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Thread: Why are we self deprecating?

  1. #1
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    Default Why are we self deprecating?

    Hi friends,

    An earlier post inspired me to speak my mind. No fingers pointing, I vouch. Just getting some matters off my chest.

    Do you regularly hear people around you - friends or strangers alike - commenting how bad things are in Singapore?EG "Singaporeans, they so rude! Always don't know how to behave!" or "I tell you, Singaporeans nowadays, soooo kiasu!! Have sale only, they rush like mad to buy. Really worth saving that 5c, 10c meh??".

    Qn I have in mind. Why are we so self deprecating? A quote by Jamie Teo in the latest edition of 8Days sent a strong reminder across. She said Singaporeans are very prejudiced against our own artistes. No one thought anything of Fann Wong who acted opposite Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in the coming Shanghai Knights but when Shu Qi went to Hollywood, everyone went, 'Wahhhh...'.

    Are we truly thus? I have seen and heard enough to say: yes, mostly. I have a friend who swears off local serials. He watches nothing but HK serials which he spends time and money downloading from the net or renting. To him, Singaporean-produced serials suck big time and are not worth his time viewing. Instead he watches crappy stuff (crappy to me, at least) like 'Shuang Mian Yi Ren', starring the 'talented' Ekin Cheng.

    Why do we doom ourselves by condemning most things Singaporean? I work in the airport. When my colleagues see the soldiers and police patrolling, they roll their eyes and start making disgusted remarks. Doesn't anyone realise that these patrols act as deterrents against would-be terrorists? Many other airports despatch patrols of similar sizes too, just in case anyone's wondering.

    When we point fingers, we always refer to Singaporeans as 'they'. Come on... Aren't you and I just another Singaporean as well? Shouldn't we be using 'we' and not 'they'? Aren't we, at some point in time or another, just as guilty as the Ugly Singaporean whom we're kicking such a bug fuss up about?

    I can go on with a whole megawatt list of examples to illustrate my point if anyone cares to listen.

    I really hope we as Singaporeans can really sit up and appreciate what we have around us. And not spend 2/3s of our waking time complaining about the inadequacies and inefficiencies around us. We take too many things for granted simply because we're so used to being provided for. Tongues wag when the hands go idle. In that sense, yeah?

    I'm not trying to instil any patriotic feelings or acting plain gung-ho. And I do know that ours is not an undercover Utopian society. The Singaporean society and system do have flaws, just like every other society around the world. But I believe if I can drive this message through to a few of my friends and the message spreads slowly but surely and eventually, together we can make our society a more wonderful and beautiful one to live in.

    Take some time to stop and smell the flowers. Singaporean flowers DO smell good too, you know.

  2. #2

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    who is jamie teo?

    Local production is really very very very very lousy. comparing with taiwan and hongkong. i never watch local production for more than a decade liao.

    You can judge by the efford they put on.
    Last edited by ninelives; 6th December 2002 at 02:56 AM.

  3. #3
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    Jamie Teo was the previous Ms Singapore. Now an artiste with MediaCorp.

    Looks like our minds and opinions are on different tracks, 9Lives. Well, one man's meat is another's poison.

  4. #4

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    Personally, I think the self-deprecating thing is something inherently southeast asian... I don't know why that is, either. It's really too bad. We seem to place more importance on anything foreign. Does the humility factor of our cultures encourage it? Did colonization in the past have something to do with it?


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    I guess i know where you are coming from Rayman.

    I was just having this discussion with a few friends regarding the very same issue and i sometime fail to understand why people have to nitpick over the little things.

    As far as i am concerned, Singapore i worth it. The grass may always look greener on the other pasture but for all those who have stepped into the other pastures and returned, i can safely safe that out of 10, 8 willingly return to these fair shores.

    Yes, there are some issues. Serious ones. But if you are simply going to just gripe and sit on our hands, then i see no point in griping in the first place.

    Yes, granted. TV serials produced by other countries always seem more attractive (But i have known of people who are quite sick of taiwanese ones) or even the simple fact that these "flavour of the month" will die away after awhile. First it was HK/Taiwan. Followed by the Japanese serial and now, of course, Koren. Nothing wrong with these shows, but well, i reckon something as insubstantial as a TV program shouldn't be used as a guage.

    Anyhow, tastes and fans are forever fickle. Getting to used to our artistes, they really don't think all that higher of them, so, when someone, from some glitzy place like HK gets into Hollywood, then it becomes "Wow!"

    I have heard of snide comments from friends who are Hongkongers who made alot of snide comments on how Shuqi actually got the part.

