Posts Tagged ‘popular culture’

the year of the crazy

We’re barely done with the first quarter of the year and already we have been treated to awesomeness of awesomely epic and winning proportions – Muammar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen! One is Libya’s dictator for decades, a mass murderer who refuses to step down in the face of massive protests, the other a formerly highly-paid but now unemployed actor whose bizarre, drug-fueled quotes have made him a living legend of the catchy but incomprehensible sound bite.

In this corner, Gaddafi:

Gaddafi at a leaders’ summit in Sudan in 2006. Image here.

Consider what panache, what flair, what confidence this man has to wear this garish purple suit to a summit of African leaders! What supreme chutzpah was required to pull this off! Any other man wearing this suit would have been called gay. Wait – gay men would have more taste.

OMG, who’s that woman shaking Gaddafi’s hand?! Image here.

Gaddafi quotes:

I cannot recognize either the Palestinian state or the Israeli state. The Palestinians are idiots and the Israelis are idiots.

Were it not for electricity, we would have to watch television in the dark.

A woman has the right to vote whether she is male or female!

Democracy means permanent rule!

In this corner, Charlie Sheen:

He posted this photo of himself with one of his live-in “goddesses” on his Twitter account to illustrate his life’s philosophy of winning and winning and winning!

Charlie Sheen quotes:

I am on a drug – it’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available because if you try it once you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.

All we do is put wins in the record books. We win so radically in our underwear before our first cup of coffee, it’s scary.

I’m different. I have a different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man.

I’m here and I’m ready. They’re not. Bring it.

What they’re not ready for is guys like you and I and Nails and all the other gnarly gnarlingtons in my life, that we are high priests, Vatican assassin warlocks. Boom. Print that, people. See where that goes.

Stop the weird, I wanna get off! The world is not prepared for nor can it withstand the continuous torrent of this much gnarly stupendousness of magic extraterrestrialness. But the weird never stops, does it? Boom. Bring it on. Let’s see where this goes.

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harry potter and the never-ending camping trip

I had waited for it for years. Being satisfied with the first through sixth films in the franchise, I expected “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” to be as riveting. Unfortunately, the film’s producers seem to have misplaced their riveter this time.

Getting down to nuts and bolts, this interpretation is lackluster and slow-paced for two-thirds of the film, but after that redeems itself with a selfless death and other advances to the story.

To be fair, the book was the longest of the seven in the series and really, it was nearly all about a long and interminable camping trip. After upheavals in the Ministry of Magic, and more skullduggery by He Who Must…okay, Voldemort and his henchmen, the lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione are forever transformed by having to flee their homes and go into hiding. In the woods. In a tent that emerges from Hermione’s tiny beaded bag that seems to extend into another dimension and thus possesses infinite space within. Now that bag is cool.

Harry is still on a mission from Dumbledore to find the other horcruxes and destroy them before Voldemort gets to them first. No spoilers here, but if you read the book (if you haven’t, I highly recommend you do so), you’ll know how it all turns out.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) and her beaded bag that extends into a parallel dimension – I WANT ONE. Image from here.

What’s to like about the movie? It captures the bleakness of Harry’s soul, the internal suffering that he carries from his unloved boyhood into his late adolescence when people around him are getting hurt or dying to help him on his quest.

At first Harry thinks it’s all about him, and the guilt gets to be too much to bear so he attempts to strike out on his own, but Ron tells him, it isn’t all about you, it never was. Harry then realizes that though he is somehow central to the events, in the end he is just an element in the greater scheme of things and he must play his part.

But it’s not easy for Harry, it’s not just a matter of waving wands about and exercising limitless magical power. It’s still about the old-fashioned heroic values – belief in good over evil, perseverance, determination, self-sacrifice, friendship, and love. The film delivers that message, and it may be that the slow pace set the tone for that.

