Once again, “activists” who esteemed webmaster Benign0 calls “hipsters” rode another outrage fad. This was the recent report of entertainment company Nickelodeon opening a water-themed park in Coron. Benign0 rightly said that the protest was ill-framed. Not to mention protesters got something wrong – Nickelodeon said the theme park was to be made on land and not underwater as originally assumed (underwater-themed, not underwater park). Also, the round of protests during dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani also showed the protesters just lashing out emotionally or playing with their slogans – the latter making them look like they were only having a pun picnic. Such things make their cause lose credibility, because it makes them look insincere and like they don’t really care about their cause.
While there may be other sincere people behind such protests, they’re not the ones media notices or are shown to be at the forefront. More conspicuous are the selfie-taking, attention-craving outrage faddists. They’re probably at protests because they want to show that they “care for the world,” and are not “apathetic” or “uncaring bastards” who don’t join their protests or hold the opposite side. But do they really care for the world? Or just engaged in another version of piety for show?
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A concept that I use now to frame “activists” and hipsters” is the Bohemian Bourgeois. It was coined by David Brooks in his book Bobos in Paradise, although I encountered the word in The Diversity Culture by Matthew Raley. It’s shortened to Bobo in Brooks’ book. He used the word to describe people who seem to combine two aspects once opposed to each other. For example, one could not be a corporate worker and an environmentalist at the same time in the 1960s. Either you’re a conservative, tie-wearing, family values-promoting, Bible-thumping paper pusher, or a weed-smoking, free love-peddling beatnik. Not both. But since the 1990s, changes have allowed the two to coexist in one person. However, one can still call out that there are seeming contradictions in some “bobos” – such as those rallying against capitalism through a post made with an iPhone. Perhaps another term that can apply to such a contradictory picture is the Limousine Liberal.
It would be interesting to apply the word to the Philippine context, since “bobo” is the Tagalog word for dumb! Yet Benign0’s use of the word “hipster” is appropriate. The concept is a mocking stereotype of a person who tries to overrate things and claims they’re “cool” or “hip” (one of the older words used for ‘cool’). Hipster items include the plaid (“lumberjack”) shirt, beard, wanting organic food, criticizing the mainstream, etc., but still have iPhones and go to Starbucks for coffee. The hipster image is ridiculed for seeming pretentiousness.
These sorts of people would be the ivory tower dwellers as described in a certain article. They are comfortable in their urban spaces, but when they hear about something like female circumcision in the jungles of Africa or arranged marriages in India, they go full blast sharing or liking posts about it on social media (and what they do will likely have no effect on it). If someone comes up saying they support Trump or say something critical but not violent about gays, they insult, try to ruin or call for a shut down of that person. They take media presentations at face value and just go with the popular view at the moment. Just to be “hip.”
This makes it appropriate to ask, are they really serious about the causes they claim to support? And, perhaps the ultimate question is, are they actually helping? If it’s really all about themselves, then they are actually hurting the causes.
United in Division
Quoting again the words of Senator Dick Gordon, Filipinos tend to not think, and just react. This sometimes leads to senseless chatter instead of a real, properly focused protest. When people protest something, they should know who they’re trying to knock up. If they know the process. For example, theme parks at Coron would likely need approval by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Tourism or others. Thus, emailing or messaging the agencies asking them to disapprove it would be appropriate. Protests will only be as good as the success they have in convincing the groups with the influence and power to do things. Also, as indicated above about the nature of the park, they need to know the full, accurate details before protesting, because they would look foolish and damage the credibility of their protest.
But then again, what if things don’t go their way, like Marcos staying at the LNMB? Tough luck, webmaster Benign0 would say. Ingay will never unbury the bangkay. The world doesn’t have an obligation to obey you. And this is some people’s perception of liberals, progressives, the left, etc. They want to force their views on the world. So other people made what could be considered the most successful protest actions so far against these: voting in Trump and Duterte, Brexit, and more.
And when you expect something (or someone) to follow your views, isn’t that more of controlling that thing than caring for it?
Perhaps another thing “hipsters” should realize, if they really care for the world, they should care about other people’s views. They should be willing to let other people have annoying, even opposing views. Jonathan Pie’s rant about such people wanting other views shut down explaind the nature of the problem. Hence the line from Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often wrongly saying attributed to Voltaire): I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Let’s hope “hipster” Filipinos won’t find this difficult to agree with.
People believe that we should not be divided over issues, that we should not have different opinions. That’s the problem. As I proposed in an earlier article, we can remain divided, but still able to be cordial, civil and respectful of each other. Because if we are not different, and do not allow such differences, then that’s where we lose true freedom.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.