Moulmein High and Smallville both have a target audience that consist predominantly of teenagers. Both the programmes cover issues regarding friendship and love – two issues that teenagers often grapple with. Moulmein High is a show about a group of secondary students and their constant struggle with teenage woes. The show tries to reflect the way society perceives today’s teenagers to be. Singaporean teenagers are viewed as being very open-minded with a strong preference for Western culture instead of their traditional Asian culture.
The characters in the show reflect that very well by trying to speak with a slight American lilt, using American colloquial and dressing (in clothing other than their school uniform) like a typical American teenager. Smallville on the other hand, is an adaptation of the age-old classic Superman. Every episode shows how the main character, Clark Kent tries to find balance between leading a normal life, and using his special gift to save people in need. Surprisingly, Smallville is different as compared to typical American teenage programmes in its definition of beauty.
Normally, the main actor would be blonde, blue eyed and a football captain of the school. Similarly, the main actress would be blonde, blue eyed and a head cheerleader in the school. However, in Smallville, both the main actor and actress have dark hair and eyes. Furthermore, the main actress is of mixed heritage. The irony of these two programmes is that the local programme is trying to be more westernised whereas the Western programme is trying to break away from conformity. However, the two programmes do share certain similarities. One of the episodes in Smallville showed how an overweight girl suffered under the insults of her peers.
Similarly, an episode in Moulmein High depicted a female character struggling with anorexia. These two episodes show that both locally and in the West, the ideal woman’s body is slim, or rather skinny. Also, both programmes show that the teenagers have respect for their parents because they obey their parents’ wishes. The difference is that in Smallville, the teenagers can talk to their parents and treat them like friends. If there are disagreements, the parents and teenagers would discuss and talk things through unlike in Moulmein High where there is no discussion because the parents claim they know what is right and best.
Therefore, although the value of respect is reflected in both programmes, Smallville depicts the fact that respect is earned whereas in Moulmein High, respect towards parents seems like a norm. In both Smallville and Moulmein High, couples are seen being intimate and fond of public displays of affection. This reflects the open mindedness and bold behaviour of today’s (both in the local and foreign context) teenagers as compared to the past generation, where any form of affection only happened behind closed doors. As an Asian and living in an Asian society, Western media can influence our perceptions and behaviour.
However, even if Singapore is considered modernised and in the forefront of economic and business trends, there are still things deemed “normal” in Western culture that our society will frown upon. For example, although Singaporeans are exposed to many Western films and movies, public displays of affection should still be kept to a minimal. Holding hands in public is acceptable but kissing or cuddling in a public place will either draw stares or make onlookers look away in embarrassment. Our society supports the fact that teenagers should be respectful towards their elders.