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Monday, December 24, 2012

Questions For Future Beauty Contestants

Her answer didn't wow the judges enough.
(Courtesy of

Much has been made in the local press and social media of how our representative to the Miss Universe 2012 contest, Janine Tugonon, answered her "final question", and how she "should have won" over Miss USA for the coveted title of Ms. Universe. Yes, Filipinos love beauty contests - as evidenced by the intensity of the responses when Janine was announced as 1st runner-up.

Beauty contest answers are colloquially seen as a varition of a "standard" response that can be summarized in two words: World Peace. Janine actually answered very much in this vein with her question, not ruffling any feathers, and prevailing everyone to join hands, possibly for a rendition of Kumbaya, making this world a better place.

In an effort to shake things up and not make any answer predictable, may I suggest the following questions for future beauty pageants.

1. We now live in an age where women are world leaders and trailblazers. Given that, how do you think judging women on the basis of looks and a single question contributes to the women's movement?

2. Most people would agree that focusing on what's outside is focusing on the shallow. What does your participation in this contest say about you, you think?

3. Someone commented that the beauty industry makes billions in revenues by telling people "you're not good enough". How would you defend this contest in the face of this criticism?

4. How does this, and any other beauty contest, contribute to humanity?

5. If an alien race were to arrive and see this pageant first thing, what can they conclude about humanity?

6. Many kids and teenagers are bullied worldwide for having "imperfect looks" - buck teeth, large ears, overweight issues. What is your message to these young people?

7. Would you have considered competing for Ms. Universe if there were no cash prizes, modeling contracts, constant press presence and zero publicity?

8. An observation made about pageants like this is that it is no different from a wet T-shirt contest held in beaches everywhere. Do you consider them vastly different or essentially the same? What makes the Ms. Universe contest different?

9. Would you advise women who are genetically incapable of looking as "perfect" as you to get plastic surgery to approximate your looks, since any contestant here is seen as the ultimate gold standard in beauty?

10. If you believe that God made everyone perfect and a reflection of His image, would He approve of a contest like Ms. Universe, which basically is an admission that we are essentially unequal, and should be ranked by looks?

Now, how do I get these to Mr. Trump?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

20 Years After

My high school is having a reunion tonight, and I won't be there.

Aaah. Romy and Michelle.
(Courtesy of

Not because I don't want to go, but work-related concerns and deadlines are keeping me from leaving to join in what I imagine to be a lot of fun - and surprises.

Who here will admit that after 20 years, some of your high school classmates stunned you with how they turned out? Thanks to social media, we now get a peek into how everyone else is doing, and I will be the first to say some people surprised me - in a very good way.

Classmates and batchmates who I had dismissed as "coasting along" back in high school are now doing more than just quite well, some are excelling in fields generally recognized to be difficult to make a mark in. On the flip side, some people who were always expected to just be successful in whatever they chose to do ended up looking like they "lost their way".

It underscores something I've had to learn over and over again, never underestimate people and their willingness to change their lives. And for those people I sometimes looked up to, some of them just may "disappoint" from previously held expectations and prove to you that, like everyone else, they can be mortal, prone to the dreaded word called failures.

Everyone will be a work-in-progress until our last breath.

Everyday is a chance to either say I'm better than this, I will make this day count, instead of counting the days and asking where the time went because nothing seems to be happening.

My hope for everyone in my batch is that, regardless of where we find ourselves 20 years after, we are a little wiser, bruised by life and how its' promise can sometimes be blunted by the harshness of reality, and have relaxed from our rigid misconceptions growing up that there is only one way of doing things, or that there is only a single road to success, however we all individually define it.

But most of all, I hope everyone has found some measure of happiness.

The Sandy Hook school massacre, the recent deaths from Pablo and countless other events this year alone underscores one fact: sometimes, the unexpectedness of life is characterized by brutality, cruelty and outright senselessness, it becomes imperative that we eke out a little corner, alone or with loved ones, to validate our being here, somehow alive, and manage to not give in to despair and destruction that seems to be never ending and all around us.

