By: Richelle Lum
Most of us know of us know of 9GAG, a social media website and online platform used to share internet memes that feature current, popular trends. However, perhaps slightly lesser known is the Singaporean version of 9GAG, SGAG, which posts similar content, except in a Singaporean context. Likewise, SGAG has a website and various social media accounts that have considerable followings. The focus on issues in Singapore and local memes have endeared the media platform to many people in Singapore, as they find themselves relating to and agreeing with the subjects brought up by SGAG. The localised version of 9GAG has certainly resonated with the Singapore audience.
However, unlike 9GAG, there are characters that have recurring acts in the regular content of the social media platform. In fact, one of the founders of the website, known as Xiao Ming, plays a prominent role in the website. He constantly appears as an act integral to a funk skit or to promote an established brand in a creative manner, so that the audience would not be turned off by the frequent product placement. Furthermore, he also keeps a running rivalry with another character, Kenny, and their competitions often bring laughter to their fans. These characters maintain quirky characteristic, that keep their following interested in their antics and the development of their relationships. For example, Xiao Ming is known for never removing his sunglasses and for his impressive bottle flipping skills, which have landed him gigs with several well-known personalities in Singapore. These figures show the ability of SGAG to go beyond merely posting user-generated memes and hence, their proficiency in differentiating themselves from 9GAG, by developing features which make SGAG genuinely unique.
Furthermore, SGAG’s content has the capability of being more than just funny. Their posts show the creators’ attention to pertinent issues in Singapore. Whenever there is breaking news about certain events happening in Singapore, SGAG usually does not hesitate to offer its opinion on the matter. Did public transport in Singapore suffer a breakdown again? SGAG shows the general exasperation of the Singapore public through memes with disgruntled faces. In the context of the recent examinations period, SGAG has been updating their page with relatable stories of feeling lost during your papers, of experiencing irritation with over-achieving peers and of Asian stereotypes of family pressure that ring true with their Singaporean fans. Whereas 9GAG’s humour can cross the line and become offensive occasionally, SGAG constantly makes a conscious effort to keep their jokes light-hearted and relevant to the Singapore community.
Most importantly, what truly surprises me about SGAG is their ability to be sensitive to the diverse demographics of their audience. Keeping in mind that Singapore is a multi-racial country, SGAG takes care to pay equal attention to the most common races and religions in Singapore. During the different festivities, SGAG will acknowledge these events in their posts and continue with related celebratory content for the rest of the day. There have even been instances of SGAG undertaking the task of educating the public about lesser known traditions among the minorities in a culturally sensitive manner, while still retaining the humour by using the angle of proving a foolish stereotype wrong. Balancing cultural awareness with humour is never an easy job, but SGAG handles it with finesse.
Perhaps I am biased, since it is no doubt that I am able to develop a greater connection with SGAG, as I relate more to the local memes. However, I have to confess that I am actually really impressed by the creators’ understanding of the Singapore context. While I have long gotten tired of 9GAG, I find myself still engaged with SGAG’s content, to the extent that I make an effort to keep myself updated of the latest posts. For those who have never heard of SGAG I strongly recommend that you check the website out, even if you might not agree with my opinions.