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Renaldo Lapuz - A millions hits of fame

I am a bit of an American Idol fan, especially for those first episodes where you have completely deluded people turning up. I guess you could call it taking pleasure from people’s misery, but I prefer to call it ‘observing the elasticity of aesthetic perception’…

Whatever. I find this time round Simon seems to have softened a bit, which isn’t all bad as he is sometimes pretty harsh on contenders. But he has his fans too, and if you’ve been watching you couldn’t have missed Renaldo Lapuz with his own composition “We're Brothers Forever”. It’s stuck in my head ever since I saw the annoyingly catchy thing.

He’s been something of an instant hit, a là William Hung, but as the internet has moved on a bit since then, there has been a slew of blog posts and YouTube remixes already.
“I’m going to make a prediction here, I have a horrible feeling that’s going to be a hit record.” (Simon Cowell)

I wonder what the ingredients are for this kind of celebrity? It’s certainly not based on his singing skills, though he’s not completely awful. Let’s look at what he has: flamboyant costume coupled with humble manner, sincerity and a catchy song. One wonders whether the fact he’s Asian/Chinese has anything to do with it: put bluntly, Asian/Chinese/Japanese can often be seen as non-threatening amusing foreigners… Also probably important is the implicit endorsement of the Idol judges: Paula and Randy sung and danced with him, and Simon made the back-handed compliment quoted above. Notice that William Hung got a “You’re the best” from Paula (a video of his audition here).

There are issues of copyright, with some YouTube recasts of the American Idol clip being taken down (here and here). Importantly for Renaldo, his song is an original, so he can use it any way he wants – though apparently he’s “under American Idol Contract until May” ( So he has made a ringtone available for free; a game “Where’s Renaldo” has been announced, and he is renting out his services – you can have him call your valentine, or have him attend events –
“Get his autograph! Yes songs! He has many original songs and he wants to sing them for all of you! One of them is dedicated to our Mothers!” (

Let me guess…

Continue reading "Renaldo Lapuz - A millions hits of fame"

Blogging in the Malaysian 21st century

I was kindly invited by the Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies (CMIWS) of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) to a one day seminar entitled "The National Seminar on Media and Technology: Bloggers - Issues and Challenges in the 21st Century" held on last Tuesday, on July 24th.

I immediately jumped at the chance to go, because that's really exactly what I am researching - the development of Malaysian blogs. Overall, the panel had a number of fine academics, as well as some prominent bloggers, and was well worth my while.

One criticism that I will make, however, is the surprising lack of internet presence of the event. By this I mean, when looking for online details of the event I couldn't find any, even when going to the Centre's website , and even their event announcer said nothing is happening on 24/7:

There was one blogger who mentioned it though.

Mahaguru58 was also there, and it was nice to meet him in person: he has given a summary of the talks, as well as the BM bits which I couldn't understand. I won't go over speaker by speaker, though they all deserve attention, but just give some overall thoughts. Click on the thumbnail to see a scan of the programme with details of the speakers, etc. Malaysian National Seminar Media Technology blogs

Before I arrived I was imagining what it might be like: at any academic gathering there are the usual individual and social motivations behind why they are initiated and attended (i.e. status, knowledge, networking,etc...), but this one is also about blogs in particular, something unusual - probably a first in Malaysia, and I think there haven't been many in the world so far... It struck me that what the seminar is is a group of academics coalescing around an idea of what blogs are.; so in that sense, in order to understand what the seminar is, one has to understand what the participants perceive a blog to be. i.e. What are blogs in Malaysia? What would be the substance of that idea? Continue reading "Blogging in the Malaysian 21st century"

Remixing, blogging and authorship

There is at the moment a high-profile murder trial involving Abdul Razak Baginda, a close (ex?) political advisor of the Deputy Prime Minister (and assumed next PM) Najib Tun Razak, and two Special Branch policemen who are accused of murdering the ex-mistress, a Mongolian translator called Altantuya Shaaribuu, on behalf of the advisor. It's amply covered by the media and Google News will give you details; you could also check Susan Loone's blog or Screenshots, or many other blogs for coverage.

One hot issue is whether the DPM ever met the lady: he has said not, but there is said to be a photo with Altantuya, Baginda and the DPM at a dinner table. This was talked about before, and was brought up in court when Altantuya's cousin stated that she had seen it and was told by Altantuya that Najib Razak was one of the people in the photo.

The blogosphere became part of the politically charged trial when Tian Chua, the Information Chief for opposition party Keadilan, posted a doctored photo representing the alleged photograph ("French dinner for 3") and discussed the DPM's denial of ever having met Altantuya. This was denounced in Parliament by Government politicians, and via the MSM. Many people also visited the page, and 217 comments were left (as of 13 July). Many of the comments criticise Tian Chua for disseminating false information - e.g. "This is so sick, your credibility by posting this fake pic has gone down to the drain." (Comment no. 28, frankie), while others say that it is so obviously faked that it is clearly meant to be fake - e.g. "No need to over react on this picture . For anyone with a sense of humour, after seeing the picture knows that this picture is created by a rather creative artist." (Comment no. 41, Niuku)

THIS IS A FAKE! The image is Photoshopped, and in no way is intended to represent an actual meeting between the people on the photo.

(The caption is my own, the original was "Najib doesn't want to be reminded with this romantic event" (Tian_a). Also to be noted is that the face of the lady is not Altantuya, but a Korean actress)

Others make a finer point, that he should have made the doctoring explicit - e.g. "May I recommend that, if you want to put up a picture as a PARODY, you must make it extremely overblown so as to avoid people actually assuming you are serious." (Comment no. 42, oster); and yet others question his political judgement, suggesting that this 'real fake' may possibly be used to cast a media smokescreen over the supposed real photo, allowing a confusion between the two, or that it can be used to discredit the opposition in general. Continue reading "Remixing, blogging and authorship"