Getting Personal

11 Jul

I posted this video a couple of weeks back for extra-curricular reasons, however, the opportunity for me to discuss this video has arisen in the teaching of how technology affects communication this week. Thus, I shall discuss it.

The evolution of communication is parallel to the evolution of technology. It is not a question of if technology will affect communication, it is a question of when. It is inevitable.

The recent technological advancement I would like to discuss is the new 3-Dimensional technology, the latest to hit big screens and even its smaller cousins in households. How will this affect communication, and advertising in particular? The internet has made advertising more interactive. With 3-D technology, will the interactive technology become 3-D? How about some iron man-esque technology like this?

I worry at these advances though.
Will advertising become an invasion into personal space, now that it has this added spatial dimension?
Will businessmen, driven by profit, be mindful of the notion of privacy?

Imagine one day you’re walking down Orchard Road and this 3-D advertisement pops out from side of the road, telling you about its product, say a shampoo. Confident in the ability of your current shampoo, you walk away uninterested. The advertisement follows you. What can you do? Only the technical limitations of the advertisement can free you from its hold. Unfortunately, the more technology advances, the limitations expand.

Technology will always be abused used one way or another for the sake of profiteering. The more personal technology gets, the more intimate profit seekers can get into our lives.

Money makes the world go round.


Stability vs Liberty

27 Jun

Now, compare this to the video from Channel News Asia entitled “Why is Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Incompetent”. Wait, what did you say? Couldn’t find that video? No kidding.

The two major media organizations in Singapore (Mediacorp and Singapore Press Holdings) are both government-regulated. Thus, they obviously will not undermine their own leadership by questioning the ability of PM Lee. They will not even go so close as to mention the competancy of PM Lee at all (unless, of course, there is compelling evidence that he is doing a fabulous job) because it will get us (Singaporeans) thinking. This subscribes to the agenda setting function of the media, which elaborates that the media may not tell us what to think, but it will tell us what to think about.

A simpler example of this is the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) which will be hosted by Singapore in August. I never gave two hoots about the the YOG. However, thanks to the many stories focusing on the YOG on News 5 Tonight, plus showing the wonderfully enthusiastic music video over and over again on TV, I now think it is quite a big deal.

Because the media (which is controlled by the government) tells us what to think, we get complacent. We do still have our own opinions, but they are not opinions on an issue we have thought of ourselves. If the media can think for us, then why bother thinking? Just absorb. (Sound familiar? Has the Singapore education system bred this mentality in us since young?)

In thinking about everything the government media wants us to think, we do not realise we are also NOT thinking about everything they do not want us to think. Therefore, even with the availability of the internet, we do not research on issues the state does not want us to. We simply haven’t thought of those issues. For instance, did you know that many people outside Singapore consider MM Lee Kuan Yew a dictator? *cue gasps.

Check out this article.

I’m not saying that it’s true. But the fact that this has been hidden from the general population goes to show the effectiveness of the media in it’s agenda-setting role.

The internet thus acts as a facade of freedom of information. We have the ability to reach all kinds of information, but the agenda-setting ability of the media binds our minds such that we do not even think of sensitive issues to read up on. Furthermore, the censorship of the Media Development Authority (MDA) of political issues opposing the ruling party further keeps us in check.

The fact that the media heavily influences our thoughts makes Singapore a collectivist society. The characteristics of a collectivist society are fairly obvious in Singapore. There is great conformity in the population. We are harmonious. We hold a duty to our parents.

This system, however, is working. There is no question. Singapore has grown economically, politically and socially by influencing her people with the use of the media. Singapore is extremely safe, remarkably clean and hardly anyone is in poverty.

But is it worth it? Besides, we won’t know what we’re not thinking about, so we’ll be obliviously happy. Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?

Personally, until we (the people) are seen as souls who desire to independantly express our views in true freedom, instead of pawns in a game of political, economical and social achievements, we will never truly be happy. At least I will never truly be happy.

