Of Rights and the Power of Movies: A Critique of a Reaction to My “Little Bossings””

Hello, Ms. Cat. I mean no harm, nor would I wish any personal damage to you, particularly your reputation. I respect both you and Lourd De Veyra’s analysis upon the said movie for trying to ignite the public’s consciousness regarding this issue. You both have good points, really. But before I go to my critique, let me first establish some disclaimers.

First off, I am no fan of any of the said personalities above. Being a nut for strategy games and first-person shooters, I usually fall asleep with movies that do not seem to make sense, unless their comedic lines are smart; particularly those that seem to be full of product placements and cheap storylines; I could care even less for the actors and producers.

It is so predictable, even the average Filipino who watches Filipino Movies can even guess the chain of events within the first ten minutes: guy with kid gets the kid of another in exchange for something, some interesting problem happens,  gets solved, happy ending. I mean, why go to the movies, pay Php. 220 for something you can get watching the television for almost free? Frankly, movies that do not serve to open the minds of people to other possibilities in this world in my opinion do not deserve to even be made. But then again, that’s my opinion, and you are welcome to do or say otherwise.

What we three, I think can agree on is the quality of the film: we felt that it was too superficial, a ripoff, a film made to short-change the Filipino movie-goer. But our difference is that I will expound further on this issue and I will explain why we cannot let such films slide.

Let’s go to the numbers and facts of the issue:

        Php. 50 million (50, 000, 000) / Php. 220= 227,272.7273 or approximately 228, 000 watched the movie and counting. It garnered the following awards: Best Child Performer for Ryzza Mae Dizon, Best Original Theme Song, Best Supporting Actress for Aiza Seguerra, and 3rd Best Picture, according to Rappler.com

Some, including you, would argue that it is the right of people to watch such things; that Vic Sotto has nothing to prove because “he is an institution”, and “it is unfair for us to request him to act in Cannes-level films”. I’d like to believe that this is satirical. If not, I still agree, but let us go back to the concept of “rights”, of what an institution is, and dissect it logically.

Rights are essentially guarantees by the State given to its citizens in the pursuit of a principle: that principle being certain freedoms are needed for people to develop as productive individuals of the State; that the State, as part of its social contract of fulfilling its citizens’ basic needs in exchange of certain actions curtailed (i.e. killing and stealing from one another) and certain responsibilities fulfilled (i.e. following the law, paying taxes, and the like); which is in this case, the freedom to pursue whatever action we want as long as it is inside the law.

From that logic, we can also derive that one’s freedom ends with another one’s freedom; and with freedom comes responsibilities to peacefully coexist with another, otherwise, why submit to a system that imposes costs upon you with no benefits to speak of? It would not be rational.

Putting it in context, in this case, what would the people get with the freedom that they chose to spend on this movie? Some use from it in the form of humour, a temporary escape from reality, some family bonding time. But this is inefficient if that is the case and it is not at all productive.

Considering that it is THE top-grossing film AND it didn’t have much substance (meaning that it provoked the minds of the audience to ask about something, give information, or just expose them to a bit of reality, if ever it did have one), 228, 000 people watched that movie and didn’t pick up much anything of value other than a bit of laughter and around two hours of their life, seeing two kids and a cast of grown-up actors cash in on their fame, and a bit of “family time” that could have been spent on much more than that. The opportunity cost of this movie is quite big, honestly.

Postulating that the average family size is 5, that would result in an average of Php. 1100 wasted, not to mention the food and drinks, the amount of time they spent waiting, reservation of tickets if they did, and the transport fees as well. It could have been allocated for cheaper and more educational, yet more efficient and worthwhile activities such as buying board games, going to a park for picnics, or something healthier at the very least.

And the worst part is, it is also a sunk cost; meaning that once you purchase the ticket, you run the risk of not being entertained at all with the movie you are about to watch because there is the custom of not allowing customers a refund in such transactions. So if you did not enjoy it, your loss. But even if you did enjoy, you missed out a lot on the other things you could have done instead. So if a temporary release from the humdrum life these people had is the reason why such films are made, people could do better.

But more than that, the said stars can be considered as influential in their own right; the mere fact that they were used to draw in crowds that hopefully translated into votes for the politicians that they campaigned for last 2013 prove that people do follow what they think.

The Danger of having this, in absolute terms, is that it hampers the critical thinking capacity of the people following the entity; instead of thinking for themselves, their thinking is done for them. Whoever these people endorse gets the votes of those they influence. But I guess that is the danger of democracy.

