Da Pilipino way: showbiz and government are inseparable

dumb 1Filipinos are infamous for their short attention spans and stunted mental faculties.

As a form of entertainment, many Filipinos rely on television. However mass media giants use this medium, whether to educate the population or turn them into mindless, loyal, zombies, its power cannot be underestimated. If they do decide to show nothing but dancing girls or celebrities making tasteless and crude jokes, or cheesy telenovelas with rehashed feel-good plots, or news that is poorly researched, then they indeed do justice to the slang terms “boob tube”, “idiot tube”, and “idiot box”, just to name a few.

After a while, certain Filipinos are unable to distinguish between the make-believe world of the teleserye, and they instead escape into a world where their feel-good fantasies are real. Such is the power of TV for you.

The showbiz celebrities whom Filipinos see on TV, will of course appear larger than life to them. Especially when they induce feel-good vibes and kilig moments into their audience, it’s easy to hook the people into watching them and regarding them as people to be put on a pedestal.

How Filipinos see government officials runs along a similar, and disturbing pattern. Just as showbiz celebrities are good at “selling” the feel-good moments to be watched on TV, public servants are good at “selling” any promises they want to make, and Filipinos are practically at their feet in order to beg for all the good stuff that the politician has to give. Regardless of the consequences. And Filipinos lap it all up and put them on a pedestal as well.

Of course, this phenomenon manifests itself strongest whenever elections of some sort happen here in the Philippines. But it never really goes away in between. It just remains dormant. And it seems that wherever they go, Filipinos will find it hard to shake off this habit of being starstruck ignoramuses.

So when elder Singapore statesman Lee Kuan Yew called out and chewed up a Filipino student, Harvey Campos, for asking a personal question where it does not belong in a discussion about public matters, should we really have been surprised or shocked? From a certain perspective, yes, because Filipinos assume that they can carry such thinking and mindset everywhere they go. On the other hand, no, because Filipinos focus more on personalities and events than issues and ideas.

Filipinos, using the need to “humanize” as an excuse, do not step up to raise the level of discourse. Instead, they drag it and dumb it down to the level of comfort in gossip and trivial matters that is all too familiar to them.

Fellow GRP writer Ilda, in her usual brilliant form, pointed things out very well in her recent article:

One simply should avoid asking personal questions in a public forum especially when high profile personalities in politics are involved. This rule should apply not just in Singapore but also in the Philippines. One can try asking a personal question but if the person being asked doesn’t want to answer it, one should respect that. It’s called privacy.

The problem with our society is that we Filipinos put more emphasis on the personality behind our public servants. Instead of focusing on what matters, we care more about the trivial stuff, which are irrelevant in our goal to bring our country from Third World to First. We care more about our favorite politician’s girlfriend or wife, what they wear and what kind of car they drive. It’s as if knowing that we voted for someone who is dating a celebrity or someone who is driving a Porsche would actually help us feel secure that the country is in good hands.

This is why every time an incompetent public servant like President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino or any of his staff commits gaffes or worse, violates the law, all they need to do to divert people’s attention from the issue is to publish personal details about himself or someone else’s sex video and voila! People will quickly forget about the issues. It works all the time. This is why our public servants get away with stealing public funds in broad daylight and treat the country like their personal fiefdom. In short, Filipinos love being entertained.

Evaluate platforms? Ang hirap naman.
Inquire about stance on issues? Wala akong paki.
Ask about plans for office? Basta bigyan niya muna ako ng pera o pangkain.
Show interest in public policy? Umindak ka muna diyan sa stage.

Details about personal life? Mas interesado ako doon!
Ability to sing and dance? Oo!
Catchy slogan? Pwede!
Feel-good abstract motherhood statements? Korak!
Reference to famous dead (or living) parents? May tama ka!
Money to buy your vote/loyalty? Game na!

The unanswered question remains: How will knowing about the personal circumstances and private trivia of public servants help us in evaluating their stances on issues of public and national interest?

That will not really matter, though, to a people who are much more comfortable with gossip and trivial matters than they are with the serious, weighty issues that their society faces.

Showbiz and government are inseparable indeed here in the Philippines. Filipinos should learn to distinguish between them and to regard them separately, otherwise they’ll never hold their public officials accountable the proper way.

