The Mass Media in Singapore.

25 10 2009

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In our modern day and age, I am sure many of us are extremely acquainted with the mass media, as we’re constantly surrounded by various mediums and channels, with easy immediate access.

“Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of the integrity of Singapore, and to the primary purposes of an elected government.”

– Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew

In Singapore, the mass media is carefully monitored and regulated, and foreigners are reminded to keep their hands off. The Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) holds all dailies (12 papers) in the city whilst the Media Corporation of Singapore (Mediacorp) dominates the broadcasting media locally (8 broadcasters). Not only does SPH manage all newspapers locally, but if one wishes to place an ad, the only place you can go to is SPH.

The dominance of SPH is an outcome of government orders rather than a natural development. In the history of the SPH, a merger into one main company was required to cut back on costs and to “to establish common ideals for newspapers in the various languages.” Moreover, under the Newspaper and the Printing Presses Act, no one may hold more than three per cent directly or indirectly in a newspaper company unless prior approval is obtained from the Ministry of Information and the Arts. Explaining the three per cent ownership cap, ex-Singapore Minister of Trade and Industry George Yeo said the law is to ensure that the internal access of Singaporeans — “For domestic media principally concerned with Singaporean affairs, we must not cede control to foreigners because it may be manipulated for their own purposes without our knowing.”

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Broadcasting media, like the print media, consists of both local and foreign organisations, but are subjected to strict controls by the government in terms of ownership, censorship and other regulations. All TV & radio sets must be licensed in Singapore, and satellite dish is banned. The only access to foreign broadcasting media is via the Singapore CableVision (SCV). The MCS also is solely owned by the Singapore government’s wholly owned investment arms, Temasek Holdings.

Restrictions on foreign media, however, are much tighter than the local one. No foreigners can be the director of the media and foreign journalists are annually required to renew their working permits from the Singapore government. There is no right to circulation by foreign press. Foreign media operate in Singapore under the threats of restrictions of their circulation and possible lawsuits. Publications such as Asian Wall Street Journal, Time, Far Eastern Economic Review and Asiaweek all had its circulation cut.

As a result, the Singapore press has been cited by Western media and Malaysian media as the mouthpiece of the government.  Cherian George, a Straits Times journalist stated in his conference paper in 1998, “Here (in the US) it is all about freedom of the press; in Singapore, it is about the government’s freedom from the press.” Flying the flag of “national-building efforts,” the media in Singapore often goes along the Government’s will. In Ivan Lim’s article, “The Singapore Press and the Fourth Estate”, he stated that whilst the government PROs help provide the background to government policies; in return, they sometimes asked for press co-operation to play down or highlight stories on the government ministries concerned. He further added that on a higher level, newspaper editors also meet ministers and top bureaucrats for briefings on government policies. Government policies, whether articulated in Parliament or announced by ministers in speeches at public functions, frequently made front-page news. Newspapers generally report government policies in a favourable light as much out of necessity as of conviction.

Thus despite the fact that Singapore is a modern city whose inhabitants are increasingly becoming more educated, eradicating language barriers and possessing advancement in technology,  the restrictions imposed by the government may have decreased Singapore’s appeal to the global television export industry. Thus, this might have caused trade with many countries in Asia, like Singapore, to be limited. In our country’s scenario, due to politics and the fear of upsetting the harmonious balance in our nation, our leaders have full control over the type and amount of information that enters into our local market.

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However, with the new media technologies (NCTs) such as the Internet gaining popularity fast amongst the youth of today, would it prove to be harder for the government to clamp down restrictions on the unlimited circulating information on the web?

Definitely so. With the advance of information technology, censorship has not been as effective as it probably was. As echoed by George Yeo before stepping down as information minister in a cabinet reshuffle, he agreed that “Censorship is becoming more and more difficult to impose.”

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Although the Internet has brought about more methods of interaction between the mass media and citizens, such as the creation of websites like AsiaOne.com, The Straits’ Times Interactive and Zaobao.com, owned by SPH, it has also brought in its fair share of new players. Websites such as Sintercom, formed by a group of Singaporeans abroad, provide an alternative voice. In its online daily, SG Daily, topics ranging from good news regarding Singapore, to taboo issues, are being covered. Apart from SG Daily, Sintercom launched a “NOT the Straits Times Forum” on the net and publishes letters rejected or edited versions by Straits Times Forum. Although Sintercom and SG Daily are critical of the Singapore government, they seem to fare well since its launch.

