Afterthoughts About The Movie-Viewing Habits of the Pinoy

My wife and I like watching movies. It’s one of those things that we tend to enjoy together. After watching the last Twilight Saga movie (Breaking Dawn Part 2) and then seeing the Jason Becker movie trailer over at YouTube, it led me to conclude how vacuous the tastes of many Pinoys with regard to their movie viewing choices.

Breaking Dawn Part 2 was entertaining, something that many Filipinos appreciate in their movies but content-wise it was thin. I never even bothered reading the books after my wife reported about how bad Stephanie Meyer’s prose is (she apparently shares the same opinion that Stephen King had with Stephanie Meyer). See, in our household while I am the authority regarding music, my wife is the authority with regard to literature so I tend to listen to her suggestions and opinions regarding prose. Going back to the movie, it was mere entertainment or something that a completionist would do. It’s just that I’ve watched every single Twilight movie and I wanted to see how it all wraps up. To sum up the whole shebang, the Twilight Saga is entertaining in its depiction of teenage angst in a world where vampires and werewolves are different from the traditional folkloric concept of such creatures. Again, it’s entertainment and nothing more. It does not compel anyone to go deep into serious thinking about symbolism and intellectual themes. The Twilight Saga could never merit an intellectual discussion anyway.

And so the theaters were filled with this movie and some other local flick which I wouldn’t bother watching. A day after, I once again saw the trailer for Jason Becker’s biopic “Not Dead Yet”. Being a musician, such a movie sparked a great deal of interest in me and wondered why such a story would never make its premiere in the Philippines. And then I suddenly recalled those other trailers of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry movies in local cinemas. The question now became, “Why do Philippine cinemas show such vacuous movies rather than movies that compel people to think or imagine?” It’s bothersome that majority of Filipinos only prefer mind-numbing entertainment rather than information that would provoke them to think big and be creative. Philippine theaters would prefer to air vacuous movies like Justin Bieber’s and Katy Perry’s rather than a Jason Becker movie.

Consider this. Which of those music-related flicks would prove to be more inspiring? If I would compare the trailers for each of these flicks, in terms of overcoming challenges and obstacles, the Jason Becker movie would just sink those Justin Bieber and Katy Perry flicks to the bottom. While the two would continue to dominate music charts with their vacuous pop crap, Mr. Becker churns out wonderful, imaginative music to this day using only his eyes. If we examine the backgrounds of these artists, it seems to me that all of them stem from middle-class North American families. I don’t understand why the Justin Bieber and Katy Perry trailers seem to whine about the “obstacles” they face while they churn out millions and millions of dollars every single night, complaining about being “different” and living in a “repressive” environment. I don’t really see how different they are from every aspiring teenager who wants to make it in the music industry. It looks like all of them grew up in similar suburban settings so with the exception of Jason Becker, I don’t really see what they’re whining about.

Jason Becker, in contrast, is burdened by a real challenge. Being one of the top-notch guitar virtuosos of his time, he suddenly fell ill to Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig disease. He can only move his eyes, his jaw and to some extent his mouth, but he can’t move and can’t speak. His musical and artistic mind is trapped inside a body that many people would easily give up on. Despite the enormous challenge, he still can write music through his eye movements that control his computers and sophisticated software.

I seem to be going off tangent but I’m trying my best to illustrate a point here. That being Philippine cinemas would rather feature shallow entertainment than something that is truly inspiring. The Jason Becker movie has that sort of story that I think many Filipinos would like, since many Filipinos are suckers for that kind of feel-good-underdog-rising-against-the-odds movie. It’s sad that it would never be shown here. The reason could be easily demonstrated in a following imagined scenario:

Me: Uy manong, nagugustuhan nyo po ba yung mga kanta ni Justin Bieber at Katy Perry (Hey mister, do you like songs by Justin Bieber and Katy Perry?)

Manong: Ay oo, gusto ko yun. Madaling sayawan at nakakaaliw. Gustong gusto nga ng mga bata yun e. (Yes. I like their songs. They’re very amusing and danceable. In fact, a lot of kids like them).

Me: Eh manong, yung si Jason Becker ba kilala nyo? Magaling na magaling gitarista yun. (Manong, what about Jason Becker? Do you know him? He’s a very good guitarist.)

Manong: Jason Becker? Sino yun? (Jason Becker? Who’s that?)

Me: Magaling na gitarista yun noong dekada ’80. Nagkasakit, di na makagalaw, pero nakakapagsulat pa rin ng kanta. (He’s a very good guitarist in the ’80s. He got sick, became paralyzed but is still capable of writing music)

Manong: Talaga? Ewan ko. Di naman mapapanood sa Wowowee yun e. HindiĀ  sikat. (Really? I don’t know. I can’t watch him on Wowowee. He’s not famous.)

The point in this illustration is that most Filipinos are only attracted to what’s popular. That person or entity may have all the kind of skill and talent in the world but if he/she is not popular, she wouldn’t make a dent into the Filipino psyche. Many Filipinos tend to admire only what’s popular, even those without any sort of substance whatsoever. This is one fatal flaw in Filipino culture that has resulted into a messed up government, substandard education (Nationalist sentiments promoting Tagalog in public general education, despite the language’s divisiveness, inefficiency to articulate scientific and intellectual concepts, and lack of economic value), and the lack of entertainment options that are intellectually stimulating. And that includes movie choices folks.

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