Monday, August 27, 2007

Using sex to sell? Is this right or wrong?

I refer to the commentary written by Fiona Cher (15/07) which highlights the arguments of using sex to sell, dated 31st July 2007. Personally, I strongly agree with the author that using sex to sell a product is a wrong approach to gain the audience’s attention. She uses the example of the recent television advertisement for where the female models used were wearing bikinis, and at the very end, the male lead was completely nude, using a mere piece of cardboard to cover his privates. Such commercials have caused some controversy over the use of sex in selling or promoting products and services. This example of the advertisement emphasizes the idea that sexy advertising on commercials is seen as both acceptable and unacceptable. Sexual advertising is viewed acceptable because it encourages awareness of the products and in this case increases the desire for the product. On the other hand, viewers also feel that using sex appeal to sell a product is not acceptable. As stated in Cher’s commentary, the use of sex in television commercials is in bad taste and should not be aired, especially so considering that the people sitting in front of the television are not just adults, for among the audiences there are children too. The use of erotic imagery and sexual suggestion in the commercial pose a negative influence to young children. This is due to fact that they are unable to think rationally unlike adults. They readily accept whatever that is shown on the screen without putting in much thought.
The problem with using sex as a selling point is sex becomes the product being sold. When the commercials flashing half-naked women come on TV, they may be advertising shampoo or beer but they're selling sex. And sometimes the sexiest shampoo may not be the best choice. Sex is fundamentally great for advertising. Through the designs of naughty Mother Nature our eyes are automatically drawn the sight of an attractive, scantly clad female/male form. However, is it possible to use the benefits of sex and stand out from the rest while maintaining a respectful image for your product/service? Yes, I think it is, but not in the way you’d expect. People are drawn to sexual images because they are attracted to what they see. It appeals to their senses and triggers off sexual desires and feelings. Because of the mysterious way in which our brains work, we subconsciously form an association between our desire for sex and whatever product is being advertised. However, the phrase "sex does sell" in advertisement which often portray women as a sex object can also be used as a creative technique for it can attract peoples attention for the longest moment as possible. Furthermore, it can increase the sale of a certain product. This is the arguement that men would present when faced with accusation of exploiting women as merely nothing but sex objects. I, as a woman stand by my rights and disagree absolutely that ''selling'' women's body is the best way to increase their sales revenue. Advertisers need to take responsibility for their own actions and to end this type of exploitation. If they do not, we as the consumer can always force them. After all, we have the dollars and cents.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Can poverty ever be eradicated?

Can poverty in Africa, or anywhere in the world, really be made history?In theory, poverty could be eradicated from the earth. There’s certainly no lack of resources in this earth to supply everyone’s needs. But WILL poverty ever be eradicated? Unfortunately, my stand to this question is no.

As mentioned by Kamala Sarup, to end poverty, one nation must first upgrade it’s technlogical competency. The direct causes of per capita income and living standard increases are technologies, new and old. These are the tools, machines, materials, power sources, medicines, and manufacturing and commercial practices that are transformed into consumable goods and services, comprising basic living standards. However, a poor country that wants to be richer cannot expect to develop its own technology. Importing technology that produces more and better goods and services for its own people and for producing goods and services for trade with foreigners is the only option. Unfortunately, this acquisition of technology requires large amounts of money. Some would endorse the view that giving more money to poor people and poor countries can solve the problem of domestic and global poverty. It’s remarkable that so many smart people in our society are unaffected by the evidence that such transfer programs just don’t work. Why? Look at the classic example of the United States who had spent over $1 trillion on foreign aid. And yet, the Clinton administration reported that “despite decades of foreign assistance, most of Africa and parts of Latin America, Asia and the Middle East are economically worse off today than they were 20 years ago.” As a result, many of the poorest regions are still wrapped up in a poverty trap: they lack the financial means to make the necessary investments in infrastructure, education, health care systems and other vital needs.
Moreover are not talking Africa only here, poverty is prevalent in nation-states such as India, Bangladesh, Eastern European states, Thailand, China Philippines, dare I say, even in the US and the UK and even within the EU. Even if aid is given, how do we eradicate poverty when the people voted into office are corrupt? This is especially so when one nation is poor, corruption is an inevitable feature. Little progress can be achieved, in fact, the poverty continues to escalate among these nations. There is an ever-growing disparity between rich and poor. Mainly because To date, nearly every effort to eradicate poverty has focused on temporary relief of the suffering rather than getting to the root of the poverty and creating real solutions to actually eradicate poverty permanently. The result of such efforts, while well intended, and perhaps necessary in the short run, to assure the poor are at least kept alive, will not solve the problem of poverty.

For or Against Death Penalty?