Certainly, the introduction of the Internet has proven to be able to overcome barriers of time, space and limited resources. It provides an outlet for people who are dissatisfied with the traditional media. Will the Internet bring greater freedom of speech to Singapore? It does seem to be an effective way, if not the only way, to get around the ownership rules imposed by the Singapore government on the mass media.

However, I feel that for the Internet to be successful in Singapore, it requires one more factor – the support and desire of the Singaporeans themselves. The question remains: Are Singaporeans ready for it?

Credits:

1. Lee Kuan Yew: The Man Behind his Ideas, Singapore Press Holdings & Times editions.

2. SG Daily: http://singaporedaily.net/

3. From Press Laws and System in ASEAN States, 1985

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The Japanese Culture

17 10 2009

Being extremely acquainted with the Japanese culture, I immediately had an inkling of what to share on my blog when we covered the issues regarding ‘Culture’ during COM101 lecture this week.

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In the Japanese society, there is a dominant recognised social phenomena known as  Tatemae and Honne. This concept forms one of the main facets of Japanese culture, the public persona and real feelings.

Tatemae (建前) , literally “façade,” is the behaviour and opinions one displays in public. Tatemae is what is expected by society and required according to one’s position and circumstances, and these may or may not match one’s honne.

Honne (本音 ) refers to a person’s true feelings and desires. These may be contrary to what is expected by society or what is required according to one’s position and circumstances, and they are often kept hidden, except with one’s closest friends.

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Most countries in Asia, especially countries such as Japan or Korea, belong to a collectivist culture system. This implies that social behaviour is largely determined by the views, needs and goals of the group rather than self. The social norms and duties are defined by the group rather than for self pleasure, beliefs are shared rather than being individualistic, and there is great readiness to cooperate with the group as a whole. In such a society, interpersonal sensitivity and tact is extremely important.

Similarly, with Tatemae, the Japanese believe that they have a specific role due to their social status or position and behave as they are expected to behave in the situation, regardless of personal opinions. The core of Tatemae is to avoid confrontation and unhappiness as far as possible. The Japanese take moral values such as respect, politeness and being humble, extremely seriously. The idea of breeding harmony in both the workplace and society is highly sought after, so as to work towards a close-knit co-operation within society.  Honne is only revealed to a select “one or two ingroups”, such as one’s family and close friends. It is not something one is encouraged to show in public, especially during business dealings where it is considered to be “unprofessional” or bordering on being “rude and insensitive”.

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The Nihonjinron (日本人論 ), theories regarding Japan’s natural & cultural identity, further affirms the nation’s collectivism-infused and high context culture.

Some specific theses of the Nihonjinron included:

  1. The belief that the Japanese race is a unique isolate, having no known affinities with any other race. In some versions, the race is understood as directly descended from a distinct branch of primates.
  2. This isolation is due to the peculiar circumstances of living in an island country cut off from the promiscuous cross-currents of continental history, with its endless miscegenation of tribes and cultures. 
  3. The Japanese language has thus a unique grammatical structure and native lexical corpus whose idiosyncratic syntax and connotations condition the Japanese to think in peculiar patterns unparalleled in other human languages. The Japanese language is also uniquely vague. Foreigners who speak it fluently therefore, may be correct in their usage, but the thinking behind it remains inalienably soaked in the alien framework of their original language’s thought patterns.
  4. Japanese social structures consistently remould human associations in terms of an archaic family or household model characterized by vertical relations, clan , and (foster-)parent-child patterns. As a result, the individual (個人,) cannot properly exist, since groupism (集団主義,) will always prevail.

From this, we can note the high degree of collectivism present in the Japanese culture. Ethnocentrism, the belief that one’s culture is superior to all others, is predominant. The vague and subtle structure of the language itself forms a part of a high culture context, and the fact that groupism will take priority over the individual further confirms upon a collectivist society in which the fulfillment of other’s needs takes precedence over the individual’s.

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Perhaps these beliefs and ingrained value system in the Japanese culture appear intriguing to the Western world which remains wholly individualistic and in which their societies inculcate opposite viewpoints from that of the Japanese.

