STOMP

Photo: STOMP Facebook page

When you think of the local citizen journalism website STOMP (http://stomp.sg), what immediately comes to mind?

Interesting? Not classy? Gossipy? Lame?

For me, I thought it was quite unnecessary and lame. Small issues like the hogging of seats on MRT trains were blown up and magnified and news like these still continue to occupy the main page till today. However, after learning about media theories this week, I am better able to understand more about how the media works and the reason why the website exists.

“What we say is not as important as how we deliver it.” Looking at how others easily upload sneakily taken photos of Singaporeans and criticize them behind the computer or the smartphone, the rest may be inclined to do so too. But how many of this news uploaded actually matter to Singaporeans? In my opinion, news of people hogging the MRT seats are not exactly that significant. It is probably the convenience of being able to upload photos and the satisfaction that one can create news out of something so small that attracts these people to do it. Furthermore, after reading the news, people can leave anonymous comments to add on to the criticism in the article. I feel that it is the easy access of the Internet and the website that has changed how people live and experience how this society is like. After seeing all these news online, I am more cautious about sitting on reserved seats in the train. And even if I do, I will look out for any potential cameras that could put me on STOMP. This is the media determinism theory at work here, where the medium is more important than the message.

Also, messages on STOMP do not influence our attitudes directly, but instead are cultivated indirectly. For example, the piece of news of the Iphone cover in the shape of boobs was highly commented and liked on the site.

http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/stomp/sgseen/what_bugs_me/795498/iphone_cover_in_the_shape_of_boobs_too_disgusting_for_children.html

Most felt that it was no big deal, and others slammed the STOMPer for kicking a big fuss out of something insignificant. However, I feel that when people constantly visit the site and expose themselves to such news on STOMP, after a long while they start to become more critical and have more opinions of similar issues. This could be an effect of the Cultivation Theory, where the STOMP website creates a way of looking at our society and the world around us. Furthermore, when people come across people using such covers in real life, they would definitely form similar judgments of the person as they did with the STOMPer.

What do you feel about the STOMP website? Does it affect how you think and judge issues? Share it with me! ☺

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Collectivist China has no place for Gaga?

On the CNN website not long ago, there was an article about China banning Lady Gaga and Backstreet Boys’ songs being on chinese websites.

Here’s the link: http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/29/china-gags-gaga…-and-backstreet-boys/?iref=allsearch

These songs and videos are evidently a form of entertainment for people and attract people to want to listen to them because of the catchy tunes and interesting lyrics. But since media personalities and artistes are usually people we look up to and exposure to their constructed messages has an impact on our behavior, it is understandable that China definitely wants some form of control over the media.

China’s ministry of culture banned six of Lady Gaga’s songs from her new album, and a few other songs from artistes like Katy Perry and boy bands like the Backstreet Boys. This was because the ministry felt that when people make these songs available for the Chinese to hear, it would “disturb the online music market order and endanger national cultural safety.”

This aptly shows China’s collectivist culture, where harmony and social order are heavily emphasized. Social norms and duties are determined by China’s Ministry of Culture, rather than for the Chinese’s own pleasure. The ministry was afraid that the Chinese people who were exposed to Lady Gaga’s songs would be too inclined to other beliefs (Christianity etc) instead of conforming to the Chinese society’s and influence others to do so as well. This may be because cultures are dynamic and people are able to learn new behaviors when they come into contact with other cultures. In this instance, it would be the American culture which encourages freedom of speech.

Like many others, I feel that even though this action was not surprising, it was quite extreme. The lyrics in some of Lady Gaga’s songs did refer to God and Christianity as a belief, but it is really too extreme to deem that it might pose a threat to social order and harmony. For example, the song Born This Way by Lady Gaga simply just encourages one’s self-confidence in my opinion. Furthermore, the target group for the video is mainly the young Chinese, who may be more apathetic or less inclined to any revolution of any sort since most of them are interested only in the entertainment these artistes bring.

From this, it also shows that China has a high context culture. Topics like religion are best not discussed (even in songs) and brought up in public. People who have not experienced the Chinese culture would find this unbelievable and even absurd.

Thankfully, some Chinese are not blindly following the government’s lead. In the rural areas where access to internet is limited and media messages are tightly controlled, they might get a culture shock when they eventually get the chance to step out of China and experience the world outside. But still, there are some find it ridiculous that a song with the lyrics like “I want it that way” has also been banned, and still continue to like their idol’s work. I feel that this shows a hint of individualism in these people, which can be attributed to the increasing availability of information on the internet and increasing globalization.