And we laugh. Laugh at ourselves, laugh at the silly mistakes - true, some of them weren't silly at all -  and recognize that the only way we can give despair the finger is by enjoying the ride, staring it in its' face and saying, "no, you are not breaking me or my spirit down today."

We have lost some people - good, decent people - along the way. I don't mean metaphorically, but literally lost to us, unable to say "we made it to the 20th!". Let's remember them, and may this give us the realization that everyday is really a gift.

While we breathe, we can still do something with our lives. Let's make it count.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do They Just Hate Women?

Remember when there was a brouhaha about male athletes or models in skimpy underwear, plastered on large billboards along EDSA? There was a politician or lawyer who raised a stink about it, claiming that his child or nephew/niece "complained" about the spectacle and that's why he was also doing his part in having it taken down.

Fast forward to the amendment proposed yesterday by Sen. Sotto, about removing the phrase "safe and satisfying sex". He made the case about how our culture is supposedly "unique" and that we are largely "conservative".

(See for more of the senator's statements.)

Sotto, a known opponent of the RH Bill, was an entertainer long before he entered politics. In fact, he still hosts the noontime show Eat Bulaga (I imagine on an irregular basis if he is supposed to be a legislator - something I've tackled in previous posts, government service being a full time job and not a "hobby") so I find it curious that this picture is now circulating over Facebook, a shot of what transpires in the said show.

Are we redefining "conservative"?
(Courtesy of the Facebook photo/page of Keisi Casey)

Juxtaposed after Sotto's claims that we have a "conservative" culture, it becomes laughable because his continued presence in this show lends it an air of acceptability - and his tacit approval - as far as his moral code is concerned, akin to having an animal rights activist going to a show honoring the best fur designers.

If he is such a "conservative" advocate, why isn't he railing against Viagra?

Why doesn't he propose laws that would close down all girly bars in the country?

Why doesn't he propose laws that would ban skimpy clothing on dancers in local shows?

And yet, the first sign that women can express that they are not satisfied with sex sends him into a tailspin and twists his boxers - or briefs - into such knots that he wants to make amendments banning that very phrase.

Which shouldn't be surprising because he is against a bill that would allow anyone, especially the poor and women, to have correct, factual and scientific knowledge regarding reproductive health as well as the means to access them, empowering women to decide regarding their own bodies, mindful of their economic status and their religious convictions.

Tying these two men together - the politician/lawyer complaining about men in skimpy underwear ads as well as Sen. Sotto calling our culture "conservative" - is a mysogynistic streak. One that is silent when women are objectified, made to dress in almost nothing and gyrating for "entertainment". 

A deafening silence when the pleasures of (straight) men, in the form of  bars and lingerie ads and other such "delights", are questioned.  

And all of a sudden becoming shrill - something I imagine they would lovingly label the women who complain in any way - whenever men are forced to respect a woman's decision and choice, or when men are being objectified the way women have been treated for centuries by a culture that has largely been dictated upon by (straight) men.

They are okay if women parade in their panties on national TV, in billboards, and have no say regarding their own bodies and reproductive health, but heaven forbid there be men in almost nothing on print ads or if women can be on equal footing with men in making decisions.

Do they really hate women that much?

Thursday, December 13, 2012


That, in capsule form, is what I felt hearing our legislators defend their opposition to the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill until the wee hours this morning.

That's your defense?
(Courtesy of

I must say, though, their "defense" kept me awake, for all the wrong, and patently hilarious reasons.

The first one that grabbed my attention was from Rep. Almario, who wanted in essence to send Filipinos to every part of the world, and maybe, in her lifetime, see this planet "Filipinized".

And I thought one of the charges of the anti-RH camp was that approving the bill would mean "Western" domination of our laws. Tayo pala ang may planong sakupin ang mundo, Rep. Almario? And what does that even mean, "Filipinize"? Is this some hommage to ethnic cleansing, popularized by that moustached man from Germany?

