s spark (i.e. to kill Megatron) and claim leadership. Due to his cunning, and possibly strategic skills, he was able to rise to become the 2nd in command (more than full member), of the Decepticons. There he was able to enjoy his power, and for times when Megatron was unable to lead, he was in command. However, due to his a-bit-too-many tried and failed attempts and usurping Megatron, his leader grew weary of him and disregarded him, and as such he became a marginal member. This was further worsened by the return of Airachnid, who, as mentioned earlier, badmouthed him and questioned his loyalties. It is not surprising that shortly after being marginalized, and left to be captured, that Starscream would say he wants to defect to the Autobots. However, due to Starscream’s history and personality, he was unable to fit into the Autobot norms and values as well, and hence eventually left both.

In sum, this episode, and also the rest of the series, Transformers: Prime, clearly show how giant robotic aliens can be very much relatable to us, and a film on them doesn’t need to have a strong human element to be relatable. Thus, it is quite possible to produce a film in future that has greater emphasis on the robots and still have it enjoy success.

This, of course, is my opinion on the matter, but how do you feel? Should humans play a key role in a movie about Transformers?

Entry IV – An exciting first date; avoiding Abduction

Cathay’s Synopsis (click to enlarge):

It was an exciting first date for the main character, Nathan Harper (played by Taylor Lautner), and his girlfriend-to-be, Karen (played by Lily Colins), as they avoided capture from a bunch of trained killers. It wasn’t for me, of course, because I was watching the movie alone, not that there was anything wrong with that, because I still enjoyed the film.

Now, to clarify, I am neither a Twilight fan, nor am I familiar with the actor Taylor Lautner; I also did not read any of the online movie reviews before watching this film. I just went into cinema with a complimentary ticket (courtesy of my parent’s friend), an open mind, and expected nothing from the show. Of course, I was very pleasantly surprised with the eventual movie experience, and thought it was a good show… that was until I went home and read some reviews that slammed it pretty badly. Nevertheless, I do not really agree with the reviews and still think it is worth a watch. There was quite a bit of action on screen – with Nathan and Karen fleeing from one group of attackers only to run into the next, and also a romantic subplot between the two of them which I found rather interesting, because it reminded me some concepts about interpersonal relationships that I had learnt in my Communications class.

Before we go to that, let me try my hand at writing a “short synopsis”; that has the focus set on Nathan’s and Karen’s relationship…

From the audience point of view, we were first introduced to Karen when Nathan attended a party with his best friends, and it was there he made eye contact with Karen. However, Karen was already attached to another guy at that time, and so there wasn’t much interaction. However, Nathan did express interest by antagonizing her boyfriend; this led to a confrontation between the two and Karen had to keep them from exchanging blows. After they parted ways, Nathan and his friends then had themselves a good time, and Nathan eventually fainted from intoxication, and slept overnight at the party.

The following day, his parents heard of his misbehaviour at the party, and to punish him, they grounded him from any outings for the a week. This led to a scene where we see Nathan being bored, and standing around his house lawn after dinner. It was around this time that we next see Karen again, and she was arguing with her boyfriend on her front yard. The argument with her boyfriend ended up in a break up, with Nathan witnessing it. Karen noted Nathan’s presence as well and the two made short eye contact, as if the writers were indicating some kind of common understanding. From this scene, we also saw that Karen was Nathan’s neighbour.

Subsequently, we saw occasions where Nathan’s friends discussed his interest in Karen, and even one where Nathan tried to strike a conversation with her along the crowded school corridor, but again, he failed as she was with her friends and was hurrying to get to class.

In the following scene, we see Karen and Nathan being in the same sociology class; and it was in this scene that things became interesting, as while professor began explaining their mid-term research paper, and assigning partners to the students, he had paired the two of them. This led to Karen going to Nathan’s house to do research, and as they interacted, some small talk followed. It was in this discussion that many of the key plot developments to both the main movie storyline, as well as romantic aspect, developed.

