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Bill Brydon

POLITICS OF LANGUAGE IN CONTEMPORARY SINGAPORE CINEMA - Interventions - Volume 13, Issue 4 - 0 views

    "While critics have argued that the films of Singapore director Jack Neo posit a critique of the state, this essay will argue the contrary. In deploying Chinese 'dialects' his films may appear to give voice to the Chinese-speaking masses in Singapore, especially those who have been marginalized by the state's political economy, which clearly favours the educated and English-speaking milieu. For the Chinese-speaking masses, his films may even appear to act as a medium or outlet for 'anti-state' criticisms which they feel but cannot articulate, since criticism of the government is essentially prohibited here. However, as this essay will demonstrate, Neo uses such linguistic idioms only as a foil to further perpetuate government propaganda: he uses Chinese 'dialects' to draw his intended audience to his side, and once they are taken in, he persuades them to reconcile with unpopular government policies. In other words, Neo's films constitute an extension of state politics via cinematic means, rather than an authentic political critique. As this essay also suggests, unveiling Neo's manipulation of language in his films as such will be critical to uncover not only Neo's underlying political intent, but also the unequal distribution that underlies the state's language policies"
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