[Photo courtesy: All Things Wildly Considered]

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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

49 Comments on “Da Pilipino way: showbiz and government are inseparable”

  1. This article reminds me why we should never endorse celebs to run for government positions: Unless said celebrity have the means and the understanding of how the laws are made and how politics is managed, Filipinos will vote for the celebrity simple because they have “star power” – i.e. actors who they think can portray their roles from the big screen to real life. Unfortunately, only a VERY FEW have managed to achieve being effective officials outside their celebrity status.

  2. Ian,

    I do get your point very well. But after voting and electing yet another celebrity and again being disappointed by him/her, would it be time to vote for somebody else who really makes a difference? In order words: If I voted for a celebrity 10 times in a row but constantly been disappointed, I would start to wonder myself what I am doing wrong and telling myself “next time, I will vote for a real human being”. Why does that question never pops up with Philippine people? Or are the voters never disappointed by the ones they elect and vote for?

    1. @Robert, I for one never voted for a celebrity politician and unfortunately, Filipinos only base their leaders on many things: Popularity, over-promises and the ability to give them immediate but short-term results.

      From the previous elections, Filipinos don’t want change at all no matter which person they would vote for. This nation will never learn from its mistakes until they themselves will finally realize that they elect leaders who can’t do their job well and that they suffer as a result.

      Going back to the article, Filipinos watch too much dumb TV (local TV especially) that they think that something bad is good, hence the lack of responsible role models for the people. Take Kris Aquino for example – she, being the idol of Filipinos has clearly influenced the nation in such a way that being tactless is a good trait. And I can’t even believe that some people are more concerned about PNoy’s lovelife than his platform when he was interviewed live on TV.
      People will defend themselves that soap operas/showbiz news is a form of escapism but too much escapism is dead wrong and our intellect suffers as a result.

      Seriously, there should be a clear line between showbiz and politics.

      1. Ian,

        There are people in my country that vote for “a face”. Most politicians in my country are also “celebrities” because they are often the headlines in the newspapers and TV news. But they never come from showbizz. We dont have the “Ronald Reagan’s” or “Schwarzeneger” (first an actor then a politician). Politicians will defend the political party’s program.

        1. @Robert, politicians in the Philippines are only loyal to their own needs and the desire for power – not the interests of their parties nor the nation.

          I do not mind actors running for office as long as they totally understand the laws of politics and they have the real intellect to manage a nation. Judging from the actors-turned-politicians running the Senate, this country is still lagging behind the race to progress.

        2. @Robert, politicians in the Philippines are only loyal to their own needs and the desire for power – not the interests of their parties nor the nation.

          Ian, that is exactly what I think the majority of the Phili population should and mst do: getting more loyal to their own needs. In short: instead of being so fucking family focused and oriented getting more individually focused and oriented.

          It has been said here (but in a different Blog) that Filipinos are more concerned whether they have food tomorrow (this is what I basically call being in the bottom section of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). Once people will get out of that bottom section then they will fight their own government more often. The Fili government is totally relying on this status quo. They know their civilains wont bother them in all their scams and bribes and being corrupt. They (the population) simply are lacking the time, need and effort. Because all they are focused at and on is the (direct and extended) family.
          That is why, I personally think – Blogs like this one, wont help one bit.

          Once people really learn to fight for themselves as individuals, then that will be the start of a new life, a new era (if you will). But nobody will tell them. So, it has to start with one person. But that one person is (too) afraid to become the outcast of the family and getting booted. So what can we call this? A prisoner’s dilemma?; a catch 22?

        3. Robert, I can see your point about individuals standing up for themselves instead on relying on peers. I get that, but I believe Filipinos will still rely on someone for them to lead. That’s the thing.

          I guess I can blame our history then for our sad state. Filipinos are so repressed that they can’t fight the system. Instead, they become submissive to their “masters,” stripping away their identities and their will to fight against authority. The current government won’t allow their people to be intelligent, as you can see right now. It’s a sad reality that just repeats itself.

        4. Ian,

          then what GRP is trying to accomplish (more awareness, the need to fight back, protest) here is in vain? Because nothing will change. Not in the long run, not in a short period of time. The dysfunctional society will stay here for quite a while. If that is true then it is a sad conclusion. And basically the fight GRP is fighting is a lost fight/battle/war/cause.

