The Establishment Blogger and the Globe Tattoo Tatt Awards 2011

Again, we have an on-going “blog contest”, the Globe Tattoo Tatt Awards that applies some veeerrrryyyy familiar mechanics around who they consider to be deserving of “recognition” across a handful of categories. These categories divide up the general subject areas that blogs tend to focus on — activism, issues, technology, fashion, and entertainment — and the awards given for each are given catchy names: The One, Ballbreaker, Stylisimo, Tech Junkie, Artiste, and Wordslayer to name a few.

Who gets to win? Basically the most popular among a list of nominated blogs wins…

Winners are decided by public voting and a panel of judges christened The Tatt Council. Members of The Tatt Council include Dong Ronquillo; award-winning journalist Maria Ressa; Rock Ed Philippines founder Gang Badoy; popular lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur Cecile Zamora-Van Straten; tech blogger and Tattoo ambassador Rico Mossesgeld; director and video blogger Kring Elenzano; Radio DJ Chico Garcia and Hans Roxas-Chua, president of the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP).

It is interesting to note that Globe Telecoms had been a sponsor of “blog contests” in the past. I wrote in 2010 of Globe Telecoms’ sponsorship of the Philippine Blog Awards (PBA) as a context to frame a concept which I describe using a phrase I coined — the establishment blogger

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Apart from me having in the last several years taken some issue around the revered role “elders” feel they are entitled to in Filipino society; I find that the overarching irony of the distinction of “Digital Elder” — or, for that matter, the whole existence of a Blog Awards to begin with — seems to have flown over the heads of our venerable opinion-shapers.

Consider first of all that;

The blogosphere is held up by modern-day philosophers to be a classless flat Earth of freely-competing ideas.

Globe Telecom, back in 2009, not only presumed to be an authority on who earns the distinction of “Digital Elder”, it also led the Philippine Blogosphere in its first step on a journey down the road to its transformation into the very caste system that characterises Pinoy society today by creating such classes of bloggers as “Digital Elder” and “Digital Tribe”.

Indeed, the term establishmentisation was a term I coined even waaayyy further back, in my time as a hack for the legendary (which, though no more than a shell of its former self today, was itself a “winner” of one of these “blog contests” in its heyday). In my piece Establishmentisation, I was lucky enough to be in a frame of mind for that rare eureka! moment…

Interestingly, I happen to be in the middle of the book Down and Dirty Pictures – Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film by Peter Biskind. I draw some parallels to the blogging debate from the difference I now see between Independent (“Indy”) Films — motion pictures created and produced by real artists with real visions, and Studio (“Establishment”) Movies — motion pictures produced with the singular aim of drawing an audience.

Studio movies use formulas — proven cinematic devices that appeal to as broad a range of viewers as possible. In contrast, Indy films are driven by their creators’ visions and passions. As a result, Indy works are far more edgy, risque, and often (the good ones, at least) leave a deep impression on their viewers. The Indy world is the cauldron of creativity that spawned groundbreaking works like Pulp Fiction using styles and stories that no produced-by-committee movie could ever pull off.

For Indy film producers, an audience is a bonus. For Studio movie producers, an audience is the whole point. The latter is driven by credentialism and the former by insight. We all know mass appeal brings home the bacon, whilst edginess and loyalty to vision attracts a far smaller subset — insightful minds. That ultimately is the choice faced by every content producer, be they film makers, illustrators, writers, and — yes — bloggers.

As Web authors, we need to ask ourselves:

Are we seeing our vision through?
Or are we selling out to the Establishment?

Perhaps, to be fair, the fact of the sponsorship of a “contest” that presumes to judge the (proud to be) rabble of the literary world some of whom choose to express themselves in that technology platform called Web logs (now simply known as blogs) by a big corporation like Globe Telecom is an irony that escapes the sensibilities of most Filipinos.

Thing is you never know who or what the subject of your next blog post will be.

What if one day we find out that the sponsor of the award trophy we so proudly display on our bookcase at home operates sweatshops that employ children in the slums of Guangzhou to manufacture the container van-loads of trinkets it imports every year and sells at a 200% margin in our neighbourhood malls?

So much for the big rare lightbulb that would have interrupted an agonising stretch of writer’s block.

In short, by routinely selling out, we paint ourselves into a creative corner with the let’s-not-go-there zones we surround ourselves with everytime we get in bed or play ball with Big Corportate, “generous” politicians, or agenda-laden “sponsors”.

In his recent piece Blog Awards… Do the Best Ones Really Win?, my peer in this small corner of the blogosphere, Paul Farol, attempts to qualify a framework for saving “blog contests” such as, say, Globe’s Tatt Awards from being lumped into the “corporate promotions gimmick dressed up like a blogging contest” pile…

It is only by closely looking at the criteria and the judges that one can get a sense of whether a “blogging contest” will result in real acclaim.

Then again, if you really think about it, what kind of criteria can be devised for a literary form that is still in the process of evolving with the technology that makes it possible?

Indeed. It is one of those things that makes one go hmmmmm

In closing, allow me then (to echo the memorable words in a nod granted to me by the eminent Dean Jorge Bocobo) to quote myself quoting myself:

“Awarding” bloggers is a redundant oxymoron.

Blogging is rewarding because of the prospect of one’s emergent prevalence and endurance in what is essentially a massive free-for-all for memetic dominance. It’s essentially not the sort of environment crybabies survive in. Sound familiar? That’s pretty much the same mechanism that created that wonderous diversity called our planetary biosphere. Are there awards bodies that hang medals for Best Terrestrial Life Form or Best Marine Lifeform? Perhaps organised religion would like to see itself as taking that role as judge of which DNA pattern truly rules our planet, but I believe most intelligent folk would consider the notion silly at best.

