Friday, April 03, 2009

A Film Review And A Show Of Support...

.:Film Review: Monsters Vs. Aliens:.

Monsters vs. Aliens
More proof why Jack Black keeps voicing for Dreamworks and betting on Pixar.

Dreamworks can't catch a break, really. Outside of Shrek, they simply can't make a film that can capture people's imaginations to the point that Disney-Pixar has consistently managed to. It has gotten to a point where even their voice talents willfully poke fun at this phenomenon while continuing to earn a paycheck, regardless. Mightygodking put it best...

This doesn't mean that Dreamworks's forays into CGI film are terrible. They're not. On average, they're pretty good efforts, it's just that there's little excuse for being "good" when your competitor is "splendid". Nonetheless, outside of Antz, I have yet to come across a Dreamworks outing that I flat-out despised, so watching Monsters vs. Aliens with a good friend was quite a pleasant experience, to say the

I won't bore you with a lengthy analysis of the plot, really, and I don't want this to be a spoiler-y description, but let me just say that this was a good, serviceable movie, whose biggest point against it is that it played things so safe that there is nothing to praise or tear down about it. This is pedestrian filmmaking at its best, although I am terribly biased for Stephen Colbert, so I must commend his portrayal of the U.S. president there.

Not a terrible effort from Dreamworks, but I'm hoping that given the way the movie was made, this would leave room for a sequel that could really blow our minds. As of now, the film was so unremarkable, I can't think of a particular scene or plotpoint I wanted to share.

Recommended watching for people who want something fun and inoffensive but not memorable.

Critical Evaluation: B-
Fun Evaluation: B

.:On Kayfabe: In Defense Of MLQ3:.

Not that he needs defending, nor do I presume to have the right to, but I just wanted to give my props to Manuel Quezon III for being a total class act in the face of having people breathing down his neck over an offhand comment he made regarding the Chip Tsao brouhaha.

Quite honestly, I have nothing against people being offended by what was written by Tsao. People have feelings, and their feelings do count. What I am strongly against though is using hurt feelings as an excuse to give an equally or even more offensive response.

It's an anvil, but the anvil needs dropping: two wrongs don't make a right. I understand varying degrees of sensitivity. Really, I do. Some people might take offense at a joke involving St. Peter, while some would laugh at it with much gusto. What I don't get is how being offended seems to give people license to respond in kind. I've seen too many people calling Mr. Tsao "racist", yet their responses are just as racist, what with the immense hatred for Chinese people and "melamine, SARS, and lead," among other things.

That was the point of writing yesterday's post. Fine, get mad, perhaps even ask for an apology. Those are your feelings, and it's not my right to brush those aside. But once the apology is given, that should be the end of it. I don't see the logic in people demanding an apology then refusing to accept it afterwards. It makes no sense, if you ask me. The guy apologized. He's even expressing his affection for the Philippines as a culture, which I personally find sincere. In the meantime, Roilo Golez is challenging Mr. Tsao to a boxing match or something, and he even questions the sincerity of Mr. Tsao's apology. What a class act.

At the same time, now that you know this article was satire, and now that you know he was being tongue-in-cheek, maybe it's time to tone down the histrionics. There's no Louisa in need of rescuing, nor is Mr. Tsao going to be tolerant of anyone who did what his in-character piece was purported to have done. That's precisely why he lampooned it: it's so outrageous, and it shouldn't be tolerated.

As a guy who has been watching professional wrestling since he's been a kid, I must say that I know where Mr. Tsao is coming from. Like Stephen Colbert, the person writing articles under the title "Politically Incorrect" is not the same Chip Tsao in private life. Colbert is very famous for having so convincing an act that some Republicans actually believe he is on their side despite clearly being a caricature of a Geraldo or a Bill O'Reilly.

Look... when you watched pro wrestling as a kid, you cheer Hulk Hogan, and you booed, oh, say, The Million Dollar Man. But as you grew older and wiser, you learned to separate the man, Terry Bollea, from the character, Hulk Hogan, so that your life wouldn't be devastated the minute Hulk Hogan decided to become a bad guy to boo instead of the good guy we've been cheering all these years.

In wrestling parlance, this is called "kayfabe". Because wrestling tried to hide the fact that it was scripted (Scripted <> Fake, for the record.) back then, the wrestlers adopted a code of secrecy, and insisted on portraying their characters everywhere they went. So if Hulk Hogan and Million Dollar Man were feuding, there was going to be no chance that you would see them at the same dining table, exchanging jokes. It simply wasn't done.

However, as should be obvious to us, kayfabe means that these people could very well be friends in real life. John Cena and Samoa Joe are in opposing companies, but we know for a fact they're friends. Ric Flair and Triple H may have feuded a million times already, but they're practically joined at the hip and the best of friends. Whether or not you like wrestling, you understand this: you don't hate a person for the character they portray in the ring. That's all it is, after all: a character.

Sometimes, there's a problem with separating the character from reality. Ask Sgt. Slaughter, who, in 1991, turned "heel" (wrestling parlance for a bad guy) and became an Iraqi Sympathizer. He had to wear a bulletproof vest to his match against Hogan in Wrestlemania that year. In the local scene, ask any good soap opera kontrabida, like Gladys Reyes. But if you think stuff like that's endemic only to us Filipinos or Americans, think again. Tom Felton, the guy playing Draco Malfoy, is reviled by a lot of kids all over the world for tormenting Harry Potter in the films.

But therein lies the rub: these are kids. You understand kids have a hard time separating fantasy from reality. But adults?

This leads us to my real point in writing this (Since to be honest, the next time I hope to write about Mr. Tsao is in the event that I get to correspond with him and pick his brain and all that. Mr. Tsao, from the Philippines, you have a fan of your writing here. Seriously.)... when MLQ talked about people not getting satire, it was a frustrated rant, one that he is supposed to be entitled to, on his own personal space in Fezbuk.

Thing is, a lot of people who reacted against the Chip Tsao brouhaha felt entitled to respond to him. They were angry and frustrated, and they ended up stooping to the man's perceived level, resulting in a massive "WTF is going on?!?" from cooler heads. MLQ was similarly frustrated at the overblown reaction, and merely expressed his opinion (and frustration). Guys, free speech cuts both ways. If you're free to call Mr. Tsao "a racist Chinese pig", then MLQ was perfectly free to say "you guys don't get satire."

And fine, maybe you also had the right to take offense to what he said. I understand that, too. What I don't understand is how this gave you license to insult the man, to put him down, and overall, to demean him, as if he had personally gone to your house, spat on your dining table, and broke all your windows.I don't even see how being an "undergrad, poufy-haired, vaklush ampon" is supposed to make any sense to the discussion at hand: that people didn't get satire. What MLQ did wasn't even a fraction of what Mr. Tsao perceivedly did, yet why are people so quick to crucify MLQ over an opinion he is entitled to? Is it perhaps because his opinion doesn't jive with yours? Newsflash: it happens. People disagree.

However, while people disagree, the true mark of civilized disagreement is when it doesn't degenerate into name-calling.

Next time you wish to disagree with someone, perhaps one needs to take that into consideration. If you felt MLQ was wrong, tell him. There's no need to demean him and insult him like that. It's just uncalled for, and reflects poorly on you to take the low road like that. What right do we have to criticize someone for something when we exhibit the exact same symptoms? Haven't we had enough pots calling kettles black in five lifetimes?

MLQ apologized because he is a class act like that. It's his prerogative to do what he did, and I will not say that he should or shouldn't have apologized. That's not my place to do so. I don't purport to be anything near that level of dignity, so I shall just commend him for that. However, I think we shouldn't allow one man's apology to eradicate any wrongdoing on our part, or to invalidate what he was trying to get across. Just because somebody apologized does not make you incontrovertibly correct, and they wrong.

Manolo's apology does not mean Chip Tsao's article is not satire. Manolo's apology does not mean you magically understand satire now.

I'm sorry if I may have offended some people for pointing out the white elephant in this room, but I personally feel that ignoring it would've meant nobody would've learned the lesson MLQ was trying to impart in his brief but meaningful vituperation against people's overblown reactions to what really should be a non-issue. But again, just because I am apologizing in advance for hurting someone's feelings potentially does not mean that my point is invalid. Neither does it mean that there is nothing for the persons potentially offended by this to learn from this post.

Okay. That's that. Time to get off my soapbox.


momblogger said...

what a wonderful piece on apologies. I once wrote about this in the past. I will probably write more about it. I just have so many things to write.

Unknown said...

"the true mark of civilized disagreement is when it doesn't degenerate into name-calling"

thanks for this. we need to be logical, not emotional, to find the right arguments against mr. tsao, air our side, accept the apology, and then move on.

Kel Fabie said...

@momblogger: I put a lot of stock in an apology. To me, demanding for an apology means that one should be willing to hear it and accept it. Unfortunately, most people demand for one, but expect even more, the way certain politicians demanded for scholarships AND a special sort of retraction episode from "Desperate Housewives" the last time out.

@erasmusa: I'd like to think that most people have already moved on. At this point, it's mostly just political bandwagonning I see that refuses to drop the issue.