What do you feel about this? Do you feel the same way as I do? Share it with me! ☺

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Harry Potter

“A group is “a collection of individuals who, as a result of interacting with one another over time, become interdependent, developing shared patterns of behavior and a collective identity.” There are many such groups everywhere, be it fiction or non-ficton, and I feel that most groups definitely show such characteristics in the definition stated here.

An example of group communication we can examine is in the recent movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 which was released not too long ago. I’m sure many of us would have watched the movie, especially since it was the last movie of the series. For those who did not watch or forgot parts of the show, here’s the trailer!

Basically, Harry and the rest had to find the final horcruxes (parts of Voldermort) to destroy as only then would Voldermort disintegrate and disappear from their world forever.

Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley all played different roles in the close knit group that was formed since the first year of their school life at Hogwarts. They all share a collective identity (witch and wizards) and they are very close to one another.

Evidently, Hermione played the role of the Initiator-Contributor, where she was always the one to suggest ideas and offer ways that are useful almost all the time in solving the problems that always crop up when they fight Voldermort. She also played the part of a Harmonizer, where she helped to relieve the tension between Harry and Ron when Ron left temporarily after feeling that the fight against Voldermort would be futile. Even though it did not feel like a group when Ron left, she helped to comfort Harry, which helped in allowing them to make some progress in their route.

For Ron, he seems to play the part of the Opinion Giver, where he always honestly states his own stand and gives valuable input when it comes to deciding on the moves to take. I feel that he is also the Standard Setter because he never would leave anyone in the group alone ( apart from the fact that he left at the start). Despite all the struggles or obstacles faced, he would insist that they face them altogether. In my opinion, this sets the standard for the group because his actions promote group harmony and cohesion.

As for Harry, I feel that he plays the role of the Coordinator where he pulls together ideas and suggestions of both Hermione and Ron. As he is the main character in the show, he often has to take on important decision making roles. For example, in the show, he had to decide at many points the next action of the group and who should be the one to do it. Also, he decided immediately that the group needed to create an invisible shield to prevent Dementors (a dark creature which feeds off human happiness) from detecting their presence. This eventually saved their lives.

I feel that all of them play the role of the Energizer at different points in the show, where all would prod the group into action and alert the group for any danger. Also, they played on each others’ strengths and were committed to destroying Voldermort till the very end. This is truly essential in both fiction and non-fiction situations. Without the basic commitment in groups, implementations and actions would most definitely not work out. Furthermore, when each member has an opportunity to contribute ( Harry- Defence of the Dark Arts Spells, Hermione- almost all the spells required in an emergency and Ron to provide opinions and evaluate their actions), it is when it would be most successful. And they eventually conquered Voldermort. (albeit with the help of Ron’s family and their other schoolmates).

However, even though roles can switch around and change at times, I feel that the group can increase group effectiveness by being more flexible. Even though there is a balance in the roles they undertake so far, as the group is small, each member might need to take responsibility for more roles. E.g. encourager, evaluator critic.

What do you feel about this? Do you agree with me on the different roles that each character played in the show? Do share it with me! ☺

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Friends? Friends with Benefits? Lovers? ☺

“Why do relationships start off so fun, then turn into suck-a-bag-of-dicks?” laments Dylan (Justin Timberlake) in the movie Friends with Benefits. According to the Knapp Model of Relational Development, this statement aptly rings true. Since relationships all first start out with the steps of coming together to know each other, it is definitely something new for both parties and is as sweet and fun like a honeymoon trip. However, once perceptions start to change and the steps of coming apart start to kick in, it feels nothing like a honeymoon but more like a disaster.

In this movie Friends starring Mila Kunis as Jamie and Justin Timberlake as Dylan, many of the theories and concepts learnt this past week can be applied aptly to it. Basically, this show is about 2 individuals (Jamie and Dylan) first getting to know each other through work, then became friends, then became friends with benefits (benefits i.e. sex) and then both realised how much each meant to the other and eventually became a couple.

Jamie and Dylan got to know each other because Jamie headhunted Dylan for a job for the GQ magazine, a prestigious publishing company in New York. Since one headhunted the other, both their capabilities should be of a certain standard.. Thus, the concept that people tend to form relationships with others of the same competency level can be applied here.

Also, both parties reciprocated the communication and liking at the start when they first got to know each other. I feel that this is extremely important at the start of any relationship because it forms the basis for further development. Dylan asked Jamie out to eat dinner as he had just moved to New York from Los Angeles and he did not know where to eat. Jamie could have easily said no, which would easily put an obstacle to the development of the relationship. But instead, she not only said yes, but invited him to a party at her house. They eventually had a whole lot of fun and this improved the relationship tremendously.

