After noticing that a lot of readers seem to have appreciated my first article about what else they can watch asides from the mind-destroying shows that seem to infest our airwaves, I decided that I can perhaps provide additional reviews and recommendations on some other noteworthy programs and films.
Let’s get this straight, I believe that people have a right to watch what they want to. Unfortunately, I will also say that watching too much of the same thing is never good. For a moment, let’s compare the media to food. Food is sustenance for the body while media is sustenance for the mind. Food is important for survival but remember also that nutritious food like vegetables and fish makes one healthy while junk food will do more harm than good to your body. The same can be said about media. Watching brainless shows like Tom & Jerry, Showtime, Oggy and the Cockroaches, The Legal Wife and Sergeant Frog might have their merits but watching nothing but them probably won’t be very good for your social life and mental health.
So here is another line-up of things worth seeing or playing if you want to keep your mind sharp in a country that seeks to dull it into oblivion…
Science of Stupid
Hosted by Ramon Bautista himself, this is a show that focuses on the laws of physics and what happens when you try to argue with them. To all the people who Ramon Bautista offended in Davao, I’m not saying that you should like the guy himself, just watch the show. Of course, I know that it was sort of insulting but I, for one, would rather listen to the jerk who knows what he’s talking about rather than the idiot who spouts only sarcastic but nonsensical quips that are allegedly “funny” (I’m looking at you Vice Ganda).
Anyway, Science of Stupid deals with physics and how working with it can improve what you’re trying to do and how defying it will end quite badly in your part. For instance, in one episode, they showed the laws that governed powered flight and how one can make rudimentary flying machines from one’s own home. They also showed that without the help of professionals or people who actually know what they’re doing, your rudimentary flying machine can cause the unwanted destruction of private and public property as well as considerable amounts of personal injury. As a side note, I have seen quite a few people on the internet who have attempted to imitate Batman from the Dark Knight series with his cape-glider. The results, needless to say, are mixed and often lean on the negative.
Beyond the funny quips and slapstick humor Science of Stupid offers us, it also shows the right way of doing things and why flying vigilantes aren’t all that common in real life. So if you’re the experimenting sort who’s out to try out a new sport, an inventor out to make a name for yourself or a simple bystander that needs to do something, perhaps you should try watching this on the National Geographic Channel. Also, if you’re still unable to overlook or forgive Ramon Bautista, I believe the show has a British version with a different host.
Ink is a strange and artistic film that is very different from the norm. An indie film released in 2009 with a small budget of just about $250,000 or roughly 1,000,000 pesos (I know it’s still quite costly, but it’s probably nothing compared to the budget of the new Panday film, Braybeyt Benjamin or the horror that was My Big Bossing), it was an urban fantasy film that reminded me somewhat of an old fantasy show on ABS-CBN called Hirayamanawari (one of the better local shows of my childhood, I should say). The film was directed by Jamin Winans and had a cast of fairly obscure actors and actresses.
Nonetheless, the film had some very interesting themes and concepts that are certainly worth exploring, especially in our society. Anyway, the film features three factions of spirits called storytellers (angelic beings who give people good dreams), incubi (demonic beings who give people nightmares) and drifters (who are mostly neutral and take no sides). Both storytellers and incubi interact with humans indirectly on a regular basis by whispering ideas to them or causing subtle influences on the environment to cause a chain reaction.
The film possesses a more symbolic premise than a solid one with more “implications” than actual facts stated so don’t expect a coherent plot and expect quite a bit of fridge logic. Nonetheless, the ideas it presents are quite interesting and deserve some exploration as they provide some insight on human nature.
Take for instance the incubi who are the villains of the film. The typical incubus looks like your typical sharply-dressed businessman with a tailored black suit. However, what makes them different is the presence of a flat-screen-like mask that obscures or distorts their faces. The screen-like masks all depict a face with an unsettling smile that is supposed to imply a sense of apathy to them as if they’re trying to show that everything is alright even though it’s clear that it is very far from it, not far from the way that Pinoys like to smile as a defense-mechanism. Another thing to note about the incubi is their use of pride to worsen people’s lives. In the story proper, an incubus can often be seen with the protagonist, tempting him with ambition, angering him with a sense of entitlement and drowning him in fits of despair and self-pity.
I would certainly like to tell more but that would be spoiling the film. So, if it seems interesting so far, I strongly suggest you go see it. You can even download it for free as its director seems to think this is a good way to get the word out for a good film.
Mass Effect has a lot of fun stuff to it and listing them all here might make this article too long so I’ll just try to focus on its more important aspects. For those not in the know, Mass Effect is a game where you take the role of a soldier named Commander (insert name here) Shepard who lives in a galaxy that looks like a combination of Star Trek, Star Wars and just about every other famous space opera. The whole game is praised for being very customizable as you can make Commander Shepard male or female, have a specific area of combat expertise and even make him or her look like you! But now for what makes is so special:
A lesson in empathy. The thing is, especially in our society, people who are different from the norm often become victims of discrimination. Due to insecurity and immaturity, we tend to divide ourselves and try to place ourselves in what we believe is the “moral high ground” in almost every argument even when we clearly are not. Mass Effect deconstructs this concept mercilessly with the idea that even some of the villains of the piece are just people who are only doing what they think is best. It even goes on to show that even some of the hostile alien races of the setting also have a reason for the bad things that they do and, when given the chance, may even choose to change their ways and become better people.
Acceptance of homosexuals. Despite what the media may claim, shows like My Husband’s Lover, Praybeyt Benjamin or Zsazsa Zaturnnah do not deconstruct society’s perception of gays, it enforces it. In the end, these shows only depict gays as something to be laughed at or reviled instead of being accepted as common people. Mass Effect, on the other hand, have individuals like Steve Cortez who is a simple but efficient gay mechanic/engineer who misses his dead partner and the bisexual Kaidan Alenko who is essentially just another marine that is tough, reliable, deadly when it counts and is willing to love people of both genders. There are others also like Samantha Traynor, a lesbian officer who seems like any other woman save for her quirky hypochondriac reactions and her allergy to curry. The Mass Effect series has been lauded almost all over the world because of the way it presents homosexual and bisexual people in the most humanizing way possible instead of portraying them as flamboyant or devious individuals.
The weight of decisions. Created by the company Bioware who is responsible for other renowned titles like Neverwinter Nights and its sequel as well as the ever-controversial Dragon Age series, Mass Effect offers players a wide degree of dialogue options with other characters as well as what actions to take during some conversations. However, the game also expounds that every decision you make holds weight over the whole course of the game or even the entire series. If you give into your emotions and hurt a group of people in a certain part of the game, don’t expect them to help you later on when any kind of help is crucial for victory. If you were you kind enough to help a troubled man even with just a word of encouragement, he might come around near the end to provide you with much needed aid. If you decide to put your foot down and stand up for what’s right despite how difficult it is, expect to earn the respect of even the most stubborn of people. Considering the fact that Philippine history is filled with so many bad decisions and over-emotional reactions, Mass Effect might just offer you some insight on how best to approach a crucial choice instead of letting your overblown emotions take charge.
Happy watching and gaming everyone!
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