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Q1: Discuss the appeal of music in our life.
Suggested Outline Answer:
– An increasingly popular medium of communicative arts. In fact, it has overtaken the popularity of theatre somewhat.
– Aesthetic aspect and beauty of film. Virtual Reality feel. The close-ups, pannings let us see the actors up close and thus be drawn in completely.
– Movies have always parallelled the times, social problems, norms, fashion, lifestyles. For example, films made in the 70’s showed the taking of drugs in line with the ‘hippy’ movement. Therefore, we learn about history by watching old films.
– Star appeal, Hollywood stars, HK stars. Tickets have sold on strength of the cast alone. Eg. Robert Downing Junior, Tom Cruise, Sharon Stone, Andy Lau, Donny Yen as ‘Yip Man’, etc.
– The larger-than-life feel. People go to the movies to obtain an alternative reality. This explains the never waning interest in sci-fi films. Eg. Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens, Avatar, Bladerunner, The Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) . . . . These movies have gained cult status and eager fans gather to trade cards, information and dissect the film to pulp.
-Big budgets. The birth of the epics was in the 60’s with Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments but more so in the 80’s, bigger budgets were allocated to make movies to draw in the crowd. This signals healthy growth to the industry and sets in the mood nicely for the 90’s. Today, most action films take about $100m to complete and the audience, being spoilt silly, have achieved higher and more expensive tastes. The infamous flop, Waterworld took $200m to make.
-Provides the audience insight into other places other people’s lives. Such is the work done by documentaries, autobiographies. People might identify with certain movies because they strike a personal chord in them.
WHAT FILMS ARE POPULAR IN SINGAPORE AND WHY?
-Action flicks. The reason is there is nothing more satisfying than watching the hero save the damsel or in modem 90’s context, the damsel, the hero. Watching the villain getting beaten satiates our innate violent streaks. Rocky, Rambo, Terminator, Indiana Jones, Strange Days.
– Romances/Drama. Plot is often riveting with many twists and turns, characters are created to pull at the audi ence’s heartstrings. Nothing moves the imagination and satisfies yearnings better than a good romance. Romances: Pretty Woman, Gone with the Wind, 40 Carets, The Bridges of Madison County. Drama grips us and provides an exciting watch. Drama: Patriot Games, Shawshank Redemption, Schindler’s List, Natural Born Killers, Few Good Men.
– Sci-fi. A constantly popular hit with all ages. From cartoon animation to full-length feature films, the state of-the-art technology is used to enhance graphics. Eg. Batteries Not Included, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, 2001 Space Odyssey.
– Teenage/High school drama. -never fails to capture the young movie-goers who love to see parallels of themselves on the big screen. The recent Clueless which starred basically unknowns was a big hit with many teens. A lot of 80’s movies were spawned on this particular sub ject, The Breakfast Club, Revenge of the Nerds, Pretty In Pink, 16 Candles…
-Horror. Audience throughout the years have always paid good money to be frightened out of their wits. The horror movies were predominantly an 80’s trend, with scores of horror flicks like Ghoulies, Psycho, Amityville Ax Exorcist…
Cartoons, Walt Disney has always captured the hearts of thousands with their cute animation and did the storylines, With the advent of technology, computer animation has struck out in a new way, providing more realistic cartoon features. These include: Toy Story, Bat man, Lion King, Justice League, etc
– The Independents. Rising awareness of cinema goers who are fanning out to watch more left-of-centre films by independent directors. Such films often depend on style of director, witty scriptwriters. These alternative films have now gone mainstream, with low-budget pictures like Pulp Fiction, Slackers, El Mariachi, Clerks all scoring hits with audiences in film festivals all over the world. Locally, good response to such films has also prompted distributors to bring in such movies like Georgia, The Basketball Diaries, Cows and The Red Squirrel, Chung King Express, Days of Being Wild.
FILM VS OTHER ART/ENTERTAINMENT FORMS
–technological advancement has made films look more packaged and large improvements in special effects make them more appealing.
Movies have immediacy of impact. They capture audiences almost instantly. Moral message in a lot of films, those not merely sensational. Also, films need not be made with huge budgets unlike expensive musicals on Broadway.
In this modern day, people relate better to celluloid as compared to other art forms, partially because it is sup ported by other mediums such as television and print advertisements which appeal more to the visual senses.
You need not have a background knowledge of film to enjoy to enjoy one. Theatre, art, sculpting all require some form of prior education, classical knowledge in or der to appreciate the art fully. Eg, stage stereotypes, typical acting styles, different time periods in theatre, different types of plot structures and themes.
Film vs other leisure options.
– film does not require as much concentration as does reading or writing. Often, the plot, movie and everything else is being fed in very palatable forms to the audience. The movie house provides a comfortable setting. Also, one gets privacy (of the dark) intimacy (close proximity with others, a sense of sharing with the larger audience).
