Monday, March 28, 2022


The week before last, I had a pretty decent week. A lovely week, if that. Jaysen and his girlfriend Sofeah were here for a holiday, so he brought a bag of things my family had packed for me. They were foodstuff I either can’t get here or are priced exorbitantly, and they also packed a bottle for making roti kirai, which I’ve never made myself, so that’ll be an adventure. I went to Budgies Burritos with them for lunch, and they were going for a hike in the higher parts of British Columbia, so I took them to shop at MEC in Vancouver. I had never met Sofeah, so it was fun to meet her then. If you remember, I used to have a crush on Jaysen, so I thought it’d be awkward, but Sofeah is a lovely person. I’d have loved hanging with her in Singapore, I think we’d be friends. 

That night, I came back to the island, and I played board games with my friends from philosophy class. Marcus brought the oslo kringle he’d baked for me, which raised some eyebrows at the table, and we played board games at River’s apartment, where she has a ferret and kitten, so it was chaos and made for an absolutely lovely night. We made up inside jokes upon inside jokes for the answers to The Game of Things, and it was hilarious and I look forward to playing games with the same group again. The next day, Marcus and I went to the cat cafĂ© in Nanaimo, because I’d said on Instagram that I missed Mochi. That was the second day in a row I was spending time with cats, but then the very next day, Hannah took me on an unplanned hike up Mount Benson, with the kitten she was catsitting for Jayne and Dave. It was three days in a row I was with cats! 

Last week, I had a little thing happen with Marcus. His life is not for me to comment, but I felt unsettled and overwhelmed. As it was, last week was out of the ordinary, because VIU was hosting the national basketball championships for the top 8 women’s basketball teams of Canada. I worked a pretty long shift at the gym, and got to meet more people at once than I’d met in a long time. I also messed up my schedule so I had to miss my therapy appointment. I then went to Vancouver to meet Jeremy, and came away feeling more terrible than I can recall in a long time. When I’m with Jeremy, the good moments are great but sometimes we’re tired, and we meet once every two or three weeks, and it culminates in a crescendo of chaos, and not the good kind. I find myself saying things that make him feel small, and I hate myself for those moments. It’s impossible to break up with someone you love, and I do love Jeremy. He’s a really good person, and I hate that I cannot live with the effects of his ADHD, and that his mess is a thing I cannot accept as part of my life. He tries his best, and I know he tries his best, but sometimes, it doesn’t feel enough. And yet love him, I do. 

We’ve spent maybe four months together, and I don’t want to give up the times we listen to songs and sing in the bathtub, or when we’re walking along and he sings absolutely ridiculous lyrics to Taylor Swift songs, and I don’t want to miss him being soft with me when I really need it. But then sometimes I make my way to Vancouver, and I’ve already travelled three hours and I wonder why he doesn’t have a driving licence so he can pick me up from the ferry terminal, and I wonder why he can’t make his room presentable for me, and I wonder so many things, and it’s impossible. Sometimes I feel like I may have the emotional range of a teaspoon, because everything overwhelms me.

Monday, March 14, 2022


I wrote a TV show pitch for my TV module, and I thoroughly appreciated my professor's feedback. He really knows his TV, which I suppose is a great criterion for a media professor to fill. I'm definitely curious about the TV shows he mentions and recommended.

This is a pitch for a reality TV show about working-class people, and it will be called Proletariat Profiles. In the simplest way to conceive it, Proletariat Profiles would be like the layperson’s version of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, minus the millions of dollars. It would first launch on YouTube, financed by the producer’s (my) own savings or funds crowdsourced from a platform such as Kickstarter or similar. If it gains enough traction, it might get signed to a network television company or Netflix, but that will not be the main aim. The budget needed for the initial production would not be a big one. Unlike Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Proletariat Profiles will revolve around regular people with regular, actually relatable lives, for the average Joe and Jill, and everyone in between. 