What is your personal stand regarding Japan’s high context culture based on collectivism? Which extreme do you think our nation swings towards, and why? ;)





Group Communication.

11 10 2009

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Being naturally social and interactive creatures, we as humans, are no strangers to the concept of being part of multiple social circles of friends. As time goes by, with frequent interaction amongst each other, we gradually grow accustomed to being interdependent and perhaps may even share a similar behavioural pattern and collective identity. Social groups provide us with differing objectives, for example, whilst colleagues at work may provide support and leverage upon each other’s strengths, friends may provide interpersonal needs such as one’s needs for affirmation and a sense of belonging to a particular group. It is normal to desire and long for the feeling of being accepted into a ‘clique’ of friends, or to boost one’s self confidence through words of affirmation and encouragement, thus it is fundamental for us to form or participate in group interaction.

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However, when people come together, there are bound to be risks and potential problems involved. One may constantly be pressurised to conform towards a common consensus that the majority of the group agrees upon, or be subconsciously influenced in the long run, thereby subtly stamping out individuality altogether. Members may feel constrained and subjected to indirect stress in recognising and practising written & unwritten norms or ‘rules’ governing the particular group. In some extreme cases, what slowly develops over a period of time would be the perpetuation of the herd mentality.

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When this occurs, a condition known as Groupthink may set in.

Basically, according to Irving Janis, groupthink is “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”

Janis lists eight specific symptoms of a group undergoing Groupthink:

1. Illusion of Invulnerability– The feeling that “nothing will go wrong” because of overconfidence in their own abilities.

2. Belief in group’s own morality – Experts in the group will believe that their decisions are morally correct.

3. Shared Stereotypes – Similar categorization of issues and of people outside their circle.

4. Collective Rationalisation – Members discount warnings that their thinking may be irrational.

5. Self Censorship – Conformity; member will not give a solution to problem that is directly contradicting the group’s wishes.

6. Illusion of Unanimity – Individuals do not speak up despite privately not consenting to the decision made. Silence will then be perceived as consent.

7. Pressure on dissenters – If any individual speaks out against the will of the majority, all other members will attempt to quell the “dissident”.

8. Mind-guards – The leader of the group will refuse to hear any argument contradicting his own wishes or that of the majority.

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A good example of groups practicing groupthink in reality, would be cults. Cults demonstrate an uncanny ability to suck people in, and twist their beliefs to fit their own, making it a perfect illustration of the groupthink theory.

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Many may be familiar with the cult, Heaven’s Gate, an American cult based in San Diego, California, led by leaders Marshall Applewhite & Bonnie Nettles. On March 26, 1997, police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the cult, whom had apparently committed mass suicide. Coincidentally, the group’s suicide occurred with the appearance of the comet Hale-Bopp.

Heaven’s Gate members believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled & renewed, and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. The group defined “suicide” in their own context to mean “to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered”, and believed that their “human” bodies were only vessels meant to help them on their journey.

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How a “Higher” Member of the Kingdom of Heaven may appear (according to the cult of Heaven’s Gate)

Leader Marshall Applewhite taped himself speaking of mass suicide and asserted “it was the only way to evacuate this Earth”. The Heaven’s Gate group believed they had no choice but to leave Earth as quickly as possible. After claiming that a spacecraft was trailing the comet Hale-Bopp, Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide so that their souls could board the supposed craft. Applewhite believed that after their deaths, a UFO would take their souls to another “level of existence above human”, which Applewhite described as being both physical and spiritual.

I am sure most after reading the above bit of information on this cult, would have raised an eyebrow skeptically, or perhaps even stared in disbelief at the  naiivity displayed by these members. So what exactly made these 38 other followers decide to be led like lambs to the slaughter, based on the mere words of a man?

Well, one can apply the concept of groupthink in this case.

1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Most people join cults to become a part of a group, to feel fellowship & affirmation with others. The cult grows as time passes and members believe that no matter what they do, that idea they hold dearly is what keeps them going & believing. Members of Heaven’s Gate killed themselves to join whatever ideas they firmly believed in.