But more than that, those type of movies, as well as those commercials and game shows that he hosts makes a lot of class D-E citizens quite dependent on the idea of the “get rich-quick scheme” which doesn’t work and make them stop or even not consider working in the first place to improve their economic standing. We have A LOT of people with this mentality who would rather stake their wages on jueteng and other gambling games; we see this everyday on shows back then and now like “Wowowee” and “Eat Bulaga” who would sacrifice everything they have just to get to a game show that they have the slightest chance of winning, without having a backup plan to go back home if they do not win; people who would pray, and dream of that windfall instead of working for their goals and dreams. And when those dreams fail for the quarter of a million Filipinos close to the poverty line, they will resort to other means just to survive, like turn to crime if not continue the same cycle. And the worst part is, these people have no reason to change this, because they profit from it.

And since Kris and Vic are two of the stars with the most star power” so to speak in this scenario, it is logical for us to derive that a lot of people will follow what they say, or what they exhibit due to their “star power” being transmutable to influence over people.

Here lies the other danger: if these celebrities do continue in the same path, how can you, in turn expect a change of how people think? If these people think that their idol does not care about what those economic numbers really mean and how to improve them properly, and instead think how this product would make them feel young, thin; what they ate for breakfast and their bitter rivalries; or how Bimbi and Ryzza are so smart and appealing to the audience at a young age; then we would have a bigger bunch of people who either do not care how this country is managed because they are too focused on such matters, or worse, do not know how the process of bringing that change about happens because they are not exposed to the necessary information.

It is sad to think in such a way, but it is true. In your words, “anong inexpect natin?” Given the limited amount of information going around for the average Filipino that can be accessed with ease (such as turning the radio or the television; let’s face it, getting books even from your shelf AND reading it is a bother for some and expensive for most of us), one can expect nothing more than to follow what is flashed before their senses, because there is NOTHING ELSE available for their consumption that wouldn’t be too bothersome for them. Let’s face it, studying is hard, boring and tiresome for most of us; why would the average rational person be concerned with “The Concept of the State”, or “How Elections Truly Work” if it would not give them any benefit that can be used to feed their bellies?

In short, we would have people with good intentions, but are not armed with the needed tools to make it happen, because either there is no incentive, or they believe someone will do it for them. Or worse, people that are apathetic to our plight as a country.

Then, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: people want that type of entertainment, the actors with that capability, wishing then to maintain their hold on fame, churn out what they want instead of venturing unto other more productive things, such as churning more meaningful movies that the public should consume. This is what I believe is wrong in your analysis: we create our own monsters, so to speak.

That’s why Lourd de Veyra pointed that out. If we have more people exposed to move serious and thought-provoking movies right now instead of the stereotypical “mahirap vs. mayaman” and “problem-happy-ending” movies that are to cliche, then maybe, just maybe, we’d be a bit better off because these people can have the idea that everything is not black-and-white; and one must work hard for success. After all, movies can be very influential, since people nowadays would rather watch than read boring books; because it is after all, more convenient for your thinking is done for you.

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4 thoughts on “Of Rights and the Power of Movies: A Critique of a Reaction to My “Little Bossings””

  1. The media is a very powerful tool and movies are a good avenue which can be utilized to promote ideas and bold movements among the youth. We, as the next generation, must learn to critically scrutinize what is being shoved to the masses “faces”. It is also our task to share our thoughts and analysis regarding these types of shows, so that the un/misinformed among the masses can think about what they are watching and what ideologies are being promoted through these shows.

  2. I did not watch the movie simply because I knew from the trailer itself that this movie was made to make some profit. I am a fan of comedy films, but not like this film. They used huge names in the industry for them to attract moviegoers, but it just makes me sick that there are still people who make and watch these kind of movie. Movies should tease our minds to think critically and learn something, not to stock us with endless and pointless product endorsements.

  3. This strikes home on a lot of things one may criticize Philippine society of– and of course, the lot of them are interrelated. From the “starstruck” Filipino, manically following the fads derived from celebrities’ every move, to laughable content of most mainstream local film as well as other forms of media– one can perhaps assess an idiosyncrasy at the most fundamental and cultural level of society, something so deep-seated in the consciousness of a large portion of Philippine society. Of course, there is no immediate remedy for such maladies, but just for its resolution, crawling for it in the form of small but loud actions that shock the prevailing norm will never be a worthless endeavor.

  4. I never watched the movie but the comments of many people also encouraged me not ot watch it! WOW it was such a movie full of advertisement as they say. I hope Filipino directors would know that movies arent just for generating profit through maximizing the ad placements but also an opportunity for Filipino talent to be exposed.

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