It will be filmed over the course of a year, so that the audience can follow the “characters”/participants of the show through as many important or significant seasons in an ordinary person’s life. For example, over the course of a year, we will feature the different participants going through holidays such as Christmas, New Years’ celebrations, their respective birthdays, tax seasons, Valentine’s Day, each individual’s observed religious festivities, and so on. We will then release the episodes in the following year, coinciding with the themes of the episodes. For example, events filmed on Valentine’s Day will be released on the next Valentine’s Day. The entire year will be filmed before being released the following year so that the show will not affect, influence nor interfere with the lives of our participants, in any way, shape, nor form.

There are two options we will utilise for filming and producing the show. We will equip each of them with an iPhone or any smartphone with a camera that’s good enough to be used for vlogging (video logging). Occasionally, we will have a basic crew to film each participant, in either an interview-style, or tailing them on any event they would want to highlight, with their permission. It will be as no-frills in terms of production value and kept as close to lived reality and down-to-earth as possible for an Internet series, with no glamorous lights or sound, and no intention of making it look polished, primed nor curated. 

There will be a rotation of several “characters” or participants as part of this show. We will try to cast people who traditionally struggle more in a capitalist system. For example, we may have people in the service industry, working as waitstaff, bus drivers, cashiers and bartenders, sewage workers and janitors. We would have a sales worker who doesn’t really care about the things they are selling. One of the participants could be a college student working two jobs to afford tuition, another one a single parent supporting their kid, someone with a mental or physical disability. We would also incorporate people of color, a homeless person, someone who’s recently been incarcerated, a person struggling with substance addiction. Someone who has to sacrifice their creative side and “sells out” by having a corporate job, because it’s the only way they can survive in the economy. 

Every one of the participants would be working-class, with real bills to pay. Even while they work, they find themselves going further into debt. We will feature vulnerable moments such as having to wait for a bank transfer to go through before they can cash out their grocery purchases, among numerous other experiences most people would have gone through, yet each person feels cripplingly ashamed of. We will follow them as they take public transit, or struggle to keep up on car insurance payments. We can display the myriad of ways a capitalist system is violent toward many disenfranchised communities, who are trying their best but barely staying alive and dealing with issues such as food insecurity.

The message of this show is to directly contrast with the narrative that “if you work hard enough, you’ll make it” often used as propaganda for allowing status quo to continue. It will feature our participants working hard almost all of the time in their lives, but who still don’t make it, because the odds of capitalism are against many more people than they are for them succeeding. Proletariat Profiles aims to showcase the reality that most of us are closer to being homeless in any given year, than to becoming a millionaire or becoming rich enough to retire or live a life that’s not enslaved to capitalism. 

Traditional media (which is inherently capitalist) has not showcased people who are struggling because capitalists currently have control of society and want to maintain a facade or pretence that capitalism works well enough for everyone to prosper and make it, so as to maintain the control they have. Therefore, a subversive show like this is useful for showcasing that there are many who live below the poverty line, that those people then have nothing to be ashamed of, and that any failings that occur are inherently designed to happen within capitalism, and not somehow individual moral failings. 

While our participants are not to be blamed for individual failings, there are also not exactly any individual villains on the TV show. Throughout all our narratives and situations, a thread that connects all of them is that capitalism necessarily needs to monopolize on some people’s disadvantageous situations for anyone to come out on top. The enemy is not any single person, but the enemy is the system of capitalism itself. 

Another aim of the TV show is to highlight the humanity of our participants. Traditional media has by far shone a spotlight on the glamorous, unattainable lives of celebrities and people with “success stories” in life. People like waitstaff and janitors, cashiers and sales workers have never been portrayed as having personalities. They exist only to do their jobs of providing a service, and then suddenly they are no longer relevant in our lives. This show hopes that by featuring people in professions or communities that have been long ignored, we can bring them from an invisible sphere, into the visible. 

