How to stop Philippine Media’s systematic dumbing down of an entire nation

It is pretty much a no-brainer. The idea that the Philippines’ entertainment industry is a massive contributor to accelerating erosion of the collective intellect of Filipinos has long been a widely-accepted fact in Philippine society. As far back as 2006, Isagani Cruz wrote about this in an Inquirer article. I cited the key excerpt in Cruz’s article in my book

Benjamin Franklin said that if the people misuse their suffrages, the remedy is not to withdraw the precious privilege from them but to teach them in its proper use. The entertainment industry, which has the most available access to the [Filipino] people through the movies, television, radio and the tabloids, is instead purposely miseducating them.

The Philippine entertainment industry is not only a vast wasteland, as television has been described in America, but a vicious instrument for the abatement of the nation’s intelligence. The shows it offers for the supposed recreation of the people are generally vulgar and smutty, usually with some little moral lesson inserted to make them look respectable, but offensive nonetheless. On the whole, they are obnoxious and unwholesome and deserve to be trashed.

The indiscriminate audience eagerly laps them up because it has not been taught to be selective and more demanding of better quality shows for their pastime. In fact, the easily satisfied fans have been taught the exact opposite reaction — to accept whatever garbage the industry offers them and, to add insult to their injury, to pay for it too. The leaders of the entertainment industry are supposed to be responsible people but they have evaded their duty to elevate the taste of their mostly unthinking supporters. They have instead cheapened them into a mass of automated individuals whose ultimate joy is to roll up in the aisles at the lewd jokes of potential senators.

Politics and showbiz jointly conspire to dumb down entire generations of Filipinos.
Politics and showbiz jointly conspire to dumb down entire generations of Filipinos.
In principle, however, the trashy content being pumped by Philippine media into Filipinos’ homes, computers, and mobile devices merely reflects the society’s overall character and tastes — because the entertainment industry is a free competitive market and we are a society that upholds freedom of expression as one of our foremost ideological pillars. As such, it can be argued that, well, in their showbiz industry, Filipinos are merely exercising their freedom to be stupid.

End of conversation?

Sure, why not? If Filipinos are willing to pay good money for crap, that’s just the free market in all its wondrous wisdom at work. ABS-CBN get their million-peso blockbuster hit and Filipinos get their Pinoy Big Brother fix. Everybody’s happy.

Seeing that we’ve bet the intellectual development of generations of Filipinos on the free market, it would seem that the Philippines is pretty much imprisoned in a vicious cycle that will see the entire society ultimately spiralling into moronic oblivion. Filipinos will keep forking out hard-earned cash to see increasingly mediocre products which big media conglomerates will happily churn out in mind-numbingly vast quantities at enormous profit. Bad content, sustaining bad taste which, in turn fuels more demand for bad content. It’s a doomed society.

Compare this to the original public service charter of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The BBC was created by Royal Charter as the state broadcasting monopoly in 1927 under the direction of the 12 members of the BBC Trust. These members are each appointed by the British monarch and while they enjoy complete independence in the running of the BBC, its primary purpose, summarised by John Reith, its first Managing Director, is to “educate, inform, entertain”, a key part of its mission statement to this day.

The BBC remained a television broadcasting monopoly in the United Kingdom from 1927 to 1954 and its monopoly on radio was broken up only as recently as 1972. But even after broadcasting in the UK was opened to competition, the BBC remains the dominant media organisation there and its values have remained largely consistent to its original charter. Public service remains its primary function and today is governed along the lines of the following set of principles :

– Sustaining citizenship and civil society;
– Promoting education and learning;
– Stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
– Representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities; and,
– Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK.

Furthermore, its current version of the charter demands that the BBC “must display at least one of the following characteristics in all content: high quality, originality, innovation, to be challenging and to be engaging” and that it must “demonstrate that it provides public value in all of its major activities.”

In considering the BBC experience, perhaps there is value in reconsidering the approach to mass communication in the Philippines given the clearly evident immaturity of its society and the formidable challenges the country faces in uplifiting the intellectual faculties of its people.

While there is clear merit in media freedom, this freedom does not seem to have been applied wisely in the Philippines as Cruz observed in his 2006 Inquirer essay. While that freedom in principle will have ideally encouraged diversity in culture, thinking, and production, media production in the Philippines has, instead, gravitated into today’s dominant monoculture of shallow cinema, trashy television, unoriginal music, and offensive Web content. Suffice to say, unleashing “media freedom” in the Philippines was the equivalent of granting a seven-year-old child unlimited access to the Internet.

Indeed, common parental sense dictates that children’s access to media be closely supervised. Only when a person is mature enough and equipped with the right breeding and conceptual tools to set limits to herself when consuming media does she earn the right to determine how much or how little television she can watch every night.

From that perspective, it is clear that Filipinos have not earned the right to exercise full freedom in both the production and consumption of media. The results of the foolish thinking that Filipinos are entitled to that right are evident today — in the utter intellectual bankruptcy, scarcity of originality, and dearth of imagination that characterises the Philippines’ cultural landscape.

Perhaps it is not too late to at least consider doing things differently.

