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Unreal Singapore

On ‘real Singapore’

People don’t like the use of the phrase ‘real’ Singapore, ‘real America’ etc because it implies that there is a particular mode that is more authentic than others. And yes, this goes for ad campaigns that attempt to celebrate ‘real women’ too. I’m thoroughly ticked off by the latter sort of ad campaign – are there fake women? Is there one real way of being a woman?

But when the phrase is applied to countries or cities, if you’re saying that all modes of being/ living are in fact authentic, then where does the country’s cultural identity actually reside? When a country has let in as many new residents – perhaps up to half its population – as Singapore has, the number of ways of being so-called ‘real’ Singapore (if you agree that all of the ways of being are valid) has simply exploded.

I don’t like the term ‘real Singapore’ either, I just want to figure out what opposing it actually means.

My gut feeling is that you are a valid and authentic member of a community when you contribute to it, not just consume. If you just consume then, well, you are merely a consumer! Hang on, now I need more time to unpack what contribution vs consumption means.

Oh yes, and it also annoys me that the phrase ‘real Singapore’ is frequently used as a marketing term. No, you may not commoditise my country kthxbye.

Unreal Singapore
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