2. Belief in Inherent Morality: The members of a cult believe that whatever they do is right and is simply under their belief system. They possessed the notion that their beliefs were accurate and that whatever their leaders decided upon were absolutely moral and just.

3. Shared Stereotypes: Cult members would refuse to listen to any outsiders with valid opinions. The word of their leaders was law and anyone who said otherwise, was shut out.

4. Collective Rationalisation: Cult members would follow the instructions of their leader and believe that their leaders’ mindsets were always right. Whatever that was perceived as initially incorrect would be swept under a rug. Thus, like in the case of Heaven’s Gate, even though the entire basis and theories of the group sounded irrational or even bordering on being silly, members still went ahead solemnly with a death pact, trusting their leader’s words wholeheartedly.

5.  Self Censorship: Even those who may have an opinion contrary to the leader’s, they do not speak out for fear of being ostracised or cast out. Due to this fear, they do not speak out, furthering groupthink.

6. Illusion of Unanimity: Those who do not entirely agree with the leader, for the same reasons as above, refuse to speak out. This exacerbates the belief of “the leader being always right”.

7. Pressure on dissenters: When anyone eventually does speak out, they are immediately pressured to reconsider. Their ideas and suggestions are not considered and majority of the group will believe in their leader. The opinions of these people would be suppressed by the group.

8. Mind-guards: Ideas from the individual never reach the leader. As soon as an argument brews, these individuals are silenced and the counter opinion never gets considered.

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Thus, we can observe that the  influence of groups in reality can range from being mildly influenced, to becoming extremely entrenched; having the ability to alter and twist values & ideals in an individual. It may be an everyday affair of hanging out with that clique in your school whom you share similar interests/wavelengths with (eg. Co-Curricular Activities), or that of  a more extreme circumstance whereby one is subsequently “brainwashed” and conforms to the point that one does not even realise he/she is doing so, nor the dangers of doing so.

What are your opinions on this? :)

Credits to: http://www.heavensgate.com/





Relationships.

4 10 2009

The last week of September has indeed been a blissful one.

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Off our shores, Korean celebrity couple, top A-List Korean actor Kwon Sang Woo and Miss Korea 2000 finalist, Son Tae Hee, tied the knot on 28 September in the presence of many of Korea’s hottest celebrities.

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And of course, on our sunny isle of Singapore, many witnessed the lavish wedding of popular Mediacorp artistes Christopher Lee and Fann Wong, via live telecast on 29 September.

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Relationships are an integral part of our lives and all of us are naturally driven toward finding “The One” and eventually achieving the dream of a blissful ending (hopefully). All of these are built on the foundation of interpersonal communication between two parties, in particular dyadic communication. This includes series of communication, strategic alliances between two persons, and viewing each other as a pair or a singular unit.

Thus, communication plays an essential and extremely crucial role in the the initial formation of relationships and the process of building, refining or even eliminating it in the later years. This concept is further enhanced by a framework illustrated by DeFleur et al (2005) of: Engagement (first contact to richer interpersonal relationship), Management (use of communication to maintain the relationship) and lastly, the possibility of Disengagement (dissolution of the relationship).

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The Knapp Model of Relational Development, one of the most influential models of relationship, clearly describes the progression and development of relationships in a series of 10 stages in 2 phases:

– Stage 1-5: Coming together

(Initiating, Experimenting, Intensifying, Integrating & Bonding)

– Stage 6-10: Coming apart

(Differentiating, Circumscribing, Stagnating, Avoiding & Terminating)

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These stages are strictly non linear and relationships may regress to a previous stage or simply skip stages. Using this model, it is hence easier for us to identify a particular stage a relationship is at, by exploring the typical behaviour scenarios emphasised.

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The following clips, from hit romance movie, The Notebook (originally a bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks), further applies these concepts.

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From these clips, we can see how Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie’s (Rachel Mcadams) love deepens over summer vacation after the initial attraction Noah feels towards Allie when he sees her for the first time at a carnival in Seabrook Island, South Carolina.

The initial stage of Initiation (not shown in the clips above) depicts the two meeting at the carnival and Allie being unimpressed when Noah does a silly stunt like hanging on a bar on the Ferris Wheel just so he could get a date with her. She continuously refuses his persistent advances until their well-meaning friends lure them together and they then get to know each other on a midnight walk through empty Seabrook. This shows how Noah tries to impress Allie and his initial physical attraction towards her.

