Traditional Pinoy Media and the Platonic Cave

I was quite of fond of studying philosophy back during my college days and one of the main topics I will probably never forget is the one about the Platonic Cave. It was an idea postulated by the philosopher Plato and it is by far one of the most widely discussed and debated topics among more self-aware and socially astute people. So okay, I’ll start by describing the nature of the Platonic Cave.

This is more of a simplified second-hand version but I also want to think about people who aren’t all that fond of philosophy and what it entails. So you start by raising a bunch of kids inside a cave, Plato’s “Platonic Cave”, in essence. You prevent them from leaving the cave so all they will know is the cave and its contents. Because they can’t leave, they can only wonder at the light, shape and sounds coming from the entrance of the cave and they eventually create their own stories and theories about them. However, should you try to explain to these people what the world outside the cave is like, they probably won’t believe you as they are completely comfortable in their little cave which has become their own little world and is, essentially, their prison, even if they don’t see it that way. Were you to drag one of these people out of their cave, they would probably fight you, thinking that you’re taking them to their doom.


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This is, essentially, what I think our media has become. Drawing from this article by Benign0 and this one by Ilda, the Philippine media has changed from being the people’s watchdog, to the people’s warden. Backed by greedy politicians, a megalomaniac church and generations of oligarchic scoundrels, the media has served only to further distract the common people from the reality around them. The madlang people have essentially become trapped in a cave of sorts that the media has created for them, essentially seeing important issues like the BBL, the plight of OFWs (and the reason for their existence) and the ever-decreasing literacy rate of the Philippines as shadows while their collective attention is focused on useless issues like Kris Aquino’s sex life and Mommy D’s interest in having children.

When you look at certain foreign media like The Matrix, City of Ember and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the concept of the Platonic Cave plays a vital role. It posits the idea that what if everything you ever believed in was a lie. In The Matrix, there was how Morpheus questioned Neo’s idea of reality, in City of Ember, there were rebellious youths who constantly searched for the exit to the surface and, in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, who can forget the loud-mouthed guy with sunglasses who would stop proclaiming his belief in the surface, where there is essentiall NO CEILING! However, I have yet to see a mainstream film that deals with the negative effects of a biased media.

In the end, our media just weaves illusion after illusion over our eyes. Illusions of love (especially between youths which usually turn out to be the result of one’s developing hormones), illusions of heroism (either embellished tales regarding the lives of political figures or unrealistic tales of a hero coming to solve all problems) and illusions of happiness (everyone is always smiling despite being in a state of constant misery and squalor) infest local TV programming. In the end, with all the illusions woven over our eyes, we fail to see the more important aspects of our lives and remain in thrall to whoever controls the media who in turn controls the vast majority of Filipinos.

11 Replies to “Traditional Pinoy Media and the Platonic Cave”

  1. The first step out of this rut is to get people watching something else. Something that isn’t state media approved but something that would at least get their brain to wonder about the outside world and get them to chase it.

    Unfortunately, the Philippines is one giant City of Ember. So… it will be tricky and there is no sure-fire media that I know would get any type of Filipino’s interest instantly.

    1. Actually it is the Gotham version of the real world. If you’d watched that series on cable TV which is the prequel to the Batman franchise, it is very similar to the dystopian nature of that city to ours. But who knows, if there’ll be a Pinoy version of the Cape Crusader after next year’s election and he’ll clean the mess that plagued in our country for years due to crimes, corruption & bureaucracy then our country will be like Singapore or EU countries, if this will become a reality.

  2. What you described as , “Platonic Cave”, happened in Nazi Germany, some years ago. The Nazi German Media was controlled by Joseff Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda of Adolf Hitler…
    All sights and sounds; written newspapers, etc…were showing the : greatness, Pride, Accomplishments, greatness of Hitler, etc…all were lies and distractions.

    They were losing the Eastern Front in Stalingrad, Soviet Union. Yet, the Nazi Media declared “victory after victory”.
    Nazi Germany was full of Death Camps…with Stinks of Rotting Flesh of Human Beings; that can be smelled ten (10) Km. radius , from those Camps. Yet, the German people, were afraid to inquire. Otherwise, they themselves will end up in those Death Camps.
    Train loads of people from all those occupied territories, were arriving , day and night, to those Death Camps. The German people refused to see, what their government was doing to those people…So, the ended up, with the Mass Execution of people. It is called: the Holocaust, the darkest Chapter in Human History.

    This can happen in the Philippines, if we are not Vigilant. and take things, for granted.

    1. ‘The darkest Chapter in human history’,OH BULLSHIT !!!!
      The Jews slaughtering the Canaanites was just as bad, the annihilation of the Armenians 100 yrs ago was bad too, Rwanda’s killing fields, Pol Pot and the genocide in Cambodia(I could go on but you get the point?).No, aint buyin it.Sure it was not a nice thing that happened, not at all,but the Jews are hardly the first, nor will they be the last race of humans targeted for extinction by someone.
      Look at the current situation in Palestine as an exact example……or Sudan in the last 10 years,HUH?

  3. It was murdering on massive scale. With the use of poisonous “Zylon” Gas, and burning the corpses in crematoriums. The hairs, teeth, skins, other properties of the victims were recycled for commercial purposes.

    Gold teeth were remelted. Hairs woven to make cloths, skins for lampshades, much evil is that…

    Joseph Stalin’s Gulags were almost the same as this massive slave camps and murder on large scale…

  4. The problem is the unwillingness to be detached from the TV. I tried to at least refocus the attention of a few of my friends who are fans of a Sunday noon-time show. I asked them what makes them watch it? They said they were fans of so and so, this actor is handsome and this love team is so “kilig.”
    I suggested to switch to the station that airs Ating Alamin. I told them, I think you can get more from that show.
    They all gave me that crazy look as if I am asking for one of their organs to be donated. They said it’s boring, gave me a “ssshhh!” blah, blah.
    The next morning, I asked them to turn to CNN for a couple of minutes because I heard there is a breaking news. They said they’re busy–> they said this while the morning show which I fondly called Krack TV is on. They were cleaning the house while tuned in to Krack TV.
    I would like to think that not all Filipinos are like that. I’m probably right. But where are they?
    We’re used to criticizing our government officials. I think it’s time the same should be done to some of our fellow Filipinos for their sake.

  5. This “Platonic Cave” reminded me of the grey cub inside the cave in Jack London’s “White Fang”. But while in your example the kids got comfortable and don’t want to escape the cave, the grey cub braved the outside world.

    “But there were other forces at work in the cub, the greatest of which was growth. Instinct and law demanded of him obedience. But growth demanded disobedience. His mother and fear impelled him to keep away from the white wall. Growth is life, and life is for ever destined to make for light. So there was no damming up the tide of life that was rising within him – rising with every mouthful of meat he swallowed, with every breath he drew. In the end, one day, fear and obedience were swept away by the rush of life, and the cub straddled and sprawled toward the entrance.”

  6. What difference is there, do you think, between those in Failippines cave who can only marvel at the shadows and images of various objects, provided they are content and don’t know what they miss, and the GRP guys who has emerged from the cave and sees the real things?

  7. @d-forsaken:

    We, who have emerged from that “cave”, must inform our “fellow cave dwellers”, of the life outside the “cave”…this is our responsibility, so that history will never repeat itself. “Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it…” , as per Philosopher/Historian Santayana….this is the reason we are blogging…

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