And who could miss the pronouncement of recently defeated boxer Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who claimed that because of his recent bout with Marquez in Las Vegas, it strengthened his resolve for the sanctity of life...could the boxer/representative still be reeling from that fateful, devastating punch that Marquez used to decide the outcome of their match?

To use current vernacular jargon, nasaan ang konek?

What does his decisive loss have to do with the "sanctity of life"? How does boxing even come close to the concept, when the entire fighting profession is built on the idea of beating another man black and blue, with money exchanging hands and crowds cheering for more blood? Where's the "sanctity" in this scenario? After we teach our children that violence is wrong, we cheer on Manny trading blows, and he thinks it's somehow because of "sanctity"?

And, unless we forget it, we are a "Catholic country" - we must be, since an overwhelming majority of these legislators used this particular concept as their defense.

"The bishops guide us."
"We're going against the (Roman Catholic) Church."
"I cannot turn my back on my (Catholic) religion."

These are essentially what they are saying - maybe not in those exact words - but yes, they claim these, which effectively means we are now a theocracy, not a democracy.

What a sad day for democracy, when the right to choose one's religion is spat on by our own lawmakers.

When our very own Congress goes against the very document that founded its existence, the Constitution, that proclaims the separation of state and church to be "inviolable".

When they attempt to make everyone Catholic by force - let's call it what it is, because that is the effect of legislating Catholic teachings and belief into our SECULAR laws.

I do not want to be hearing from these particular legislators how bad it is for people in Afghanistan, where people can be executed - justifiably - for offending the state religion. They shouldn't cluck their tongues when they hear of Female Genital Mutilation in certain parts of the world who insist on the barbaric practice because "it's a part of our religion!". They are just as equally guilty of enforcing, or wanting to enforce, a state religion, if they had won last night.

And then there were the sob stories: about how a legislator had trouble conceiving with his wife. About how, even after using the pill, a legislator went on to have many children. Or how it was a lawmaker's parents' dying wish. And the ones that go back, all the way to the baptism of their first child.

Excuse me, what is this, Dregs Of Our Lives? 

Why am I seeing a telenovela, or worse, a series of mini-telenovelas, being discussed by Congress and why are legislators acting like scriptwriters pitching for a storyboard?

Pati ba naman sa Kongreso, may drama dramahan na?

But just as my attention was starting to wane, my mind went into full salute when I started to hear a prayer being uttered by Rep. Syjuco as his "explanation" for opposing the bill. As a non-Catholic, I had to rely on what people online were saying, and that Syjuco (from what I could gather) was praying either the rosary or the Apostle's is this relevant to ME? And to the millions of other people of this archipelago who do not claim to be Catholic?

Is that what passes for intelligent discourse from our honorable legislators?

I had hoped that with so much time and energy having been expended on this bill - which, to my mind, was mostly needless if they had just put this immediately to a vote and not wasted so much effort trying to prevent it from being voten upon, and quite noticeably, even if the amendments from the bloc opposing it were inserted, they still ended up voting No - that we would see better arguments from our supposed representatives as to why they voted in the negative.

Instead, Congress was mistaken for being a branch of the Catholic Church.

No, anti RH legislators, you do not get to hijack the laws of this land to suit your religious preference. There is no "religious oppression" against you, the CBCP and Catholicism. On the contrary, it is you who continue to disrespect the right of each citizen to choose their own beliefs, and would like to see nothing more than a Catholic theocracy come into fruition, a fact that those in the hierarchy do not even bother hiding as their most desperate desire, claiming this country to be the "only Catholic nation in Southeast Asia!"

We could have done away with nominal voting. You could have given authentic, valid and factual reasons to oppose the bill. Instead, you chose to use the most winding of roads, leaving me and many others feeling the same way even before the debates began:


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Day I Officially Became A Bully

I'm now the guy on the left?
(Courtesy of

Let me start off by saying that bullying is a serious, serious offense, one that can cause devastating effects. Whether it is of the physical, or emotional variety, it is unacceptable, and reflects more on the perpetrator than the victim. As a minority, I know fully well what it's like to be on the receiving end of this act.

