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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Importance Of Being Anne

Anne Curtis has been taking a beating in social media (where her fans have been mightily defending her) in the, uhm, aftermath of her followup headlining concert. Much of the criticisms leveled her way has to do with her 'audacity' to pass off herself as a bona fide singer - in a country where Miss Saigon herself, Ms. Lea Salonga, once intimated was difficult to perform in front of, since almost everyone can sing.

I confess: I had 'liberal' guilt as I was thinking about the public reaction to Anne.

As a former chain smoker (it's been well over a decade since I last puffed my last stick), I would certainly be a 6 on a 7-point scale on the conservative-liberal spectrum. This is why I have no issue with people who light up, even if studies have conclusively proven cigarettes as harmful: you're an adult, you just have to accept the consequences of your choices.

And while I am not considering bunjee jumping this very moment, anyone else is free to do it. The possibility of death is there, but for thrill seekers, the rush outweighs the cost (and statistically, they would be right to discard the latter). Before you jump on my throat and say it is illogical to think of smoking and bunjee jumping on the same terms, my emphasis here is that as long as (1) one accepts the consequences if anything untoward happens and (2) as long as the only 'victim' is yourself, then you can smoke and bunjee jump - and even do them simultaneously - for all I care.

The reason my 'liberal' guilt came up is that, in the Anne Curtis scenario, she satisfies all those points.

First, I think it's clear with how she calls herself or her events - Anne-bisyosa (a play on ambisyosa or ambitious, with her name worked into it) or Anne-kapal (playing off ang kapal, or having a thick hide), that she doesn't think of herself as a singer. If anything, she actually uses the self-denigration card to charm her fans, and they eat it up.

She can't sing, her fans know it, and they're willing to cough up 5,000 pesos to see her prove that she can't sing. (Her own fans have dubbed her "The Noise of the Philippines" - see this article to read more.)

She didn't strap me down and force me to watch her concert.

Entertaining her heart out.
(Courtesy of

The people who watched her concert used their own money, they didn't take it out of my wallet. True, as a financial advisor, I would rather they put the 5,000 pesos to better use - in their savings or investments - but all I can do is advise, the decision still falls on the individual.

If you think of her as a comical act rather than a serious singer, I don't think even her critics will object to her having a concert every night. With her concert reportedly sold out, I'm sure the producers are raring to mount her next concert as we speak.

But will this be the future of music for this country, the way our film festivals have gone?

Every year, come December, when the Metro Manila Film Festival rolls around, we seem to have the same question collectively: this is the best we can come up with?

A warrior whose legacy has been passed from father to son (and incidentally, both father and son have become senators in real life), with the last incarnation being accused of copying the effects from a Hollywood fim; something about a fairy being okay; a kid who starred in a giant-commercial-masked-as-a-film that supposedly trumped the earnings of Spider Man.

Film critics and blogs have a field day when the roster for the film festival is announced; but every year, the defense of the producers is the same: this is what people want to see. This is what people pay to see. We have to make a living, so stop giving us grief about artistic standards and integrity.

What we are willing to spend money for is a reflection of what we value.

And when people willingly give money to watch a film on its' tenth incarnation, or 5,000 pesos to hear a non-singer, on the pretext that "we came here to be entertained!" how does that reflect on the kind of standards we have as a nation?

Fans of these entertainers claim that the critics are being too high-brow, elitist, snobby.

Is it any wonder why we also don't demand better credentials for our politicians? Or why so many entertainers are now in political posts? And why there are interviews where, when voters are asked why they voted an entertainer, their responses fall into two categories: guwapo kasi (he's good looking) and kasi pinagtatanggol niya ang mahihirap, tulad ng pelikula niya. (He will champion the poor, like in his films.)

We keep wishing for a more educated electorate, one that will be discerning and more critical in their decision making. I don't see that happening when what we get is a steady diet of lunchtime variety shows with gyrating dancers in skimpy wear, with audience members waiting to be called in order to humiliate themselves on national television to earn a little money.

Did I say earn? I meant win. I went to get coffee from our office cafeteria yesterday a few minutes before 3PM, and the "lunchtime variety show" was still on. Seeing the mass of people cheering, all I could think of was, don't these people have jobs?

Yes, Anne doesn't call herself a singer. What leaves me worried is, given her concert receipts, what this means for those who are actual singers.