Later on, as shown in the clips above, the two go through the stage of Experimenting whereby after taking a midnight walk & making small talk, they dance in the streets. This employs the concept of proxemics, whereby personal space & distance between the two persons become smaller, in this case, from a casual proximity to an intimate one. Both people are probably “feeling each other out” and gauging the suitability of the other party. They both then become a real couple whereby Intensification & Integration takes place. There is increased committment, awareness and participation of both parties, as well as a whole lot more physical contact.  Both of them even go on double dates with another couple (encompassing their social networks & identities).

Unfortunately, due to the fact that Allie was a heiress and Noah was simply a country boy, Allie’s disapproving mother forbids her from seeing Noah again, calling him “white trash” and saying he is not right for her because he is poor. Outside, Allie fights with Noah. He believes her parents are right and that he is not good enough for her, and the two break up, leading straight to the Termination stage of the model.

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This made me ponder on the importance of similarities between a couple in a relationship. Would it be better if two got together based on the similarities they share, or is it true that opposites attract? Similarities tend to bond people closer, be it likeness in ideals or interests, and lowers the risk factor in a relationship. Besides this, society tends to favour similarity in terms of status, wealth and education level and frown upon exceptions.  However, this does not imply that relationships involving people with differences aren’t guaranteed to work out. For those whom have watched the entire movie of The Notebook, the ending is such that Allie gives up her fiance, wealthy Lon Hammond Jr, a a well-connected young lawyer who is handsome, sophisticated, charming, and comes from an old Southern family, for Noah.

What about yourself? Which stage in the Knapp Model of Relational Development do you see yourself in? How do you personally feel about the issue on Similarities vs. Differences in a relationship? In The Notebook, Allie & Noah’s relational challenge in their relationship was due to differences &  forceful disapproval that tore them apart initially. What are some of the relational dissolutions & challenges you may face, and why? :) Feel free to share!





Advertisements & Women.

27 09 2009

In the 21st Century of today, whereby rapid technological advancement has increasingly provided a source of empowerment for the Mass Media, it is indeed, inevitable that our individual perception has unawaringly undergone various changes, be it positive or negative.

The main cause of this? I would attest it to be that of, mainly, the subconscious yet powerful influence of Advertisements. This influence may prove to be the strongest (and coincidentally, most criticised) in many mass media outlets both targeting the female audience, or in advertisements featuring women.

Personally, I feel that advertisements with the female audience in mind, tend to frequently utilise both pathos (the appeal to emotion) and ethos (the persuasive appeal of one’s character) to drive messages across.

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The advertisement above features Yuri Ebihara, a well-known Japanese actress and model, advertising a new “Ebi-Burger” for Japan’s Macdonalds. This shows explicitly how advertisers make use of popular figures, especially in the entertainment line, hoping to influence consumers to purchase these products. A complex similarity indicator is created by associating the consumption of these burgers with the svelte figure of Ms Ebihara, which may create the perception in consumers that this new burger may be healthier, or that it may contain lesser fat content. The certain vibrancy which has been brought out in the ad also hints at the possibility of the target audience being the younger generation, whom are active and youthful.

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As seen above, Dior has employed similar tactics in an attempt to woo the female consumer market. Monica Bellucci, a Hollywood actress famous for her sultry looks and porcelain skin, forefronts these recent ads by Dior. Surprisingly, or perhaps shockingly to some, this Italian belle turns 45 this year. Naturally, by making her the model for their campaigns, Dior would be able to attract large numbers of middle-aged ladies whom would be most willing to part with their money in exchange for that youthful glow and exuberance exuded by Monica. Thus by associating Monica’s attractiveness and youthful looks with Dior cosmetics, consumers may formulate a link between the two and be more inclined to purchase these products.

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Even as such, different cultures across the world have different perceptions on what exactly embodies the ideal feminine beauty. This is reflected heavily in advertisements as well.

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As seen in the Guess and Victoria’s Secret ads respectively, one may notice that in the Western culture, in particular the American, a female who possesses a tanned complexion and toned physique would be normally considered and intepreted to be attractive by the majority of the population.

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However, in Asian countries, women are considered ideal if they possess milky fair skin and a more demure outlook, as seen in the Korean ads above.

