“Even regular soldiers and police are often recruited into private armies through money or political favours. They are paid as little as US$ 58 a month to become enforcers in executions, abductions and drug-related crimes.”
This piece started off in the remnants of my brain around late December. It was going to tackle the usual media/ politician outcry that video games are to blame for whatever the current mass murder tragedy was on people’s minds. That’s how it started but the more I thought about it (and as more current events unfolded) I had a Marty DiBergi moment where “I got that; I got more… a lot more.”
A mass murder is defined by the FBI “as a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders.” So at the time that I thought of writing this the incidents that came to mind were Sandy Hook, Fort Hood , Columbine, Virginia Tech and the Ampatuan massacre. As I was writing this blog Ronald Baquiran Bae went nuts in Kawit, Cavite. My personal opinion one murder is one too many I also have to think about the unfortunate death of Stephanie Nicole Ella. I started writing this piece in late 2012 but it turns out 2013 is proving to be more tragic in its infancy.
As usual some people out there want so hard to blame entertainment like movies and video games. I am old enough to remember my dad bringing home this wooden console. He plugged it to the back of our black and white TV and the screen produced two paddles and a boxy ball in between. This console just had a switch and no port for any programs. The picture I found online isn’t exactly what we had but it’s close. Both controllers were right on the one piece console. Do you really think a technological descendant of that hardware can cause a human being to murder other human beings? Back in 1995 I had six friends over to watch True Lies which was incredibly violent. None of us has killed anyone since. That I know of anyway.
I will ramble on like I usually do but should you feel the need to pull the plug on me do yourself a favor and listen to Chris Rock’s explanation why anybody who blames violent entertainment totally has no legs to stand on. Violence was always there even when the only media were smoke signals and barely legible scratches on caves. People capable of mass murder are like the rest of us. We all do something whether it’s cook, mountain bike, raise pets or play video games. I am not sure why people are all so intent in finding significance in that? If 3 out of 5 mass murderers were known to eat a Snickers bar twice a month would that be cause for alarm? As Chris Rock said on the video “Whatever happened to Crazy?” I will tell you what happened to crazy, they are blaming a bunch of animated dots on a screen on mass murder.
During the wake of the Columbine killings, I was listening to radio preacher Bob Larson. He was saying a very radical thing that Keanu Reeves might as well have pulled the trigger. The film The Matrix was newly released at the time and there is a shoot ’em up scene towards the end with Neo (Reeves) donning a trench coat. The Columbine killers also wore trench coats. That may well be an extreme view but Mr.Larson does also offer a more practical solution than simply blaming a violent video game in a piece he wrote in response to the tragedy in Colorado.
It’s no secret that I love the National Football League. Despite watching it for 32 years I have yet to see the famous Lawrence Taylor breaks Joe Theismann’s leg play. Nor have I watched any replays of Tim Krumrie breaking his leg in the Super Bowl against SF. Maybe because despite the four decades I have spent watching the game, I never lose sight that there is flesh and blood on that field. I do not mistake toughness with invulnerability. NFL injuries as I have said in the past have their consequences. So we have many different people bemoaning the violent culture of 2013. I can be seen as Exhibit A because for decades I have played video games with shooting, watched violent movies like True Lies and Rambo and I love a very violent sport like the National Football League. Yet, a few years ago I tried to put the possible long term cost an extended boxing career may have to Manny Pacquiao in a blog . Am I desensitized to violence despite being a willing recipient to multimedia smorgasbord of violence??
You know what kind of little boys did not play with guns as kids? The kind that played with Barbies. Not that there is anything wrong with that. In this society there are still adults in high-profile positions that can’t stop playing with guns. As a guy I can tell you there is a certain romance to being able to wield a gun in some scenario in your head where you come out on top despite impossible odds. If you ever saw the movie Three Kings George Clooney’s character explains more realistic consequences to being shot.