With that said (and hopefully clearly stating where I stand in it), this is, thankfully, a humor piece.

Many of those who know me personally can characterize me by many things, but one "standout" fact is that I seem to be challenged where the vernacular is concerned, a fact I readily admit. Even back in the day, one of my most hated test items was when I had to choose between hulihin, ihuhuli  and huhuliin, and the Filipino subject in school was always my Waterloo. Whether it was the definition, the usage, the accent, or the emphasis, I seem to make it my goal (unintentionally) to make others laugh when I speak in Tagalog.

I "blame" that squarely on my mom, who penalized us at home for ever speaking Tagalog (we had to pay one peso to her for every Tagalog word spoken). She was determined to make us excellent English communicators, so the only languages "allowed" at home were English and Chinese. So it's no surprise that I am at ease with English, which brings us to how I was accused of doing something I am against.

Yes, someone actually pointed a finger at me and called me a bully.

And how did I manifest this? By speaking in English.

A disclaimer: I don't have an "American accent", the way employees of call centers say it, even though they are off duty, and giving their fare to the jeepney driver. (True story: a friend of mine witnessed a just-off-work call center agent, with her ID card still on her neck, saying "Mama, here's my bayad, I'm going to Kyey-Poh! (Quiapo)" which prompted everyone else in the jeep to look at her.)

Excuse me, but if you feel inadequate about your own mastery of English, don't turn around and say "Eh, sya eh! Nam-bu-bully sya!"

When I heard this accusation thrown at me, I swear time stood still, and the words no, this isn't really happening, this is a weird space-time gap I have fallen through formed in my head, but when I saw the other people in that conversation look at me, and we all had the same expression that said what the hell is this moron smoking, I was, for once, glad that stupidity was the minority in that group of people.

I somehow raised my jaw from the floor, only to do a shrug, with a look that I will admit must have reeked of condescension. My accuser squeaked in a "Bully!" before someone else spoke up: "Wait, wait, how is he being a bully? I don't get it."

"Eh, kasi! Gagamit gamit sya ng English!"

Silence from everyone in the group.

"Hindi ko sya maintindihan no! Kung ano man yung mga terms na ginagamit niya, kailangan ko pa minsan hanapin sa dictionary, sinasadya nya yan! Sigurado ako! Sinasadya nya para di ko sya maintindihan!"

This time, everyone else's jaws dropped to the floor, and I decided to end it - not for my accuser, haha, but because I had no time to waste on buffoons who are afflicted with low self-esteem and mataas na pagtingin sa sarili at the same time.

"Look, if you're mad or feel left out, because someone else speaks in English, blame it on the education you received. While you're at it, blame your parents for sending you to a school that allowed you to exit their corridors without ensuring that would be competent enough to be in the workforce, one that uses English on a daily basis."

What is laughably infuriating is that I would never dream of accusing anyone who spoke to me in malalim na Tagalog that s/he was bullying me, I would take that as a challenge to try to understand what it is I just heard (I usually stop the person right at that moment and say "I'm sorry, I really didn't understand the last word you said, what does that mean?") 

So, that's how I came to be known as a bully.

The one and only time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Worst Diet Possible

Which makes sense, because this is one of the worst conditions anyone can have. This picture pretty much "crystallizes" my current condition.

Parties? What parties?
(Courtesy of

Now, on to that horrid diet.

One that disallows the usual suspects: lechon, anything beef-related (which pretty much rules out any kind of steak and especially bulalo), palabok, chicken skin, peanuts, chicharon and any and all internal organs (which thankfully I'm not a fan of, so it seems like no great sacrifice).

That staple of Filipino celebrations - nada.
(Courtesy of

The above list seems like a "normal" list of things to avoid if you went to a cardiologist. And here's where the infuriating part comes in.