  3. “Filipinos should learn to distinguish between them and to regard them separately, otherwise they’ll never hold their public officials accountable the proper way.”

    I never thought I’d come to a point in my life where I’d ponder solutions to societal ails or even give much consideration to public policy until
    I came to live in the Philippines. So much more do I now appreciate the society and culture in which I was raised.

    I often compare my experience of living here to a concept I learned during my undergrad years studying Physics. The concept entails a way of grasping the notion of multi-dimensional worlds, which is a consequence of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The idea of four or more dimensions escapes our imagination because there really isn’t anything we can compare it to except if we think of it this way:

    Imagine a being living in a two dimensional world all his life — all he knows is length and width. He lives in a flat world where the concept of height is non-existent. Now comes a being from a three dimensional world who tries to explain to Mr. 2D that there’s a 3D world, describing height and depth, but Mr. 2D thinks the visitor is very strange, spewing gibberish. Of course, Mr. 3D no matter what he does, cannot get his idea across to Mr. 2D.

    The interaction between the two is similar to that between a Filipino trapped in his very limited outlook in life and a first world visitor who sees what the problem is but is unable to communicate it to the local citizen. There needs to be radical changes in thinking and beliefs, i.e. a paradigm shift to get Mr. 2D to realize that his thinking was missing an entire dimension.

    1. Therein lies the unchanged truth about this nation: Filipinos don’t want change regardless if there’s a positive impact in the long run.

      If a foreigner criticizes our culture, that person will be declared Persona non grata immediately. If a local person points out someone’s flaws, the former will be branded as “conyo/pilosopo.”

      Another thing is that Filipinos hate to be intellectually challenged. Without knowledge, the drive to change is unaccomplished and this nation remains under control of the manipulative people in power.

    2. If the differences between a three-dimensional world and a two-dimensional one are too radically different to be communicated, what is the point? By your analogy, the two-dimensional creature will NEVER appreciate the world outside of his experience. It isn’t appropriate. This isn’t Edwin Abbot’s ‘Flatland.’ And humans, while we are limited in the understanding of four-dimensional objects, are still capable of viewing aspects of them in three dimensions.

      What happens in Western Europe and North America all take place in the same three-dimensional space as the Philippines. A polarised society that is at odds with the country’s legitimating principles is hardly unique to the Philippines. There are many who would argue the same basic problems afflict the United States and the UK. Truth be told, none of the challenges Filipinos face is so overwhelming that it cannot be resolved through timely, if painful, action. And it doesn’t require sidestepping into a hypercube to do it.

  4. I blame the media for this, they were the ones who incorporate showbiz to politics. For example, whenever a showbiz personality wants to run for office, the media flocks to that particular personality. The answer ” Gusto ko sana makatulong na totoo sa ating mga kababayan, hinde lamang ang mapasaya sila sa harap ng tv” is the most common and most used by these showbiz entities. The media will now start a special regarding that personalities life, acts of charity, good family etc. Combine all that and Viola!, you now have a new politician. They have now implanted that personality inside many of the Filipino minds.

    When electing government official, Filipinos believe what the media tells them rather than the capacity of that particular man to lead. Filipinos have a paranoid believe when it comes to electing officials, “ayoko ng matalino, kasi gugulangan lang tayo ng mga yun.”

  5. During the reign of the Roman Empire. If the people get restless. The Roman Emperors gave them : “Circus and Bread”. This was the reason , they built: the Roman Colloseum, and had Gladiator fights…they have also Chariots Races, at Circus Maximus…mocked Naval Battles…legal prostitutions…etc..

    The Television telenovelas, and programs; that have no sense, are in the TV waves. To entertain people. Divert their attentions. and take their “brainwashed minds”…So, we elected :movie stars, comedians, TV celebrities,etc… as our political leaders. Thinking, that their heroism on TV or cinema; will be translated into Realities in our lives. With the Heroes/heroines riding in the sunset…then, the end…they live happily ever after…The only trouble is: they Rode in the sunset, together with our taxmoney, in the form of Pork Barrel Funds. And, we remain as Dumb and Clueless with what happened. “Tinanso na…butas pa ang atin mga bulsa”…

  6. I’d go a little further and say that asking anyone personal questions when the inquirer is a total stranger is WAY out of line.
    An immigration official in the philippines once asked me what my political leanings were, what my income was, and what church I go to. It was all none of his business and when he asked me if the address I provided him with in my home country was a home, I told him “NO, its a tree.”. The fuckin idiot did not even realize what a moron he was being and when I started laughing at his dumb-ass? HA,LOL! He got upset, the idiot. Needless to say, we both hate each others guts. BUT, he will forever be a jack-ass,Whilst I will just be an “OK” type.

