False Dichotomies: Black And White Stupidity

When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Transformers and the G.I. Joe cartoons. I would sometimes try to go home a little earlier than usual just to see Optimus Prime and Megatron slugging it out in space or see Snake Eyes trying to stop Metalhead from blowing up another considerable amount of public property. Well, those were the days…

Anyway, as I grew up, I noticed that a lot of my friends had taken a liking for Gundam Wing. While the show also had robots (or mechs, if you want to be more accurate), I didn’t completely understand the show at the time (I was a kid after all) so I didn’t really watch it all that much. Unlike the animated shows I was accustomed to, there were no clear “good guys” and no clear “bad guys” in the Gundam Wing series. There were people who stood out because of the “good” things they did for people and there those who you kinda hated because of their “bad” attitude but, in terms of intentions, they all seemed too alike to be differentiated. It was very different, say, from the Autobots, who were always good and the Decepticons, who were always bad in Transformers. But of course, again, I was just a kid and “moral ambiguity” wasn’t something I could understand at the time.

good_vs_evilLater on in life, as I began to understand history on a global scale and global standards (meaning, I read non-local sources for history), I began to realize that real life was a lot closer to Gundam Wing than it was to Transformers. While there were indeed people who stood out for the good that they did and people who were quite obvious dicks, everyone had their reasons for doing what they did with some being sympathetic and others not being sympathetic. There were even those who started off as good people such as Josef Mengele and Osama Bin Laden who ended up becoming some of the worst people in existence and there were those like Oskar Schindler and the Knights Templar who started with less than noble intents but ended up doing all kinds of good. Then there are people like Vlad the Impaler and Nobunaga Oda who were truly ruthless men whose actions had some unexpected (or possibly even expected) positive results for their people. See, life isn’t really as simple as children’s shows after all.

Unfortunately, it seems that majority of Filipinos still adhere to the idea that one thing is either “all good” or “all bad”. Certainly, the media does not help in making things any clearer to its audience. Always, they are quick to label something “good” or “bad” without any consideration for the other parties. For instance, in almost all infidelity shows/films, the other woman is always considered the villain even if the real wife could actually be worse or could also be cheating on her husband. Always, one side is always depicted as purely “white” and the other is completely “black”. There will rarely be, if even just a little, redeeming qualities in the villain and the heroes will almost never be depicted doing anything other than doing good for others. While I know that people will always have a will of their own beyond the TV, I can’t help but notice that its misguidance contributes to the overall stupidity of common Filipinos.

On Tvtropes.org, the kind of genre wherein the protagonists are always good and the bad guys are always bad is called “black and white” morality, appropriately enough. Reality however is a little more ambiguous than that and much closer to being “gray” rather than solid “black” or “white”. The media and the more misinformed parts of society however tend to categorize everything into just black and white, resulting in what is called a “false dichotomy”, which can just be broken down into two sides such as “with us or against us”, “good and evil” or simply just “us and them”. Real life offers more than just two options in most situations and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to find middle-ground with people who are considerate and open-minded. Black and white morality in shows can be entertaining and even beneficial, especially when used in children’s programs because it helps establish an idea of morality in them.

However, when you start applying the false dichotomy of black and white morality onto real life, it becomes something else entirely. Again, according to Tvtropes, when a person sees reality as black and white, it then becomes “black and white insanity”. This is often the case for a lot of some of the less righteous of people in history such as Hitler with his Jews=bad and Nazis=good, Stalin and his Capitalists=bad and Communists=good and Pol Pot’s Intellectuals=bad and Masses=good. But what makes all of this worse is that the Philippine media and society actually endorses this kind of mindset especially when it comes to politics.

It started with ideas like Japanese=bad and Americans=good, to Marcos=bad and Aquino=good and, at present, Binay=bad and Aquino=good. Don’t let yourselves be fooled by this foolish propaganda. The misguided elements of the country are just trying to pull another “false dichotomy” on you. They insist that, if you don’t support Aquino, then you support Binay when, in fact, this can’t be further from the truth. It’s quite clear that both these men and their respective families are both corrupt and just trying to manipulate the citizenry of the Philippines again.

Propaganda about Aquino vs. Binay is really nothing more than a ploy to empower both factions. I think that they themselves have put forth this concept to divide the thinking of the people and mislead them into thinking that one or the other is the best choice when they are both clearly just in it for themselves. They’re dividing us so that we can be more easily manipulated for their own ends.

Like the demons of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, it’s clear that these factions only want us to swing from extremes instead of making steady progress from the middle-ground. They’re trying to fool us with our “Pinoy Pride” and force us to think that one side is right and the other is wrong despite the fact that they are both full of it. They’re trying to make Noynoy look like Optimus Prime and Binay appear as Megatron (or vice versa) despite the fact that its more like Noynoy is Unicron and Binay is the Devil Gundam (or vice versa).