As an alternative to the bleakness of the plights of our participants, we will feature certain ways we can all start to back away from capitalism and form other ways of existing and being. For example, mutual aid is a way for sharing with the community so that the participants don’t rely on philanthropy, nor believe in any justification for people to be rich nor poor enough that philanthropy is required. We can also feature a few participants with more environmentally-friendly lifestyles, such as those who only make purchases in closed-loop economies or supply chains, promoting sustainability. 

The audience for this show would be people who are disillusioned or are starting to question capitalist society as it is, and who want to inspire change. To gather audiences, we would start from grassroots avenues, such as putting up posters in spaces that would support such a show. This includes socialist societies/groups in different provinces and countries, liberal arts colleges, working-class-populated bars, mom-and-pop stores, and locations frequented by people with such similar ideals. I believe the audience would be attracted to watch such a show if it were produced, for several reasons. 

First, it would be very different from any other show in production and circulation, and by virtue of novelty alone, it would be entertaining or enlightening. Secondly, as mentioned, our intended primary audience are people who are already disillusioned with capitalism, and therefore they would want to seek hope by watching similar people go through similar events in their lives, and relate more to them than anyone else they’ve ever seen on TV. Thirdly, the primary intended audience members may want to persuade their peers who don’t already hold such socialist beliefs, and having such a show in production and being broadcast, would greatly enhance the possibility of that happening, using real and unfiltered portrayals of working-class people trudging through life. 

To attract revenue, we would also appeal to the socially-involved natures of such audiences, and ask for a crowdsourcing of funds for the show to be perpetuated, such that it can reach wider circulations, and hopefully spread the message to bigger audiences. 

His feedback:

In many ways this show is exactly what you describe and would have a very hard time to get 'green lit', again for exactly the reasons you describe. Yet it is an important possibility to pursue along the lines that you outline toward the end. As far as a pitch goes, you need to reorganize a bit, particularly when it comes to the 'why' questions that you answer well toward the last page or so, but for the average person listening to this pitch - most are done orally first - there will be an immediate 'poverty porn' image that harkens back to 'Good Times' or 'Welcome Back Kotter' or 'Sanford and Sons' from the 60s and 70s, or even the 'Honeymooners' from the 50s. The alternative perspective from poverty porn positions it as a fresh take and for a defined audience who, though they aren't 'rich' or constantly consuming, are what many call 'the bottom billion' who are generally ignored and are yearning for something solid. 

The one thing that I think you did well was demonstrate and describe the class struggle focus. The one thing, from a North American perspective is the issues of race, gender, and geography, though I imagine a version of this occurs in many places along similar if different social divisions. This is important because the show seeks to address an imbalance but should be mindful of creating a new one; or worse, creating a new "Honey Boo Boo" who is a poor, rural girl from the Southern US who is both famous but seemingly unaware that her fame is because people are looking at her life from a classist-urban dismissive standpoint. That level of care is hard to balance when the subjects are needed but delicate. You should look up Norman Lear’s evaluation of the unintended impact of 'All in the Family' such as we discussed in class to help solidify this. Great idea, some room for a few more nuances. 80/100

Wednesday, March 9, 2022


I submitted this essay for my TV module and got a 78% for it. Apparently, I'm a solid 78% student across all my modules, so I'm trying to improve my writing to bring it to 91% (because Marcus got 91% for our philosophy paper, wtf, is he Socrates???). Anyway, I have been elected to be the women students' rep of the Students' Union, and my term starts in May. That's all, have a lovely week, I'm busy working to pay off my tuition, if you'd like to loan me a sum of money so I don't have to pay hundreds of dollars in interest to my Singapore bank monthly, I'd highly appreciate it, this is not a joke. 

    Thinking about this as a 'big year' for spending time with screens, make a list of your screen time attention - TV formatted 'shows' in particular (i.e. not quick YouTube experiences or one-off TikTok videos - but maybe recurring series, etc.). After thinking about your list, think about what it says about you ... if all viewing is, in a way 'connected' and 'productive;' what does your list say about you (both to you and to others who might read your list)?
Among the shows on my list, there are definitely certain ones that I would consider and call my absolute favorites. These are Avatar: The Last Airbender, Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act, Jeopardy, Queer Eye, Ted Lasso, and The Good Place. Everything else, I might have considered filler, to pass any free time I had while I was at home and having a meal, or just because there was nothing else interesting on Netflix. I will describe what each of my favorite series represents to me, and in this way, I will also aim to describe what it says about me.

When I started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, it was because my sister had watched it and she had stickers and decals of the characters on her laptop, as well as her phone screensaver, etc. I’d also heard, in general, that many people liked it and that it was a well-made show. I started watching it to be in the know, and to fit in with my sister, and other people who liked the show. It turns out that I did enjoy it and liked it, as well. What I think it says about me, is that I have a fear of missing out, slightly, and that I do yearn for connection with other people.

Beyond this, Avatar: The Last Airbender is about a heroic protagonist who is literally the only person who can save the world from the “bad guys”. Additionally, he manages to make a friend in his foil and antihero, a person called Zuko. Zuko has a misguided-villain-to-semi-hero redemption arc, and what I’d like to think this says about me is: I have a hopeful streak, and I do hope that in this society we live in, some heroes (with no supernatural powers) might band together to save the world from climate disaster.

I watched Ted Lasso because one of my good friends recommended it to me, and I became so very fond of it. Ted Lasso is a show about a football coach who’s perhaps the opposite of or very far off from the stereotypical football coach one might think of. The show is written around strong men and women. The strong men have sessions in which they talk about their feelings, without making a big deal of it. There are characters that display streaks of toxic masculinity, but they are few and it’s also portrayed as leading to unhealthy relationships and self-esteem issues.

The strong women lift each other and have real and proper girl friendships, without any of the usual bitchiness or cattiness or superficiality (although they do sometimes talk to each other about men). This is definitely one of the shows that appeal to me because of my feminism, and strong personality. I enjoy that the show tries, and mostly succeeds, to defy gender norms and restrictions.

It also deals with mental health and therapy in a rather comprehensive manner, that maybe will show viewers that i) therapy is for everyone, ii) it is okay to be scared of therapy if you haven’t been or if you haven’t had good experience with it yet, and iii) that it’s still possible to overcome or work through it and use it for the better.

I am a strong proponent of therapy and mental wellness, I go for free counselling in school as a student. I aim to publicise to as many people as possible that such resources are readily available to us. We as students should be taking advantage of it, because therapy and mental health facilities aren’t readily available in many places, and especially for free (although I think it should rightfully be free considering the exorbitant tuition I pay as an international student).

Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act has a special place in my heart because I’d been his fan for many years, since his first Netflix special, Homecoming King, in 2017. What I hope this says about me is that I’m loyal, what it might say about me is I could be a little obsessive. Patriot Act has been cancelled because he got into trouble with a few rich and powerful people (I think this was the reason), but it was a solid, informative, entertaining, and moving series. He would talk about important issues such as Black Lives Matter, unfair marijuana criminalization/profitization based on race, fast fashion, etc etc.

His points were hard-hitting, but somehow, Hasan Minhaj has a rare way of bringing emotion in without necessarily sensationalizing issues. Anyone can present facts and figures, but he did it in a way that resonated with you. At least, I might have felt more of it because he’s a person of color (still not a woman of color yet, but perhaps that’s for me to fill) introducing -or developing arguments about- issues to the world, on Netflix. All this to say, Hasan Minhaj to me is meaningful representation, and that’s something I stand strongly by, especially as I go to school in a predominantly white country and still see predominantly white faces in many classes.

