GP Comprehension Paper – Politics & Culture

General Paper Comprehension Sample Question Paper & Answers (Paper 2)

GP Comprehension Question Paper – Politics & Culture

(Note that 15 marks out of 50 will be awarded for your language, namely, for the quality and accuracy of your use of English throughout this paper)

Note: When a question asks for an answer IN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS POSSIBLE (IYOWAFAP), you must use your own words to express it as you select the appropriate material from the GP passage. Little credit (out of the remaining 15 marks) can be given to answers, which only copy the given words or phrases.


1. (From paragraph 2) Explain what Cornelius Tacitus meant when he said that “the desire for fame is the last infirmity cast off even by the wise” (l.6).


The yearning / craving for celebrity / popularity / notability / distinction / pre-eminence / prominence / repute / illustriousness is a foible / failing / flaw / affliction / malady that is abandoned reluctantly even by sagacious / learned / judicious / enlightened knowledgeable people.

(i.e. it is a common human weakness shared even by those who should know better).




2. (From paragraph 3) Why does the writer describe Zeus, Ra and Odin as ‘heavyweights’ (ll.22-23) in comparison to the ‘puny idols’ many worship today? [2m]


The three were the chief / most powerful / revered deities of three ancient religions.

In comparison, Halle, Oprah and the Osbournes are mere mortals – and extremely feeble / flawed / inadequate specimens at that.

Note: Zeus, the god of the sky and thunder is also the king of the Greek gods, Ra is the most powerful Egyptian sun god of fire and rebirth, Odin is the Nordic god of wisdom and war. Watch Thor in the MCU Movies!


3. (From paragraph 4) Describe four different ways In which severe CWS adversely affect person’s personality. Use your own words as far as possible. [2 MARKS]


Those who are most influenced live in an environment without happiness.

controlled  / governed by illusions and fantasies about a star.

Their obsession turns them into isolated / lonely,

phobic / disturbed / over-anxious / paranoid / unbalanced

individuals who inflict harm on themselves


Lifted from GP Passage:
The worst affected inhabit a joyless world [L.26-27]

ruled by delusions and pipe dreams about a celebrity [L27]

Once possessed by their celebrity demons, they become solitary. [L28]

neurotic (L28] and self-destructive [L29]



4. (From paragraph 4) Why does the writer put the word ‘their’ in inverted commas in line 29? [1m]


The word their is in inverted commas to show that those affected with less intense CWS are deluded into believing /are convinced that the star belongs to them / constitutes their personal property (which is obviously not the case)


5. (From paragraph 5) “celebrity worship is the new designer drug” (line 35) Give two ways in which the writer extends the above comparison in the rest of this paragraph and explain the relationship in each case, Use your words AFAP. [2]


The adoration / veneration for famous people / superstars is now a deliberately manufactured, obsessive habit / compulsion / dependence, just like a person’s craving for drugs / narcotics. 


Like a drug pusher who constantly supplies drugs to the addict, the media ceaselessly / persistently feeds our craving for celebrity news.



As part of this engineered addiction. [L38]

where television shows and tabloid rags incessantly deliver their product to consumers like a dealer to a junkie. [L37-38]



6 (From Paragraph 6) What objections does the writer have to reality television programmes? UYOWAFAP. [2m]


They spread the “sickness / disease” of celebrity worship which leads to societal degeneration  / a deterioration in our social / civilised values.

‘Hysterical ‘suggests people’s addiction  /obsession  /lack of control, and ‘stampede’ suggests a mindless herd mentality[ jumping on the bandwagon]
(free-for-all” also suggests that one does not need specific talent to participate in this event)

He criticises the obsession with reality television programmes as a celebration of mind-numbing / brainless activities

OR He is mocking the lack of talent (and intellect) of the participants / people who crave fame in this manner, as well as the low quality / inanity of the programmes themselves

He objects to the compulsive desire that people have in attracting attention to themselves, especially by absurd or exaggerated behaviour.

He objects to superficiality / spurious  /pretentious nature of these programmes (they are hollow mockeries)

[1/2 mark each, so any of the 4 points]



widespread malady of ‘fame fever’ (L45]

cultural decline (L45)

The hysterical stampede [L46]
a fame free-for-all where karaoke [L48]

collide in a neuro-degenerative tribute (L48 49]
OR ‘stardumbness’ [L48] OR ‘mediocrity’ [L49]

exhibitionism [L48]

‘sham’ [L49]



7(a). (From Paragraph 7) “… we live in a world where style triumphs over substance.” (lines 51-52) What does the writer mean by this?