    Like Rayman, i am not trying to stir up any sense of patriotism. It just saddens me to see that alot of people enjoy griping. Low crime rate, low unemployment rate (compared to other countries), low poverty rate, a health care system that still works and of course, above all, all these were achieved in less than 40 years.

    Still some way to go, i agree but hand on our heart, things aren't all that bad.
    --
    "High Wired, Dream Sired"

  6. #6

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    Originally posted by Que Lynn
    Personally, I think the self-deprecating thing is something inherently southeast asian... I don't know why that is, either. It's really too bad. We seem to place more importance on anything foreign. Does the humility factor of our cultures encourage it? Did colonization in the past have something to do with it?

    Do you think it's cos of our migrant history-- that we don't have a national pride developed over centuries, and that our culture seems so rojak that people think it's pathetic compared to the "grander" cultures of the west?
    Maybe it's because people don't feel that they have a stake in the country?
    Colonisation could be one thing-- that historically, westerners have been seen as upper-class and locals as the great unwashed. Hence leading to the mindset that anything local is pathetic?

  7. #7

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    wolfgang,

    i think the ppl in rayman's example has already taken for granted the "Low crime rate, low unemployment rate (compared to other countries), low poverty rate, a health care system that still works".

    While ur explanation of the TV serials is a substantial one, but i think people's basic needs has changed over the years.

    After a while, "Low crime rate, low unemployment rate (compared to other countries), low poverty rate, a health care system that still works" becomes so usual it is no longer a benchmark for quality life.

    I think someone in CS mentioned that Singapore got this far all because of plagiarism. I think it stems all from there.. everything that we do are copy copy wayang wayang. Turns people off.

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    The Japanese copy camera, copy watches, copy cars...etc...look how successful they are now.

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    Hi guys,

    Glad to see a few of us here (at least) do not constantly look down upon ourselves.

    I think quite a major role in this self-deprecating trend is the fact that we always think better of others. It may not only apply to Caucasians, but to most expats alike. I've heard plenty from my colleagues about how the same ideas put forward by locals and expats are being treated differently.

    No doubt there are many areas in which other countries are stronger than us. But does it necessarily mean that we have nothing as good as, if not better than, them?

    It all boils down to how well we can appreciate what we have around us. And I do hope we learn to do that. Eventually.

  10. #10
    Verre Vrai
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    Originally posted by mylau
    The Japanese copy camera, copy watches, copy cars...etc...look how successful they are now.

    Japanese is successful not only because it they can copy, but they can copy very well, they know how to improve from the "old" copy. I can say that Japanese are prefectionists.
    Last edited by Verre Vrai; 7th December 2002 at 10:06 PM.

  11. #11
    Sin
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    Default Re: Why are we self deprecating?

    Originally posted by rayman
    Hi friends,
    Are we truly thus? I have seen and heard enough to say: yes, mostly. I have a friend who swears off local serials. He watches nothing but HK serials which he spends time and money downloading from the net or renting. To him, Singaporean-produced serials suck big time and are not worth his time viewing. Instead he watches crappy stuff (crappy to me, at least) like 'Shuang Mian Yi Ren', starring the 'talented' Ekin Cheng.
    Have you seen local serials lately?

    Unbeatables 3? Channel U's "Wei Zi Dao" (whatever that is in English). Other than one good one which comes along in a blue moon (to be fair) the rest are all crap.

    The viewers are not the only one who knows that local productions are mostly crap. The production teams know it too, that's why they have to spruce things up with "foreign talents", including foreign artistes in the line-up...

    TV serials are one of the last thing I'd use to back up an argument about the merit of the country...

  12. #12
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    Not only serials, even local variety shows also faces fierce challenge from overseas like Taiwan. Just compare Taiwanese comperes and hosts to ours, really no fight. From "Chao Meng Xin Ren Wang" you can see Jacky Wu stealing all the light from Jack Neo. Of course as what other posters mentioned, local producer understands our standard and also started hiring Taiwanese hosts for some of our programmes (like Celebrity Square, Millionaire, Weakest Link...etc). In Singapore, everything also foreign talents, sigh, sigh ,sigh.
    Last edited by KingKongChar; 8th December 2002 at 10:33 AM.