Jeopardy is my absolute favorite game to watch and play. I grew up watching the late, great Alex Trebek, and always thought of him as the kindly white grandfather everyone should have. He was one of the people I wanted to meet in person (the others are Taylor Swift and Hasan Minhaj). What I want this show to say about me, or what I think it does, is that I’m always thirsty for knowledge, and I’m semi-autodidactic (if I were a complete autodidact I wouldn’t be in university).

If you haven’t seen a contestant called Austin Rogers, please watch the episodes with him. He’s one of the top winners of all time on Jeopardy, and he has one of the quirkiest personalities I’ve ever seen in anyone. I love how Jeopardy makes knowledge fun to attain, and when you watch these absolute shining personalities do well on the show, with their puns and snappy quips, it’s top-notch entertainment.

I don’t know what it says about me, but I think there’s a bit of predictability to my watching Jeopardy. When I was back home in Singapore, my six family members in the household knew I would always spend some time watching Jeopardy, before or after work, or on my off days from work. It felt safe to me, and perhaps it signified a certain safety to them, as well, that I am a creature of habit and I love my routine. I don’t know for sure. Sometimes, my sisters would also watch it with me, and I used it to bond with them a little, although I don’t think they ever really enjoyed the show as much as I did, because I never see them watching it if I’m not.

Of all the reality shows that exist, Queer Eye is one of the best, in my opinion. Again, what it says about me is possibly that I’m actually optimistic and romantic under all my cynicism. It’s nice to see people who are deserving receive a makeover that, more often than not, really improves their entire lives. I have a problem with the premise of Queer Eye, in that I am much too politically radical, to really actually buy into it. I think there are far more people in America that are struggling and that they cannot all be helped by Queer Eye, and it’s because the systems and infrastructures are making it that way. I think, to really help America, the country needs a systemic change, that doesn’t allow capitalism, racism, classism, nationalism and all the -isms to marginalise entire populations of people.

However, for that hour or so, it is nice to see that given the right amount of help (tens of thousands of dollars in the making), and the right kind of help, even people in the most dire of places can turn their lives around. Now, if only we could provide tens of thousands of dollars to everyone in America, by taking it from the ultra-rich. I would watch that show. Focusing on Queer Eye, though, I think it succeeds at what it sets out to do, which is to make a candidate feel good about themselves, and in turn, becomes a feel-good TV show for the audience.

The Good Place is my favorite TV show of all time. What I like about it is it introduces the viewers to the tiny, basic gists of philosophy and ethics, and that allows the audience to decide if they want to learn more. Generally, philosophy hasn’t been accessible to mass communities and has been gatekept by and for old, white men, so to see such information being included in an entertainment show, for anyone to watch, is heartening.

Even within the content of The Good Place, it acknowledges and contends with the fact that the world is extremely unjust and unbalanced, that results in it being impossible to judge anyone fairly. The ending of the show is a typically good and nicely-wrapped-up ending, and the two protagonists whom you’d naturally root for, end up together, for eternity. This, again, shows my romantic side. Apart from that, I do think what I’d like the show to say about me, is that I’m thoughtful, pensive, that I care about other people, and would like everyone to receive what they truly deserve.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022


Hi. It's been a while. Three weeks, to be precise. Those three weeks have been eventful. I've created posters, traipsed all over the VIU campus to put up said posters. I'm a BA student so I've usually only hung out in the liberal arts/linguistics buildings. When I was putting up the posters, it took me three entire hours to go through all the buildings and faculties. It was an adventure, knowing the actual vastness of courses offered at VIU. There are trades like fisheries and forestries, and hatcheries. It was eye-opening, but also very, very tiring. There are two things a VIU student talks about: the fact that VIU is on a hill and therefore how tiring it is to traverse all the stairs, and on good days, we talk about how amazing our view of the scenery is, also courtesy of the fact that we're located on a hill. 

