“Don’t You Know That You Are A Shooting Star And All The World Will Love You Just As Long As You Are.”
Bad Company “Shooting Star” .
Another American Idol Season has come to an end and this one ends with gnashing of teeth by the local populace. Social networks filled with cries of racism and sexism. The problem with that notion is that the former concept is what fueled the local hype for Jessica Sanchez. The latter concept was utilized because a male stood between pinoys and their fondest wish for American Idol immortality. Once again the Pinoy shows their inferiority complex. Projecting their own flaw (seeing competition purely on the basis of race) on their “opponent”.
For the record, I could care less about reality TV. How can it be called reality when everything is so contrived for ratings and demographics? You want reality? The pinoy in pursuit of “pansin” that is promised should one of their “own” ever win AI made a few mental short cuts. Short cuts that I will go into depth as we progress .
I don’t take big stock in American idol because to me it is not a gauge of talent. How can there be glory in winning a competition when it’s not essentially a competition? For the record I am not a fan of the Whitney Houston/ Charice types. I do not consider them talented. I do not consider their work substantive. My idea of musically talented women can be found here. American Idol made William Hung a temporary star not because of talent but because he was blooper reel material.
Pinoys will only make a big stink about what they perceive as pinoy. They will not make a big national push for a Bo Bice or Jennifer Hudson. But notice I said perceive. The degree into which the whole nation identifies something as representing them. Take the Azkals. The Pinoys view it as some conquest of sorts. I view it as grasping at straws.
Since many of you are reading me for the first time , know that a key concept I strongly believe in is “intrinsic value”. You enjoy something for what it is. Not because it is a status symbol. Not because of some ulterior motive. You just simply love what it is. You can read how I explain that concept in the context of Arnel Pineda here.
My perspective may be different to some because of how I choose to enjoy somethings. I love the NFL. I love the strength, speed, and strategy of it. You either take the hits or administer the hits. If you can not you are gone. Where does nationality fit into that? Nowhere. Conversely I used to be a bigger hockey fan than I am now but allow me to state the relation. If you love hockey then you will enjoy it when the best play for the right to survive. There is no room for national sentiment. Just mano-a-mano until there is one team standing. The National Hockey League is the only big time sport in North America that has a third of their teams playing in one country and the other two thirds in another country. The flagship broadcaster of Canada (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) recently wanted to make an issue of the relevance of that and I bust that myth here. The CBC was being so pinoy.
American Idol is not built to last. Let me clarify that statement. The show will go on for a few years. But contestants who advance will get their 15 minutes of fame then fade into obscurity. How is that working out for Jasmine Trias? Our admiration in things not built to last actually manifest themselves in our society, more on that later.You have heard this many times before I hope but American Idol makes itself out to be the fast food or microwave process of show business success. Any short cut by definition compromises something. Just like Charlie Sheen puts little priority on sobriety, American Idol puts little priority on originality. Since Glee has little originality you can argue that American Idol is Glee with a score.
You have heard many times that the only place where success comes before work is the dictionary. Well you can add American Idol to that.It is a TV show and not some system that will produce an artist who ten years from now will have 5 albums under his or her belt. Some of you may remember Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish fame. Listen to his opinion on the relevance of American Idol when it comes to actual music.
One of my major beliefs can be summed up in a phrase from a Sting song “We share the same biology regardless of ideology.” An ideology that I am constantly being hit over the head with living in the Philippines is “Basta Pinoy Da Best”. For decades the song Night in Saucilito by Diesel would reverberate in my head. I never had any copy of it and it was rarely on the radio but it is a great song. I was able to hear it again through the magic of Youtube. To my surprise the band is Dutch. But who cares?? All that matters is the song is great.
Sting for me is a true artist who does more than just sing. He plays the bass and the six string guitar. He writes the music and the lyrics and because he writes the lyrics he gets his message across. You can agree or disagree with that message but it’s there. It makes you think. American Idol on the other hand the contestants sing songs that are picked for them that they don’t even know. These songs existed for decades before they were born. You are telling me there is a message? You are telling me that American Idol showcases talent? The contestants are told what to say when to say it and the message is decades old. Remind you of anybody?
You watch Game of Thrones and you see all these different groups wanting the Iron Throne. Some just want to take it, to “pay for it with iron not gold”. It’s a way of saying anything worth truly having is earned and not bought. Some believe they were born to sit on that Iron Throne. In GoT you see what people are willing to do to get what they want. Maybe a show like Sopranos is like that but GoT has that tangible Iron Throne as a symbol. For pinoys the Iron Throne is pansin. Regardless of how they make the connection or how flimsly the association, they will make that connection to get to the Iron Throne of pansin. KSP is the root of all evil. This KSP is a manifestation of low national self esteem. So we embrace the trivial and believe it’s meaningful. Then our embrace of that which I interpret as shallow and superficial gives us an excuse to be irrationally exhuberant. The Pinoy wants international pansin anyway they can get it, short of what Cunanan did to Versace.
“Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.” George Bernard Shaw
If the Pinoy was truly da best, why does a “win” in an American show mean so much? Can’t you be satisfied with what you have in your own local shows since you have such a high opinion of pinoy talent? At least the contestants there tend to be born here. Forget the fact that Jessica has truly little to do with the country.You also can’t have it both ways. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You value the stage of another country but if victory does not come accuse them of all sorts of things like racism and sexism. I will also argue that Jessica is more theirs than yours. She did not grow up on love teams, Kris Aquino and Wow Wow Wee.
