Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

     The 21st century world is filled with subliminal images and iterative information we get everyday from various forms of media which could change our mindset and moral standards. Not recently, many were affronted by the controversial huge billboards of rugby players along EDSA in Metro Manila flaunting their fit bodies in semi-nudity to advertise a certain underwear brand. It would've been fine if there was only one billboard instead of several ones placed side-by-side like a row of gigantic picture frames which might have been flagrantly offensive and ego-degrading to those who suffer from the insecurities of their own physical appearances. I wouldn't care as much if the material perceived as a sexual innuendo wasn't in a public highway where all sorts of people from school children to working adults pass everyday. What would then be the point of advertisements if no one can see them? However, not everyone had shown displeasure with such overtly marketed men's briefs and according to some known people, the players' toned bodies were paragons of physical wellness and athleticism. Was it an over-criticized art deemed to evangelize perfection or just another muck?

     Come to think of it... If you were to buy an underwear, some things you'd consider may be the waist size, color, design, durability, brand, among others. You wouldn't care about who-the-hell is wearing these private garments when you go and check them on a catalog. But imagine a billboard plainly showing a cascade of these garments. Before you know it, you may yawn at the banality and not even bother to glance at it. Some things aren't exactly the way they should be when it comes to artistic expression and get-attention-quick marketing. There are lot more to consider and the process is meticulous. I have not worked in the field of arts before, other than school projects, but I understand this discipline requires a bold, defiant and risky attitude and an outside-the-box thinking. We got a chance to create a short film project during college and I can say it was never an easy task from conceptualization of the storyline to video editing.

     When I came across this film entitled "Ang Babae sa Septik Tank" (The Woman in Septic Tank), I had a different expectation for this movie. One, it's not mainstream; two, it is indie; three, it is not mainstream and it's indie. Yes these three things all mean the same. Obviously, I'm jaded by all the crassitude in typical commercial Pinoy movies. I reckon we deserve a realistic, interesting and insightful one; we've had enough of love teams, lousy horrors, and surreal fantasies. But I wasn't much enthralled by the beginning part. If I was watching it on DVD, I would've shut it off in the first five minutes. I was apparently dissatisfied by the tediousness and blandness of the first few scenes: shaky wide shots of a disgusting slum, a little girl squatting and pooping, drunken men doing nothing all day, a family of seven children and a mother who was preparing instant noodles for lunch. The fact that the scenes didn't contain any dialogue made me both smile and sneer in my seat. It wasn't the typical "radio drama" script in which every movement has a corresponding narration. Even in silence, the scenes speak on its own the conveyed message and build up the necessary drama. I think providing dialogues doesn't give the audience a different opportunity to practise cognitive and critical thinking skills. We often prefer a movie with lots of speaking lines but sometimes actions do not need words to deliver the meaning. For example, a distraught mother cooking one pack of instant noodles to feed her seven children would not really have to utter a word to make us create a clear picture of a distressed, impoverished family. As the movie progressed, I have learned that the beginning part has a relevance to the rest of the story. The story is basically about two very ambitious filmmakers who faced predicaments in their quest to create a masterpiece that will send them to international film festivals. The drama-musical-comedy-in-one starred Eugene Domingo who played a convincing role of herself and won Best Actress in Cinemalaya. The best part for me is when Eugene Domingo explained the three types of acting in a very hilarious way: the Elevator acting, TV Patrol acting, and the "As is Where is" acting. She was able to portray a demanding, self-centered actor who only thinks about herself and not what the director envisions the film to be. At times, we only look at the efforts from the actors but we don't understand that the people behind the scenes such as the screenwriters and even production assistants also play a vital role on the success of a movie.

      Things around us may not mean the way we think they should be. It actually depends on one's disposition and belief systems and how wide-open one's mind is. A good example I can think of is Lady Gaga who seems to be really fond of using metaphorical lyrics in her songs. The lines "I'm still in love with Judas" and "Jesus is the new black..." may offend Catholic Christians but another way of interpreting these could be "I still love a traitor" and "I have faith in the black fashion." She must be an unconventional thinker but still I don't get the point why she uses religious symbols. Nevertheless, we should be very wise and careful in our perceptions and choices of these materials as we are vulnerably exposed to the dangerous and tricky consequences of modern forms of media. As for me, I don't believe we are only living in a black-and-white world.

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