“Fairness, justice and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.” – V (V for Vendetta)

The Communications World Cup

20 Jun

Good day to you!

World cup fever is in full swing! Football teams tailed by their enthusiastic fans from all over the world gather in South Africa to do their nation proud. With the many groups present, I could not pass up the opportunity to blog about the World Cup 2010.

All football teams adhere to Moreland and Levine’s 5 stages of group socialisation. In other words, the prospective, new, full, marginal and ex-members.

Prospective members refer to people who are capable of joining a group, but have not done so. The season leading up to the World Cup is very important for players intending to be chosen to represent their country. Whether a player is chosen or not is decided by the leader of the group, the manager.

The new members may include young players who are striving to make a name for themselves or any other player who has just entered the group. For example, Spanish winger Jesus Navas will be considered a new member of the Spanish national team despite being a regular player (full member) for his professional club, Sevilla Football Club S.A.D., because he has only recently been selected in the Spanish squad.

Full members refer to the members of a group who have been part of the group for a long time. They understand the spoken and unspoken norms of the group and abide by them. The full members of every team are its backbone. For example, in World Cup 2006, the Italian team had many full members who had been in the team for a long time. Players like Andrea Pirlo, Fabio Cannavaro and Gianluigi Buffon (all in their 30s) have played for the Italian national team since their youth. This experience surely, though not solely, contributed to their victory.

Marginal members are those who are not 100% active in helping their group reach its goal. One reason of this is because having been full members before, they are now stepping aside to allow the younger players to take over their responsibility. Another kind of people I would consider marginal members are the fans! Often referred to as the 12th man of a football team, the fans are more than capable of spurring their team on to heights they otherwise could not reach.

Ex-members are members who were once part of the group but not anymore. However, they can still have a drastic effect on the group. For example, retired Cameroonian striking legend Roger Milla criticised current star of the Cameroon team Samuel Eto’o prior to the start of this World Cup. To nobody’s surprise, Eto’o reacted badly to the criticism, which seemed to impact his performance in the World Cup. Two days ago, Cameroon became the first nation to be knocked out of the competition. I’m not saying that Roger Milla or Samuel Eto’o is to blame for Cameroon’s exit, but I’m certain Samuel Eto’o could have done without the distraction.

A controversial issue that has risen during this tournament is the use of the Vuvuzelas (a locally made horn). The problem is that it is tremendously loud. It blows at a defeaning 127 dB (louder than a chainsaw)!!!

Chainsaw < Vuvuzela < Handgun

Now imagine tens of thousands of people blowing the vuvuzelas in a stadium. The locals defend their right to use the Vuvuzelas, maintaining that it is their culture. On the other hand, fans who have travelled thousands of kilometeres to enjoy this festival of football has this South African culture imposed onto them. Of course, the travellers would love to embrace the South African culture, but I feel that they are coming on too strong.

Personally, I feel that the locals have a Groupthink mentality, not wanting to back down. They believe they are in the right, and are oblivious to the more sensible and considerate pleas of the festive fans from the rest of the world.

In my opinion, the World Cup is a time for football fans all over the world to share and embrace each other’s culture through football. Give the rest of the world a chance to share their joy.

What do you think of all this noise about the Vuvuzela?

Is friction between groups striving toward the same exclusive goal always necessary?

Leave your thoughts in the comments! (:


Video –

Picture Graph –

Extra-Curriculum Post (ECP)

16 Jun

Hi all! I stumbled upon this gem of a video on YouTube. Interesting and intriguing.

Let me know what you think in the comments! (:

Tough Love

13 Jun

Have you seen this movie? It is so good! Movie trilogies usually aren’t able to impress by its third movie, but the fourth installment of this ‘series’ is so good that they could probably make a few more and still get rave reviews. If you haven’t seen it though, I must warn you. SPOILER ALERT! The relationship between Shrek and Fiona intrigues me, and it’s one I’d like to take a closer look at with the theories of interpersonal communication in mind.