First, this discussion led to Nathan discovering a ‘missing persons’ page on the web, and from here, realized that his parents weren’t really his. This made him click on the ‘missing persons’ page, and thereby triggered a series of event where trained killers began coming after him, and thus the whole action thriller sequence of the movie began. Karen was in a way, ‘accidentally’ drawn into the whole situation because she had witnessed Nathan’s ‘parents’ being killed, and so the assailant wanted to kill her as well – if not for Nathan’s intervention, she would have died. After being rescued by Nathan, she then followed him as he fled the other pursuers.

But more than just starting the action, their conversation during their project research also provided background information between Nathan and Karen. Apparently, they had been neighbours for as long as either could remember, and had grown up together. They had also attended school together for a long time, and went to a summer camp (if I remember correctly) together. They even had romantic interest in each other at some point in the past, as Karen asked Nathan midway through their project research “Why didn’t you ask me out back then?” To which Nathan said something about it being “Just a summer thing”. I guess they experienced a situation similar to the Grease Lightning story, where the protagonist there also had a summer fling that didn’t last back in ‘real life’.

The action also did much to foster the relationship between the two of them, as both saw each’s other qualities – courage, determination, and so on, being tested, when they had to face armed attackers, and sometimes fight their way out. Nathan was also protective of Karen, and vice versa, hence one could observe how the two would eventually get together.

Well, that was a bit longer than expected, but now going back to how it reminded me of my Communications concepts…

In terms of Social-cognitive orientation, both Nathan and Karen were pretty similar, as both took part in similar activities, such as parties, and both had their own in-groups of friends; hence neither would think of the other as being a weirdo or misfit.  Since there were similar, there would not be much risks in getting closer.

Physical appearance wise, well both of them are played by professional actor/actresses, therefore it is not a lot to mention.

I would think that the main factor that sparked their relationship was probably proximity; they were neighbours, in the same school, were classmates for at least one of their classes, and had many common friends, they had many opportunities for interaction. While this may also lead to both of them feeling a bit of awkwardness since they knew each other for so long, it seems like it was also overcome by the shared experiences they later had when they were escaping from dangerous people who tried to abduct them. Through the tough challenge of evading people who sought to do them harm, they were also able to see one another’s competency in terms of character and values, and that they were similar as both sought to protect one another.

The film also highlighted a bit about relationship dissolution, between Karen and her ex-boyfriend. Although not much was shown about their argument, it was revealed that Karen said something about Nathan to her boyfriend, which angered him… and perhaps he saw it as a hint from Karen that she is no longer interested and so that created an argument, which led to the break up.

To conclude, I would just like to explain how my entry title came about. It was towards the end of the film, after the situation was resolved, and the armed attackers apprehended, that there was a quiet scene between Nathan and Karen reflecting of the events that transpired. It was here where Nathan commented to Karen, in retrospect of the entire ‘escape from armed attackers’ episode, that it was a “Exciting first date”; from there, I decided to place it as a post title.

Please note that not all my quotes from the movie are exactly correct, in terms of word for word accuracy; some a slightly paraphrased, but I tried to record them as accurately as I could, according to what I remembered.

Entry III – ‘DigitalRev TV’ – Guilty of Male Chauvinism, or not?

Imagine that you are the presiding judge over this trial.

Here are the details…

The suspect: DigitalRev TV’s presenter – Kai

The charge: Stereotyping and bashing of the female gender

The evidence: Kai’s conduct in the video “Is the Olympus E-PL3 a girly camera?”

In the video, to bring across the idea of the camera being aimed at a female market, Kai acted with strong use of kinesics and parlinguistics; conducting himself in what many would consider as stereotypical girlish behaviour. Some such actions were walking in a damsel fashion, “camwhoring”(kinesics), squealing as well as while also speaking in a higher than normal pitch(paralinguistics) to bring across the point that he was trying to behave like a ‘stereotypical girl’.

If you want to check out the evidence yourself, it’s below.

The accuser: People who commented on the video in the 4-3rds Rumors website.


After watching his conduct in the video, visitors of the site, 4-3rd Rumours made quite a few condemnatory comments, such as the one highlighted in the screenshot.

“It’s still ok for ____ morons like you to degrade women” (censored expletive). They labelled Kai and the Digital Rev team as being sexist, rude, and insulting of the female gender. They probably felt that Kai’s actions were not correctly representative of the female gender, as not all females behaved in such a manner, and some of those actions were actually ‘degrading’. Besides these, some also felt Kai was behaving in a obscene way for a male; i.e. they thought he was being too effeminate.

The suspect’s defense: Digital Rev TV’s new review video “Olympus E-PL3 and E-P3 reviewed by some bloke”

Apparently, the Digital Rev team has caught wind of the comments on the 4-3rds Rumors website, and so they responded by explaining that many of the Olympus EP-L3 advertisements were targeted at females; with female actors casted in main roles in the commercial. Also to dispel any accusations of sexism, a female member of the Digital Rev team was introduced, which was to show that they had not intended any bias against any gender, and that they have females as part of their production team. They also spent the latter part of the video reviewing the Olympus EP-L3 again, this time with a ‘more manly’ representative to provide fairness. This ‘more manly’ representative is actually Kai, just acting differently, in a more ‘manly’ manner. To illustrate the new persona he is role playing as, Kai also donned a moustache (objectics), and also drawn some fake tattoos (objectics) on his arms. He also lowered his tone of voice, adding a bit of bass (paralinguistics), and did more manly actions – such as the attempt to flex his muscles at the start of the video (kinesics). In a way, by creating a comical representation of the male gender, he also dispels accusations of bias as now he has ‘insulted’ both sexes, not just one.

To see how he defends himself for yourself, check out the video below.

More background information about the DigitalRev TV channel:

After all the discussion, was it really an act of discrimination? Or was it just humour? Perhaps a look at DigitalRev TV’s youtube channel, and thereby Kai’s history, can shed more light.


Kai, the suspect, was, and still is the presenter for DigitalRev TV. He has been doing so for at least the past 4 years. DigitalRev TV is a Hong Kong based Youtube channel that broadcasts reviews on products related to digital photography; from the most expensive – such as DSLRs, to the cheaper, more common compact cameras. To distinct itself from other review channels, DigitalRev TV implements humour, tongue-in-cheek jokes, and also allows Kai’s personal bias and camera brands to manifest. To illustrate how Kai’s personal liking towards a certain camera brands – namely Nikon and Leica – are shown in the program, it is often seen in his tone of speech (paralinguistics), body language(kinesics) and even apparel (objectics) or items (objectics) in the background (such as a Nikon D700 box, or a Nikon camera strap with a Canon camera). These add additional humour to the reviews, as it goes against the usual notion of reviews being objective and unbiased, and appeals to people as it is a rather novel approach. But to indicate the differences between humour, and doing a serious review, the presenter would often change his tone of voice (paralinguistics) to distinguish when he is being objective, and when he is allowing personal bias, and humour, to entertain us.

My verdict: Personally, I have watched DigitalRev TV for quite a while, and have come to expect the kind of jokes Kai would portray. I have found Kai’s acting as a girl, and then later as a macho-male, as entirely humorous, and nothing offensive. However, it is not surprising that some would think otherwise as perception is often subjective and susceptible to error. For instance, when the person made the comment about Kai degrading women, he most likely was thinking that all those deeds were just Kai’s personal bias, and failed to see that Kai was just a presenter, part of a bigger DigtalRev TV group which also has female colleagues, and the whole acting might have been part of the script. But in actuality, there really isn’t much to be offended about. To some degree, perhaps my sentiments on this matter echo that of another person who commented on the 4-3rds Rumours website, that is ”To all others: buy yourself a bag of sense of humour.” Thus, my verdict is… ‘Not guilty’.

What’s yours?

For further consideration, this probably is not be the first time that humor was  mistaken for discrimination. In fact, the line separating the two can be quite thin; what seems like a harmless jokes to one can be an act of discrimination to another, how then does one draw the line?