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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47 Comments on "How to stop Philippine Media’s systematic dumbing down of an entire nation"

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Chibi_cute
Guest

There is nothing left of philippine cinema most of the local movies today lacks quality and made nothing more for cash grabbing. And are dumbed down to cater to the lowest common denominator aka.. dumb teenagers/women who likes watching stupid romance teenage movies.

Thomas Jefferson
Guest
The bottom line is media outlets in the Philippines lack professionalism. in many instances the following exists: 1. Coverage for political circuses and expediency. Nuisance candidates get elected because money talks. 2. Trial by publicity, black propaganda character assassination and even manipulated surveys. Lack of ethics is apparent. 3. Paid hacks in media for hire presstitutes. 4. Nonsense entertainment without values, scruples, morals or truth. 5. Paid propaganda of the present dictatorship allowed in even demolition jobs, character assassination and vilification. 6. Lack of truth in even advertising. 7. Use of lies, falsehoods and deception in matters of altered history… Read more »
Nitramy
Guest

Too bad your precious BBC has been hijacked by “multiculturalists”, “feminists”, and “leftists” crying wolf while Islamic fundamentalists take over…

Richarddr1234
Guest
Since you mentioned the BBC, may I make an observation about their programming. One of my favorite shows is produced by BBC. It is actually a car show, Top Gear. Since it is a car show, its supposed to be just about cars right? No. They manage to make it entertaining–full of your usual English tongue in cheekness, satire and national stereotyping. More than once, that show got a lot of flak for mentioning a national characteristic that isn’t flattering: They were stoned in USA by hicks for painting “NASCAR Sucks” on one of their cars. Lol.; and they are… Read more »
Dave
Guest
I read recently that the dearth of quality in Hollywood movies is largely thanks to international markets lapping up brainless CGI robot flicks and superheroes over anything more substantial that might be lost in translation. The massive audience of China is the biggest single offender, thanks to its size, but 100 million Filipinos are doing their part too. You only have to look at Pinoy box office takings to see that it’s mainly kids’ films being watched by all ages. Americans have woken up to this, with a major decline in box office takings this year as more people migrate… Read more »
ken collins
Guest

LOVE Top Gear !!!!

Jmac
Guest
“Suffice to say, unleashing “media freedom” in the Philippines was the equivalent of granting a seven-year-old child unlimited access to the Internet.” They probably won’t know what to do with that. Actually for me it’s more like the entertainment industry is making the choices for them by giving kids unlimited access to things that they themselves are likely to want, like candies and/or matches no matter how harmful these things can be to their long-term health and safety, and these kids gleefully gobble up these things with gusto. I also observed that commercials in Pinoy channels take up a huge… Read more »
PoundTheAlarm
Guest
LONG POST: I think as a country’s economy develops, its cultural/creative industries come along with it. I remember South Korea’s TV had incredibly poor quality in the 70s and 80s, and as it entered the developed country club its media and creative industries developed. Quality dramas or films are still buried under a sea of crappy romantic comedies and, though some good productions have been recognized internationally (Oldboy, Reply 1997 are good examples). Mainstream news media has a lot of variety if you don’t want pro-Park Geun Hye garbage. Though I do think that media can play a role in… Read more »
Sea Bee
Guest

People seem to like whatever they are fed. Many in the provinces can only get one channel. For them it is either ABS-CBN or nothing. With nothing of quality to compare the commercial laden crap that they are watching to; they are not going to know any better. The production values of Pinoy television and movies are incredibly poor. For me, the comedy/ gameshow genre is really abominable. Its constant idiotic laughtrack and cornball cartoon sound effects annoys the hell out of me. My housemates can’t get enough of it.

Jim DiGriz
Guest

“My housemates can’t get enough of it.”

Time to find a different place before your brain turns to mush. I honestly feel sorry for you, that you have to share your quarters with a bunch of sub-humans.

Pallacertus
Guest

I’ll just say that 1) with all due respect to Mr. Cruz, pontificating about things he assumes he knows (about the supposed “duty” of the media to provide worthy cultural material to the masses, for one) can only end badly, and 2) I just wish a veteran media guy or film or art critic gets to this page and trashes it for its hoity-toity highhandedness.

Jmac
Guest
Whatever one’s name and/or standing, even if he is Noli De Castro or Boy Abunda, has little bearing on the main points made in this article. So what if he’s a veteran? If a veteran media guy happens upon this article and reads it and then expresses his disagreement, does that mean the points raised in the article are wrong? Of course not. I can say that when it rains it often floods here in the Philippines and that the government is responsible for ensuring that flood control measures are up to task, even if the President himself disagrees, does… Read more »
Pallacertus
Guest
The problem with saying that “the Pinoy media is A/B/C” is that those who say it often did not themselves go into the media professions, or went there for a really short time, and thus form a concept of how the thing works from the outside looking in — which might be incisive at points of common knowledge, but not as penetrating and certainly not as informative as looking from the inside. Of course one is permitted to voice his opinions as much as he is permitted to fart whenever, but I’d personally lean more towards the views of someone… Read more »
Jmac
Guest
Is it coercive that some segments of the market demand higher-quality products? I don’t think anything suggested here is coercive. If that’s coercive for you, then you should call the MTRCB coercive, and they shouldn’t ban or prohibit explicitly violent or sexual broadcasts in primetime television. They are also being highhanded, according to you. So why should it necessarily be that a person has to be involved in such and such for an arbitrary length of time in order to qualify to comment on such things, if the comment itself and points raised therein are valid? Following your line of… Read more »
sj
Guest
hey benign0. I’ve been reading (and watching) since your early days in youtube. I’d like to help make this website more readable and eye-friendlier. I have enough know-how, I’d do it for free (or for snacks, lol) and if you’re not satisfied with it I’d ask help so I wouldn’t waste your time. Its just that I believe in what youre doing here and I promised myself years ago that I would help. (you actually replied to me in youtube but I can’t sign in to that account anymore. anyway just tell me where I can send you my contact… Read more »
sancho alconce
Guest