-outward appearance (style), is far more important than our actual worth / character (substance).

OR we live in a society which values superficiality more than character / moral worth.


7(b). (From Paragraph 7) “Explain how any one of the next two sentences serves to Illustrate this general point. Explain with YOWAFAP. [1m]


The sentence suggests that outward appearance is far more important than character,  for as long as a celebrity is irresistibly captivating / alluring / elegant, we are not concerned about his superficiality lack of intellectual depth.


The sentence suggests that outward appearance is far more important than character, for as long as a celebrity is strikingly  /amazingly beautiful, we are not concerned about his astounding arrogance / conceitedness / egotistical / self-obsessed nature .


Who cares if a celebrity is inexpressibly shallow as long as he is incredibly glamorous ? [L 52-53]

Who cares if their idol is stupendously vain as long as she is stunningly gorgeous ? [L53-54]

(Note by GP tutor: Both sentences begin with “who cares if”, which suggests that the speaker is only / exclusively concerned with superficial appearance. Can be given as bonus point credit.)



9. (From Paragraph 9)  “(how could we ever solve the problem of world poverty without Bono and the obligatory rock concert, or free Tibet without Richard Gere?)” (lines 77-79) 
What is the tone of the writer here and why does he adopt it? [2]


He asks a rhetorical question in a mocking / facetious / ironic / sarcastic tone.
(inferred from l77-79)

The writer shows his derision / scorn /low opinion of the “visible celebrity backing without which, ironically, real world issues would not be noticed.



H1 JC GP Passages – Article Sources for Politics & Culture

JC H1 GP Tuition (Syllabus Code: 8807)
Source of GP Passages:
The new religion By John Schumaker, New Internationalist, Dec 2003




Q9. Vocabulary Question (5 marks)

Give the meaning of the following words as they are used in the passage. You may write your answer in one word or a short phrase (7 words or less).


Word1 Mark 1/2 Mark
telling (L3)revealing, significant


No mark: evident, obvious, showing


insidious (L15)proceeding imperceptibly / unnoticed in a subtle / gradual way with harmful effects

No mark: dangerous, serious


manipulation (L34)deliberate control  / influence through devious methods / means

No mark: exploitation; take advantage of / brainwash


prescribed (L39)stipulated, dictated; determined

No mark: decided, assigned, influenced, predetermined


hedonistic (L57) devoted to sensual pleasure / gratification

No mark: materialistic / search for happiness



Reminder: Do not try to give a long list (string of answers).


Q10. Summary Question (SQ) [8 marks]

Using material from paragraphs 8 to 10 of the passage (lines 62-96), summarise the adverse effects celebrity culture is having on modern politics. Write your summary in no more than 120 words, not counting the opening words which are printed below. UYOWAFAP. [8]


Celebrity culture is having an adverse effect on modern politics because…


Lifted from GP PassageParaphrasing
From para 8 :
so many (celebrities) are weaselling into the political picture (L63-64)


In a world where image is everything. [L64]

once earnest politicians are jumping on the celebrity bandwagon, borrowing all the phoney gestures, presentation styles and special effects that pay off in Tinseltown [L67-69]

the line between politics and entertainment is blurred [L70]

trivialising the political agenda [L.71]


From para 9:
It has become almost impossible to direct political energy toward issues that do not entertain or have visible celebrity backing Issues without this lustre – boring old problems like poverty and hunger, which are not cute and rarely photograph well. stand little chance of reaching the political limelight. If they ever do they need celebrity backing [L74-77]

When such celebrity heavyweights do pitch in their vehement condemnations, [L79]

mis informed statements and [L80]

simplistic solutions [L80]

distort the truth [L80]

make matters worse by offending the very people who have the power to effect real change. [L80-81]

Celebrity activism is also open to charges of hypocrisy. [L81-82]

(Events show lack of organisational ineptitude … make further mockery of the entire event. [L82-84]


From para 10:
Fixating on the stars… is a process that tends to be mind-numbing (L87-88]
OR (makes us) more stupefied. [L89]

The rest of us are mostly cast as incessant consumers of insignificant public worth or relevance. [L91-92]

We have become political couch potatoes [L92-93]
OR In a spectator mode [L94]
OR we wallow in apathy [L96]

(we are) more fascinated by a candidate’s recent plastic surgery than concerned with his proposed programmes. [L93-94)

are not likely to rock a lot of boats. (L95]

Instead of engaging in heated ideological debate (L95]

or energetically lobbying for change. [L95-96]

(we) bask in blissful ignorance. [L96]


-stars are entering politics through devious / crafty dishonest means.

