2SSFA - 'Acronym City' by Leon Cheo


Acronym City would have been interesting as a music video, going by the way director Leon Cheo had created a palpable rhythm out of the recitations of the acrynoms by the various talking heads. Leon interviewed a credible selection of experts in literature (like Dr Kirpal Singh) and linguistics and plebian Singaporeans on why they think we have evolved to be a nation that loves acronyms.

The film succeeds in the eliciting the ludicrous nature of this national obsession through piecing together the acronym montage and ‘acronymising’ the interviewees’ occupations in a ‘self-mocking way’. The result is a film that begs for instantaneous audience reaction and laughs.

However, and strangely, the film did not explain one acronym that it strategically included in the synopsis – KNNBCCB. Being part of every Singaporean man’s inception into manhood in the army, its absence was felt in the film. Ultimately, it’s not just about this 7-word expletive but about exploring the vernacular acronyms and social taboo as well, which the explanations of the interviewees did not capture. This is where the ownership of acronyms is actually universal and not restricted to an educated crowd that belongs to the fast-efficient Singapore that they all talked about in this documentary.

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