Thursday, 19 June 2014

"A message betrayed"

"A message betrayed"

(Or how mass media actually used the mass audience 
contrary to the words "demands of the market")

It seems that most people had been watching heavy dramas after arriving home at night. 

Mostly consists of adultery, slapping, and late coming of policemen, the usual format of heavy drama shows seemed to be same as in the past yet this time trying to be at least realistic courtesy of directors, scriptwriters, and producers whom are trying to gain ratings and artists with outmost popularity when it comes to their actions. 

To most people, it would been a breakthrough knowing that they are accustomed to heavy drama every evening, especially after dinner and before watching the late night news. But to others, it seemed to be annoying especially that every year two warring channels had showed much heavy dramas while foreign ones trying to emulate are those of adventure, if not forensic and fictionalized accounts in an historical setting. The Philippines had experimented with those but again they had injected heavily the sensibilities been accustomed to, especially those of love and relationships, fatalism, and other recognizable traits some Filipinos felt got sick and tired of. 

So is in Movies in which most producers had used the mass audience, in showing their accustomed movies whether it is comedy or drama. And as expected, it had disregard taste all in favor of the "demands of the market", knowing that showbusiness is a profit-generating venture of media conglomerates of today. 

In fact, both TV and Movies shared the same idea of being "corny", "exaggerated", "nonsense" yet at the same time "lucrative". People had gone accustomed to watch Vice Ganda or Kris Aquino, and most had gone irritated knowing that there are no more shows in the Philippines to watch of other than those being shown in cable TV while mediamen insist that people had liked their exaggerations so much no matter how exaggerate or corny their moves. 

But again, those whom engage in the media industry, whether it is TV or Film thinks of these as business, and worse, they had to face the demands of the market that are actually demands of the few whose intention is to condition people than the people themselves. People may had expressed anything but not in an exaggerated tone as most depictions do, while media enthusiasts, especially those of writers, directors, artists, and producers ought to educate the senses of its audience rather than unjustly giving canned ones and describing that the mass audience demands it, yet actually it isn't. How wonder there are few or no shows that inculcate value of labor, knowledge, buildinh character and gaining consciousness, and instead promoting pseudo-welfare and shit such as those of talent shows like those of Willie Revillame and others in mainstream television and movies. This shows that it is exploitng the mass audience rather than what producers had been thinking of why they do so.

Anyways, here is the speech coming from, sorry to say, former First Lady Imelda Marcos to the members of Philippine Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) in then-Manila Hilton in mid 70s. and here it goes:

"Film making is not just an art, it is also a business. More often than not, aesthetic standards conflict with the demands of the market. A mass audience can't be unpredictable and cruel. It can consign a great film artist to oblivion or catapult a mediocre one to riches and popularity. 

This situation is a difficulty to be surmounted, a problem to be solves, rather than a hopeless taste of affairs to which everyone must resign himself.

The film, it has been said, is the art of the twentieth century. What is potent about it is its power of directness and compression so that a novel or story can be projected in all its sensuality, often only in an hour or two.

The film has its artistic inclinations, to be sure, but its impact on our minds, our empitions, is instantly overwhelming. For this reason, the film is a powerful mirror of nature. And for that reason too, it can be false and untrue, demeaning and distorted. It can be mislead the stranger into having a false or unflattering idea of ourselves and the values we live by.

It is true, of course, that many motion picture, whether made here or abroad, are considered trash. Only a few reach out for the possibilities of film as art, of film as social commentary, or film as the effective projector of the image of himanity as Westerner, Asian, or Filipino. The mission, it seems to me, is to project the authentic image of the Filipino, to transmute into living art his genuine longings and aspirations, his joys, and even his sufferings.

I can no longer accept the idea that the Filipino is frivolous, for example, or that the audience for films- the much derided mass audienceis too ignorant or indifferent to appreciate productions which follow the timeless dictum of all art: the exaltation of the human spirit.

We would like to see films of our native epics, portrayals of our native soul. Dramatizations of our authentic lives as individuals and as a people. Some of us have been fond of saying that these are the films which do not make money because they are too complex for the mass audience. There can be some disagreement about this. If the film is clear and honest, if the dialouge rings true to life, if the emotions are genuine rather than faked, our masses will understand. Moreover, it is the duty of any man who tries to avail himself of media-especially the motion picutr which directly appeals to the senses-to see to it that his audience is enriched rather than impoverished by the experience.

Indeed, a mass audience cannot become "Shakespearean" enthusiasts overnight. But a beginning must be made. A true artist educates the senses of his audience. A producer of films, even with one eye or both eyes on the box office, should be able to discern what is commercially rewarding within the bounds of art and good taste, he should not sacrifice these values on the altar of Mammon.

