Monday, June 7, 2010

Daily Report: Aureation

Ednel and I tried to make our Filipino / Tex-Mex chili again... but it has kidney beans in it, which is sort of a New England thing, I'm told... but then we added in leftover elbow noodles to make kind of a Hungarian goulash. Then we served this macaronic dish on hot dog buns that we had custom ordered at Ron's bakery in sort of a Sloppy Joe kind of thing. And damn it was tasty.

I'm trying to get myself revved up for the World Cup. (Did you know that the only 2 FIFA countries — essentially every country on earth — who didn't field teams for the World Cup were Laos and The Philippines?) I'm going to root mainly for my two usual countries: Brasil and the U.S. Other than that, I'll just root for good play. I assume that the games will be broadcast here. The South African day games will obviously air in the late evening; the night games I'll have to miss.

Pinoy Big Brother is once again airing another 3-month stint. There are four new episodes per day, airing in the morning, afternoon, evening, and at midnight, one hour at a time (plus news updates throughout the day). This country is obsessed with this show. Epril and her sisters laugh and laugh at the banter and Stupid Human Tricks, sounding for the most part like newspapers squeaking window cleaner on glass. Then they squeal with delight as two of the house characters move a step closer to romantic involvement. Americans haven't enjoyed a program like this since Ed Sullivan; no wonder ABS-CBN dedicates the majority of their programming focus to this nonsense: Give the people what they want.

The same goes for The World's Worst Program, which is on for 16 hours every Sunday: "ASAP", which stands for "Annoying Simpletons Attempting to Perform". This is when ABS-CBN takes the shrink wrap off their shiny new (and cosmetically flawless) faces of the day, teaches them whatever dance moves their limited minds allow them to remember, and then sends them out on stage to lip synch for a few minutes (to the unhinged cheers of a live audience who don't know better). Every 2 or 3 hours, they send out an actual performer with actual talent to perform actual music (I think... but I don't have the patience to wait around for it).

Really though, the show just represents the worst aspects of the Filipino Entertainment Industry: "If you look good, that's all you need. We'll provide you the talent. We'll take care of making you famous." Again, Filipinos just love it: they live to worship their empty-headed beautiful celebrities, whoever ABS-CBN tells them that is — they won't argue.

I'm reminded of the movie "The Aviator" when Howard Hughes contemptuously looks at Lauren Bacall (probably the most famous celebrity in the world at the time) and says, "You're nothing but a Hollywood actress." A century ago, actors used to be the lowest class of person in society — barely above the homeless and prostitutes — essentially because they offered nothing of value to society. (The playwrights wrote the plays; actors were considered nothing more than a playwright's puppets... stage props with pulses.) But now actors (and, even worse: models) are this society's apotheosis, its most important voices, its role models. Scientists, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers, thinkers... nobody knows these people, nobody considers them important.

Sad. Populism helped destroy Rome. It's starting it's destructive work in America. Here in The Philippines, it's like feeding toddlers nothing but chocolate and lemon drops: A guarantee that as few people as possible focus on the things that really help them in life. A guarantee that they all remain stage props with pulses.

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