    1. please change your “over f**king whore” avatar name. you are a disgrace to other ofws’. don’t emphasize on the rights of the celebrities/actors, ask what are their qualifications to run for office. you also have a right to be a yellow blind item.

    2. I’m sure that since because you’re a paid hack:

      Do you what happens when we elect actors, celebrities, and last names and they keep throwing money to the poor? NOTHING is going to CHANGE!

      1. WOW, u call yourself ‘GOD’, wowo! Think a lot of yourself….whew!
        U R correct though, BUT it doesn’t matter who the President of the Philippines is now. It just doesn’t. The Philippines had its chance to become a major world player after WW2 and instead they blew that opportunity faster than a whore dropping her panties. and now? Just like the quick Lady, the Philippines is screwed and stinking. and with NO future. Take a look around. What do you see? The country is a mess, a total mess.Whereas Singapore and Japan, after WW2, built their countries into superior places, slow but sure,and now? As far as industry and commerce go? Much better places to live, by far. The Philippines ,in contrast, robbed and cheated each other and this is what has happened:A nation of a few Oligarchs/thieves that govern everyone else into poverty and enslavement. An unnecessary and total disgrace.

    3. Stoopid ejot yang post mo. isa kang zombie azz hole kaya ganito Pilipinas. dapat sa iyo ipadapa sa Scarborough Shoal para ibala sa Kanyon.

  7. A SHORTIE ON SUBLIMINAL PERCEPTION

    “Subliminal messages and perception are linked to the idea of mind control, and the roots of this are placed very far back in our history. Mind control is where an individual or group of individuals can be controlled without their awareness…”

    Thank God Adolf Hitler had no television to pass subliminal messages through celebrities and government functionaries! Nazi mind control was established through repeat the great lie black propaganda. If Hitler had television during his time he would have conquered the world without firing a single shot!

    The present use of subliminal messages is found in advertising and in political propaganda. Deceit and deception is acceptable in political black propaganda slogans and promises. BS Aquino’s matuwid na daan mantra sends a very strong subliminal message to the gullible and ignorant. Thank God his major major blunders and boo boos were revealed by the still free press and sectors of mass media! You cannot fool all of the people all of the time!

    1. Beware of slogans, promises, manipulated surveys and even visual images intended to deceive and control your minds. The weak minded, gullible and ignorant are the usual targets of mind control. Mind control can never affect those who are wise to the dark side of human nature. The learned and the experienced will never fall for subliminal messages. Now that you know… research the internet on subliminal perception/messages and mind control. Knowledge is power!

      1. In politics like advertising the strapline is all important.
        Today the nominations for the nobel peace prize close ( public nominations) and this is aquinos major goal.
        He wants ‘ champion of peace’ accompanying his name everytime it is mentioned to override the reality and sit alongside mummy’s ‘icon of democracy’.
        People who have no clue about cory aquino actually believe that. Remember we are not dealing with bright people, but followers, the unthinking masses.

  8. In politics like advertising the strapline is all important.
    Today the nominations for the nobel peace prize close ( public nominations) and this is aquinos major goal.
    He wants ‘ champion of peace’ accompanying his name everytime it is mentioned to override the reality and sit alongside mummy’s ‘icon of democracy’.
    People who have no clue about cory aquino actually believe that. Remember we are not dealing with bright people, but followers, the unthinking masses.

    1. @libertas

      The “champion of peace” should never receive the Nobel peace prize. The peace negotiations is both a farce and sham. While negotiations were ongoing IED bombs were being detonated in Mindanao. Projectile weapons attacks were also being initiated by the MILF criminal, bandit, terrorist group. The president committed multiple treason when he gave all the advantages and benefits to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. We stand to lose our territories in Mindanao! Every aspect of the signed agreements is patently unconstitutional! Mr. Aquino is creating a Pan Islamic Super State in Mindanao!

      1. I am not advocating but also know that the nobel prizes are also political in nature.
        Watch pnoy cosy up to obama in the next 3 months.
        ‘Give me the nobel peace prize and i will give you ‘bases’ in philippines.
        Just another aquino traitor.
        If you know the man you know his thinking.

        1. @Libertas, MORE total Bull-shit. If Obama wants bases he will TELL AQUINO he wants bases.
          and Aquino will say:”How many bases and where do you want them Mr. President?”.

          LOL @ U, as you think your such a fuckin know-it-all (Obama doesn’t decide who gets the Nobel prize!). & U have the nerve to talk down at others as if your a major intellect, even a ‘player’ in all of these goings on,HA! Like everyone else, you get one vote & in a banana republic no less, HA! LOL.
          SO how’s the ‘admin.’ that is ‘going down’ thing coming along, huh? Not sooooo good, huh? Oh yeah, U know what your talking about….NOT!

        2. Ah, The anti-intellectual! Jerzy/gerry/glenn
          At least no danger any one will ever call you an intellectual.
          Now go back to coloring in your comics.
          As dumb ass as they come.
          Politics, history, or economics not your forte. Is anything!

        3. keep lickin the admin balls. As he wont delete your comments, like he does mine!

          U know ur an idiot,BUT,much like the broken clock ur right once in a while!

    1. @TJ, The truth will get you thrown in jail, except in the Philippines where, instead of going to jail, you can get re-elected.

  9. I’ve recently been on a slurry of interviews for a IT position and I can’t understand why HR managers and interviewers keep asking me personal questions about my family or what I am like outside the office. I don’t think how I conduct my personal affairs will make me a better or worse candidate for that position neither will my family status tell of my skillset and expertise. Even “professionals” love to gossip in a supposedly business-like context like a applicant interview. What is this country coming to?

    1. In the U.S. it’s illegal to ask the interview personal questions such as age, marital status, religion, ethnicity, etc. the Philippines is a very unprofessional country.

      1. Anti-discrimination laws in the United States are, as the name implies, intended to prevent discrimination. That DOES NOT in any way reflect professionalism. Nor will they encourage employers to hire better, more professional workers in the Philippines if businesses here would adopt similar measures or, worse, are forced to implement them.

        As implied by Aryianna, it is a common belief that certain groups need government protection and that because businesses care more about profit than workers, they must be forced to provide benefits and opportunities EVERYONE, first to be employed and second, to improve their lives as employed workers. What reality shows us, however, is that in the actual workplace, such protection is more often than not, harmful to the protected group. Moreover, they are harmful to that other important part of the economy — the BUSINESS OWNERS who employ the workers the law is supposed to protect.

        The misguided fallacy Aryianna perpetuates may be disproved by simply looking at the historical data. Take for example the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed into law by George H. W. Bush in 1990, it was hailed as a means to employ MORE capable disabled workers. Instead, the EXACT OPPOSITE happened. When the law was signed, 59.8 percent of disabled men were employed. After the ADA passed, that figure DROPPED to 48.9 percent. The reason? When government creates a ‘protected group,’ some employers AVOID hiring members of that group. Instead of thinking what can you bring to my business, the employer asks, what harm can hiring this disabled person do to my company? How much will you cost me? It actually puts people at a disadvantage.

        The same goes for specialised laws that ‘protect’ women. In the US, employers must never ask ‘Might you start a family?’ But let’s be honest. While women work as hard as any man, a pregnant worker will impose costs. Responsibilities will have to be shifted around when she goes to her doctor’s appointments. When she goes on leave, either the company hires additional staff or her colleagues are forced to pick up her workload. Potential employers now look at women and think: ‘Can she sue us?’ That makes it less likely that a woman is hired for the job because the cost of employing one is raised; the law DID NOT improve life for the group it was designed to protect.

      2. “In the U.S. it’s illegal to ask the interview personal questions such as age, marital status, religion, ethnicity, etc. the Philippines is a very unprofessional country.”