At a time when the eyes of the world are upon us, at the time when we are embarked on the task of regeneration through discipline, the challenge begins with our arts and our artists. Let us not, therefore, betray this vision. Let us be worthy of it."

At first, Sorry to use Marcos and her speech, as in her full copy of her speech from the book "A Compassionate society" as a reference conerning Film as an art, for it was during Martial law when the system had at first tried to use Cinema, just like TV, Radio, and Print to be used as one of propaganda mediums and yet only to turn things different. And actually, there are movies being made that showcases new society propaganda such as those of "Dugo at Pagibig sa Kapirasong Lupa" that showcases an all-star cast. Quite historical knowing that it showcased the exploits of the Filipino in its hardships from the Spanish regime to pre-Martial Rule, yet the concusion ends up with promoting the "New Society" and its illusion of regeneration the Marcoses had insisted. 

However, not all movies being made those times are concieved as propaganda pieces like what this writer had stated, for most of which were made by production companies whose interest is to cater mass audience the usual ones such as Comedy or Drama. A few directors had dare to include radicalism and even afford to evade censors their works citing art, with social realism as its reference.

That somehow made the former First Lady least "right" that it had shown the Filipino, whether it is in a form of comedy, drama, or a social commentary its longings, aspirations, joys, and even sufferings. While on the side of directors, especially those whose craft is its extension of their causes, a means to express their messages partly hidden in a form of the artist's dialouge, gesture, or even the setting where the story being taken place. One would wonder why "Sister Stella L." Was shown to the populace despite its radically-charged message, that "Manila by Night" was also being shown despite changing its name as "City after dark." People had somehow understand the message of those movies, knowing that it had reflected reality by those whom using their craft as a means to convey their struggle such as civil rights, or to the maximum, national liberation.

And this writer would like to think that if Imelda had said so, about showing the Filipino its emotions and realities, then how come "Sakada" of Behn Cervantes didn't shown? Of Orapronobis? Dukot? And Bente? These movies had shown the truth that the system tries to hid so much knowing that they did their share in making their crimes against the people. The latter had shown its longings, aspirations, joys, and sufferings only to be blocked, harassed, coerced by the order that ironically speaks those words.

Nowadays, cinema, like TV, Radio, and Print is largely being dictated by interest, it had transmitted rather an exaggeration, a canned piece being peddled using "mass audience" as its alibi. And even those of "Independent" movies are being exaggerated by those whose intention is merely to join Cannes and any other international film festival rather than conveying a solid, thought-provoking message; much more that those "Indies" are being dictated by producers who are also in the mainstream scene.  

And hence, did these directors really made an artwork? Maybe, or maybe not. Actually, they had sacrificed themselves to fame than transmitting a message save those whom emphasising the latter than those of the former. They had depicted reality, but actually they didn't provide like what late directors Brocka or Bernal had took time in making a masterpiece. And film festivals such as those of Metro Manila had emphasised a dozen number of audiences in every cinema than the message, the quality of the film given. How come a movie starring Kris Aquino, Vic Sotto, or Vice Ganda had won rather than those of George Estregan jr? Save for those that are made in 1980s to early 2000s, this writer would say that those are in mainstream scene were good and hence provoking nostalgia to most audiences as compared to today's shitty, trying hard ones. Actually, media conglomerates had rather used the mass audience than letting the mass audience dictate regardless of saying phrases like  "demands of the market."

And these people, unnoticingly had sacrificed those values to the altar of Mammon as they emphasised profit over craft, of winning the prize than conveying a message. No wonder why those deemed crappy are the ones who won the prize, art has been negated in favor of the market. Right are those whom saying that old movies are at least having enough sense than nowadays that actually using the mass audience for the benefit of the few. Heavy dramas in Channels 2 and 7 been largely emphasied while other countries had focused on CSI if not Game of Thrones and any other series, including those of historical dramas from Korea. A few would still yearn for "Abangan ang susunod na Kabanata" and "Palibhasa Lalake", citing that they are tired of crying.

Anyways, there's hope for those whom chose to understand especially from a true artist who at first educates and at the same time entertains. No matter how few it is but still willing to understand for not all can become "Shakespearean" enthusiasts overnight. 

Perhaps, its up to the directors, to the producers, and the audience on how to really express somehting that is beyond the parameters of nonsense and exaggeration. Not all things profitable are with sense, nor with reason at all.

For what had anyone sees of is a betrayal of a message that was made years ago.