Furthermore, both found each other physically attractive when they were interacting with each other. It was when they decided to take a step further into the relationship (from friends to friends with benefits) when they revealed to each other what they found attractive about each other. (Dylan for Jamie- eyes, breasts, body) (Jamie for Dylan-lips, body, butt etc). As superficial as this may be, it is necessary for both individuals to want to know more about each other, no?

Also, it was during their interaction that both found the similarities in their attitudes. One of which was that both needed and wanted sex, but did not want to end up having any emotional attachment to their partners.

Later on in the movie, after the initial distraction of Jamie dating another man (remember that Dylan and Jamie were still friends!) , Dylan and Jamie got closer after she confided in him about what a jerk the man was. He then decided to introduce her to his family as his best friend. This is evidently a stage of self-disclosure as both to reveal things about themselves, which the other party would not know. However, it was also there that due to poor communication, the conflict occurred. Jamie and Dylan fell for each other, but due to Jamie overhearing something unpleasant Dylan said about her to his sister, she misinterpreted it as an act of mistrust and started avoiding him. This shows a situation in which some of the most important needs in the relationship conflicted with one another. (intimacy vs distance) Jamie felt that their relationship was supposed to be intimate, but it was not how Dylan seemed to interpret it as his action of badmouthing Jamie behind her back undermined this trust.

If I were Jamie, I would definitely have done the same. As women and girls, we definitely expect some form of sensitiveness and loyalty from the other party.

Fortunately in their case, the conflict proved to be functional because it helped build their relationship as they finally realised what they both wanted as a result. At the end, they both got together and integrated themselves into each others’ lives. (stage 4 of Knapp Model of Relational Development)

Have you had a better idea on what the movie is about? Have you learnt more about relationships thru this? Do you agree with me on the several points I raised? Share it with me! 🙂

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Chuck and Blair

Are verbal and non-verbal cues really effective in communicating messages to people? I think yes. When communicating with someone, it’s not just what they say, but also what their “body” says that communicates the overall message to me.

The above video is a short extract from Season Four, episode 20 of the teen drama television series Gossip Girl. Basically, it shows two of the main characters Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester) and Chuck Bass (played by Ed Westwick) in an emotionally charged conversation, which ends up in Chuck punching the window in display of anger.

Firstly, when the clip begins, it shows Blair walking in looking for someone (presumably Chuck), and looking apprehensive as well. This can be seen from her eyes, where they shift from right to left, and then start to move in several directions. It thus reflects the use of oculesics, which is the study of non-verbal meaning associated with the eyes. Upon seeing him, she lets out a big sigh which complements her dialogue of “How could you do that to me, Chuck?” This shows her hurt and yet seemingly resigned to the fact that Chuck would always be this way. After which, the short dialogue they exchanged up till 0:28 shows that Blair was hurt by Chuck’s words, but was trying to not let it get to her. The fluttering of her eyelids shows this point and once again, this indicates the use of oculesics.

Also, it can be seen that both characters still have feelings for each other, but seem to be keeping a casual distance because of the strained relations. At the dialogue parts from 0:35 to 0:49, Chuck bitterly claims that everything he knew about his father was all based on lies, and throws his hands down to get his point across. This shows the complement of verbal and non-verbal language once again. Right after, his tone of voice softens as he states that “the only thing that’s ever been real is you, and you know it” to Blair. This shows the use of paralinguistics, where the tone of Chuck’s voice indicates to me that Blair means a lot to him.

From 0:53 to 0:58, Chuck starts to decrease the social distance to an intimate one, pulling Blair to him. He probably wanted to feel closer to her, as it would make him feel that he would have more “power” and control over the situation. (Haptics- touch) But Blair’s frowned expression and stiff body shows that she was not comfortable with such an intimate distance, but did not know how to stop him. (osculesics and kinesics-affect displays)

After which, while she speaks, it can be seen that Chuck is trying to control his hurt and anger, by the left side of his face twitching. (kinesics-facial displays) He then uses force to pull Blair to him, which once again reflects the use of touch to make himself feel more in control. When Blair resists once again, the look on his face shows much anger and hurt, but also care for Blair, which results in a punch in the window.

From a short scene in this television series, there is a heavy use of non-verbal language to communicate ideas and meanings to the viewers. Added with the use of verbal language, the communication then becomes more effective. What are your views on this? Are you surprised that there was actually so many theories that can be applied in a short scene like this? Share it with me! ☺

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Perception

I learnt in class that communication and behavior are based on perception rather than reality. Furthermore, perception is influenced by psychological factors like personal experiences and social factors like the media. Thus, the way each person perceives something will be different from the other.