Video games don’t desensitize us to violence. Filipino life desensitizes us to violence. New Year’s Eve is culturally an accepted war season. I once had an officemate return home from a provincial New Year’s holiday only to find they had no Manila house. Every year this celebration leads to collateral damage then we do it all again next New Year’s Eve. Mindanao is another part of reality that has become like body odor. The rest of the country hardly knows it’s part of their stink. There was a time in the stock exchange that traders didn’t understand why the conflict was affecting stock prices because the fighting was not in Manila. So what are they saying? What happens in Mindanao stays in Mindanao? The conflict is a Filipino problem brought on by Filipino culture. There are two things I know for sure. 1) Noynoy Aquino is not a member of MENSA. 2) Video games are not the cause of the decades old war in Mindanao.
I once had a gun pointed at me by a complete stranger. If it was loaded I will never know. I probably told this story to three people in my life. It happened on a Friday night and I was driving home at 9 PM. Part of Filipino culture is when it comes to driving , most drivers could care less about posted directions and lanes. This FX driver going the opposite way decides to occupy my lane In the end he does not or can’t turn and gets in my way. Eventually we are parallel to each other and I called him the more common English word for rectum . I like using that on the rare occasion I need to because it helps let out frustration and most targets don’t hear it often enough that it does not register. In this case, the FX driver thought I was calling him the Tagalog word for dog and he didn’t like it. In front of his passengers he takes out a gun Since this was a few years ago I can’t remember if he did point it at me or just showed me he had it. My mood did not change because rightly or wrongly in my head the idea of an FX driver shooting a private driver while in front of his own passengers seemed too stupid even for this place.
“Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this”
Take the Ampatuan mass murder incident. Blame that on video games? Why not put blame where it belongs. Vanity, greed and politics pinoy style. Those three things result in private armies and lax law enforcement. Last I looked, all that has nothing to do with video games. Also we should note, the outcry for video games is a lot louder than the outcry for our inherent local culture. Where elections and violent death are joined at the hip. I don’t have to name any other names but the idea of the private army is very accepted in pinoy culture. These armies not only help pull off massacres but also intimidate the “little people” in everyday life. Are there places on Earth where that does not exist? Does it have to be that way? An article in the Economist describes the Filipino private armies as “It is hard to imagine Philippine politics without them.” That is pinoy culture.
Democracy don’t rule the world
You’d better get that in your head
This world is ruled by violence
But I guess that’s better left unsaid
Union Sundown Bob Dylan
Life in the Philippines is cheap to begin with but isn’t it so pinoy the murder rate spikes up even higher during election season? Makes one wonder why anyone is proud to be a politician or win an election in this country. Actually makes one wonder about the country. You guys proud of that?? You sure as heck put up with it. You sure as heck encourage the lowlifes that perpetuate it. You know why private armies exist in the Philippines. Because it works. The culture accepts it. The fact that you all need an idiot like me to remind you speaks to how little any of us are aware what should go into pinoy pride.
You don’t have to read me long to notice I have vigorously opposed the illusion of “Pinoy Pride”. Here is why you won’t see me chest beating like all these Pinoy Pride zombies. To every action there is an opposite reaction. Many will look at pinoy pride without accounting for the other side of the ledger which is pinoy shame. For some there is no such thing as pinoy shame. Whether it’s obstructing a Hong Kong foot bridge, blatant disregard for justice, missionaries put to death , highly rated yet cranium challenged noon time shows, uneducated high-profile public servants proud of being uneducated and proud of making uneducated decisions , the spike in mortality rate during election time , chaos that leads to death on our public streets,The four Volvo riding alleged killers of George Anikow, The smiling Chesire Cat in response to the hostage handling flub. Not only is the pinoy is capable of all that, they actually do that and more. So spare me your pinoy pride battle cry. Why is it exactly more fun in the Philippines?
Who are these men of lust, greed, and glory?
Rip off the masks and let’s see.
But that’s not right – oh no, what’s the story?