On the visual side, the settings for their tent-in-exile were magnificently desolate – lonely woods, a barren rocky hilltop, salt flats. The tent got larger and grander until by the end of the movie it was a multi-room affair complete with sleeping bags, the omnipresent veddy veddy British teakettle, a dining-cum-conference table, and spoons and forks in a mug.

Harry and Hermione sport clothing of somber colors, in keeping with the landscape. I WANT HER CLOTHES. Especially that peacoat. Image here.

Since many of us have read the entire Harry Potter canon by JK Rowling anyway, I won’t go into deeper analysis except to say that it belongs to the fantasy/magical genre that British authors have developed to the highest point. No one does it as well as they do – among them Tolkien, CS Lewis, Carroll, and Conan Doyle along with the other Victorians who collected and wrote fairy tales – and now Rowling is carrying on the tradition.

On a lighter note, a dozen things I liked:

1. Emma Watson’s clothes. I love that blue peacoat!

2. Hermione’s beaded bag that holds everything in the world.

3. Dobby’s self-sacrifice. He died Apparating the good guys from a villainous stronghold.

4. Bellatrix Lestrange’s rat’s-nest hair and dagger-flinging accuracy.

5. Severus Snape’s billowing black robes that proclaim “I am a serious, traditional, magic-using academic”. I WANT ONE.

6. Dolores Umbridge’s pink kitten-head scarf. Meow!

7. The Godric’s Hollow set – a typical, storybook hamlet. I’d like to live in one of the cottages there. Yes, even with that creepy old lady Bathilda Bagshot for a neighbor, it would be magical.

8. Bathilda Bagshot’s creepiness. The ultimate in old-lady oddity! Remind me to be like her when I become aged and decrepit. It would be fun freaking everyone out.

9. The dirigible plums at the Lovegood’s – that was a whimsical touch.

10. Patchwork everywhere – on nearly all the beds and throw pillows in the movie, the curtains and tablecloths in the Weasley home, and Xenophilius Lovegood’s shirt.

11. Bill and Fleur’s wedding – sigh. So romantic. My next wedding will be like that, I swear, in a tent with all my most eccentric friends and family in attendance.

12. How much Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint’s acting have improved. Emma Watson was fantastic from the beginning of the series and has developed into an actor with solid talent.

Overall: you must see this if you enjoyed the book and watched the previous films in the series, if only to get one more step closer to closure. Though the producers could have cut much of the camping trip out and reduced the running time from three hours to two-and-a-half or even less without sacrificing important narrative elements, it’s still worth watching.


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pop goes the world: “wawa we”

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 27 May 2010, Thursday

“Wawa We”

“Wow” is an apt prefix for the title of a show whose huge popularity spans the globe. “Wawa” (a contraction of the Tagalog word for ‘pitiful’) now describes the condition of the show’s host whose antics rocketed the program to the peak of the ratings charts.

Few local television programs have enjoyed the phenomenal success of ABS-CBN’s noontime variety show “Wowowee”. Over two hours long, the show features the usual song and dance production numbers, games, and other staples of Philippine TV. But it broke the mold by giving away more money and products than others and encouraging audience participation with atypical games and other gimmicks.

The cash handouts and scantily-clad dancing girls attracted immense viewership. Since it is carried by The Filipino Channel which broadcasts the network’s shows in the US, Middle East, and other countries, it has even gained foreign fans.

According to a Taylor Nelson Sofres Media Research Philippines report, on May 14, the show posted ratings of 18.1%, well above the 12.2% charted by rival “Eat Bulaga”, the long-running noontime program on GMA Network.

Much of the show’s popularity in its early days may be credited to its host Willy Revillame’s high-energy, down-to-earth performance. The show is said to rake in many millions a day for the network, with Revillame’s compensation at P1 million a day as he himself has said elsewhere. This wallet-busting figure does not include the millions more in fees that he earns from product endorsements.

Willy Revillame. (Image here.)

