The balance of power, shifted?

Whenever we talk about the presence of Cultural Imperialism in terms of media, the first thing that comes to mind would be the high influx of American TV products on local television such as channel 5. And a thing we tend to overlook, would be that Japan also generates a form of Cultural Imperialism not only on our grounds, but in American soil as well. And an example would be the animated programmes our youths are watching nowadays.

The balance of power, shifted?

Japanese programmes such as Pokemon, Masked Rider, Bakugan Battle Brawlers just to name a few remain at the top of the more popular shows on local kids television in Singapore. With many more popular titles which have since stopped showing. But if you thought the Japanese influence ended here, you would be surprised to know that America is flooded with such programmes, and FOX kids features a tonne more of Japanese ‘anime’ on their television compared to our local television. The poor dubbing of the Japanese voices does not stop people from watching such programmes as there are many reasons to why ‘anime’ could garner up to so many viewers as compared to American cartoons.

Many American media industries focus on Hollywood live action films and television shows, leaving Disney to tackle animated programmes. Whereas the Japanese however, have over a hundred companies devoting their resources into animation, leaving them able to perfect techniques and creatively come up with new ‘anime’ and reach out to viewers in no way American animation can compare. Coupled with superior visual qualities and originality of plots which never fail to capture or retain its audiences attention despite some of the longer runs of popular series, it is of no surprise the Japanese have managed to overcome the West in terms of animation. Furthermore, the Japanese ‘anime’ was very diversified and catered to kids and adults alike, from TV series to cinemas, and even though some depicted violence and grotesque themes, elements of humour was always included to ensure the tone and message brought across is neutral. A spectacular example would be that of the internationally renowned “Ponyo  on the Cliff by the Sea”, which opened number nine at the United States box office, something which was rare for a film with such an origin. And was even dubbed into English by Disney due to its overwhelming popularity.

Japanese Ponyo!

 

Americanized Ponyo!

Indeed, what seemed to be  perpetual American dominance in the sphere of animation has been ousted since the birth of popular ‘anime’ in the late 1900’s. And the Japanese have become worldwide leaders in terms of animation and have created their own form of Cultural Imperialism in this particular field.

DOes the West rule for now?

Do you agree that cultural imperialism has left the shores of the West in terms of  Japanese animation or in any other particular fields?

Or do you think that power has never left the west?

 

Photo taken from:

http://gallery.minitokyo.net/view/349845

http://halcyonrealms.com/animation/ponyo-on-the-cliff-by-the-sea/

http://www.wildaboutmovies.com/movies/PonyoOnTheCliffByTheSeaTrailer-PonyoOnTheCliffByTheSeaMovie-HayaoMiyazaki.php

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Shhhhhhhhhhh

There appears to be a “Spiral of Silence” amongst the people of China, as netizens are coerced to keeping opinions not beneficial to the country to themselves. The “Spiral of Silence”, a theory coined by German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, asserts that people have a tendency to refrain from voicing unpopular ideas on a topic if they feel that they are in the minority; for fear of isolation from the majority. And in the case of communist China, people are a minority in contrast with the government, whom control a monopoly of power and continuously maintain strict control over the people, as well as the media.

Shhhhhhhhh

For example, Tan Zuoren, a Chinese activist who publicly blamed shoddy buildings for the deaths of thousands of schoolchildren in a 2008 earthquake was sentenced to five years in jail for “incitement to subversion.” Roseann Rife, deputy program director for Amnesty International in Hong Kong, mentions that his jailing serves as “a warning to others”, and because the authority fears protests, his jailing would curb more of such actions. Furthermore, authorities there would crack down on any signs of opposition and send outspoken dissidents such as bloggers and journalists alike to labour camps. As at December 2010,  34 journalists across China were in prison, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). They included Uighur and Tibetan journalists who had covered ethnic issues and violent unrest.These events would silence the citizens from making their own opinions known for fear of the government acting against them. Even the citizens are barred from using the internet for their displeasure towards the government, for the Chinese uses an extensive web filtering system, dubbed the “Great Firewall of China”, featuring high technological advancements, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF); that could blocks tens of thousands of sites using URL filtering and keyword censoring.

Welcome to the Great Firewall of China

This shows how the Chinese government could also be seen to practice priming as a form of agenda setting, to which they control the media and make it attend to some issues over others, and thus alter the standards of which people would evaluate the issue. The Chinese political groups could be viewed as a gatekeeper whom sets the media agenda. An example would be how the government’s control of the media enabled official suppression of information about the 2003 SARS outbreak in Beijing. Similarly, in 2008, government officials in China delayed reports of contaminated milk that sickened many especially children, which caused a world wide pandemic. The volume of news is covered to a very shallow extent, and the tone of media often casts China away from bad light.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT!

But what comes to mind is actually, is this all really a bad thing? Is such heavy censorship actually beneficial to the people of China, or to the rest of the world? They are after all, still making significant profits in terms of its economy, and the melamine scare before has not really affected them in much manner. Maybe silence really is golden.

HERE COMES THE MONEY!

References:

http://www.cfr.org/china/media-censorship-china/p11515

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2010/0209/China-sentences-quake-activist-Tan-Zuoren

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1287798.stm

Images taken from(in order):

http://openskyzen.blogspot.com/2011/07/power-and-potency-of-silence.html

http://digitrends.proferochina.com/index.php/lp/behind-the-great-firewall-of-china/

http://chinacartoons.wordpress.com/tag/internet/

http://www.motifake.com/139448

 

 

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Are you Baba enough to be Baba?

Henry David Thoreau once mentioned: “it is not part of a true culture to tame tigers, any more than it is to make sheep ferocious.” Culture could be seen as a “template for living” and it tells us who what groups we belong to, and how we live our lives. As seen from Thoreau’s quote, he identifies culture as something that is innate, and something we should not deviate from. Today’s article I would be commenting on would be Tabitha Wang’s article found on “TODAY ON SUNDAY”, October 9th; titled: “So you really want to be Peranakan?”

Gateway to being Peranakan

Her article speaks of how people have been claiming to be Peranakan upon the success of “The Little Nyonya”, a local television production; as well as the opening of Singapore’s Peranakan museum, just so they could be fashionable! But their basis of this self labeling can only be so true. How they like buah keluak even though they could not pronounce it right, and how they own just one kebaya could not do justice to her culture. She mentions that these people have no rights to be calling themselves Peranakan, and that “Baba-ness is a mindset – it is both born and bred.” Geert Hofstede has introduced something along these lines before, saying that: “it (culture) is the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.” This programming has thus enabled Peranakans to differentiate themselves from other cultures and allowed them to lay claim to their identity.

YUM!

Edward T. Hall had pointed out that culture dictates where to draw the line separating one thing from another; the line is arbitrary until it is learnt and internalized and becomes reality. He also imparts that culture influences as well as interprets behavior. This identifies with Tabitha’s article where she mentions that her cousin, who has never stepped into a kitchen in her childhood, now conjures amazing nyonya curries; and claims that it is all doable due to “instinct”. Peranakans never rely on recipe books, and instead use their taste buds as guides. The Peranakan culture here portrays itself to be dynamic and multifaceted, and even overlapping; as a true Peranakan knows baba Malay: a unique mix of Hokkien and Malay with a dash of English.

Tabitha ends off by telling readers that they should not carelessly label themselves Peranakan if they do not know the customs, traditions, and practices of the tribe. I personally agree with her, because every culture has its own practices and norms. If an individual wants to be part of a culture or identifies himself of a particular culture but does not conform and immerse him or herself deeply into that culture, it would be of great misrepresentation to the culture; and there would be no value in calling oneself such, at all.

So, are you Baba enough to be Baba?

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Crazy, Stupid, Love.

“The quality of your life, is the quality of your relationships”, Tony Robbins.

Today I would be writing about relational development and would use a recent movie to elaborate and explain some points about it, with heavy reference to Mark Knapp’s Model of Relational Development.

For those who have yet to catch this movie, I will try to keep the spoilers to the minimum! But please do catch it on your own free time because this movie is pretty good! And here’s my own plot summary for ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’.

Crazy!

Cal and Emily Weaver have been married for over 20 years. But Emily decides to divorce Cal over dinner one evening because she does not feel like they were them anymore. Moreover, Emily has had a recent affair with her colleague. Upon hearing about her infidelity, Cal decides to move out. He begins to frequent a bar, constantly whining to strangers about his wife and her affair. Jacob, a regular at the bar gets tired of his ranting and decides to help this poorly dressed, loser looking, and distraught man out. Jacob aids him by opening Cal’s eyes to the wonders of singlehood, but reality strikes Cal and makes him realize that he still loves Emily. And this is where the whole complication begins.

The marriage of 20 years obviously shows a strong sense of coming together, representing stages 4 and 5 of Knapp’s Model of Relational Development. Whereby the couple identify themselves as one, has children, and formalizes their obligation and commitment towards each other through a form of the 20 year marriage.

Stupid!

The sudden decision to divorce leads this couple to stages 6-10 on Knapp’s model, whereby the stage of coming apart looms over this tense couple. From the plot summary, we can see Cal’s decision to abruptly move out of the house upon hearing about the affair, showing a link to Knapp’s 7th stage of his model where he speaks of couples having the “I don’t want to talk about it” mentality. This period of circumscribing shows Cal’s need to confine himself away from Emily to further avoid complications, or to further himself from his stark reality.

We see a development of Knapp’s model to the stages 8 and 9, as joy and excitement is absent from Cal and he spends his next few days in a bar, alienating himself from his daily life, and talking about the disappointment in his wife to strangers. He avoids her, and the channels of their communication begin to seal as Emily also begins to undertake tasks that Cal use to do, showing that the relationship is coming apart, and the parties begin to move on. This is evident in Cal’s eye-opener to singlehood.

Love!

Amidst the joys of singlehood and the company of Jacob, Cal sometimes, thinks about Emily and how she is doing. This represents Steve Duck’s Model of Relational Dissolution whereby Cal enters a ‘Grave-dressing process’, and asks himself what went wrong from the relationship, especially so after Cal listens to some advice from his son. As Knapp also mentions, the stages of coming together and apart are not linear, but instead, could regress or skip a stage. Regression is prominent in this movie as it shows how Cal steers his way back to the stages of coming together, because he realizes that he could not be truly happy without his wife.

Well, anymore details and I’d be spoiling your film. Overall, however,  I personally believe that not all the models make sense, because some lack key features present in some relationships and makes relationships look bleak and monotonous. Neither does it take into consideration the presence of external factors.  For those who have actually watched the show, were these models really consistent throughout? Or in just about any other romantic movies, are all such models consistent throughout?

 

Images taken from:

http://jtmytake3.blogspot.com/2011/09/crazystupid-love.html#!/2011/09/crazystupid-love.html

http://www.officialtrailers.info/2011/08/08/crazy-stupid-love-poster-pictures-id-638973/

http://movietrailersdirect.info/2011/09/10/crazy-stupid-love-movie-pictures-id-409785/

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Jobless because of English

Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment.

Pearl S. Buck

The importance of language as a form of expression via verbal communication could be seen throughout the world since the modern ages as everyone from whichever country they belong to would have their own form of language. Today, English is a widely used form of language which has influenced everything from lifestyles to the media. Billions of people speak English worldwide, and it is now detrimental and a disadvantage for an individual if he or she does not know how to communicate in English.

SPEAK ENGLISH!

 

In ‘The Telegraph’, a UK Newpaper column; an article by Andrew Porter on how there is great concern that an increasingly large number of people would be unable to find jobs due to their incapability of communicating of the English language; highlights the importance of communication. In this article, Prime Minster David Cameron of the UK mentions a need for their jobless people to grasp knowledge of the English language in order to find work; and if they fail to do, they might have to forgo their welfare benefits. He would work with Iain Duncan Smith of the Work and Pensions Secretary so as to ensure that they would not waste money on unnecessary welfare; and at the same time, to create a more productive economy.

So how exactly would learning a language such as English boost the productivity of an economy? As language is a vessel for meaning, it remains a primary tool for direct communication. Without a form of communication, we would not be able to convey ideas, opinions, emotions or feelings as language and the words we use influence our way of thinking. Furthermore, language shapes thoughts and perception and would bring fourth meaning and a new perspective to the individual acquiring it. In this context, overcoming the language barrier and learning a new language such as English would allow these unemployed individuals to get a job and enable them to consistently interact with future clientele. The increase in jobs taken would thus, boost the productivity of an economy.

The issue is emphasized to the extent that if individuals refuse to attend these English language courses provided, they could have their benefits stopped. From this article, it could be inferred that the acquisition of language is of key importance and one should definitely take note of their language deficiencies if they have any. I feel that acquiring a language is a stepping stone towards basic jobs for these individuals, and that they should work towards mastering effective verbal communication and aim towards more prospective titles. Something I would also hope for myself.

 

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/8761311/Learn-English-to-get-a-job-or-lose-benefits-says-Cameron.html

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Tiger Balm ACTIVE and you!

“Perception is the process of selecting, organising and interpreting information in order to give personal meaning to the communication we receive”, Seiler and Beall, ‘Communication Making Connection’, 1999:31.

Tiger Balm gives you wings?

How does the advertisement above communicate to you? I would believe everyone holds a different perspective to how they would view this advertisement. This would be due to how individuals distinctively select, organize, and interpret information they receive; not only for this particular advertisement, but for any other advertisement one would see. Today, I would be talking about perception, and how it would affect individuals in various ways.

From my perspective, it seems like an ordinary advertisement depicting a man going in for a slam dunk. Which is then followed by texts describing the Tiger Balm ACTIVE muscle rubs etc. Having prior experience of aches as I frequent sports, this advertisement could appeal to me if I ever do experience such an injury again. However, as I do not frequent basketball as a sport, another advertisement featuring a badminton player applying similar products to their injuries would probably win me over. Why? Simply because of the way I have perceived the advertisement to be. It stands out because I am a badminton player, and if a person plays badminton and could heal associated injuries by using this particular product, why should I take my chances on any other products? From my given example, we can see the effects of how similar advertisements portraying different scenarios could alter a person’s choice or preference. In other words, the way I select and filter what is necessary; and the way I have interpreted that this particular advertisement would help basketball related injuries more, could ultimately influence my decision; regardless of tiger balm being a renowned muscle rub for all muscular aches including sports. We could see how perception here could alter reality for oneself, and could at times be deceptive.

Let’s take another view into consideration; if a basketball player chances upon such an advertisement, he would look at it at an entire different light. “Isn’t that guy going for a dunk like from one of those Nike logos? Wow this product looks pretty good”, says a basketball fan/player.

Nike Logo

And well indeed, being able to jump like that despite having ‘aches’ would seem a pretty great deal to a basketball fan/player. But it would not impress us as much as it will impress them. Being able to relate to such an advertisement, basketball fans/players would interpret the advertisement selectively and accordingly; with the symbolic figure of a man being able to dunk with injuries/aches complementing their perception; it would heavily influence their decision to purchase such a product whenever there is a need for it. It would even appeal to individuals who do not read English, as the pictures act as symbols towards how the product could actually work.

We could see from just one given advertisement on how many different perspectives amongst individuals could be generated due to perception and personal opinion. Whether it leaves a negative or positive influence depends on how a person would view it to be; and how successful such a advertisement would be would also largely depends on how well depicted the advertisement is. In my opinion, I feel that the advertisement here would appeal to me, but would appeal to me and many others much more if they had included pictures of other sports, or other uses for the muscle rubs for it may seem that the products emphasize on sports. For example; injuries obtained whilst carrying a heavy load. But in the end, it is just my opinion and perception of things.

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Must the PAP reinvent itself?

Hello all! An article I would be evaluating would be Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s message to the People’s Action Party (PAP), on the need to reinvent itself in wake of the recent hotly contested general election. Whereby the PAP came into power with a mere 60.1 percent of votes, its lowest since the independence of Singapore. This issue was highlighted in an editorial titled “The Road Ahead’; in the newsletter, Petir; which was issued on Thursday, 8th September 2011.

Mr Lee implores the PAP to work cohesively and to refine their skills so as to ensure oppositions are kept at bay. In the meantime, the PAP would also have to keep a listening ear to the voices of the people. All these would in turn garner the PAP “political points”, and would help “build political support for the policies to take Singapore forward, and gain recognition for the Government’s good work”. To further gain rapport, Mr Lee has also indicated a necessity for the PAP to be able to use new media efficiently, and that using Facebook and Twitter as means of listening would not be enough. He suggested that the PAP should be “on the same wavelength as the netizens and resonating with the Internet generation”.

I would believe that in order for the PAP to maintain and to increase their share of votes in the next election, it is quintessential that the Government is consistently trying to reach out to the people so that miscommunication would not occur. This is especially so on how the Government has been losing votes as the general election progresses, which would mean that most votes would be lost to the new voters. The various approaches Mr Lee has suggested greatly corresponds to the psychological perspective of communication, whereby he mentions the need to tackle the situation by becoming more technology savvy, which would allow the PAP a stronghold that could reach out to the Y generation. This would come as a form of improving communication as the Government would be initiating a shared experience with the different needs of the different people in the community via a source of multiple channels to deal with competing stimuli. By having listening ears on the ground, the PAP would be able to see things from the perspectives of the people, and would be able to study up on their needs so that necessary policies could be passed.

I highly feel that Mr Lee’s preemptive on reinventing the PAP would serve well if properly implemented. As change seems to be necessary and that people from all generations and walks of life should be heard from if the people are to “see the PAP for what it is and what it always has been”.

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