  13. #13

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    Originally posted by KingKongChar
    Not only serials, even local variety shows also faces fierce challenge from overseas like Taiwan. Just compare Taiwanese comperes and hosts to ours, really no fight. From "Chao Meng Xin Ren Wang" you can see Jacky Wu stealing all the light from Jack Neo. Of course as what other posters mentioned, local producer understands our standard and also started hiring Taiwanese hosts for some of our programmes (like Celebrity Square, Millionaire, Weakest Link...etc). In Singapore, everything also foreign talents, sigh, sigh ,sigh.
    Personally, always felt local serials is more like beauty pageant than anything else. The winners of the talenttime get the juicy roles, the runner ups and the losers get supporting roles. How many leading roles can u parcel out in a few years in addition to those by existing veterans. Then come next talenttime with a new round of winners who will fight for the ever shrinking leading role pie and more and more supporting actors and actresses. The end result is a few senior veterans who gets the lion share of lead roles and a lot of young faces that come and go as they find it really difficult to advance in their careers. I imagine in a few years time, u can start seeing serials with perfect worlds made up only of young good looking artistes (the winners and runner ups) and a few auntie and uncle roles occupied by the previously popular veteran stars. Pple who can really make it bcos they can act will be very few and far (Xie shao guang?) or come in thru popularity from other fields like compering (Sharon Au?). Should scrap the talenttime thingie and let them fight for roles on their own merits.

  14. #14
    snowman
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    Originally posted by Verre Vrai



    Japanese is successful not only because it they can copy, but they can copy very well, they know how to improve from the "old" copy. I can say that Japanese are prefectionists.
    I agree on this...

    To gain recognition, one has to 'copy' and further develop to something better than the previous work..... and not vice versa

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    Good thread Gentlemen!

    Just a thought for the day to start of. This thread is possibly another example of this self-deprecation we (see, I used "we"!) are talking about. As in, how come we are self-deprecating and the rest of the world isn't?

    On to less philosophical and mud-stirring thoughts!

    My personal take is actually that the problem really isn't confined to Singapore. People are wont to criticise their own patch, their own circumstances. We tend to speak about the bad things rather than the good, and to take things for granted. I'm in the rather privileged position of being able to analyse the situation from both sides, and take my word for it, the complaints happen over here as well.

    We have a whinge and a moan about everything; over here it's unemployment, traffic jams, fire strikes, etc etc. Over in Singapore it's things like you mention. At the end of the day it's a bit of the grass-is-greener mentality really.

    Singaporeans might not give Singaporeans much credit, but certainly there is a lot of credit given to Asian work over here (since Singaporean work is fairly hard to come by). Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hollywood blitz though it may be, was very well received. Jackie Chan is a household name.

    Believe it or not, Japanese cars are considered a coveted item over here. Honda cars hold about 20% more value over similarly spec-ed Peugeots, Renaults, etc.

    Singaporeans might think they're the only people in the world that are kiasu. I can tell you that's true. But only because we don't call it kiasuism over here. But trust me people are every bit as paranoid and as eager to get ahead as the typical Singaporean.

    As to the distinction between "we" and "they", I think it's a fairly common thing. You always try to disassociate yourself from the bad things, and associate yourself with the good things. Try to get someone talking about the pluses in Singapore for a change, like the MRT and public transport in general for example, and you will probably hear the "we"s coming out. It's just that people hardly ever talk about good things, just bad things.

    Agree that we should all (and this applies not just to Singaporeans) learn to appreciate things more. But what I'm saying, it's not just Singaporeans that suffer from that problem (which harks back to my thought of the day about this thread being self-deprecating in itself!).

    Wolfie, well I must be one of those 2 out of 10 who out of preference would rather not return. For the moment anyway, I could change my mind a few years down the road.

    For those people who think we (Singaporeans) do a lot of copying, think again. We had some plans for the MRT from other countries, but now the MRT is being looked at and has been looked at by countless countries trying to solve their public transport system. The UK recently had it's very first "road pricing scheme" put in place, and guess who was closely looked at for ideas and thoughts on how the system is run properly?

    Even though I personally do not rate the CPF, numerous countries struggling with mounting pension pressures on the budget are looking at Singapore and it's system as a means of solving their own problems.

    I think Rayman puts it well when he says, I think quite a major role in this self-deprecating trend is the fact that we always think better of others. What I'm saying is, "we" refers to everyone around the world really. Not just Singaporeans. So we should stop putting ourselves down for being self-deprecating, else we prove the case while trying to argue against it.

    Incidentally, with regards to there being lots of foreign talent in Singapore, definitely. Perhaps some of it might be down to the relative immaturity of the population, experience wise. We have been going for 30+ years whereas some developed countries have been going for 10 times that along the industrial ladder. So they certainly have things to offer. I found it very sad a few years back when the Photo Editor of the ST was an expat. Fair play to him, but I thought it poor that we couldn't find someone local to do the job; although this might well have changed in the intervening time.