There’s you and there’s me
That can’t be right
When it comes to those examples I cited what I think qualify as Pinoy Shame you may fall on one of three camps:
1) Those things did not happen Gogs, it’s just your imagination (fabrication of evidence)
2) Those things did happen but so what? The Pinoy is being the pinoy and ganyan talaga. (apathy/ que sera sera)
3) Those things did happen and we are ashamed we are viewed that way and we have to hold ourselves accountable for not paying attention to such behavior. (shame/ acceptance for the need for change)
Popularity for some reason is equated in this culture with being fit to lead. In the case of the current president it’s even worse. He was never popular on his own like FPJ or Joseph Estrada. His mother was popular and upon her death his campaign tweaked pinoy emotions to fabricate him inheriting that popularity. The same Pinoy culture that turns movie stars and spoiled good for nothing sons into presidents also makes the populace ignore just how warped our peace and order situation is. So they find solace in … American Idol.
Crazy people walkin’ round with blood in their eyes And all she wants to do is dance, dance Wild-eyed pistol wavers who ain’t afraid to die And all she wants to do is- And all she wants to do is dance
I am not a great man nor am I even a kind man. What I did think up however is the phrase “KSP is the root of all evil”. It’s not much at all but it explains what unconstructive positions the pinoy will put themselves in search of the holy grail of “pansin”. I wish I came up with Sayaw Pinoy Sayaw. My take on the pinoy mentality is that our peace and order situation is a joke so let’s retreat into the superficial so Sayaw Pinoy Sayaw. Kate’s blog is true. Strangely Kate’s sentiment is parallel to a song that came out in 1985. Don Henley might have had more even more violent Latin American countries in mind but the concept applies here.
Colin Cowherd has a little test for validating any future action. Just sayÂ out loud exactly what your plan is . Example he gave I think was let’s put on stockings on our faces next Friday , hold water pistols and then convince the 7-11 clerk to give us all the money in the register. It sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud. But people do it all the time basing their faulty decisions on emotion. Pinoys say this out loud “Let’s pin the hopes of the country on a 16 year old who has never been here and sings songs made famous by other people. “. How can somebody represent you when she has never been with you? How can you identify with someone who has never been to where you live or does not talk the way you talk or whose mass media is totally different from yours? The most important question is , why does it mean so much to you?
Bill Parcels said you are what your record says you are. What he means by that is you look at your wins and your losses to define yourself. You don’t just pick and choose and pretend the loses are not there. It does not mean you get to be choosy with what you think is positive and just be blind to what could be improved. The pinoy has pride in something as trivial as American Idol yet could care less of the country’s long lasting civil war or spotty human rights record. Our civil war has been going on so long we barely know it’s there. It has become white noise. You are shocked by an elementary school shooting as you should be yet you are callous when it comes to “war torn Mindanao”. Hate to break it to you guys but Jessica Sanchez had never been to the Philippines at the time of her American Idol participation. You guys had nothing to do with her. Yet we hear quotes “Jessica Sanchez shows what the Pinoy is capable of”. Can I by the same sentiment say Rolando Mendoza shows what the pinoy is capable of”? The Abu Sayyaf when they behead missionaries and teachers shows what the pinoy is capable of? One case it’s a teenager who had never been here yet we claim her accomplishments as our own. The other cases are tragedies performed by Filipinos on Filipinos or foreigners either visiting or helping the Philippines? Which one is more real? Why do we identify with one when the outcome is partly determined by Paula Abdul. I don’t care what year she may or may not have judged. It’s all your fault for putting so much stock in it. By my book any outcome that is or was partly determined by Paula Adbul at anytime can’t be of any consequence . Yet we distance ourselves from other topics that seem to have more gravity than American Idol. Philippines, whatever violence exists in this country has your stamp of approval on it. You have accepted it as a nation so it just repeats itself and will not go away. Acceptance is always the first step to change. We prioritize trivial things yet ignore issues with much more significance. We dwell in the superficial while escape the realities of those with lasting consequence. When I last checked life and death is a consequence.
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