Speaking of trades, I met with Alessia in the last two weeks, and as I'm running for the position of women students' rep in the students' union, she told me of an issue they're facing as nursing students. Apparently while trades like electricians and automotive mechanics get paid for their practicums, nursing students are not. Nor are hairdressing nor baking students. The only difference? That the former are male-dominated industries and the latter, women-populated industries. It was intriguing to have such a thing highlighted to me, I don't know what I can do, but awareness is the first step to improvement, I suppose.

In the last week, I also played board games with my friends from philosophy class. We went bowling for our first outing, then it was board games, which definitely did nothing for my competitive nature. We were playing at the student pub, where there was a karaoke session being held, so Marcus and I went up to sing Mr Brightside. After the board game session, Marcus also taught me to drive in his car. I did the first U-turn of my life, lololol. Transit here is a pain in the fucking ass, and the weather sucks, so I definitely need to learn to drive. Also, I really like my friends from philosophy. Especially Marcus. I think we hit it off very easily, and it's comfortable to banter with him. 

I've been working at the school gym and I've also got some friends there. We had a gym staff pickleball tournament, it was my first time playing pickleball and they absolutely thrashed me at it. I've never played a sport and my bodily coordination does not exist, so I was an embarrassment to myself. I had fun though, it was nice getting to know them outside of work, and going for drinks after. I don't drink very much, because it sets off my seasonal depression, but I had a Burt Reynolds shot and I loved it. It's possibly the best-tasting shot I've had. I've also started work at Buy-Low, which is a grocery store near my place. I've only had one shift, and another one later this afternoon, but the people are also nice. I have to do it for the money, because YOUR GIRL IS POOR and IT SUCKS TO BE POOR.

Two days ago, I spent time with Hannah and Mary. We baked cookies for my campaign at Hannah's place, and then we ordered Mexican food and chatted about life and family and all that heavy stuff that happens. I feel like I've found my clan of women I want to hang with, in them, and I'm super glad for it. Mary also has a dog, Moby, who is the best boi I've ever known. He's really the goodest boi, and I so enjoyed his company. Anyway, the cookies that we baked turned out to be quite a hit, so perhaps we'll start an anti-capitalist bakery? We'll see. 

I had a therapy session this morning. We chatted about my aversion to boredom, as well as my emotional outbursts once every two weeks, seemingly because I contain my feelings instead of feeling them, whenever I'm going through an experience. I told my therapist that I usually have an outburst or mental breakdown, when I'm speaking to Jeremy, or when I'm physically with him, and it may have to do with feeling safe around him. We're (my therapist and I) trying to get me to feel and express my daily emotions better to avoid the buildup that leads to anger outbursts, etc. 

Today we also talked about how I'm attracted to exciting things. I told my therapist (actually, his name is Art, so I will refer to him by his name) that I've never been good with long-term relationships. Whether it's influenced by having seen my parents' relationships unfold or otherwise, I've always been attracted to big moments and big sparks. I like dating men with racecars, because I like stuff like rollercoasters and skydiving, I like grand gestures, and I've never been good with weathering the stable, healthy moments when they come. 

Jeremy and I have also talked about compatibility several times, I've never really thought about ADHD in another person, and I really dread messiness and a lack of organization, so it's still always coming up, again and again. We set each other off in unhealthy ways, sometimes, so I don't know. He is very sweet and stable, kind and patient, though. When I have my completely out-of-whack moments, in which two weeks of my life troubles boil and bubble over in a 45-minute rant about the transit and weather in Vancouver, he usually takes it as it comes and tells me it's okay that I have strong feelings stemming from unresolved trauma. What a good man.

Voting in the elections ends tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to see if I'll be engaged in meaningful work for the school, in that way. However, if I don't get the position, I can still look for other ways to be engaged in meaningful work, so. At the moment, I just hope someone can convince Putin to back off. Maybe the Russians who are against the invasion will convince him. Maybe not. I don't know. Life is tiring enough without war happening.