-A movie is cheap as compared forking out $500 dollars to go mountain-climbing: just pay $8 and go to the Omnimax at the Science Centre to see the best of the Himalayas. HOWEVER, many would argue that watching movies or television is a waste of time and this indulgence has bred many ‘couch potatoes’ and other illnesses due to a sedentary lifestyle. These include heart problems, obesity, backaches….
Other forms of leisure would include sports, reading. art, shopping….
Sports is good for health. It makes you more fit and heightens concentration. It gives you an adrenaline rush, sitting down watching films does not. You also feel physically better and mentally more alert.
– Reading increases your knowledge and perceptions. It helps formulate thoughts and ideas. Watching misguided films will not. In the end, a good mix of everything is essential to give ourselves a well-rounded lifestyle. Watching films should be incorporated as one of our leisure activities.
While film can be regarded as a benchmark for the times and reflects social standards, it also has its pros and cons.
PROS of Films
– It is entertaining. It is a relatively cheap and enjoy able way to spend time. Teaches us values. The Sound of Music propagates good, stable family values and unity in the family.
– Brings people together. As film has gained its status as an art form, many films have ascended to cult status and thus brought avid film buffs together to engage in healthy debates and discussions. Even commercial films like Toy Story never fail to raise a discussion.
– Provides jobs for countless, people who have no hope of getting a job anywhere else. Recall: Julia Robberts used to wear bear suits to children’s parties and Brad Pitt used to work as a waiter. Numerous other success stories have occurred, not to mention that workers on the crew are also given employment for a lot of money.
– Reflects the times in the social context. Films have always tried to raise social issues and provide insights into certain subjects. Outbreak informed the public about the deadly Ebola virus. Spike Lee’s Malcom X gave light to the taboo subject of black suppression and Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers was a put down of the media and its detrimental forces. JFK tried to give an in depth investigation of the presidential murder without the paparazzi.
It reaches a mass audience, therefore educating and informing the masses adequately and quickly. The Basketball Diaries tells us the harmful effects of drug abuse. and the rock n’ roll lifestyle. Trainspotting relates the aim less lives of teenagers who do too much drugs and get into gang fights with Nazis. It is one of the fastest way of disseminating information. Through films such as Hackers, Weird Science, Johnny Nemonic, we learn about the computer’s increasing relevance to our lives as well as what sort of technology is available to us.
However, many movies have come under scrutiny of late, due to unnecessary violence, explicit sex and the ruining of social values.
CONS of Films
– It undermines other art forms. The mass influence of celluloid has lowered viewership for theatre and art galleries. People do not seem to be inclined to take up these forms of art as they are biased against them due to their erudition and lack of gadgetry.
– It divorces people from each other. Watching movies has encouraged introversion and people are only interacting with the screen. Thus, in the long run, it could have some undesirable effects on society as a whole.
– It is hard to censure film because of its mass appeal. It has been said that the number of random killings linked with Natural Born Killers amounts to an astonishing 153 murders done a la style of Mickey Rouke. It is true that a lot of films today advocate violence and sex. Basic Instinct is one such pointless film. Pornography has also flooded the markets, making it available to young children and teenagers. Teenagers have also been known to be influenced into smoking because Andy Garcia in The Godfather is too irresistible. Many films disguised as art have also been criticised for their mainly taboo subjects like drugs, homosexuality and religion because these could sow social discord.
In Singapore, these’ westernised films have be said to undermine Asian values. The decadent West morally corrupted our culture and bred an indulgent liberal social system. Is this true? It might mis-educate viewers and lead to violence and sex has prompted and changed society’s and tole social problems. It is true to say that increasing onscreen values to some extent and made it more liberal and ant of previously ‘sensitive’ issues. Increasing violence and crime in American states, a country much influenced by media forces, has seen a rise in teen crime. Seeing Cool’ icons like Andy Garcia in Things to do in Denver When You Are Dead, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Boys in the Hood might have contributed to the use of firearms among the young.
THE NEED FOR CENSORSHIP
In Singapore, we have various rating systems so as to prevent questionable material being viewed by the underaged. The NC-17, R(A), PG and G ratings all help to regulate and control the wide influx of films coming into Singapore.
Failing: Movies are rated on a superficial level. While violent movies like Seven are rated PG, intellectual and thought-provoking films like The Wedding Banquet are rated R(A). It is questionable if indeed such censorship is effective in preventing the growth of a ‘decadent’ society. A movie such as The Basketball Diaries which show our teens how other teens have committed mistakes and therefore ruined their own lives therefore would be pertinent and most affecting on teens but it is rated R(A), which really defeats its purpose. Sometimes, one wonders if censorship only serves to protect our parents and not the children themselves.
– Censorship has to be within reason and the extent to which cuts are to be carried out must be exercised with caution, otherwise the film might lose its meaning and message.
-Censorship is but one of the ways to protect our young but the most effective is self regulation and educating the public. If the young can discern between right and wrong. then there really is no need to censure or rate movies like The Basketball Diaries or Trainspotting.
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