If you had a heart condition, I am guessing a doctor would encourage the following items: vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflowers; seafoods like tuna, sardines, salmon, and shrimps; alternative protein sources like legumes and soy products, in place of meat and animal products.

These are evil?
(Courtesy of

Guess what? These items, traditionally considered as healthy choices, are also prohibited in my current diet.

Welcome to the wonderful world of gout.

Did I say wonderful? I meant despicable.

How else would you describe a pain so sensitive, that the mere wind from a passing breeze or the brush of a blanket can render you unable to move and shedding bitter tears? If there was a candidate for which pain could possibly compete with a toothache - long considered the "worst" kind of pain in some circles so as to immobilize you - this would be it.

So, I'm barred from the good things (good for health and heart), as well as the "good" things (the ones that could block your arteries but make you smile ingesting them).

A diet that lumps bean sprouts and consomme in the same category as fatty loin of pork and roast beef.

So, if I'm extra ornery and irritable, you have been warned.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Theology Of Mommy D.

Judgement from above?
(Courtesy of

Hours before the fight of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez, I read an article in Rappler that highlighted one of the biggest changes in Manny's pre-fight rituals: he no longer went to a Catholic Mass, but instead went to a Christian service, highlighting his change of religious allegiance.


Even before I finished the first paragraph, a singular thought already formed in my mind: If Manny loses, I can imagine some quarters blaming this change of faith to be the "culprit".

I'm not sure if I can even derive some measure of satisfaction from being right.

True enough, after the country collectively gasped when Manny was knocked down,  consequently losing the match, it took mere moments before I started seeing posts in social media with my prediction:

"Hindi kasi nag sign of the cross!"

"If only he remained loyal to the Catholic faith, he would have won."

"Ayan, pinarusahan ng Diyos kasi tinalikuran niya ang Simbahang Katoliko!"

It's easy enough to dismiss these remarks as detached commentaries from what my friend, journalist Alan Robles, calls "Katolitrolls" (religious zealots of the Catholic faith, characterized by intolerance to other faiths and expressing this every way they can), appropriating for themselves some pecuiliar "moral authority".

And then Mommy D. spoke.

Mommy D. is, of course, Manny's mother, also known as Aling Dionesia, a celebrity by osmosis. (Although, from what I have seen, her "entertainment value" seems to be personally evoked, needing only her son to introduce her to the public, and taking it from there all by her lonesome.) As she was interviewed right after Manny's loss, she minced no words in assessing the reason why her son lost.

"That's what he gets for changing religion. Since the Protestant pastors came into his life, he had not focused on his boxing. They always prayed, with Manny losing sleep."

"I hope he listens to me when he returns and be a Catholic again."


A problematic position to take, if we are to tackle these questions:

1. Juan Miguel Marquez has been a consistent Catholic, why has he never won against Manny until now?

2. As a legislator, Rep. Pacquiao has been steadfastly anti RH Bill. Recently, a bishop floated the idea (without categorically stating, which seems to be a manifestation of a sterling "Filipino mechanism", magparinig) that typhoon Pablo, which killed hundreds of people, was due to the bill being discussed in Congress. Using that same "logic" - where God is seen as expressing displeasure at those who support the bill - what could God be "implying" by making Pacquiao lose?

3. If the loss was because of his religion - also implying that it is the "wrong faith" - how come there are many "successful" religious leaders who practice the same religion? And by success, I mean they head large organizations, have a sizeable amount of followers, and if the American versions of this religion are to be the standard, wield considerable wealth which has been criticized as being used to influence secular legislation there?

4. If all boxers turn Catholic, who loses? (tangent to question 1)

5. I have heard of a local priest say that his faith disapproves of violence, alluding to the sport of boxing as being "not favored" by Catholicism. Should his view prevail, or Mommy D.'s, who gave birth to the Pambansang Kamao, traffic exterminator, archipelago time-stopper and the definitive rags-to-riches story of this country?

Until these questions are answered, Pacquiao has a plethora of career options to choose from. But will these also suffer the same fate if he does not revert back to Catholicism?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Petty Weather Report

Divine forecasting?
(Courtesy of

Brought to you by the most ardent factions who oppose the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. And, by ardent, I mean " were serious?"

As the country is starting to feel the effects of typhoon Pablo, (some) opponents of the RH Bill have revived their wistful theory: the meteorological phenomenon is actually "God's" response to the RH Bill being so dangerously close to passing, or at least being brought into a vote.

The reason I put it in quotes is because, quite frankly, there are some obvious problems and questions if we are to proceed from this premise.

(1) A god who is into micromanaging strikes me as silly, to say the least. Shouldn't he at least have some lower-level demigods to do the nitty-gritty?

(2) Why doesn't this god just wipe out the people who support the bill? The unsaid assumption is that this god is so powerful so as to conjure up weather disturbances when something displeases him - why not strike directly at the humans who dared to "defy" him? Bakit nagpapaligoy pa? Could it be...that this god is also Filipino, and cannot say and do things directly, being saddled with the cultural value called hiya?

(3) If you have to destroy vast areas of land, uproot various living beings from where they are, and cause countless deaths just to make a point, doesn't that reek of inefficiency? Granted, the drama factor is high - and this being the place where telenovelas make a killing, both in advertising earnings and the national IQ, it seems apt to use the "showtime" card. But from a business point of view, there are better, smarter ways of solving the problem.

(4) This country, by virtue of its location, is lovingly visited by about twenty typhoons, each year, every year, without fail. All one needs to do is research for historical records for proof of this annual occurence. This year, the RH Bill gained some kind of "movement" in Congress in August - when this "God is angry, here's a typhoon" theory was circulating in social media - and, just this December, when the President made it known that he wanted a vote on the matter. That's 2 out of 20 typhoons. Question: in the 18 other times a typhoon hit the country, when the RH Bill was not "moving", which implies that the anti-RH side was getting their way, why did this same god still send these typhoons?...Anyone?

(5) If this god deems this issue of great import, why does he have funny looking and speaking representatives broadcasting his "wishes"? You would think that credibility would be of paramount consideration here.

(6) The typhoon is expected to move out of the country by the end of this week, plauging other places as it goes on (its expected, natural course). Question: bakit nadamay ang mga ibang bansa sa RH Bill natin? Ang labo naman.

(7) Why do we bother investing in weather forecasting equipment? If this theory is true, then we know all we need to know to have eternal sunshine-filled weather.

(8) Speaking of other countries, an oft-repeated statement circulating is that we are the only country in the world without a nationally encompassing reproductive health legislation in the world. If this is true, how come there are places in the world that never see typhoons?

(9) Abortion, modern contraception, divorce: all three are legal in Italy. In totally unrelated news, it's also where Vatican City is located.

(10) If you think I'm acting irreverent and petty, you're mistaking your own projection of your god as something of my own doing. Frankly, I'd be insulted to be portrayed and thought of as a god who got overtly and overly concerned with trivialities.

Get a mirror, get a grip and get a life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let's Celebrate Our Choices

Enter freely and willingly.
(Courtesy of

A recent post in Facebook got me to thinking about life choices.

In a "status update" of  a page I "liked", the moderator opened the topic of the opposition to same-sex marriage, with the common objection being that "you can't reproduce!" and because the page had an admittedly liberal slant, the reactions of everyone were more or less the same: not having children, whether by circumstance or choice, is not an acceptable reason to deny people marriage.

I am sure that those with a conservative bent have the completely opposite view: isn't that the reason why the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was instituted? That the reason why marriage is supposed to be "only" between a man and a woman is because the supposed end goal of the union is to produce offspring.

