I wanted to blog about heavier stuff but then once again, I find myself writing in the middle of the night despite me telling myself not to do so.
Despite it not being that deep into the night relative to my previous posts, I really want to keep proper writing times as I have the tendency to make atrocious grammatical mistakes when sleepy.
These past few days, in addition to the usual Girls’ Generation stuff I always listen to, I’ve been adding Zhang Li Yin (张力尹) to my playlists.
In Korea, she is known as Jang Ri-In and she’s actually Chinese, hailing from Chengdu, Sichuan which is in the central south of the People’s Republic Of China.
As some of you may remember, I posted her video Lover in one of blog posts some time back.
That song was actually Part 2. Part 1 was this one – I Will
Li Yin actually recorded this song in both Chinese and Korean, but for me, the Korean version has more feeling to it. Some people feel otherwise, and logically, it should be so as her first language is Mandarin Chinese, but for some reason for me, the song pulls off better in Korean.
Her vocals are powerful and you can feel the emotion when she sings and I feel she will truly go far.
I won’t spend time talking about her life’s history. It’s up there to read in Wikipedia.
Here’s the link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Li-Yin
It’s strange though the S.M. Entertainment, the same company which manages Girls’ Generation doesn’t promote her as much as they should. They prefer to focus on their big names like SNSD, SHINee, Super Junior and the likes.
It’s a pity but I think she’ll eventually find her niche. She can count me as a fan :D
All this which brings me to what I’ve been thinking and which will be the main point of my thoughts tonight : Soft power.
I’m sure everyone has heard of the term before, but I’m not sure if everyone really understands what it means.
Basically, it means the use of non-violent, non-millitary methods to influence and persuade another party. To expand it further, it can also mean creating a positive image of a country/person in the eyes of others.
The on-going MH370 crisis has exposed that Malaysia would need much more soft power than it currently has/uses. Not that we’re totally deficient, I think Malaysia has a pretty good name in many different parts of the world.
I remember being on the metro in Guangzhou last year and the first thing that an Egyptian exclaimed upon hearing that I was from Malaysia was “Dr. Mahathir!”. Now that’s something.
People mostly think that soft power should come political angles, but that’s not entirely true. A lot of soft power can be generated through the arts. The Korean wave that’s been spreading around the world and infecting a great many people (including yours truly) in a magnificent example of soft power.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that by liking Korean dramas and music, we will suddenly find ourselves in love and loyal to Korea (certainly not, my heart only lies with Malaysia) or be blinded by fantasy (I’ve had experiences with Koreans – watching their movies and knowing them in real life can be two diametrical experiences altogether) but still, the effectiveness of such a display of soft power must not be underestimated.
At the very minimum, the correct and effective utilization of soft power will create a positive feel for Malaysia in places where we have nothing in common. For example, it would be easier for us to create a positive image for ourselves in Egypt or say Turkey as all of us are Muslim majority countries and due to that will have some degree of similarity. But it would be more difficult for us to repeat this with say Greece despite the fact that at the current moment, we’re probably much better off than them in every single way. We just nothing in common and thus, it’s near impossible to relate to under normal circumstances.
That’s why Malaysia needs to enhance it’s film and music industry to step up to the challenge. We have talented artistes – Shila Amzah comes to mind- and actors/actresses but we need to polish them and stop giving them silly songs to sing and/or stupid dramas/movies to act in. I’m pretty sure that many would agree that most Malay-language dramas are not only pretty similar from each other but have terribly low-quality storylines.
Or as my friend put it :
I trust in his judgement as he is a walking encyclopedia for the Malaysian movie industry. He can talk about even the most obscure celebrities that I’m sure most of us have never even heard of.
It’s not impossible for Malaysia to produce world-class movies and songs. We have done it before (I think many will not disagree with me that the late P. Ramlee and the late Sudirman aren’t world-class) and even now, we do create stuff that can be world class. Also don’t forget that Malaysia has many of its graphic designers involved in movies such as the Transformers and so it can’t be denied that we have the talent.
Seeing the damage done the country by the Red Bean Army-led Pakatan Rakyat supporters during the first weeks of the MH370 crises, having a vibrant film and music industry will help offset some of the mess that has been flung at the country. Of course, this is not a cure-all but will certainly migitate the damage somewhat.
But we need to produce stuff that is way, way, way better than what we produce now. We produce a lot of stuff that is nonensical. We need stuff that can capture our imagination or pull hard at our heart strings. Not just in a superficial way, but in a deep way. We need films, music that can speak to the soul of those who listen, never mind if we don’t understand the language. (Please tell me that 90% of those who love K-pop outside Korea actually understand Korean. You know that’s not true.)
We need something like Winter Sonata or maybe Full House. Also we need to step up our artistes to the international stage. Sheila Amzah is certainly going in the right direction and more should certainly follow in her footsteps.
Let’s face it, the Red Bean Army and its supporters are going to be around for a while. They’re going to be damaging the country at every chance that they get with their perverse logic. For them, the Barisan Nasional can do no good and Pakatan Rakyat can do no wrong. It’s a malaise that we have to deal with it, like it or not.
And this way is one relatively simple but effective way to fight back.
I think I’ve made my points pretty clear. I know I’ve been rambling a bit, but this is what happens when I write in the middle of the night.
Going to stop now and on to watch a moviebefore bed and then work in the morning. Good night everyone!
(Update note : I’ve removed the poster and deleted the name of the movie that I’m currently watching. It has too much sexual overtones that I feel it would be inappropriate since I have no idea the of ages of people who actually read this blog)