Where politics has become all about superficial appearances,

Previously / Erstwhile/  Formerly serious candidates adopt similar superficial / disingenuous / deceptive / insincere / not genuine tactics.

The separation / boundary between politics (accept) and show business is thus indistinct unclear vague imprecise,

weakening / diluting / marginalising governmental concerns /real issues.

OR making real issues seem unimportant
OR ignoring the important concerns/matters.


Serious concerns without star endorsement / validation will receive limited attention.

inaccurate / misleading / deceptive / assertion / proclamations and

superficial / naive answers

misrepresenting / twist the facts

and exacerbate / aggravate the situation by upsetting influential / efficient authorities

Star involvement is subject / susceptible accusations of double standards.

Incompetent / Ineffective management administration renders their charitable efforts ridiculous.


Celebrity obsession incapacitates our ability to think / reason

The media portrays (“casts”) / stereotypes us as mere customers / buyers of products (not as individuals) of unimportant inconsequential value / merit / consequence

We are passive / indolent / indifferent citizens / observers, O
R We languish in total inertia,

more concerned with trivial appearance / image than with policies.

We will not agitate  / question / rebel /express dissent

We do not get involved in meaningful / passionate political discussion / deliberation / argument,

or vigorously / actively petitioning / applying pressure for improvement / reform.

We are content / happy to be totally oblivious of / have no knowledge whatsoever of political affairs.


Remember to write down word count.



Q11 Application Question

Schumaker maintains that celebrity culture is severely harming modem society.

How far do you agree with his arguments?
In your country, what effect is ‘celebrity culture having on your generation in particular On balance, would you say that this influence is largely beneficial or detrimental?

Refer specifically to relevant material from the passage as well as your own experience and opinions in your answer. [8]


[Note by GP tuition teacher: Celebrities are often prominent political figures, actors, globally successful artists, musicians and sports stars. Regional radio personalities, newscasters, politicians or community leaders can be considered as local or regional celebrities. Entire families can be conferred celebrity status, e.g. the Kardashians, or also all the members of the royal families are celebrities, especially when they are associated with a real or perceived scandal. Artistic families are associated with music, sports or politics, eg the Baldwins, Barrymore’s Chaplin, Jacksons, Hiltons, Kennedys. (Source: Wikipedia)]



GENERALLY. The passage contains a number of flaws that students should always be ‘on the lookout’ for any piece of strident / tendentious argumentative writing:

a.Schumaker is guilty of making over-generalizations/sweeping statements about the severe impact of celebrity culture,

b.His examples are not typical.

c.He employs emotive language / figurative language false analogies to deride the pernicious effects of celebrity culture. Note three particular strands of imagery:
Celebrity culture is a religion / cult and we worship idols
Celebrity culture is a disease
Celebrity culture is a drug / addiction and we are addicts

All of the above extended images are arguably extreme distortions/misrepresentations

d.The above imagery is a stylistic symptom of the writer’s tendency to grossly exaggerate the adverse effects of celebrity culture.

e.His argument is exceptionally one-sided / lacking in balance. Schumaker never acknowledges any possible benefits of celebrity culture (ie. that many provide inspiration / can be positive role models / effective political advocates…). Students should always be alert to such sins of omission – what the writer neglects to point out is often as important as what he selects to include.

f.Schumaker’s arguments constitute a simplistic analysis of an extremely complex sociological phenomenon.

g.He insults the average person’s intelligence to imagine that people are so gullible / impressionable to be actually influenced to such a level that it incapacitates them from living a normal life.

h.Celebrity culture can be viewed as a perfectly understandable interest we all have famous. It can be a tonic for the isolated and lonely as well as provide a harmless and healthy form of entertainment (and escapism) from our otherwise humdrum and routine lives. the lifestyles of the rich and

i.His views are largely American in perspective, and his claims may not be necessarily valid in Singapore or Asia.

j.Having said all this, it is fair to say that Schumaker does make some pertinent points and has valid concerns – especially with regard to the adverse impact of celebrity culture on young people. Surely, however, he overestimates both the extent of its spread and severity of its effect.