Perhaps Russel Peters may have done it successfully, after all he insulted everyone under the sun, including his own race, so that the word ‘discriminating’ cannot really be applied to him.

Entry II – Not propaganda

The other day, while skimming through the papers, one article in particular caught my attention – ‘Netizens set up Facebook page to defend the PAP’.

‘Seriously?! Well, finally someone is doing something about it!’, were my immediate thoughts.

With all seriousness, we have really been hearing a lot of negativity about the PAP these days on the various media; and this has generated a lot of negative feelings in many citizens. During the last GE, almost every other post on my FB newsfeed was some negative comment or other about the PAP. It was quite appalling.

If the comments were actually intellectual discussions or statements, I would not have found it so terrible, but much of the remarks were not, say, very intellectual in nature, but rather emotion filled, bitter, and venomous. Some were even vulgar, especially if the person was responding to the PAP winning at their GRC.

So, in light of all these anti-PAP sentiments, it is refreshing to see that some people have come together to defend the PAP. Ok, let me correct that statement, not defend, but as I read in the straits time article – moderates seeking to present more objective facts.

Now, before you think I am just another pro-PAP person that is brainwashed by the school’s national education, I am not. I too have my own ideas about how certain things are being done in Singapore, and am not very satisfied with certain matters. But I do wish to be more objective when it comes to electing my leaders in time to come, and choose based on facts, rather than emotions created by anti-establishment sites with ‘slanted’ articles.

Anyway, being a frequent Facebook user myself, I decided to check out the pages mentioned in the Straits Times.

And here’s the link to the one featured in the papers:


According to the papers, they are only around two weeks old, so the pages are actually relatively sparse at the moment

As you can see, they currently have only 6 discussions.

But nevertheless, this website is a necessity, as elections are far too important an event to be just voted based on one’s feelings. And seeing how I would most likely be involved in the next GE (as I’d be 26 then), I want a website that presents more objective views, as that would help me make a better decision on who should lead our country.

Anyway, this site certainly appealed to me. But question is, will it appeal to others? By creating a Facebook page, it certainly is a novel idea, and probably one of the first of it’s kind in Singapore though not necessarily in the world (Straits Time mentioned USA having some). This novelty will definitely catch the audience’s attention, and as more and more people frequent Facebook in time to come, this page will have a growing audience.

In addition, by providing moderate info, not slanted, people will have greater choice of info to select from; this may help create a more fair perception of the PAP, and not have one that is just completely tainted by the negative publicity that is on the internet at the moment.

However, I also foresee that this site may not be very effective – because for one, it’s reputation may already be destroyed among the anti-PAP population, just because it appeared in the Straits Times. I know that to those who do not like the PAP, there are not a few that actually brand the Straits Times as propaganda. And so, just because of it’s appearance on the paper, this site has now been organized as just another form of propaganda to some people’s minds. While the article quoted an MP saying that if the PAP supported the site, it could be a ‘kiss of death’ to it; I think that Straits Times report of it, in itself, might have been a proverbial kiss of death already.

Furthermore, by using of the phrase ‘defend the PAP’ as the title of news article, the Straits Times may have done more damage than they realized to this site’s image, and the site’s purpose has actually been misrepresented by the newspapers. As reported in the article, the site was meant to present matters in a more objective manner, and be “a clean page where people can read the truth and lies and decide what is the real picture.” But besides this quote, much of the rest of the article was using vocabulary and tones that seemed to imply that this site was really pro-PAP.

Nevertheless, as long as this site exists, it will be another source of information regarding the PAP, and I look forward to see how this site, and others like it, will affect people’s perceptions about the government in time to come.

Entry I – 10 Years Since the War on Terror Began

It has been 10 years since the attack on the World Trade Centres, and every year, on this date, media stations the world over will take some time to remember the tragedy that occurred. This year, we hear of a previously unreported story; that is, the pilot of a F-16 had intended to ram her fighter into one of the hijacked planes in order to stop the terrorists from their mission.

Heather Penny, then a lieutenant in the Washington DC National Guard, was one of the two pilots ordered to take off and intercept the reneged Flight 93. Back then, the US was unprepared for such an attack, and so their fighters were also not equipped with any significant destructive weaponry, such as heat-seeking missiles, and all they had were 105 lead-nosed bullets on board. There were other F-16s being armed, but hers was one of the two that were scrambled first to stop the plane.

Colonel Marc Sasseville was the pilot of the other F-16, and both of them, with their limited weaponry, discussed how they might take down the hijacked plane. It was decided that shooting the plane down was not an option, as their weaponry could not guarantee the success of it. The only other alternative was to go on a kamikaze mission, each of them slamming their fighters into the hijacked plane; one into the front, the other at the rear, simultaneously. By doing so, they would ensure the hijacked craft drops directly out of the sky, rather than glide downwards, which will increase the debris falling from it to do more damage to the surrounding area. They did consider ejecting at the last moment before the planes connected, but decided against it as in that split second that it takes for them to eject, they might risk having their fighters missing the hijacked plane, and thus failing their mission They’d rather die than live but know they failed. In the end though, their kamikaze mission was never fulfilled, as the passengers on board Flight 93 had overpowered the terrorists, and stopped the craft, in the process also sacrificing themselves.

Although she never had to fulfil the mission, Penny shared her thoughts toward it, and she indeed as concerned more about the fulfilment of the mission, than to preserve her own life by ejecting at the last moment. She also felt that the civilians on board Flight 93 were heroes, as they had overpowered the terrorists and stopped them from more harm.

After hearing this story, I believe that there is no better time than now for it be reported, and kairos was well implemented in the timing of the story’s revelation. Also, though it is an story of America’s people, I think it also can be quite inspiring for Singaporeans to read as well, especially since a common Idol of the Cave in Singapore is that the west is better, and that any news about the west can be appealing to us via ethos. Some of the lessons that I think we can learn from this article are: 1) Constant vigilance against terrorism, 2) Self Sacrifice, 3) cultivation of  Total Defense

First, constant vigilance against terrorism. As I mentioned earlier, the U.S was unprepared for such attacks and so their fighters were not armed with any adequate fire power;  if they were vigilant, they would not have to resort to kamikaze tactics. This is a lesson for Singapore’s Armed Forces and Police Force to not end up in a similar scenario, but rather to maintain vigilance. In a way, Singapore is rather vigilant today, and every now and then we hear of the army, or police, organizing mock counter terrorist exercises on our news; the challenge now is to continue to do so, and not let the fact that we have been successful in our defences for the past 10 years, to let complacency set in and get lazy.

Second, is the idea of self sacrifice. I think this lesson is especially applicable to all soldiers out there. In Singapore, National Service is for guys only, and it is optional for women to sign up. Here, we have a story about an American woman who is willing to sign up for army, and then also willing to sacrifice herself to protect the nation. Her example should appeal to us by Ethos to really rethink our perceptions towards National Service. Is it not traditionally man’s duty to fight wars, and protect the women and children? And now here we have a lady who is beating males at what is supposedly their duty; because, as we all know, it is quite an open secret that many Singaporean males serve the nation with a heavy heart and many just can’t wait to be done with the two years and move on with their studies. Would any of us really want to die for our country when the time comes? That is a good question. May the example of Heather Penny inspire Singaporeans to die for the country.

Lastly, I think we can learn a good lesson about Total Defence from this story. Although the US probably doesn’t have the idea of ‘Total Defence’ as part of their national education, the example of the civilians on board Flight 93 can still be an example to civilians of Singapore. Either way, the passengers were going to die, but instead of submitting to their fate, they decided to prevent a further disaster from happening and fought the terrorists. Their heroic deeds not only prevented the plane from hitting it’s intended target, they also saved the lives of two pilots. As Penny says “The people on Flight 93 were heroes, but they were going to die no matter what.” This is something that should appeal to us by pathos, and we, though we may just be civilians, should follow their example, and take up the call to Total Defence and seek to do our part to defend our country.

Anyway, how do you guys feel on this matter? What lessons can we learn from 9/11?

To view the original article, see here.