Thus, these prototypes we form as ideal representations tend to differ between cultures and the individuals.

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However, females portrayed in many advertisements today have been sexualised, possibly to intensify messages in order to leave a more lasting impression on consumers (in particular toward the male consumer group).

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Tom Ford Fragrance for Men

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MensWear for Tom Ford

The first ad exemplifies dismemberment of the female body; whereby only parts of the female body could be seen. In this case, I am unsure whether it was the aim and objective of the fashion house to create hype and buzz by the sexual connotations implied in the ad, but perhaps it was to create a sense of novelty. Personally, I feel it is a demeaning and objectifying portrayal of women which may perpetuate the misintepretation that “a woman’s body is not connected to her mind and emotions”.

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Romance by Ralph Lauren

In the ad above by Ralph Lauren, one may intepret via non-verbal communication techniques, of the female being portrayed as more submissive, and the male is being a dominant figure. This may be seen via kinesics, the study of body language and haptics, the study of touch in communication, which we may intepret from the above, of the male figure retaining some form of dominance over the female from the way he is holding her firmly with two hands.

The usage of body language to amplify the sexualisation of even, (*gasp*) a female cartoon character, can be observed in the commercial video below.

Yes, it’s an ad for the new Mint M&Ms premium chocolates. Surprise surprise.

This also further advocates the branding of M&Ms as being attractive, targeted solely at the female audience, many whom tend to avoid “sinful treats” like chocolates.

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In conclusion, I do personally feel that advertisements are not only able to entice us to buying into an idea or product, but they also somehow do subconsciously influence and may even change our ideals and perceptions through subtle ways. Some ways in which ads are constructed create miscommunication in society today, with the high levels of sexual connotations and portraying women are being sexual objects, causing a misrepresentation of the female population.

How about you? How powerful do you think advertisements are in conveying messages and even possessing the ability and capacity to alter society’s perception towards different gender or racial groups? Do you think that non-verbal communication may be more effective than verbal communication when attempting to illustrate a message (such as in print advertisements)?





Impressions & Expectations.

20 09 2009

One often hears the saying on how first impressions are able to “make or break”. Well,  psychologists caution that one has a mere “7 to 17 seconds of interacting” with strangers before an initial impression is formed. Within this extremely short yet crucial timing, business deals can be made or broken, first dates become second dates or not, friendships are created or fail to form; everything hinges on that all-important initial encounter.

This point was reinforced during an event organised by Romancing Singapore (www.romancingsingapore.com), an all-year-round local festival that aims to create social interaction opportunities through commercial thematic events and activities. Held on 15 September 09 at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, in collaboration with Sony Pictures, participants were encouraged to mingle over dinner and games before watching the new romantic comedy – The Ugly Truth, starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler.

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Certain scenes in the movie are worth mentioning, such as the example of Mike (Butler) taking Amy (Heigl) to a lingerie shop to find an appropriate bra and outfit that would capture a guy’s attention.

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He then sets out to coach her on the steps of flirting, and how to project an enticing image to attract men.

Co-founder of Romancing Singapore, Miss Jasmine Cheong, reaffirmed this by agreeing that first impressions do count and as a dating consultant, she often had to remind her clients, especially the men, to put in the effort to dress appropriately on their first date.

Interviews done during the event uncovered certain ugly truths regarding some netizens’ expectations of finding the ‘perfect partner’, as well as the importance of first impressions. This is  akin to that of the movie, in which Amy (Heigl) has a checklist in her quest for Mr Perfect.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Facing The Ugly Truth (Interviews)“, posted with vodpod

In my opinion, much has to do with perception of the individual.

For instance, we tend to subconsciously categorize the people we meet, and create certain prototypes based on our specific experiences, or perhaps, biological “hard-wiring”; in which superficially, men have been said to be naturally drawn to women with curvier figures, and women to men with larger physiques and strong, chiselled facial features.

The scene in the movie has also brought up a point regarding the usage of scripts in events of interaction. Scripts act as cognitive framework for situational interaction and form the basis for assessing actions & responses. This may be observed in the scene in which Mike (Butler) coaches Amy (Heigl) on the “art of flirting”. Flirting, which operates at a more subconscious level in interaction between two parties with mutual interest in each other, is a realistic case that we partake in at any one point in our lives whilst attempting to source for “The One”. This may be seen on a first date in which we would definitely pay more attention to our conduct, the way we speak, the issues we bring up to engage the other party, right down to the attire we pick out.