I thought TV5 of MVP would be different. But I was disappointed. It turned out to be a poor imitation of the two leading networks.

Josemaria
Guest

Yeah! I thought they would not have “Kanto” Broadcasters,Tacky Comedians and the like. PERO SAYANG NA NAMAN TALAGA. I now watch Objective News Channels like Russia Today.

Hydren Toro
Guest
Aquino has hired foreign consultants, to advise his Media Propaganda Machine. These foreign consultants are following the NAZI TACTIC of the late , Joseff Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister of NAZI Fuhrer Adolph Hitler of NAZI Germany. The first stage they use was the Media; then, the Cinema; then the Radio Broadcast…programs and stories. They have to make the German people DUMB; so that all the Truth accepted are from the NAZI Fuhrer… There were even: Hitler Youth; Hitler Brides; SS Army – Hitler’s Political Army. So, watch out those in the Armed Forces. If they are loyal to Aquino; or… Read more »
Pallacertus
Guest

I’ll just point out that the efficacy of Goebbels’ propaganda machine in manufacturing opinion favorable to the Nazi Party in anything outside of Holocaust policy (something that all parties involved save of course the Jews agreed on with rage and haste and glee) is open to question — and leave it at that for the moment.

Lol
Guest

Just Aquino? All of the politicians are crap. No exceptions!

ChinoF
Member

Even the use of Tagalog for dubbing foreign movies and shows seems to serve a “dumbing down” purpose too. It makes sure local watchers are unable to understand properly the concepts on some shows that help people think. Imagine Filipinos understanding The Matrix and what it makes some people do: think. Tagalog translations tend to be diluted and inaccurate, and further keep the public at large from learning things that would other instill in them as sense of initiative and independence. No wonder the English language is still best for media today.

Jim DiGriz
Guest

This can all be fixed.

TURN THAT SHIT OFF!

Jim DiGriz
Guest

P.S.: regarding you picture posted.

They look up to heaven?

I hope they get taken soon!

anarcticmonkeysfan
Guest

Couldn’t agree more. I remember during the week when two MRT train derailed, ABS-CBN(I don’t watch GMA) treated it as if China is going to bomb the spratly islands…long, unnecessary,annoying coverage esp.if you’re from Mindanao and donot even commute on MRT and at the same time a foreign news agency broadcast that the Philippines is one of the number leading producer of child pornography..ABS-CBN never broadcast anything about it…i don’t know when…but it is a serious national problem and deserve to be in the news.

tomas
Guest
if i were a damned media owner here, being a pinoy, id probably resort to that practice too. totally wrong of course, but i’ve observed that altruism is not exactly a virtue in these parts. this country is like one huge blackhole or a pit where everyone is desperately trying to claw themselves out of. and when they happen to get out of it (literally or figuratively), a helping hand—or even so much as a glimpse back to the others they left behind—would be nothing short of a miracle. this is a place where self above all things comes first.… Read more »
walter paul komarnicki
Guest
walter paul komarnicki

the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is modeled on the BBC and among its outstanding programs is Four Corners, an investigative doco that has won countless awards, and I remember it mainly being responsible for kickstarting a Royal Commission after a report by Chris Masters into the corruption in Queensland politics, which has become all but a police state and a front for prostitution and organized crime. Maybe some day a program of this sort will happen here, but it won’t be sponsored by the ‘free’ market, that’s for sure.

T
Guest

anatomy of a teleserye:
the bida is always good-hearted, good looking, god-fearing, NEVER INTELLIGENT
through hard work (labor) and belief in god, the bida overcomes life trials (NO BRAIN POWER USED)
the antagonist always tries to be smart but ends up foiled because of one loose end (THEREFORE DUMBER THAN THE AUDIENCE)

so kids, better GOOD-HEARTED than SMART… because intelligence turns you into a diabolical madman/woman and god is there to see that you are brought to justice

Hyden Toro
Guest

@T

This is the reason they elected Actors and Actresses; who are DUMBER than their audiences…

ken collins
Guest

When Im in the Philippines i take three or four books with me to read .The Filipinos can watch brain dead garbage all night while i read a book by myself .

cha
Guest

it’s already too late…

T.s.indio
Guest

With Heneral Luna? Not yet…

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