Those who believe that deterrence justifies the execution of certain offenders bear the burden of proving that the death penalty is a deterrent. The overwhelming conclusion from years of deterrence studies is that the death penalty is, at best, no more of a deterrent than a sentence of life in prison The Issac Ehrlich studies as mentioned by Becker have been widely discredited. In fact, some criminologists, such as William Bowers of Northeastern University, maintain that the death penalty has the opposite effect: that is, society is brutalized by the use of the death penalty, and this increases the likelihood of more murder. Even most supporters of the death penalty now place little or no weight on deterrence as a serious justification for its continued use. States in the United States that do not employ the death penalty generally have lower murder rates than states that do. The same is true when the U.S. is compared to countries similar to it. The U.S., with the death penalty, has a higher murder rate than the countries of Europe or Canada, which do not use the death penalty. The death penalty is not a deterrent because most people who commit murders either do not expect to be caught or do not carefully weigh the differences between a possible execution and life in prison before they act.
The death penalty alone imposes an irrevocable sentence. Once an inmate is executed, nothing can be done to make amends if a mistake has been made. There is considerable evidence that many mistakes have been made in sentencing people to death. Our capital punishment system is unreliable. A recent study by Columbia University Law School found that two thirds of all capital trials contained serious errors. When the cases were retried, over 80% of the defendants were not sentenced to death and 7% were completely acquitted. These statistics represent an intolerable risk of executing the innocent. Therefore I strongly disagree the usage of death penalty.

Challenges facing Singapore as the country plays host to more people from different backgrounds and cultures

Singapore has a variety of races, ranging from Chinese to Malays to Indians. Being the majority of the society, there is a need to work hand in hand with one another, as it is impossible to just stick with one race all the time. Last Friday, The Strait Times surveyed a few families living in Singapore, and many said treated their neighbours like family, regardless of the color of their skin. Exchange of gifts, words of comforts, and even acts of kindness flood the residential area, which is made up of a few different races. It is really comforting to see how genuine and kind people can be even towards people of other nationalities.Looking at the above, one can admit that Singapore as an advanced nation has indeed done well in terms of promoting and exercising racial harmony, but there should not be any denial that there is still some conflicts yet unresolved. In fact, it is pretty acceptable to say that racial discrimination is still prominent in certain areas. These areas are often areas dominated by one race only, and a sight of someone darker or possibly lighter creates much discussion among the people. Racist jokes are heard all the time, cracked by many in the pretense of humor, but the truth is, that in itself is a form of discrimination.
If a Caucasian comes to Singapore, he would be treated like a king, but under similar circumstances, someone darker would not be treated as well. Is this not a form of discrimination? The truth is, we often value people for what backgrounds and countries they come from, and not for who they are. Respect for each other should come from the heart, and not done superficially just of being morally right.
Elsewhere in the world, the recent riots in Paris and Sydney have underlined the importance of integration and unity, and the vital need to narrow the gap between Us and Them. The issues of belonging,nationhood, integration and unity are complex and multi-layered. Human nature is such that people will band together by virtue of race or background.
if nothing is to be done to preserve the social harmony in country, riots happened, death results and there will be no peace. People would live in fear, innocent people will be killed. Also, would anyone want to come to a country where there is bloodshed and chaos everywhere? Obviously, investors become less attracted to invest in the country and economy of country would definitely deteriorate. When a country faces economic crisis, unemployment rate increases as more people lose their jobs. This can be linked to the reason why crime rate shoots up when economy of a country falls. People lose their monthly income, and thereby resorting to stealing.
But as our country plays host to more people from different backgrounds and cultures, the need to recognise, understand, and assimilate differences is all the more urgent. Consequences of a disharmonious society can be fatal and destructive as people's lives and the country's well-being are adversely affected.

Lessons for unwed mums?

Recently I came across an interesting article entitled “Lessons for unwed mums” which appeared in the Review Section of The Straits Times. This article brought up the issue of how the lack of education especially among the poor and broken homes is one of the main factors contributing to the complex phenomenon of young and unwed mothers. The author believes that the effective way to deal with this issue is by providing girls a good education as it serves to delay motherhood and marriage until they are emotionally and intellectually as well as physically ready, However, this made me wonder - is lack of education the sole reason ? Or maybe the question really is whether girls’ education alone can amount to a complete solution? Firstly, I disagree that if one is highly educated, she would not fall for the category of “unwed mothers” and if one is ignorant to education, the chances of her being an unwed mother is high. My argument here is simply – can education be the only measure? The author proves his point by offering us statistics depicting more than half of the 458 Malay mothers aged 15-19 last year, married and unmarried, had not gone or had gone only to primary school. The figures literally translates that their young age and lack of schooling are of concern and show what needs to be done. Nevertheless, is this really the case? Where I was schooling back then in Malaysia, there were many cases of young girls having to stop their education temporarily due to the fact that they were pregnant. And may I remind you, these cases happened in my SCHOOL, a secondary school. So, there you go. They were educated for sure, but such cases still happen. Puzzling? Clearly, proper education may not give one the self assurance to resist peer pressure and to say “no” to boys wanting sex. You do not have to be highly educated to know that getting pregnant before marriage is a wrong thing to do. It is a general fact
The author argues further that child development specialists observe that an educated mother will do her best to ensure her daughters are educated at least up to her level of schooling and that it is a consequence that should help break the cycle of one generation of young unwed mothers giving birth to another generation of the same. True for the part that educated mother would provide their child with adequate education. Not true however that this would eventually break the cycle. Instead, I feel that lack of education is just a general stereotypical view which everyone blames upon when something is not right. Try looking at the core of the issue – what really is the problem? A question that leaves us all to ponder.