Most of the above terms / ideas are labelled as “Weak Arguments’. Students should be reminded of the importance of revising such terms.



Specific points, with reference to material from the GP passage – Celebrity Culture




Effects On The Individual

Celebrity Worship Syndrome is an obsessive addictive disorder which changes people into fame junkies / delusional / solitary / isolated people


From paragraph 4:
The worst affected inhabit a joyless world ruled by delusions and pipe dreams about a celebrity who has been distorted into an empty parody

they become solitary, neurotic and even self destructive

but their over-involvement with their celebrity consumes a lot of time, energy and income.

The statistic “36% of British residents” does not mean all are equally extremely affected. We do not know what percentage were found to be in the ‘worst affected category, which Schumaker exclusively proceeds to concentrate on. In addition, the study appears to be the only one of its kind, which hardly confers definitive conclusive status.

-In addition, the word ‘syndrome’ may not be appropriate for the people with low to moderate degrees of CWS. Their ‘worship’ involves a lot of reading and talking about the celebrity, studying and creating websites, in-depth analysis of the person’s work or lifestyle, or the collection of memorabilia. In some ways it is more a benign, albeit passionate, hobby.

-This type of CWS is more in line with the teenage young adult fans in Singapore. In general, their ‘obsession with celebrities is not ‘self destructive”. Their ‘craze’ tends to confine itself to skipping work or school to meet their stars at the airport or shopping centres like Junction 8 or Toa Payoh Hub for autograph sessions.

-Nonetheless, regardless of the number affected, CWS is real (just look at the celebrities’ fanatical fans and stalkers, e.g. celebrity talk show host David Letterman was stalked by a lady fan for ten years.)

-As such, we could perhaps take Schumaker’s words as a warning – that extreme forms of celebrity worship COULD turn pathological and “self destructive”.

-Nevertheless, psychologists have noted that certain levels of celebrity culture actually help people to socialise/integrate; it acts as a tonic for the isolated and lonely because celebrities are common currency in our socially fractured world. For example, people from all walks of life, all situations, all parts of the world connect through star gazing. Britney Spears was last year’s top international Internet search; also, the proliferation of fan clubs, forums, chat rooms bring fans together.

-This feeling of friendship, especially among teenagers who keep up to date with celebrity gossip has strengthened social networks, and made teens feel less alone.


The culture of celebrity infects our very own culture, It robs us of our dignity and feeds obsession; contaminates our goals / priorities / values.


From para5:
celebrity worship is the new designer drug is one of the country’s most invasive and dubiously valuable exports to the world like a dealer to a junkie As part of this engineered addiction, contrived distraction and endless hype have become the foremost means of social control


From para 6:
fame fever… the hysterical stampede for public glory…a fame-free-for-all where karaoke, exhibitionism and stardumbness’ collide (e.g. American Idol and Reality TV shows)

-While Schumaker might argue that ‘fame fever’ is a ‘hysterical stampede of ‘exhibitionism’, it is what it takes to launch a career in entertainment.

It is still the ethic of hard work and sacrifice that decides whether these winners eventually make it.

-Singapore’s talent search programmes, such as “Singapore Idol”, “Live Your Dream”, “Shall we dance” “Star Search”, “SuperBand”, “Campus SuperStar” etc. have produced a wealth of talent for our region, and launched successful careers for many young people such as Taufik Batisah, Fann Wong, Stefanie Sun, JJLin, Hady Mirza etc

Effects On Our Value System


Celebrity culture (CC) breeds superficiality with its obsession with appearance/image, “style over substance”.


From p2:
notion of ‘cultural hero’ began to shift…from character to personality,  substance to image, and community to narcissism.


From para5:
Ours is an economy of fame. Our culture is about the commodification of the individual and the individual image.


While Paris Hilton may be a famous celebrity for the sake of being famous, there are many other celebrities who are inspiring role models because of their humility and courage.

-Their personal stories of perseverance and sacrifice have touched a common chord in people all over the world,

E.g. Oprah Winfrey suffered through poverty, sexual abuse and racial discrimination to become the wealthiest woman in media; Lance Armstrong survived advanced testicular cancer and went on to win tho Tour de France five times.

-This feeling of shared pain/humanity has helped us muster the will to tackle our own problems with more conviction and courage.

