Rhap Salazar, ‘Pabebe girls,’ and what’s wrong with Philippine media and society

pabebe girls
The sudden popularity of the "Pabebe Girls" should make us understand what Rhap Salazar is complaining about

A Twitter post made early this month by former singing champion Rhap Salazar had received mixed responses from his fellow entertainers. Salazar, 19, wrote on Twitter last July 5 that he hates seeing artists lip-syncing on television. He further lamented that those without singing abilities eventually end up having albums.

While Salazar didn’t name names, some were quick to react to what he said, with the likes of Boy Abunda and Vice Ganda focusing on the teen singer’s use of the word “hate.” For her part, Tony Award-winning Broadway icon Lea Salonga pointed out that the popularity of the albums released by non-singers is due to the patronage of the buying public.

What’s not being mentioned by all the parties chiming is the profound influence of social media in determining who gets his/her fifteen minutes of fame. Take the so-called “Pabebe girls” as an example. How on earth can a poorly-recorded 46-second video have over two million views? Heck, they may even land a record deal with Star Records!

Without a doubt, the world of social media is too shallow and too fast-paced that what is trending now will be forgotten tomorrow. At this point, let me share with you excerpts of the 1500-word movie review I did for the film God Bless America back in 2012.

pabebe girls
The sudden popularity of the “Pabebe Girls” should make us understand what Rhap Salazar is complaining about

 

The dark humor movie is a satirical commentary of contemporary American culture and society, with a particular emphasis on the present state of U.S. television, particularly its more unflattering features like the promotion of celebrity worship and materialism, to name a few.

The movie revolves around Frank (played by Joel Murray), a man beset with personal, professional, and health problems, and Roxy (portrayed by Tara Lynne Barr), a rebellious thrill-seeking teenager. Frank has apparently been made distraught (and even suicidal) by what he sees on television. After seeing Frank kill an obnoxious 16-year-old female reality TV star in the latter’s own car, Roxy decides to join the former on a mission – to kill everyone who “deserved” to die.

In the early part of the movie, Frank told his officemate about his observations about the American media and the way it affects their society as a whole. According to him, the U.S. media has succeeded in “making stars out of people with no talent,” adding that being infamous actually gets “rewarded.” The male officemate’s apparent lack of interest in what Frank is saying turns the scene into a soliloquy. Frank’s observations can actually be applied to what is happening in the Philippines.

According to Frank, Americans have become too focused in pointing out and repeatedly pounding on other people’s embarrassing moments. Filipinos seems to relish having moments of schadenfreude. We are reminded of this whenever local tabloids feature prominently stories about celebrities’ wardrobe malfunctions. “Cristine Reyes, nasilipan!” Pinoy Parazzi declared back in 2009. A year later, actress Marian Rivera found herself in the receiving end of public ridicule after she declared “psychology ako.” Indeed, people enjoy making a mockery out of other people.

god bless america movie review
The main themes of the movie “God Bless America” is a perfect fir for the Philippines

Again, Frank hit it right on the mark when he noted that people spend so much time meddling and talking about other person’s lives. Should Filipinos really care if Angelica Panganiban and John Lloyd Cruz are already dating? Or if singer Charice Pempengco is a lesbian? Legally speaking, popular people have a lesser expectation of privacy relative to private individuals, but are people supposed to use this as a license to dwell into the minutest details of their lives? Nowadays, we see media giants egging on ordinary people to wash their dirty linen on national television. Shows like TV5’s Face to Face and GMA News TV’s Personalan serve no other purpose than to feed the people’s desire for more gossip.

God Bless America mocks the media’s penchant for highlighting lavish display of wealth, which is highly insensitive given the economic crunch experienced worldwide. In the movie, a 16 year-old reality TV star goes berserk after her parents gave her a Lexus Sedan instead of a Cadillac Escalade for her birthday.

In the movie, a fat man who sings out-of-tune gains some 15 minutes of fame even after getting derided by the judges inAmerican Superstarz. “They (the media) make stars out of people with no talent,” Frank said. In the Philippines, we have a long list of celebrities who amazingly landed recording deals, like Anne Curtis (she even had a solo concert), Manny Pacquiao, and the duo of Mahal and Mura. Two years after confessing to the public that she provided “escort service” for politicians, Keanna Reeves eventually won in a celebrity edition of Pinoy Big Brother, proving that “infamy is being rewarded” in today’s society.

As noted above, the film at hand reflects the Philippine society and media in a lot of ways. Minus the macabre scenes, it seems only fitting to rename the movie as God Bless the Philippines. 

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About Mark Madrona 1191 Articles
Mark Madrona is a prize-winning blogger, online journalist, and educator from the Philippines. Previously a book editor, he is now teaching communication subjects for two public universities in Manila. His blog The Filipino Scribe won 3rd place in a blog competition organized by the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP). In 2015, it was one of the finalists in the 2015 Lasallian Scholarum Awards for Best Online Feature Article in Youth and Education. He also won the Best Blog Award during the 2011 Population and Development Media Awards, the youngest recipient of that recognition. Know more about him here: http://www.filipinoscribe.com/about/.

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