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Month: May 2012

National Paper Endorses Revenge Bullying, This Blogger Sees Red

National Paper Endorses Revenge Bullying, This Blogger Sees Red

Some backstory: Local blogging sensation Xiaxue was subjected to a series of sexist, insulting attacks on the Facebook post on Singapore’s own Mos Eisley, the Temasek Review. In response, she went to the trolls’ Facebook pages, took their publicly-posted pictures and personal information, posted them to her own site and mocked their figurative pants off. As she is enormously popular, this generated a huge (and positive) response online. The Straits Times picked up on this and ran an article about it.

Let me explain why I think this A Very Bad Thing.

For the record, I detest the twin terrors of the Temasek Times/Temasek Review. They promote xenophobia and encourage vicious witch-hunts. I won’t even sully my website by linking to them. I wish the sites they were hosted on would vanish into a black hole and never reemerge.

Personally, however, I don’t think singling out users and sharing their information online, as Xiaxue did, was the right thing to do. I disagree with her methods. I disagree with her views.

But that’s not the point here. It is her blog and she is free to do what she chooses. What I want to address is the Straits Times getting in on the action.

 

Let’s put aside the issue of “How is this even news?!”. It is the smaller of the two issues here–and really, you could do worse than running frivolous stuff in a newspaper, even a national one. Let’s instead talk about “WHY IN THE WORLD ARE THEY ENDORSING THIS SORT OF BEHAVIOUR”.

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On The Bund(上海滩)

On The Bund(上海滩)

On the day I was supposed to leave Shanghai, I crossed the river separating Pudong where my hotel was, from Puxi, and walked the Bund for an hour, taking photos on my Diana F (which I have yet to send for developing).

By the second day of my stay in the city I began to realise that I was only being exposed to a highly privileged, hugely constructed sliver of the city. Moving between hotel and convention centre and posh shopping mall (for meals), everything was scrubbed sterile, spotless: Every toilet I visited was flawless and scented, cleaner than the ones that we had back home. From my hotel room I spotted a Ferrari parked in the courtyard of the mall opposite, right in front of the giant Prada store. I spent four days living in an artificial bubble, away from the reality of the city. I was there as a member of the mainstream media, after all, a paid guest of that spawn of capitalism, an MNC. What else was I expecting?

(What I came away with from the summit I attended, after listening to CEOs and SVPs talk earnestly about fragmented markets and how to invest in them, was that foreign businessmen have a better understanding of China and its culture than their thinkers and politicians do. Capitalism is warfare of the 21st century, and the conquerors must know their targets well.)

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Shanghai Soup (上海汤)

Shanghai Soup (上海汤)

I’m sitting in a tenth-floor room of the Shangri-La Pudong, listening to an orchestra of car horns on the street below. Around me, skyscrapers are lovingly caressed by the fog and swallowed whole from above.  It’s my first time in Shanghai and it tastes like home — thriving forests of glass and steel, flawless roads prowled by BMWs and Audis, stores that sell Prada and Gucci and Giorgio Armani.  I don’t feel like I’ve gone anywhere at all.

Yes, the signs are in a different language. Yes, the stars are yellow and the flag is red. Yes, the flowers by the roadside could never grow in the climate at home.

But it doesn’t feel different.

When I was in London, I felt myself moved by something I couldn’t put a finger on. Every sight, every sound, every intake of air, I wanted to treasure and keep as precious. At that time, I arrogantly thought I had made a connection with the city. Now I know it was just London’s way of telling me that I didn’t belong.

When They Said “Assemble”, I Didn’t Think They Meant An Ikea Table, AKA Why I Disliked The Avengers Movie

When They Said “Assemble”, I Didn’t Think They Meant An Ikea Table, AKA Why I Disliked The Avengers Movie

A still from Marvel's The Avengers, produced by Walt Disney Co.

I am currently girding my loins because I am going to post an extremely unpopular opinion.

I did not like the Avengers movie.

First off, a disclaimer: I am not a comics fan. While I may dabble in the occasional graphic novel and hang around comics geeks more than half the time, I basically know nothing about the Marvel comicsverse, aside from what I read from Neil Gaiman’s 1602, and what I learned monitoring some of the comics communities on LJ and Dreamwidth while I was working in an ultimately-doomed local comics studio. (Storm Lion, you may have heard of them.)

But perhaps this puts me in good stead to review the film. I’m not emotionally invested enough in the source material to have it eclipse everything else, but I’m also not so detached from the comics fandom that I’ll start tearing apart things that are generally accepted as comic book tropes.

I really wanted to like this film. I don’t head out to the theatres much these days, owing mostly to time constraints, but this was one film I bookmarked as a must-see after the rave reviews given by almost everyone who had caught an advance screening. I sussed out the opening date and marked it out weeks in advance: Must go see this when it opens. Find someone who wants to watch it with you. Cannot miss it.

And maybe that was its problem: It didn’t live up to the hype. Cut for spoilers!

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