Celebrity culture (CC) breeds superficiality with its obsession with money / status.


From para7:
style triumphs over substance…. money has also trodden morality into the dust.

-While the pursuit of fame and money may inspire many to work harder, does not necessarily make us “obscenely materialistic individuals … who will resort to any form of deception of dishonesty”(line 54)

Moral values are compromised promiscuity, permissiveness, inverted and trivialised values.

From para7:
style triumphs over substance.

Singaporean celebrities are a good influence/role models for our ‘new generation’.

-Singaporean celebrities usually tow the line in Singapore. They lend their star quality to good causes such as charitable works and various causes – some have to suffer to train for eg Ren Ci charity show (5 years in the running). They are less high profile in Singapore than their American counterparts and theirs is a positive public visibility, or it might jeopardise their contract. We do not have stars cohabitating, or having children out of wedlock etc. Our celebrities ‘promote’ conservative Singaporean values.

-Singapore celebrities are punished for running foul of the law eg fines/prison/loss of contract eg Christopher Lee, Benedict Goh (both for drunk driving) – shamed publicly with a much publicised trial and public apology. There’s a moral lesson to be learnt in all these. Their actions are not glamorised, far from trivialised. They have to pay for their crime both in fines, jail time, shame, and usually, the termination / loss of a lucrative contract. Thus, the ‘new generation’ knows they cannot run foul of the law and get away with it.


We have lost our ability to discern and admire/ respect true greatness literally worshipping false idols – a moral and intellectual decline symptomatic of cultural decadence disillusion/ shallowness and confusion.


From p6:
Celebrity mania is a type of cultural psychosis that robs us of dignity and contaminates our motivations, goals and priorities.


From para7:
Our fundamental values are being systematically slain.

Schumaker’s claim that celebrity culture “celebrates (and clots) counterfeits and pretenders..we are losing the ability to recognize true human greatness” is not entirely true as we do acknowledge and support the good work many celebrities have done.


Some of the good work and or philanthropic acts that celebrities have done and that many have supported include:

U2’s frontman Bono dedicates grand sums of his time and money to debt relief in Africa, focused specifically on raising awareness about the region’s AIDS epidemic, and unfair trade rules.

George Clooney, actor-tumed-activist went to Sudan’s Darfur to document the genocide, and upon returning, he appeared with Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel before the United Nations Security Council, where they appealed for intervention in the devastated area.

Nicole Kidman is the goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women Irish singer, songwriter, bandleader, political activist Bob Geldof was responsible for Live Aid and Live 8 concerts.

“The Oprah Winfrey Show”, which highlights the problems everyday people face, and presents alternative solutions and helplines; “Tyra Banks Show” highlights problems facing women of today.


Singapore celebrities have also done a lot of good work, covering a wide range of causes. These include:

The Sichuan Earthquake Charity Show by MediaCorp which collected more than S$6million for the victims.

The Singapore Red Cross International Bazaar 2004, aptly themed.

“International Spirit of Volunteerism” was staffed by members of the international diplomatic community, civic organisations, companies, schools, and local media and sports celebrities Celebrities who did their part for the IMF/World Bank meetings in 2006, by raising awareness about child poverty in a video The Celebrity Bird Race had some of Singapore’s best known artists and personalities from MediaCorp and S-league footballers coming together to raise funds and awareness for the Singapore Nature Society.


Effects on Politics

CC has ludicrously and disproportionately influenced various political and humanitarian with their inexperience, resulting in little real effect.


From p8:
-many celebrities ‘weaselling into the political picture

-inbreeding of politics with showbusiness is diluting, distorting and fictionalizing the political agenda


The ‘Hollywoodization’ of political culture is mocked and criticised.


From P9:
the celebrity as “do-gooder

-A recent Fox News and Opinion Dynamics poll indicated that 68 per cent of people felt celebrities should keep their political opinions to themselves.

-Nonetheless, if the goal of social activism is to raise the profile and “galvanise public opinion’ to focus on a problem, star activism has achieved this in many ways through their influence and accessibility.

– For instance, leading Singapore celebrities from various industries have become MOTO RED Singapore ambassadors to create awareness and understanding of the emergency to eliminate HIV AIDS in Africa.