The subject of children is a particularly touchy one in a country like ours, where we see ourselves as pro-family, pro-child and matriarchal. Our entire culture is such that when young adults reach a certain age - if you've managed to escape having a teenage pregnancy - everything around us seems to conspire and pressure one message: hindi ka na bata, magpakasal ka na para magkaroon ka na ng anak. (You're not getting any younger, get hitched and make babies already!)

We have conflated and confused the terms marriage and parenthood.

The uncomfortable truth is, one can exist without the other. A marriage does not have to produce children. And you do not have to be married in order to bask and cringe, simultaneously, at the experience of parenthood.

I've always held marriage to be a legal contract, probably in opposition to what most people "dream" of it to be. An understanding to cohabit, make a home, be with each other, for purposes of getting legal benefits and protections. Which gives rise to yet another uncomfortable truth.

Having children is optional.

I've heard the arguments that try to shame this state in marriages: "you're afraid of responsibility"; "who will take care of you when you grow old?"; "how can you be so selfish?" and the proverbial mainstay, "do not go against the natural order, what God wants!"

After years of hearing these kinds of "arguments", it might be helpful for the next person to ever bring them up to remember that:

(1) I am responsible for my life, you for yours.
(2) We should take care of ourselves, period.
(3) Having children when you don't want them is selfish, just to satisfy some cultural expectation, or to have a "caretaker" is the real selfish thing.
(4) Your religion is your choice. Mind your own beeswax.

We certainly have a propensity to makialam. (get into someone's business) That goes for both the personal (parents asking when the baby is due) or the political (religious leaders telling our President what to do). If we are truly supposed to make our own choices in our own lives, then it is time that we draw a line in the sand, cut the umbilical cord, however that is manifested, and stand by our own decisions.

No one said that independence was easy. But it is worth it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


What talent?
(Courtesy of


That, in summary, is what is shown on our noontime variety shows daily.

That, in its distilled, purest form, is what we have for "entertainment". I find it offensive, on behalf of real artists and performers everywhere, to see these abominable acts parade and present themselves as something worthy of emulation.

Let's get one thing clear, though: Almost all of these "performers" riding the noontime circuit (and even the early evening variety) are of the physically superior variety. They have alabaster, smooth skin, long black "silky" hair (as most shampoo commercials tout this word to be the pinnacle of hair perfection), a body that can balance coins while in an upright position; on the men, incredibly bulging pecs that would make women have breast envy, an ability to landi (flirt) every other woman, man and inanimate object if need be, and embracing their new position as today's "sexual objects", thinking that it enhances their macho image.

In fact, that is the only card they have.

Who cares if they can't sing, or reach notes so convoluted that it sends cute little bunnies into homicidal tendencies?

Who cares if their version of "acting" is an endless homage to Kristen Stewart, she who is routinely ridiculed as having one expression regardless of what the scene requires her to portray, and is seen as the ultimate master of the term "poker face"?

Who cares if they think dancing is a "cute" way to "move", and resort to motions that should never be seen on individuals past 4 years old, or are so spatially challenged that they would make Stephen Hawking look like a serious contender for this season's So You Think You Can Dance? (one of the few reality shows that values talent over looks)

What these shows demand is that you strip, and you better have excellent bone structure to go along with it. And if it came into a showdown between body and looks, it's no problem if your looks betray your simian heritage, as long as your body can make gods weep.

Talent, schmalent.

People who can actually sing, act or dance are given the boot, or aren't even allowed in the front door so the boot can be administered, all because a "hot thing" professes a desire to cut a record deal or gyrate lasciviously "but innocently".

Why the hell do you think reality shows are all about following you around, 24 hours a day, even in the shower or in your nighties? What matters is how your body, then face, appears from all angles of the ever-present camera.

What we have become is a culture that celebrates genetic fortuitousness.

There is no longer any initiative, no impetus to find real talent, and to nurture the talent itself as well as the work ethic to make that talent come into its full potential.

In place, we have "talent shows" that determine the winner based on "text voting", a way for companies to earn money while determining mass appeal, at the audience's expense.

We certainly get what we pay for.