15 Replies to “The Establishment Blogger and the Globe Tattoo Tatt Awards 2011”

  1. what’s the point of awarding a blog/blogger anyway? you win an award for your blog – so what?

    “the best” as determined by popularity is good enough for people who let others make their choices for them. even sheep would prolly look down upon that, though da pinoy really doesn’t mind.

    sell-outs. interestingly i saw this locally made program on natgeo entitled “street smart” where they say monosodium glutamate is perfectly fine for unrestricted consumption. guess who the sponsor was: ajinomoto. duuuuuuuh. geez, these people aren’t even trying to be low key about it.

    so, people, go ahead. don’t give your kid milk. replace the milk formula with msg instead and shake the bottle well. sooner or later they’ll find some establishment expert somewhere who’ll say exactly that – for a fee.

    1. I guess for some, validation is something that needs to come in a form they could touch, hear, and taste. But then, those are the very buttons trained corporate marketers are experts at identifying and pushing. 😀

  2. I started blogging at the “Filipino Voices” Website. I used to blog with Dean Jorge Bacobo. Maybe he retired already from Blogging; or got feed up. In the Blogosphere ; you have to swim with sharks; and you got biten sometimes…Blog to inform…give accurate and truthful information…the way you transmit your thoughts to others, determines your reputation as a good Blogger…Opinions given sincerely, can be contended by your readers…we don’t Blog to be recognized…

    1. Dean’s more active in the Twitter-verse nowadays (as a lot of the veteran bloggers of old have done)

      I wish somebody “in the know” would one day write a tell-all of all the shenanigans that went on behind-the-scenes that led to the eventual fragmentation of the ex Filipino Voices writers. Truth be told, I miss having all diverse opinions all in one place (plus the writers used to have sparkling debate among themselves, which they hardly do now that everyone has their own independent blog)

      1. Dr. Noh. It was a case of neglect by the owner of the site compounded by too many people with a “my way or the highway” point of view. Filipinos negotiate like American Republicans and Democrats these days. No bend, no interest in comprehending an opposing view. Only defense of the ego and tear-down of the opponent.

        That said, I agree with you. FV was good for a time and is currently unmatched anywhere. Many of us are just doing our own thing because we don’t have a site to rest in, that respects us if we differ in perspective or style.

      2. The spectacular demise of FV reflects a lot on the character of the site owner/moderator. Because of the latter’s support for Noynoy during the campaign, he saw everyone who was critical of Noynoy as mere trolls. The minute Nick banned dissenting views the site just went downhill.

        Nowadays I noticed that a few of the commenters here have this penchant for attacking the writer’s character rather than responding to the arguments. And then when they get cornered, they cry foul.

    2. I actually met Dean in person a while back in the most unlikeliest of places… while backpacking in Sagada. I passed by an old man biking along the trail and couldnt place his face at first then… lightbulb moment! Since he’s one of the rare FV bloggers who uses his actual mug in his bylines, I was able to make the connection… now if I meet a red cow on the field, I’ll be sure to ask if its Hyden Toro 🙂

      BTW, I just checked, FV is officially down for the count? For a while it was on life support, grasping at straws if it was settling for publishing posts of writers with dubious credentials like Ilda’s old friend JCC… ewww.

  3. Farol may have something going there when he paired “blog contests” and “corporate promotions gimmick” especially with the sponsors in mind. Parallax’s observation is likewise understandable. But wouldn’t you guys agree that a ‘contest’ is what it is – a competition. These would test one’s perception, intelligence and impeccable writing. Popularity is indeed a factor for it may be proportionate to a blogger’s number of followers, believers, what have you; those who see you as perceptive, intelligent, articulate.

    I bet anyone who writes wants his work to be recognized, let alone, appreciated. Hopefully your followers would do their part. Go give them a nice fight guys. But then again, would you care for formality?

    1. a contest should let you know what you’re in for before you find yourself in it. a contest is something you should have consented to joining, so that like everyone else you’d be subjected to the same measurable standards to which you can comply. anything else that falls on your lap isn’t a contest.

      the blogger awards are just big advertisements of the corporate sponsor saying “we approve of the things you identify yourself with,” like campaigning politicians do, cleary for something in return. not that there’s anything wrong with wanting something in return for the shameless pandering, because it’s only rational.

      it’s the awardee side that needs to look closer whether the award is exactly “as advertised.” you could be one of a handful of bloggers supposedly being awarded for unique out-of-the-box content, says the awarding body, yet you find out that you’re no more unique than you are similar to every other awardee because you’re aligned with the sort the sponsor likes (and what you say and write about help boost their sales).

      i can’t speak for the writers here, but my guess is, they’re not playing these sponsors’ games. i don’t think they’re here to seek any approval. they’re here top give tough love. and perhaps that also means not giving a hoot about what these corporate giants nod to. so i wouldn’t expect them to “put up a fight” in the first place, because they stand on their own regardless of whatever “contests” come up around them.

      and about popularity – pnoy is popular. doesn’t make him a good president/senator/representative/boyfriend. planking is popular. doesn’t mean nobody sees plankers as morons. willie revillame is popular. not to those whose loved ones died in the stampede. the azkals are popular. doesn’t mean they’re phenomenally good at their sport. but they’re almost as handsome as me.

      popularity would be a great measure of excellence if only everyone used enough of their brains. too many people don’t.

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