This week, I am going to refer to an advertisement that is placed in most of the bus stops around Singapore. I’m quite sure most of you have seen it at least once or twice! Basically, the purpose of the advertisement is to promote the Yellow Ribbon Project, which purpose is to help ex convicts to re integrate back into society.  As quoted from the official website, “The Yellow Ribbon Project seeks to engage the community in giving ex-offenders a second chance at life and to inspire a ripple effect of concerted community action to support ex-offenders and their families.” The second photo is the photo used in the advertisement referred to in this post.

 

The photo of the advertisement is that of a tattooed man and a woman who is supposedly teaching him some skills which would help him in his journey to integrate back into society.

On first look, my attention was drawn to the heavily tattooed hand in the advertisement. Obviously the advertisement wants to create awareness about the Yellow Ribbon Project which undoubtedly, is a very meaningful initiative as it helps ex convicts. But I immediately perceived the guy to be the ex convict mainly because the woman seemed to be guiding him. On top of that, I perceived him to be bad and scary because I chose to focus on his tattoo first, and neglect the message the advertisement was trying to send. This could be due to the mass media, where big and scary guys with heavily tattooed bodies often play the bad guys, whose roles are usually those of loan sharks and people associated with underground activities. Also, another factor as to why I chose to perceive the advertisement this way is because of the environment I was brought up in, where tattoos are often frowned upon by the older generation. Thus, my first perception of the advertisement was only limited to the “model” and focus, which in this case is the man with the heavily tattooed hand.

 

My first perception was based on what I chose to omit and distort, which in this case, is a very narrow-minded perception. However, after looking at it the second time, I realized that the message of the advertisement was very simple, which is just to let people know and realize that ex convicts deserve a second chance. But it is difficult to put the message in people’s heads, simply because of our cognitive schemata. Cognitive schemata is the mental framework we have developed over time, which is established by factors such as past experiences, biological hardwiring and and socialization. In this kind of situation, since ex convicts are usually people who have committed crimes, or at least have been a part of it, it is difficult to move past the prejudice we have against them.

 

Thankfully, we still have programs like the Yellow Ribbon Project to help these people get back on track or else, this might become a vicious cycle which they cannot get out of.What do you feel about this? Was your first impression about the advertisement/photo similar to mine? 🙂

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Black Swan

Black Swan is an American psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis. Its plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play both the innocent White Swan and the sensual Black Swan. One dancer, Nina (Portman), is a perfect fit for the White Swan, while Lily (Kunis) has a personality that matches the Black Swan. When the two compete for the parts, Nina finds a dark side to herself.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Black Swan is a movie about a ballet dancer seeking perfection in her work, resulting in her starting to hallucinate and imagine things that are not true at all.  I feel that the movie gives a very real enactment of  the issues some people are facing in their lives now, especially the stress we feel when faced with obstacles that seem insurmountable.

Firstly, the movie depicts scenes where the female lead( Nina)’s mother unknowingly gives her pressure to do well in her ballet career. In this case, it clearly shows the use of Pathos, where the scenes appeal to one’s emotion and feelings. Without a doubt, parents always want the best for their children and this sometimes result in parents putting undue pressure on them to achieve what parents deem is success to them. We as children wish to respect our parents’ wishes, and thus put pressure on ourselves to achieve good grades or in Nina’s case, achieve success as a ballet dancer. Thus, I feel that Pathos is applicable here as it resonates with our emotions and allows us to feel Nina and relate to her.

Also, I feel that there is a particular line in the movie which shows the use of Ethos. It was a scene which Nina tried so hard to achieve perfection in her routines but yet failed. And it was then she realized “The only person standing in your way is you.” I feel that this appeals to our character. In many situations in our daily lives, we often face difficulties. Sometimes, we find ourselves being fearful of what lies ahead and whether our difficulties can really be overcome. In my opinion, this sentence naturally resonates with our character because the only way to overcome our difficulties is to not let your insecurities get in the way, and face your problems bravely.

In another case, this movie appeals through the use of logic in different scenes in the movie. Nina has a spilt personality in the show, some of which are imagining that she had made out with her female friend, then imagining the back up ballet dancer trying to snatch her ballet teacher away from her, and also imagining the aforementioned ballet dancer attacking her. Logically, from the way the scenes were showed, it is clear that Nina was imagining things.  But Nina did not realize it and continued to sink deeper and deeper. This helps to keep the viewers’ attention as it is interesting yet shocking  at the same time to see how someone can make herself suffer to such an extent by just imagining things.

Summing up, I feel that this movie has been successful in communicating with its viewers. I can safely say that it was able to capture my attention throughout the entire duration of the movie, as well as elicit emotional responses from me. What about you? 🙂

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