        Age & marital status can often be found on the employee’s resume (CV). Ethnicity can be seen during the job interview. Employers – nowadays – may or will also check your Facebook and or Linkedin account. Questions such as asking a woman if she is still thinking of getting pregnant is not allowed (legally).
        From a employer’s point of view, I can understand that he/she is more willing to hire a unmarried person because they are often more flexible (a less “from 9 to 5” mentality). This also applies with employees without kids. Employees that are not married and have no kids are often more flexible and more loyal to their work.

        1. Robert,

          The problem as touched on by redLeader and Aryianna isn’t about what companies should or shouldn’t be allowed to ask potential employees. This completely misses the point.

          It is a mistake to assume that certain groups need protection and that businesses need to be forced to go along with that assumption. Worse, the reasoning from that premise leads to the creation of ‘single’ rule solutions in the form of anti-discrimination legislation to address the perceived problem.

          What reality tells us is that when government creates a universal rule, it overrides all the diverse solutions that educated, independent and enlightened individuals can work out with increasingly flexible businesses. There is no one single formula that can strike just the right balance to please everyone, least of all the workers. But if it were left to a free market, we could potentially see a multitude of employer-employee arrangements that could satisfy nearly everyone.

        2. Johnny,

          I second that completely. But thats not the way how it is done today. Although I dont think you very last line/sentence will ever come to fruition. I think its even naieve to think it will work.

          Let me give you an example:
          I am not sure – as employer – I would hire an employee that is disabled (in a wheel chair for instance). Why? Maybe/probably I have to rebuild some of my buildings/offices to accommodate that person (i.e. toilets, entrance, elevators, canteen, desk etc).

          If that disabled person was the best among all 10 applicants, then I might consider. But if an abled person is better (for me to hire) than an disabled person, I will hire the “able” person. And that criteria will always surface, no matter what.

        3. Still — we have to start somewhere. And identifying the problem is crucial. I drew the conclusion from data that was collected since the slew of anti-discrimination laws were passed.

          It may be naive but as you said, we have to be idealists. 😉

        4. “Maybe/probably I have to rebuild some of my buildings/offices to accommodate that person (i.e. toilets, entrance, elevators, canteen, desk etc).”

          It isn’t just the employers that worry about this. Restaurants, retail establishments and service companies in the US have to worry about being sued because the dining tables are too high or there aren’t enough access ramps around the place of business or the court might decide that the compensation for the perceived discrimination is not enough and nothing short of retrofitting work spaces will suffice. Those kinds of considerations kill many good things, often at the cost of thousands of dollars.

    2. Like Aryianna, redLead’s comment seems intuitive. But it’s also narrow-minded. When a company hires someone, it’s supposed to be because they are the ‘most qualified’ or ‘the best one for the job.’ What most potential employees fail to appreciate are the other factors that weigh in on the decision to hire that person. Including the ‘intangibles’ — the less objectively quantifiable criteria for assessing a person.

      To assume that what happens in the employer-employee relationship is that bosses grudgingly fork over fistfuls of cash to the ‘common man’ after a full day’s work is a very shallow, overly simplified understanding of the work environment. What actually happens is a voluntary exchange for mutual benefit.

      Companies have an incentive to treat workers well. That is, they need to provide the best compensation and benefits as well as a top-notch working environment to attract the best workers with excellent skills. That kind of inclusive policy allows them to thrive and become more profitable.

      At the same time, that represents a significant investment. And companies have the right to expect, at the very least, some loyalty from their employees as a result. They wouldn’t want them to be posting videos on YouTube that embarrass the company, for example. Or to find out that the new crew working in IT is using the company’s servers to download copyrighted material off torrent sites. As such, it makes sense for companies to glean some information about a potential employee’s background aside from that person’s technical expertise.

  10. Something I’ve been wondering: is there any tradition of self-deprecating humour in the Philippines? Or cynical satire on a national platform, along the lines of The Daily Show in the US?

    I see plenty of people earnestly criticising the government on social media, but do Filipinos ever laugh at themselves? Or do they only direct their scorn down the perceived social ladder?

  11. Well, this makes few would say why not abolish elections and replace it with examination system? Let neocameralism do its way.

  12. Mga Hapones dito, matindihan ‘to.

    If our loyalists such as Marcos Loyalists, want militarization with the government rather than showbiz because it needs discipline and authoritarian government to suppress corruption and freedom.

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