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Title: Singapore's 'Cinema-Age' of the 1930s: Hollywood and the shaping of Singapore modernity
Authors: Chua, A.L. 
Keywords: British Empire
colonial Singapore
consumer culture
cultural entrepreneurship
popular culture
Issue Date: Dec-2012
Citation: Chua, A.L. (2012-12). Singapore's 'Cinema-Age' of the 1930s: Hollywood and the shaping of Singapore modernity. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 13 (4) : 592-604. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Cinema-going was the most popular form of entertainment in 1930s' Singapore, with an estimated 8000 viewers filling 20 screens each night in the city by 1936. About 70% of films screened were American and many large Hollywood studios had distribution offices in Singapore. A entire supporting field consumption shaped by film fandom culture emerged, from film magazines to sales in gramophone records and wireless broadcasting of popular soundtracks and live performances in dance halls at entertainment parks, called the 'Worlds'-such as Great World and Happy World. There were diverse reactions to this social phenomenon from different quarters. The colonial government was alarmed at the perceived influence of decadent Hollywood films on a native audience in terms of moral vices and crime. Religious bodies and older members of the local non-European community were brought in to sit on the Cinematograph Films Censorship Annual Committee. Drawing from the Anglophone print media, this paper aims to document local audiences' voices in the highly-debated topic of censorship. The existence of a large corpus of English-language publications produced in inter-war Singapore for a local, non-European audience is testimony to the depth of the domestic, English-language public sphere, which cut across diverse ethnic backgrounds and was based upon a common framework of English-language education and cultural references. This paper will argue that America films played a crucial role in influencing social changes in Singapore, particularly amongst young people and women, as well as in shaping the identity of Singapore as a distinctly modern city. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Source Title: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies
ISSN: 14649373
DOI: 10.1080/14649373.2012.717604
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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