not your normal army video

just watched this video – the upcoming theme song for the upcoming ‘Ah Boys To Men’ movie. 8th november.

at first i was being all judge-y about it being yet another Singaporean attempt at something artsy and stuff. like it can’t measure up to the real pros, if you get what i mean. and i thought maybe it was slightly disrespectful? like do you really want people in number 4 and SINGAPORE on their chest trying to be cool and pseudo-rapping patriotic-sounding lyrics?

but then i realized that it’s not. that it is something that strikes a chord in the hearts of people. that we recognize it as a uniquely singaporean product – nobody else is going to come up with something like that. cheesy lyrics, semi-parodies (not sure if it’s intended as such) of commercial, entertainment-only music videos, nostalgia-inducing footage, familiar images of greenery and bridges and outfield scenes and the ever-picturesque and ever-notorious TEKONG FERRY TERMINAL, where ‘it’s not what you leave behind… it’s what you gain in the days ahead’. poignant.

i think it’s a great attempt at making the SAF more human. more… not-so-disjointed from the rest of the civil service (not sure if i’m getting it right here) and singaporean society in general. giving a more human perspective? something that every singaporean son can relate to. i really liked the insertion of the ‘when the cold wind blows’ lyrics towards the end of the video. its something that only people who have sung that song with real feeling at 5.45am in the morning, in the dark, with really an aching heart and sweat on your back and a certain soul to the entire singing of the song can feel, can empathize with. and you know that only other people who have had the same experience know the same thing. it’s the crystallization of the entire NS experience, something key to the makeup of the singaporean male identity. how fascinating, especially considering the fact that i just took a midterm test on a module on nation-building in singapore.

but back to that certain experience. singing ‘when the cold wind blows’ must be one of those defining NS moments… when your entire platoon is in step, in sync, and in one voice singing that song. not at the top of your lungs, not with a monotone because you’re expected to sing, but because the song actually means something. not because the lyrics are funny, or because they match the cadence of your step (even though they do), but because each and every soldier doing that morning cadence run knows what the song is talking about.

in the early morning run/with a fieldpack on my back/and an aching in my heart/and my body full of sweat

i’m a long long way from home…


ever felt like booking out was a million years away? that’s the exact feeling.

and that’s why i decided the video is so interesting. and why i will definitely go watch that movie. even though it might suck as a movie. or it may have a lousy portrayal of what army life is really like. it may contain bad jokes.

but whatever it is, it is going to create a reaction. it is going to be provocative – like what art is supposed to be. it is going to make people who watch it consider what NS is to them. it is going to be one of those things that force the general populace to think. that’s what i feel at least. whatever enters the ‘national conversation’ as a result of this movie – if singaporeans really start discussing what NS is in reaction to what they watch on the screen, then i say the movie has done it’s job.

and to quote one of my lecturers… ‘who says women don’t do NS? ask any mother who has washed dirty, mud-stained uniforms about that.’

true story bro.


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