    Incidentally, we are also not without foreign expats in the UK either. Again it's just a case of being more aware of what's on your own doorstep than what's on your neighbours. For starters, there's a Singaporean snapper cutting it with the big boys in the sports photography industry

    But more to the point, and slightly less candid, the immigration and work requirements here are also tougher to get into, I believe anyway. Which would explain why there are less foreign people working here. Although, if you are a doctor, you'd be welcomed with open arms to the UK...

    Personally, always felt local serials is more like beauty pageant than anything else. The winners of the talenttime get the juicy roles, the runner ups and the losers get supporting roles.

    Again this is not just a problem restricted to Singapore. I happen to think that the recent blight of reality TV talent based programming in the UK is a nightmare. Pop Idol, Pop Stars, Pop Stars the Rivals, Fame Academy. All within the last 2 years, and it gets from bad to worse. Needless to say the good looking people get left in longer, and you end up with a band or solo artist that look(s) great, sings well enough, yet outsells Madonna or Michael Jackson simply because they've been on TV for weeks even before they've cut a single.

    Oh and just to keep this vaguely relevant to photography. I'd take a Japanese camera over a Caucasian camera any day. Whether German or Russian

  16. #16

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    on the japanese, i'd just add my own observation that the japanese are generally as self-deprecating, if not more so than Singaporeans. same thing with taiwanese i met, and a hong kong businessman i know - though these are all generalisations, and only based on my experience.

    if you read the interview about the pioneering japanese chef in 08 dec 02's ST sunday life!, you might have noticed how the chef gives credit to everyone except himself. (though perhaps he probably knows he is good, but maintains a humble spirit... or observes the tribal, communal, good-for-the-society values of the traditional japanese - which some may call conformist).

    once i was in a cab going to a wedding dinner to take photos, and the cabbie called me a yi shu gong zuo zhe, literally translated, "cultural worker". i take what he said to mean "artist". i replied, "no lah, i just document the event for the couple's memories".

    you can be scientific and average the responses of a sample audience, to combat any sense of doubt or ego. after all the singapore government would quote ratings by international studies for worker efficiency, educational standards, et al

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    Default Re: Re: Why are we self deprecating?

    Originally posted by Sin


    Have you seen local serials lately?

    Unbeatables 3? Channel U's "Wei Zi Dao" (whatever that is in English). Other than one good one which comes along in a blue moon (to be fair) the rest are all crap.

    The viewers are not the only one who knows that local productions are mostly crap. The production teams know it too, that's why they have to spruce things up with "foreign talents", including foreign artistes in the line-up...

    TV serials are one of the last thing I'd use to back up an argument about the merit of the country...
    I'm not a very TV person but I do know I've seen several good ones from then-SBC, then-TCS, MediaCorp and MediaWorks. Some I can think of right now are, 'Jia Ren You Yue', 'Chu Lu' etc

    Well, I watch about 2-3 hrs of TV a week so perhaps I'm not the best person to comment on this.

    But the fact is that many people do not even give local productions a chance and condemn it rightaway is the point I'm driving at. Will the likes of Stephanie Sun, Kit Chan even see the light of their singing career had they chose to propel it from Singapore? Look at Mavis Hee. She tried so many years to kick start something here to no avail. Zoomed to Taiwan and suddenly her albums sold like hot cake. Again, it's a classic example that we embrace something(one) only after it has been endorsed elsewhere. Is this the attitude we want out of our fellow Singaporeans?

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    Thanx Jed for giving us a deeper insight into views from abroad. That's imperative in a thread of such genre.

    Many of us may not know it but many traits of the 'Ugly Singaporeans' can be found in Australians, Europeans, Americans etc. Kiasuism and other idiosyncrasies we think are sole trademarks of Singaporeans are actually universal trends. So why make ourselves look and sound bad all the time?

    You're right, Jed. What an irony. A self-deprecating question that discusses why we're self-decrepating. Never thought of it that way before. Guess the third party always has a clearer view, yeah?

  19. #19

    Default Re: Re: Re: Why are we self deprecating?

    Originally posted by rayman

    . Zoomed to Taiwan and suddenly her albums sold like hot cake.
    that exactly what I told you. it is the efford they put on. "They" refer not only to the singer or actor but also the production crew, be it the CG, the directory of photography, the scripter, the co-producer and so on.

    Remember Wan Zhi Liang?? His shows in HK were so hot, coz the story is damn good. But when he came to singapore to cast "golden pillow", yucks.

    In the TV,Movie, music industry, there is no one-man show. This the efford I was talking about.

  20. #20
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    Heh. I'm not exactly third party. Just sort of detached... But good thread like I said, good thoughtful debate.

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