Sadly, one can’t buy manners or morals. When ABS-CBN’s dzMM radio host Jobert Sucaldito criticized Wowowee for creating a game played by students with low grades, saying in effect that this was fostering mediocrity, Revillame erupted. He called upon network management to fire Sucaldito, citing the big bucks his show was pulling in all due to his efforts. “Either he goes, or I go”, was the gist of what he said.

Jobert Sucaldito, host of dzMM’s “Showbiz Mismo”. (Image here.)

The staggering arrogance of that declaration hits you right in the sternum and cuts off the stream of oxygen to your lungs.

Revillame has been suspended several times from Wowowee and “Magandang Tanghali Bayan”, another show he used to host, for cussing on air. The potty-mouthed celebrity also earned public ire for his ungracious manners when he bawled out his own network’s traffic department – on air – for putting an inset of the live coverage of the late Philippine president Corazon Aquino’s funeral during a Wowowee episode.

Wowowee’s format has also been severely lambasted for fostering a culture of mendicancy. Many of its games revolve around making people do embarrassing things for money. It pains me to see game participants humiliated and taking it all, at a cost to their self-respect and dignity, because times are hard.

And the gyrating nearly-naked Kembot (shimmy) Girls? They are pretty and talented, and the show has made them popular and famous while dancing in scraps of fabric and heavy makeup. What message does this send to young girls? Never mind getting that college degree, anak, just be a Kembot Girl when you grow up? What signal does this send to men? That women are all about the curves and booty-shaking? Where’s the respect?

During the recent election campaign, Revillame, who endorsed Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar, sent the Kembot Girls to the campaign rallies. Pro-women senatorial candidates Liza Maza and Pia Cayetano, dismayed at the skimpiness of the dancers’ costumes, asked them to dress more appropriately. Maza and Cayetano were running under the NP banner. Like the song says, “Isn’t it ironic?”

The Kembot Girls with Revillame (center) at a Manny Villar campaign rally. Screenshot of an ABS-CBN ‘TV Patrol’ report on the Maza-Cayetano complaint.

Does Wowowee have any redeeming social value whatsoever? Does it uplift attitudes, promote good morals, encourage excellence and self-sufficiency? Revillame claims his show “helps” people. Perhaps, in the way you give a man a fish for a day – and make him do tricks for it first – instead of teaching him how to fish. Does that benefit society in the long term?

ABS-CBN management, to its credit, ignored Revillame’s tantrums and refused to fire Sucaldito. Revillame stormed off for a vacation, leaving the show to co-host Pokwang, whose comic antics now account for much of the show’s drawing power, as Revillame descends into the maelstrom of believing his own spin. On May 15, action star Robin Padilla was given a chance to host; his stint ends Friday. The day he began, ratings shot up to 20.1%, proving that it’s not only Revillame who can steer the show and pull in viewers.

With public opinion against him, it’s significant that Revillame went on leave, asked ABS-CBN to release him from his contract, and apologized for his actions. After a meeting, the network announced that the host will not be released from his contract, which ends next year. Meanwhile, he is on indefinite leave from the show.

It’s painful to watch a person climb from ground zero to the summit of his ambitions, only for him to fall into the yawning crevasse of public contempt, toppled by his own ill-considered actions. It’s too bad that Revillame wasted his chance to make a genuine difference in people’s lives and institute positive values and attitudes.

Someone should take away the happy juice Revillame’s been drinking, before he hurts himself more. ***

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lolcats. i can spik liek dem.

Wikipedia says: “Lolcat” is a term used to describe an image combining a photograph of an animal, most frequently a cat, with a subjectively humorous and idiosyncratic caption in broken English referred to as “kitty pidgin” or “lolspeak”.

Here are pictyur of lolcats:

If you sees enuf piktyurs of lolcats at d website, you can learns to spik and spel liek lolcats too! It are easy! My children and me spiks it.


Everyday in our hous are Caturday!


We noms our foodz, watches Amerikkin Idle, and checkz lolcat webzite for new lolcats. It are fun!


When you tink der be lolcat prezidint of world so everywun spik liek lolcats and not take demselves too srsly?!

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