If you truly believe in destiny and I can prove that this country does, you lose that edge of tapping everything that is in you that is required to compete with the best of the best. Once you are playing with the big boys, everybody is talented. What separates them in the mentality that manages that talent. Just like that scene in Top Gun in the bar. It may be slick, it may be contrived but it worked for me. Your arrogance should be earned from experience, having done it before. Ice Man was supposed to be the best. Maverick though did not back down. he wanted to be the best so he sought out the best and competed. That is competition. Maverick did not tell Ice that it is his destiny. Granted there is an alternate view of the Top Gun subtext.
I love the Beatles. The Beatles would have never popped out of American Idol. Which shows you why it’s so irrelevant to me. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, he describes how the Beatles came to be. And it’s not American Idol. If for some reason in the next 10 years Pinoys produce the cultural equivalent of The Beatles for the world to be in awe of , maybe that will be something. Right now though it’s a contrived singing contest. Ironically a Beatles early hit was I Wanna Hold Your Hand. The Beatles road to glory had no hand holding but years and years of paying their dues. Every American Idol contestant has their hand held from beginning to the end. You know why they required hand holding? They do not have enough talent to do it on their own. They did not persevere enough.
BS Aquino was hand held throughout his run to the presidency. The presidency was nothing he worked his whole life for just like FPJ before him. But in both cases, people who have something to gain by having “their guy” as a president did the hand holding since an opportunity presented itself. That is why Noynoy always appears so ill equipped. American Idol is a “short cut” and pinoys are known for short cuts. Hence we have a president who used the word destiny as a substitute for any tangible accomplishment and we as a country believed him.
Can you imagine our current president staring down Ice Man? He had never had to compete for anything in a true competition. He never before had to go mano-a-mano with anything but now we expect him to take on China. Sure he got elected but based on what? He relied on symbols and anchors to revisionist history. This guy pole vaulted over his mother’s corpse into Malacanang. Anyone argue with that blunt, crude but true statement? His mom’s death was big news then he runs. Was he on that path before? Why is no one calling him out on this? The better question is why did we embrace this?
The main culprits in the anchoring of Noynoy to some fantasized utopia are the ABS CBN Network and The Philippine Daily Inquirer who both brought new meaning to the term yellow journalism. Read Anthony Robbins concept on Anchoring and you will realize how lame pinoys are for making that leap along with Noynoy. You saw with your own eyes BS Aquino’s version of competing is simply bring up his parents in stories and include a picture of them in his campaign picture. BS Aquino could not produce anything concrete to prove himself worthy of the highest elected office in the land so he evokes destiny. Two years later I find the idea so preposterous that I am surprised the original news story is still up on GMA 7′s website. BS Aquino was already acting entitled even before he was elected. It truly explains his behavior to this day. As lame as that strategy sounds, it worked. Ultimately does that make you proud to be pinoy?? That a moronic campaign strategy worked because it was correctly tailored to the audience it was meant for? Brings new meaning to the phrase “we get the government we deserve”.
Just like American Idol is relevant by piggy backing on songs others worked very hard to make hits decades ago. Noynoy Aquino got himself elected by piggy backing on the past of his parents. Evoking every symbol, gesture and mannerism his parents were known for. He had to, he had nothing to offer that a birth certificate stating who his parents were. Just like American Idol contestants have no songs to call their own, BS Aquino has no words or deeds to call his own. BS Aquino is not original, like Arnel Pineda, Mars Ravelo and Manny Pangalinan before him. People take pride in Charice being in Glee which is not original. Was Mariah Carrey right about the pinoy after all? That trait of gaya gaya defines the pinoy way more than a half pinoy half mexican singing ever could. Even the admiration of people who are not original states that the pinoy does not value originality. Our blind devotion to American Idol which is all form and no substance truly explains the occupants of Malacanang now.
Its this kind of symbolism that we as a country attach to Jessica Sanchez. I bring up the election two years ago because it is my premise that it is the same thing. Pinoys want to believe Sanchez is pinoy like them. Culturally she is not pinoy. Biologically she is half Mexican. Pinoys were so vested in the outcome because they believe it’s a competition then perform a consuelo de bobo to justify second place and say it is not a competition. I always said it’s not a competition and oddly enough the best explanation I ever saw of this comes from Yahoo National Sports Columnist Dan Wetzel here. Dan Wetzel says American Idol is not a competition. In the ultimate analysis I rather listen to him than someone who voted for BS Aquino.
The whole exercise of making Jessica Sanchez into Marie Curie actually makes sense when you see what local women we put on a pedestal. Kris Aquino gets on every bill board, does multiple TV shows with commercials that she is in and has a magazine devoted to her. All that attention and it seems like it’s never enough for her. Always prortraying herself as a victim. And here is the capper folks. You give her all the attention she asks for. This nation is the enabler of Kris Aquino and all that is reflected how as a nation we try to act out that KSP urge that Kris has on the world grasping at straws with American Idol/ Jessica Sanchez. Lather, rinse , repeat with the next barely pinoy person that gets semi famous outside of our shores.
This is a country that kills missionaries but we chose to identify our self with someone who was not born here and has a Mexican father and she defines the nation. Yet we have someone who gets convicted in a court of law for plunder a crime punishable by death and he comes in as runner up for president. I feel that defines us way more than some singer who has never been here. Where is the national pride or shame for that? We do poorly in things that are relevant yet we kid ourselves that doing well in things that are irrelevant more than make up for it. Are we so blinded by the empty promise of pansin that we latch on to a foreigner pretend she is ours and vicariously live through her? We truly have no standards when a singing contest can mean so much to so many. Accomplishment means nothing. Only trying to satisfy our KSP. What’s next? The country will elect a president who never showed any leadership qualities? Oops.
To quote Keith Olbermann “Good Night and Good Luck .”
I am very grateful to be granted space in GRP. My passion bucket is full. I hope a few people can learn from me a fraction what I have learned from the contributors here. Whether you agree with them or not you can give them credit for daring to be different.