Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Rational Response To "A Rational Response To Lourd De Veyra's Close-Minded (Sic) Open Letter To Vic And 'My Little Bossings'"

.:A Rational Response To "A Rational Response To Lourd De Veyra's Close-Minded (Sic) Open Letter To Vic And 'My Little Bossings'":.

Hi, Sherwin!

First of all, congratulations! Your blog post has baited thousands of people, and they are now proudly paying attention to you until the next cute cat video shows up. I won't begrudge you that. With everything you had to say about Lourd De Veyra's open letter, and your apparent infatuation with Bossing Vic's comedic stylings, you've earned that much, at least.

You have fifteen minutes. Use 'em well, son.

But there's a small matter I have to address in your response to Lourd, in all honesty. It's a matter that really sticks out like a sore thumb as you went on your diatribe against him, and even his music, as if that had anything to do with his ability to critique a film.

Nothing about your response remotely fit the description of "rational." At all.

Shocking, I know.

You see, the word "rational" is defined by the dictionary this way:

ra·tion·al [rash-uh-nl, rash-nl]adjective
1. agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development.
2. having or exercising reason, sound judgment, or good sense: a calm and rational negotiator.
3. being in or characterized by full possession of one's reason; sane; lucid: The patient appeared perfectly rational.
4. endowed with the faculty of reason: rational beings.
5. of, pertaining to, or constituting reasoning powers: the rational faculty.
So if that's what it means to be "rational," dear Sherwin, then I need to politely inform you that calling Lourd's music out when you're discussing his critique of Vic Sotto, and demanding he make his own blockbuster movie before he has any right to criticize "My Little Bossings," are anything but rational ways to argue your point. These are inconsequential to your arguments: non sequitur, if you will. 

Think about it, Sherwin: not only do you have zero blockbuster movies to your name to properly evaluate "My Little Bossings" on the kind of footing you wish to place Lourd on, you don't even have a single hit song to justify your ability to critique his music, either. Worse, neither do you own any literary credentials to affirm your right to writer an essay. See where your "logic" takes you? It leads nowhere.

Photo unrelated.

You see, an argument, to be deemed as "rational," needs to be free of glaring logical fallacies, especially arguments based on tu quoque and other forms of ad hominem. To debate effectively, you need to argue against Lourd's points, instead of criticizing Lourd himself, while letting all his actual points stand. Which was exactly what you did.

Really shocking.

It's funny, because I recently saw another scathing response to Lourd that came off a lot better. Her critique hinged around a concept I'm sure Lourd himself would be very familiar with: walang basagan ng trip. After all, what harm is there in Vic's movie being out there for people to watch, especially if they freely choose to go and watch his movie, to begin with? Nobody forced anyone to go to the cinemas to watch "My Little Bossings." Everyone was free to stay home and just not watch - or at least, in theory, they are.

In reality, the week of December 25 is often a peak season for movie-watching for families, given that these are the holidays we are talking about. And if there's one thing you need to know about the Metro Manila Film Festival, that's precisely why it's held around that time. It's a protectioneering racket that originally was meant to give Philippine movies a chance to take bigger risks because they have a captive audience, but with time, it became just another cash-grab. With a captive audience, why bother making the next great Filipino film when you can instead make the next great Filipino blockbuster? True, both these things need not be mutually exclusive, but it's clear which among the two is prioritized come December by film producers.

Gee, I wonder which?

This is why my interest in the MMFF has waned over the years: quality films take a backseat to predictable cash-grabs. Yes, law of supply and demand and all that holds true, but this goes against the original intent of the festival: the MMFF today is no longer a showcase of the finest in Philippine cinema. Now, it's a police lineup of flicks that want nothing more than to take your money - and a few poor souls who foolishly thought this was still a showcase of the finest in Philippine cinema. Those few poor souls end up being booted out of the cinemas long before the week is even over.

Thankfully, it's a *film* festival, not a *poster* festival.

All Lourd has been saying is that with all the money Bossing has been making, is it too much to ask for him to offer something that isn't a shameless extended commercial, for a change? Sherwin, you were quick to say that Lourd can have his 220 bucks back, but you don't speak for Vic Sotto now, do you? After all, they never offered Lourd his money back, which only goes to show that "take the money and run" definitely takes precedence over something as esoteric as "principles."

I would like to reiterate: "tu quoque" is not a valid counterargument.

Besides, if Lourd didn't watch "My Little Bossings" and instead wrote his open letter in a vacuum, I'm willing to bet people would call him out for whining about something he knows nothing about. He paid 220 bucks to be tortured by this putrid excuse for a movie, so if he didn't like it, then by jove, he has every right to say so.

Let me remind you about the Oscar season in Hollywood, and how many of the strong films in Oscar contention generally take a financial risk as opposed to just making the next Transformers or Twilight flick. A deeper message? Not all the time. Sometimes, you just need a good message, which is by no means out of reach for the average Filipino film.

So shocking, you guys!

Tell me: in the face of boundless greed and capitalism as exemplified by the countless product placements snuck into "My Little Bossings" that have little to no bearing on the plot, how can anyone say with a straight face that "family values" and "forgiveness" is the overarching message of the film? Is that not an inherent conflict of values? What parts of "family values" and "forgiveness" is exemplified by Solmux? By Tide? By Ariel? By Lucky Me Pancit Canton?!? You will find none, because there are none. 

The fact that this unfortunate hypocrisy leaves its mark all over the film is the height of laziness. Was it so hard to script product placement seamlessly without it feeling like it was shoved down everyone's throats? Don't we pay ridiculous amounts of money to watch movies in the theatres partially because we supposedly get to skip commercial breaks when we're in the cinema?

Pictured: para sa bayan!

To say that the film promotes good values is just reaching. The "moral of the story" was merely a trite, patronizing afterthought. I have seen Vic Sotto perform in FAMAS-worthy outings during Eat Bulaga's Holy Week specials. I know what he can do when he works hard to achieve something. So please don't tell me with a straight face that "pinaghirapan nila" ang "My Little Bossings." I don't get a promotion at work for telling my boss I tried really hard. I get a promotion for getting results.

Sadly, the Metro Manila Filmfest's barometer for "results" has gone from imparting strong messages to a captive Pinoy audience to just making as much money as obscenely possible.

In sum, dear Sherwin, here are 8 reasons why I find your "rational response" hilariously irrational (See what I did there?):

8. You used a slew of logical fallacies to undermine Lourd, but not once did you attempt to address his actual arguments.

7. You mistakenly believe that effort is sacrosanct and similarly, success should be immune from criticism. I don't care how many times Vic and Kris claimed "pinaghirapan namin ito." I don't make over a hundred million pesos on the back of "effort" alone, so why should they? Just because people gave Vic Sotto all of the money does not mean his film is above scrutiny. In fact, the more people to have watched Vic's film, the more people would be perfectly entitled to critique what they have watched.

6. You dismiss deal-breaking issues such as inane scripting and plot, robotic acting (Hi, Bimby!), relentless product placement, all because "there were punchlines." You can get even funnier punchlines for free by watching "Eat Bulaga" and "Bubble Gang," so where is the elevation one should reasonably expect from something called a "proud entry" of some "film festival?"

5. You think "can you come up with something better?" is a valid argument. No, it's not. I don't need to be an expert on eating sh*t to know that something is sh*t when it looks and smells just like it. 

4. You likened Radioactive Sago Project's music to being a "Bohemian Rhapsody wannabe," which betrays your lack of knowledge about music, let alone grammar, but we'll let both of that slide. The reason I bring it up is that even if you somehow proved that Lourd was a terrible musician, that does not invalidate his opinion about the movie. What you are doing here is shooting the guy who tossed the grenade, while doing absolutely nothing about the grenade that still lands right at your feet.

3. You excuse "My Little Bossings" for its flaws mainly because of two things: that there were other films that were just as bad (Thankfully, you passed over the casual homophobia by offering up Vice Ganda as this year's worst offender.), and the fact that the film donated some of its proceeds to Yolanda. I can make a movie of my cat licking himself for ten minutes and donate all of its proceeds to Yolanda. Will you and ten of your friends pay 220 each to see my movie, then? Would you consider my "movie" even remotely good, all because I'm donating the proceeds to charity?

2. You confuse "good movies" with "Hollywood." You think special effects and the bankroll are the most important ingredients in making a "good movie," while completely missing the part where Pinoy indie films on shoestring budgets have been tearing it up in the awards scene for years. You conflate flash with substance, and worst of all, fall prey to colonial mentality by thinking that because we're a developing country, we can't make "good movies." People like you are the reason why a movie as excellent as "On The Job" needed a dancing Gerald Anderson at mall tours just to promote it and make it a moderate success.

1. You completely missed the point of a film festival. A film festival's primary aim is to showcase first, and to make money later. The MMFF has been doing the complete opposite for a long time already, especially since until recently, box office returns were a part of the criteria for "best film" during the awards night. What? Wasn't the money they made enough recognition already?

Dear Sherwin, at no point do I call into question your attitude, your grammar, or your qualifications as a writer, and pass that off as a deconstruction of your "rational response." Instead, I took the few arguments you actually had, and proceeded to debunk them, then reiterated why I believe that "My Little Bossings" was a terrible disappointment, based on its merits, or lack thereof.

That, my friend, is a "rational" response. You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does.


You need me like a hole in the head.


CM Punk said...

somebody should punch this guy's ( face to knock some sense (or intelligence) into him.

Anonymous said...

"Metro Manila Film Festival" should be called "Metro Manila Film Fair" or Circus. Well, "circus" would be an improvement. Let's just use "Peryahan". Yeah, Tagalog terms are always brutal.

Isel said...

I never even finished reading Sherwin's "rational response". Halfway through it, I just rejected it on the grounds that I've spent enough time reading it and I still think it's stupid and I highly doubt there'll be anything worth redeeming towards the end.