Coincidentally, this article I picked is also in way linked to new media – Youtube. According to this article, the author believes that Youtube has no ethics, and the only purpose of its existence is for the sake of providing entertainment and to gain profit. I personally agree with the author’s claims. If it is not for money, then YouTube will not be created in the first place. The creators of YouTube may say that it is created to let people share and circulate videos around but too many evidence has shown that YouTube doesn’t care about the videos that has been uploaded. The videos that were uploaded had sparked outrage on various issues. The most significant one will be the 44-second film showing graffiti over the king's face. If YouTube had even paid the slightest attention to the videos, the Thai government will not even consider banning YouTube in the country. It is obvious that YouTube cares only for money on not for other aspects that are also very important in life.Another very obvious evidence will be the case where Viacom actually sued Google, which is the owner of YouTube for massive intentional copyright infringement. YouTube was so busy in making millions or even billions of dollars that it didn’t even notice that quite a number of the videos uploaded are copyrighted materials owned by established companies like Viacom. If it has ethics, it wouldn’t have allowed these clips to be uploaded onto the website. The whole world is busy trying to deal with piracy and here YouTube is actually encouraging pirates to operate freely and without worry. Of course, YouTube can say that it doesn’t have any control over the videos that are uploaded but I firmly disagree. That reason is a very poor excuse to me. There is no way YouTube can’t access control over the clips as it can easily restrict users from uploading clips that were copyrighted.YouTube also allows inaccurate information to be uploaded. Some of the information uploaded can be quite deadly if followed. One good example will be the video that shows medical information without any proof that it is accurate and safe for use. Some of the parents of autistic children actually shared information on the progress of their children and ways on how to deal with them. If the information had been inaccurate, and any one parent tried the method out, it might result in the death of the child. YouTube should have warned its users that not all of the information put up on the website is accurate as the consequences of someone getting the wrong advice is actually quite risky. It is just a simple act and it doesn’t take up much time, but YouTube never even bothered to look at the videos that have been uploaded. Yes, money may be important but ethics are important too. YouTube need to play a part in ensuring the videos put up are safe for all viewers and the information are accurate.

New media

New media is actually a broad term that usually refers to new technologies and communication methods in the context of their effects on the established mainstream media. So, that means that all the websites you surf on the internet can also be categorised as new media. I find that this new media has a great impact on all the communities. The first very great impact will be the way you get news. In the past, people only get news from newspapers and magazines. Now, just by clicking on their mouse, they can get news delivered straight to their homes.In a converged media world, consumers increasingly call the shots. We use Apple iPods to make our own music playlists. Personal video recorders allow us to customize television schedules. Digital Audio Broadcasting or DAB Digital Radio pumps static-free music to our homes and cars. These consumers pull stock-market updates, text messages, wallpaper, ring-tones, and short-form video into their mobile phones. We come together in online communities, generate their own content, mix it, and share it on a growing number of social networks. No longer a captive, mass media audience; today's media consumer is unique, demanding, and engaged.In essence, in the participatory era, media will no longer be delivered one way from a media company to an audience but by audience members to other audience members. The distinction between content creators and consuming audiences first gets blurry and then disappears completely. Instead of media being delivered as a sermon or lecture, it becomes a conversation among the people in the audience. How can audience or readers do that? Today's media revolution, like others before it, is announcing itself with a new and strange vocabulary: Blog, Podcast, Wikis, Wikipedia, Vlogs, and Folksonomies. As I type these words in Microsoft Word, these words are underlined in red which means that it doesn’t exist in the dictionary. But the point is that everyone understands this language. It is global. It connects everyone all over the world. Another example of media being delivered by audience to the audience will be YouTube. People from all over the world share their field of interest, share knowledge they practically share everything on Earth. By the way, to sidetrack, there is a very interesting video I found on YouTube, it’s very funny but I hope no one will be insulted by it.