1. Eunice Olsen – Miss Universe Singapore (2000). ex nominated Member of Parliament, TV Host and Pianist
2. Russel Wong – Celebrity photographer to the stars
3. Claressa Monteiro – Leading female jazz vocalist
4. Rui En – Female singer and television actress
5. Jean Danker – Radio DJ on Class95
6. Don and Drew – Singers, songwriters
7. Beatrice Chia- Stage director and theatre actress
8. Daniel Boey – Fashion Show producer
9. Adam Chen – Television actor
10. Jonathan Leong – Singapore Idol 2006 Finalist
11. Ronald Susilo – National badminton player
12. Colby Miller- MTV VJ
13. Hideki Akiyoshi – Creative director and style icon


Also, at the President’s Star Charity 2006, the following stars performed and aimed to raise funds for 49 charitable organisations:

Gurmit Singh, Irene Ang. Moses Lim, Koh Chieng Mun, Mark Lee, Suhaimi Yusof, Tay Ping Hui, Chew Chor Meng. Huang Biren, Kym Ng, Bryan Wong, Khairudin Saharom and Rima Melati Adams. Kelvin Tan Wei Lian of Project SuperStar, Khairul Anuar of Anugerah, Shabir of Vasantham Star, Ng Chee Yang of Campus SuperStar and Mi Lu Bing, the winners of SuperBand and the 12 SGIdol finalists.

Star activism is a positive influence on young Singaporeans- e.g. raise awareness, previously unknown causes are now ‘cool’, encourage volunteerism when teens model after their stars, more interest in CIP…

-Celebrities are buttressing organised, grassroots campaigns to change the status quo.

-At a minimum, star activists raise the media profile, spurring politicians to act sooner than they otherwise might have.

– Some examples:

– In the 1990s, Princess Diana embraced a ban on the use of land mines. Her death became a rallying point that led to Great Britain’s ratification of the 1997 Ottawa Convention to ban the devices.

Celebrity activism also fuelled the lodge at the 2005 Gleneagles G-8 summit to double aid to developing countries. Bob Geldof, who organised Live Aid a generation ago, arranged the Live 8 concerts to coincide with the summit. Bono, George Clooney, Claudia Schiffer and Nelson Mandela all appeared on stage.

Said a World Vision International spokesman, which has Taiwanese singer Jerry Yen as one of its celebrity ambassadors: ‘Celebrities already have the pull factor and, as highly recognisable public figures, they are able to spread the message easily and effectively. Their endorsement has the tendency to increase the credibility of the cause they support. It’s not only about bringing publicity to the cause. It is also about impacting attitudes and behaviour.’

-While some celebrities are accused of making matters worse, simply by overstating / distorting the problem, and with their simplistic analysis and impractical solutions, (Bono acknowledges this problem, especially with celebrities who repeatedly harp on a particular cause, and risk *compassion fatigue” even), some like George Clooney and Don Cheadle have a very nuanced grasp of the situation e.g. in their work for Darfur. These celebrities do their homework and are not simply ‘endorsing’ a cause; they work actively and intelligently for it.

Celebrity activism is open to hypocrisy, double standards


From p9:
(e.g. Live Earth concert)

-True to a certain extent.

For example, Madonna, who was the main attraction at the Live Earth London concert, herself, owns a collection of fuel-guzzling cars, including a Mercedes Maybach, two Range Rovers, Audi A8s and a Mini Cooper S. She flies everywhere in her private jets and her Confessions tour produced 440 tonnes of CO2 in four months of last year.

-In a posting on the website for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator James Inhofe called on Hollywood global warming activists “who talk the talk, to walk the walk.”

-However, giving up on celebrity activism merely because some celebrities practise double standards is not justifiable.


Effects on Young People


The media feeds this addiction, and our youths particularly are susceptible, and many succumbed to the evils of celebrity worship.


From para 5:
television shows and tabloid rag incessantly deliver their product to consumers like a dealer to a junkie. As part of this engineered addiction, contrived distraction and endless hype have become the foremost means of social control. In advertising, celebrities have long prescribed our tastes in things like automobiles, breakfast cereal, hairstyle, body shape and so forth.


From paragraph 7:
The most tragic casualty in the war to save mankind’s collective soul has been the new generation


According to the theory of consumer socialization, as teens mature, their drive for independence contributes to establishing their own set of norms and behaviours. Many of these new behaviours tend to be based on group stereotypes In searching for their independence, influences such as the media become very important to teenagers.

Researchers and practitioners argue that this group is an easier target to market to because they have grown up in a consumer-oriented society.