Shrek (an ogre) first met Fiona (a human princess) when he was sent to rescue her (as part of a deal to get his swamp back) on behalf of an evil king. Fiona, meanwhile, has a curse bewitched on her since young, making her transform into an ogre when night falls. Only ‘true love’s kiss’ can break this spell and make her become her true self 24/7. We learn by the end of the movie that Fiona’s true form is that of an ogre, and Shrek is her true love. They thus live ‘happily ever after’.

This relationship between Shrek and Fiona was formed based on both physical appearance and similarities. Relating to physical appearances, they’re attracted because they are both ogres. Naturally, there is a tendency to build relationships with those we preceive as similar to us, be it physically or otherwise. Shrek and Fiona (in ogre form) provide each other with a form of social validation.

If Fiona’s true form wasn’t an ogre, do you think their relationship would be as intimate? Or is physical appearance only relevant in making a first impression?

The dissimilarities, though, go skin-deep. Shrek is in every way a ‘true ogre’. He is messy, grotesque and monstrous. Fiona, on the other hand, is princess-like. She behaves much more gently and elegantly than Shrek. In this case, their opposite personalities attract each other.

One form of relationship maintenance is through conflict and Shrek and Fiona have had more than enough of it throughout the 4 movies. Particularly in this fourth movie, they have a conflict involving Shrek’s desire to be a ‘true ogre’, instead of the ‘domesticated’ family-oriented ogre he has become. This is because of relational challenges such as boredom and changes of responsibility. In reality, the next step Shrek takes is impossible in the real world. It is a temporary functional solution, a compromise between a functional and dysfunctional solution. Through the cunning Rumpelstiltskin, Shrek was able to live a day in an alternate reality where he never met Fiona and thus, was still a real ogre.

In reality, with only functional or dysfunctional conflict resolutions, would Shrek have stayed with Fiona? For example, if a relationship hindered you from expressing yourself freely, would you carry on in that relationship?

Interpersonal communications theory is an explanation of how our perception of people around us is affected by various factors (for eg, physical appearance, competency, etc) in order for us to develop a desire to establish a relationship with them. ‘True love’, which is the underlying theme of this movie, is a more abstract concept. It is based mostly on whether ‘sparks fly’ between a couple or not (quality of interaction), and that ‘true love’ conquers all.

The truth is, though, that ‘true love’ is just a concept. Many movies glorify this concept of love without making known the hard work behind the scenes of love. At the end of the day, Shrek will still have the desire to be a ‘real ogre’, but for the sake of love, he has to supress this desire. In my opinion, it will be the best decision he would ever make.

Love is hard work, but it’s the best thing you’d ever work for.” – Wade Robson

A Staggered Swagger

5 Jun

Forget about my BMW convertible. My dream car is now the SWAGGER WAGON!! The Toyota Sienna SE, to be more precise. (by the way, the little girl at 0:57min and 2:15min SO CUTE!!) This advertisement uses this humorous song, performed by the Sienna family, to shape our perspective of this car as being “hip”.

I know the best way to spoil a joke is by spelling it out and explaining why it’s funny. Due to academic reasons (i.e. I don’t want to FAIL), I will do just that. ANALYSE.

The humour in this advertisement comes from our perception of the hip-hop and rap culture. We expect rap to be performed by a bad-ass Afro-American singer, but this is the exact opposite. A pleasant “well-behaved” white family raps this song and we are taken aback by this gap between our expectation (formed through our perception of the rap culture) and the reality of the advertisement. The element of “danger” which is usually present in rap songs is phased out. Guns, drugs and sex, which are common topics in hip-hop culture, have been substituted by innocent family-oriented topics like cupcakes, peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and tea-parties. This substitution of these family-centred subjects in place of things which are considered “gangster” makes it funny.

The ad shapes our perspective of the car into it being hip and family-friendly by using the popular culture of rap and filtering out its unwanted non-family-friendly aspects.