There are options everywhere people, we just need to look them over. Please people, let’s think outside the box our politicians and media have put our brains in. Maybe it’s not too late for the Philippines but that will only matter if we can think carefully about our decisions and make the best of them.

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5 Comments on “False Dichotomies: Black And White Stupidity”

  1. It is NOT a revelation that life is not as simple as a TV cartoon series.The Philippines is a failed state for a reason, and the people there keep thinking that some politician is going to come along and lift the country out of the depths of poverty it consistently finds itself in are just fuckin dreaming.
    Thinking that this situation is going to change through the actions of the people with in the current framework the society is mired in is a fantasy.Yet the people of the country keep thinking along the same lines and the same shit keeps happening and so it is quite obvious,NO?
    IF IF IF the current situation is not changed through radical ACTION, all the thinking in the collective consciousness of the Filipino will not make a shred of difference.the FAIL-ippines wil be in the same condition it has been in since 1965 (or 1948) for the next 50 years if the Filipino people do not do get rid of the current system! BUT, they do not have the balls to do it, so good luck, your fucked.REALITY: The country is run and controlled by a criminal syndicate. the country has been carved up into little fiefdoms, full of slaves that have no say in anything.Go vote,HA….Good luck with that.
    SO, what is the collective Filipino going to do about it? Nothing, and it is obvious.

    1. @ JAMES GANG
      They, the collective, are the very definition of “sheeple”. Balls is not lacking, but minds. They are docile minds and able bodies that are but another rubber stamp in this country’s sham democracy.

      But do consider that the collective Filipino is currently past any hope for any action for them to independently undertake that would have a positive and lasting impact on society and country. The collective we find ourselves in is predominantly materialistically-challenged. Their minds are crippled by the media and an inadequate education, their bodies enslaved to toil and to work for a family or lifestyle they couldn’t support, a soul that is chained through misdirection and misinterpretation religion and a spirit, in that of an individual, community and nation, that never understood greatness or true freedom.

      They are far more concerned with the most basic essentials in life. They are trapped in a struggle for survival. This is not an excuse for the collective, but a reminder of the harsh reality that they endure. This is to balance the passions that drives reckless blaming and to point ills solely on them which is simplistic and ultimately having little effect in itself. Relying on them for change is already plain naive, what more challenging them to make a change?

      This society finds itself seeking people of influence, intellect and integrity to initiate change. This society is seeking for these people for it is the relatively simplest way, since the alternative would be to address a whole system of problems that requires everyone to cooperate (yet another whole system of problems). Who is that “everyone”? You will only find sheep there.

  2. I have still to see a Filipino politician, that is Good…most of them are Rotten to the Core.
    They feast on our Taxpayers’ money. Misappropriate funds for their pockets.

    Aquino is the worst Thief, the Philippines, ever had, as President. He paid the MILF/ISIS/AL QUEDA billions of pesos, to buy peace.

    Now, they used the money to buy Arms, to butcher our Police/Soldiers…

    “Evil, you are now my Good”, as Nitchze stated…

  3. The simplistic “good guy vs. bad guy” mentality pervades what people see on network television. Most dramas are formulaic, unimaginative, and of course, must have a little violence, tears and sex. Men are capable, young, muscular, and stoic. Women are impossibly slender, have large breasts, wear high heels, and can handle a gun as well as any man.

    Fortunately, the advent of cable television and streaming outlets like Netflix, have allowed new types of genre to develop. Morally ambiguous characters like those shown in HBO’s “The Sopranos” or AMC’s “Breaking Bad” are breaking new ground. The brutal gangster who is nonetheless a kind, loving, and doting father; or the high school chemistry teacher who cooks illegal drugs in his lab in order to provide for his family’s future because he is dying of lung cancer, are just two examples of a more believable and therefore more compelling type of drama. European shows offer a different type of perspective, as well.

    What are the implications of this new type of realism? How does it affect how we see others?

    1) Do not judge the person; but the behavior, instead.

    2) Judging a person’s entire life based upon one mistake they have made or one character flaw is self righteous and simple minded.

    3) Thinking that you know the worth of someone based upon some stereotyped category that you have placed them in, is wrong and shows a lack of empathy and self reflection.

    4) Be prepared to be judged by the same standards you use to judge others.

    Does this mean we should not judge others? Of course not. “Judging the actions of others and communicating that judgement is the way ethical standards are established and maintained.” Holding our leaders accountable and responsible for their actions is what democracy is all about. However, keep in mind proportionality. That is what is missing in most of the judgements levied against our leaders in the comments section of GRP.

    http://www.ethicsscoreboard.com/rb_fallacies.html

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