According to Rob Frankel, author of The Revenge of Brand X … Gen Y is less rooted in traditional social mores and ethics. They are easier targets because they have grown up in a culture of pure consumerism. Because of this .. they are way more tuned into media because there is so much more media to be tuned into”.

– On top of this, according to psychologists who research on celebrity worship: Exposure leads to familiarity, which breeds comfort, trust and ultimately power and influence. Personal charisma, good looks and poise are also prerequisites for leadership, and for who it is we are going to admire. Trend conscious teens are very active in utilising the media and from seeking out the latest products, services and fashions, they are easy prey when their favourite celebrities are endorsing products and causes (aka influencer marketing by companies).


-Some of our young Singaporeans may have been influenced by products endorsed by celebrities such as the following:

Michael Jordan (Nike, Hanes, Gatorade),
Tiger Woods (Wheaties, Buick, Target),
Shaquille O’Neal (Radio Shack, Nestles, Burger King),
Venus Williams (Reebok),
MTV VJ twins May and Choy (Style Ambassadors for Auction website eBay Singapore),
MediaCorp actress Felicia Chin (Vitagen, SilkyGirl and Whisper) and so on.

-However, popular as celebrity deals are, do they hold much sway on consumers’ purchasing decisions?

-In S’pore, a Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) survey conducted on more less than 2000 English and Chinese-language newspaper readers suggested consumers are more discerning, and that Singapore is a more sophisticated and mature market, compared to many developing countries. Almost three quarters polled said that celebrity endorsements made no difference to whether they were more or less likely to buy a product or service, or even to look at the advert.

With relentless media feeds, our “generation” is robbed of their dignity, and goals/priorities and values are contaminate the allure of celebrity worship.

From para 7:
The most tragic casualty in the war to save mankind’s collective soul has been the new generation

… with the media glamorization of drugs, the glorification of violence and the proclamation that promiscuity is normal


From p5:
the frivolous playground of fame and celebrity is now the major staging ground for the mass manipulation of consciousness and behaviour.


From para 7 .the youth of today have become empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones of MTV

We blame the media for feeding us this addiction, but we also consciously demand this scandal / gossip / revealing pictures from the paparazzi to give meaning to our humdrum lives.


-Celebrities are fascinating because they live in a parallel universe – one that looks like ours yet is light-years beyond our reach. They seem to be ordinary folks like us, but they are not. Hence this vicarious thrill of “sharing” in their activities, e.g. baby’s day out, playing sports, having coffee at Starbucks etc., all make us feel closer to them.

-Keeping abreast with the grander, more dramatic lives of celebrities make at us feel like we’re friends and neighbours.

-Compare the wild exploits of Britney and Paris to Singapore celebrities who are largely tame and law-abiding.

-Some of these exploits could also be cautionary tales for us to bear in mind, particularly for the youths, e.g. The tales of Britney’s escapades and multiple marriage sagas; Edison Chen’s photograph scandal, etc.


Unfair to claim that celebrities manipulate our consciousness and behaviour?

-Celebrities like Electrico’s Amanda Ling, Radio 91.3’s Rod Monteiro and Denise Tan, theatre veteran Hossan Leong, singer Paul Twohill, model/host Stephanie Carrington, and Team Singapore Sports Idols 2007/8 Deborah Ong and Tao Yi Jun, among others, signed the Seventeen Body Peace Treaty, which is a component of the Seventeen Body Peace Project campaign.

The aim of the Treaty is to inspire and encourage a positive body image among young girls. According to Sasha Gonzales, Deputy Editor, Seventeen Singapore (published by SPH Magazines Pte Ltd]: “We have chosen these personalities because they are very much a part of Singapore’s youth culture. Our youth recognise them, and are also familiar with their talents and achievements. But most importantly, these personalities possess a positive and healthy body image.


Besides being active and fit, they project what we like to call “body confidence’. In this respect, therefore, we feel that they are excellent examples for our local youth.” Celebrities in the US who have supported the Treaty include Pink, Ciara, Amanda Bynes, Carrie Underwood, Katharine McPhee, Ashlee Simpson, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, and Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere.


Are the youths today utterly vanquished by the decadent celebrity lifestyle”?
Do they ALL “crave to emulate their stars?
Are youths really clones of MTV?




Overall, a relatively easy AQ. Should easily get at least a 6 out of 8 marks.




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