Singapore Showcase: Vinny Sharp

Best known for his black-and-white videos with classical music accompaniments in the background, my favourite part about his videos are always the interviews. Both scripted and spontaneous; and so well-melded together that you can’t tell, Vinny’s new SG50 video series will bring you laughter and tears to most people’s eyes.

In ‘That Influence (SG50)’, Vinny interviews a bunch of people in the United Kingdom, mostly in Manchester I reckon, ranging from young university students to random strangers driving past and school teachers. Vinny asks the interviewees what they know about Singapore and most responses have a quality of longing and awe about them. Most respondents’ perception about Singapore is a country that is extremely advanced and forward-looking. One even said: “It’s like a dream- doesn’t exist in most people’s reality but when you look at a picture of it, yea, it’s definitely some shit (or shape) of the future.” Another respondent replied, “it just looks so like, sick, and so forward-looking.” Others don’t really know how to spell Singapore.

Singapore is a very rich country according to foreigners. Though two respondents got it wrong when they said Singapore is very much like Hong Kong, but more backward, others are more well-equipped with knowledge about Singapore despite its idealistic dimension. One said that Singapore was filled with “those fancy fundraisers…Indian men in tuxedos” and “their fit wives in cocktail dresses”. However, one respondent was pretty bitter about rich Singaporeans. He says that they go to Manchester with their big, fancy watches and keeps talking about how they were in the army.

Foreigners do have a mixed account about Singapore’s history, culture and national service though. One confidently expressed that Singapore was “like, expelled from Malaysia” and two Chinese students said that when they asked their Singaporean friends to hang out at Clark Quay, they would say No and choose to study their textbooks instead.

Others were fascinated about the ‘Chope’ culture in hawker centres- “you’re saying all I have to do is put a tissue packet on the table. The table belongs to me?!’ By far, the funniest one has to be a girl who has evidently not been in Singapore before. She says that Singaporeans in the UK always talks about national service being compulsory and she envisions Singaporean men to be “rugged” and “real, firm”.

For some interviewees, living in Singapore was likened to the American Dream. A soldier and several students expressed themselves very passionately if given a chance to live in Singapore. One said that he would “do anything to work there” and that his parents would be extremely proud of him if he did, and another hilarious respondent was fervent in his expression, “If I had two little children I’d live there, POOF!” When asked what he liked best about Singapore, he almost shouted: “THE BABES, THE FOOD, MCSPICE!” I think he meant McSpicy, which is great.

My favourite interviewee is the one who was so certain that Singapore had blue trees. Did he mean Gardens by the Bay? Those are purple, by the way!

Here is another video by Vinny where he interviews Singaporeans about what it really means to be Singaporeans. Scripted or spontaneous, this brought tears to my eyes.

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