As seen in the video of the interview, naval officer Leonard Chan’s perspective included the fact that he felt ladies’ expectations of men are getting higher every year as “society becomes more affluent”. He mentioned that some even ask about “the guy’s occupations and find out what kind of car they drive”, adding that they would prefer their partner to be “humorous, up-to-date on current affairs and to be the ultimate gentleman”.  This is probably due to the principle of similarity – associating and ‘matching’ indicators such as physical behaviours, educational levels or dress sense, to one’s idealised prototypes. For example, one would most likely associate a person driving a Mercedes convertible, with success, affluence and high societal status.

It can be argued that non-verbal communication may play a greater and more significant role in determining how one’s first impression is crafted. Besides physical appearance, other factors such as kinesics (body language), personal objects (subconscious association with personal identity & status), oculesics (eye contact), haptics (touch) and proxemics (space & distance) are all at play during interaction. After all, first impressions are easily constructed within the first few seconds.

Indeed, there is a distinct relationship between our perception (impressions) and communication, be it via verbal or nonverbal cues. It it thus crucial for us to keep in mind how we may portray ourselves through our exterior and even through verbalised dialogues whereby we subconsciously go through the motions of a prepared mental script ;)

Source: http://tnp.sg/show/story/0,4136,214153,00.html?





Of Campaigns.

13 09 2009

A recent article depicting the launch of a US health campaign to combat against childhood obesity in an interesting way, caught my eye whilst I was sieving through global world affairs in the news.

In a bid to counter child obesity in the US, which “has more than tripled since 1980, with more than 9 million school age children over the age of 6 in the U.S. considered overweight”, the US Department of Health and Human Services has launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) “designed to address childhood overweight and obesity”, which will be distributed to various media outlets in the coming week.

What intrigued me was that this campaign featured a joint collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures, inculcating the release of a movie adaptation from Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are”.

Where The Wild Things AreSource: APF/File

Television, radio, print, outdoor and Internet ads featuring characters and scenes from the film will be constantly aired throughout the country, targeted at children. An example includes “television ads featuring the film’s young hero, Max, running, jumping and having fun in the wild with various creatures from the story.” The campaign’s purpose is to encourages kids to start their own “Wild Rumpus” by finding time to play every day and touts the benefits of regular physical activity. Families have been urged to visit www.smallstep.gov for innovative ideas in activities and play. With such high frequency and intensity, as well as the incorporation of various channels available to reach out to both children and parents, I must say it is indeed a commendable effort on the organisation’s part.

I was impressed by the immense effort taken to inject a sense of novelty and stimuli in this particular campaign. The main audience comprising largely of children; the need to create appeal and instill a high level of creativity was definitely required to make any impact on the curious minds of children. Worth noting was the particular selection and usage of  a general storyline from children literature to perk interests in kids, instead of one that might have leaned towards targeting a particular gender, which might not prove to be as effective.

However, to leave more lasting impressions amongst the target audience, the usage of more interaction would have been significant if employed. Perhaps the organisation could have considered appealing to children via online interactive games, or if financial budget permits, to hold actual events such as skits & games in schools, or  funfairs in certain states, promoting the importance of staying fit and healthy. This ensures that children get involved and active, and allows for simultaneous engagement and mutual exchanges.

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Another crucial point in consideration, would be how kids interpret these  ads derived from movie scenes. Being human allows us to be able to avoid, filter or retain specific information, leading to (usually) an unconscious mental selection process. Children may not be able to discern or read in between lines to fully grasp the message behind these fictious scenes, omitting critical meaning for salient information and losing the focus utterly, which may lead to the possibility of total defeat of  purpose of this campaign. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the original novel and movie has completely no relation whatsoever with the subject of health, much less obesity. In this case, it may prove to mislead or create perceptual errors.

So. What do you think of such an approach being harnessed in the arena of campaigning, in particular, cases of specific target audiences?

Source: http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1752018/wild_things_encourage_children_to_become_active/index.html