On a more serious note, if this ad was performed by an Afro-American family would it be as innocent as it is? I don’t mean to be racist, of course. Anyone who knows me will know I do not tolerate racism.  But what is society’s perception of Afro-Americans today? Are we as racially-equal as we think? I am inclined to think that the video used a white family instead of an Afro-American one because the latter would make the video seem too “dangerous”. The perception of Afro-Americans by society is that they are unlawful, which would not appeal to an ideal, well-behaved family (like the Sienna family).

So, why do some people still view the Afro-Americans in this unfair light? People who do not interact with Afro-Americans often may subscribe to the social constructionist perspective of communication, which assumes that communication creates the individual. In other words, it is what society communicates to us that creates our perception of the world around us. The criticism of this theory related to this discrimination is that we may form stereotypes from what society communicates to us, instead of forming our own genuine opinions.

I’m sure it is not Toyota’s intention to discriminate against the Afro-Americans. It’s just that it is the way society perceives them, and Toyota must conform to this perception in order to relate to their audience. In other words, Toyota is embracing this perception in order to maximise profit, instead of fighting this unfair perception for the sake of equality.

What do you think?

Am I being too anal in my analysis?

If you were making this advertisement, would you sacrifice the effectiveness of your message for the morality of society?


29 May

Now for the juicy stuff. Juicy, in terms of communication analysis. I found this following video on YouTube. It is part of the “Born HIV Free” campaign, supported by the French First Lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

To be born into this world with HIV is tragic. That goes without saying. It is tragic for the mother, because she is helpless in stopping her deadly virus spreading to her child. Furthermore, she is experiencing the disease first-hand, so she will know the torment her child is facing. For the child, it is as tragic. Life is beautiful, but for this child, he will never know it. He does not know life as we know it, so he will have nothing to compare his life to. Instead, he can only see life as a forgone conclusion.

After watching the video, how did you feel? Heavy-hearted? You just have to give your name, it’s not a big ask, is it? Besides, it’s Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy who’s trying to convince you! This video clip very clearly uses the rhetoric concepts of Pathos, Logos and Ethos to urge us to join them in their worthy cause.

The Pathos appeal (appeal to emotion) is very strong in this clip. The video is in black and white. Subconsciously, this already paints a very bleak picture in our heads. The first thing we see is the word “HELP” spelled out in huge font. This immediately appeals to us as a distress signal. We will, thus, feel inclined to be involved. This inclination is further amplified by the intimacy of this video clip. Throughout the video, Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy is staring straight at us. In fact, the only time she breaks eye-contact with us is when she looks down as if in deep solemn thought, and then notices the ribbon on her shirt suddenly glowing in red, amidst all the dullness. All this combined makes us feel grief-stricken, and even personally inclined to get involved.

The great news is that getting involved is remarkably easy! “All it takes is your name”, affirms Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy. This is the Logos appeal to reason. As long as we give our names in support, they can stop the spread of HIV from a mother to a child. Such a simple act from us which can have such an important impact on the lives of so many will surely appeal to audiences. Personally, this was most appealing to me, compared to the other two appeals, and I just gave my name not ten minutes ago.

Getting Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy to front this campaign is their attempt at using the Ethos appeal. However, is this appeal working effectively? She is a former singer, actress and model, and current wife of French President. The singer, actress and model part shows her expertise in communication, which would be ideal for them to get their message across. However, she, being the wife of a politician, may hinder her credibility. Could there be a hidden agenda involved? People will question her status and that will inevitably hurt her credibility. Furthermore, the decisions and actions of her husband will unavoidably be seen as part of her doings as well. For example, YouTube username kaztetdaddy left the following comment on the BornHIVFree channel:

“It s good….but the presence of carla bruni sarkozy is completely HYPOCRITE
why did sarkozy decided to turn down France’s contribution to the Mondial funds against aids when he became president?when at the same time he decided to increase his own salary…”

What do YOU think of this video?
Would YOU have done anything differently?
Or do YOU disagree with anything I’ve said?
I look forward to hearing from YOU.

Leave your suggestions in the comments! (: