Friday, March 21, 2008

In Defence of the Truly Talented and the Merit of Merit

Pop culture is reflexive. The tastes and values we see circulating in popular media are reflected back to us. We are both its passive receptors as well as its active purveyors. We are defined by pop culture, just as we define it. In mass media - from radio, to television, to newspapers and the wild and wooly web, we constantly reassure each other of what is acceptable and what is valuable to wear, to read, to eat and drink, to think and to consume in culture.

Pop culture is a reflection of society. Because human beings are social, what is popular in culture communicate what a society deems important. What a society values are usually the ones which resonate in mass media.

But mass media is more complex than just a set of institutions which serve as "conveyor belts" of culture. They are businesses, which means they must operate on principle of profit. This implies they must pander to the "demands" of an audience. If the audience demands inanity, mass media will have to provide inanity. If the audience demands excellence, then mass media will have to provide excellence.

It is disheartening, the kinds of values the old media reflect back to us. The culture we are forced to consume are pandering to the least common denominator. The "popular" after all must coalesce somewhere in the centre. But for how long must we tolerate a pop culture of mediocrity? Especially in today's age of globalisation - of the easy accessibility of other cultures, cultures which push the imagination, cultures that challenge the "normal", cultures that invite creativity and innovation.

Our pop culture should showcase our best, reflecting our best. Our pop culture should serve to reassure us that what our society deems valuable - in fashion, in literature, in film, in our ways of doing - are the best we can offer each other, the best we can offer ourselves and the best we can offer the world.

That said, are Tim Yap and Celine Lopez the best our pop culture can offer?

Read also:
What Damaged Culture?
In a Wowowee State of Mind
Excising Cinderella, Maria Clara and Inang Maria From Our Minds


failed misanthrope said...

But are these two even representative of Philippine pop culture?

I would think that Wowowee, Eat Bulaga, our endless telenovelas (including the Tagalised Koreanovelas), songs like "taktaktak," "iyugyug mo," etc., even the song "Dayang-Dayang"--these are more reflective of popular culture, the mass taste.

Yap and Lopez are lifestyle writers reflecting the Philippine Star's warped hiring policies more than Pinoy pop culture itself.

sparks said...

That's true. I suppose I put them in that category just because they are so visible in our broadsheets and glossies. Not quite 'masa' but popular nonetheless. Given their supposed elevated stature in society, one would hope they represented our best. I've already said what I think of Tim Yap's writing. I personally could care less if Celine Lopez does or does not write her own stuff. Its still mediocre stuff.

You know who I really like in Star? Panjee Gonzales. Boy, that woman could write. Its introspective (i.e. writing from the perspective of self), but not self-involved. Know what I mean?

failed misanthrope said...

Hmm, I have to read Panjee Gonzales then.

sparks said...

You know what, I don't think she writes for the Star anymore...Sad

Anonymous said...

Panjee has quit the Philippine Star, but she has her own blog: