The curious cases of “activist” entertainers like Lea Salonga

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Much recent buzz surrounds a bevy of celebrities and the social commentary they issue on social media. One would normally dismiss trite words that pander to typical activist advocacies like “love for country” and “helping the poor” fielded by these entertainers as mere brain farts if not for the “fandom” they command. Indeed, even their employers and bankrollers recognise the power of politicised celebrity in bringing across otherwise nonsensical soundbites passed off as “biting social commentary” in the way embattled media giant ABS-CBN set its top talent — the likes of Coco Martin, Kim Chiu, and Nadine Lustre among others — to the task of mobilising their massive cult followings to “trend” certain hashtags prescribed by the corporate public relations machine.

Celebrity employed to propagate social commentary, however, is a double-edged sword. Performers who reckon they could make their social views resonate with an audience who follow them more for their entertainment value and hardly for their political views get mixed results. Recently, Filipino international singer Lea Salonga became the centre of a media circus following a rant she reportedly posted on Facebook expressing how difficult it is to love her country.

“Dear Pilipinas, p***** ina, ang hirap mong mahalin,” Salonga said on her Facebook account Monday, which earned 10,000 likes and reactions.

(Dear Philippines, f*ck it’s so hard to love you.)

With an enormous following on social media, it is hardly surprising nor particularly newsworthy that hundreds of thousands would, of course, rally behind Salonga and her opinion on issues of national consequence. Inquirer showbiz “reporter” Katrina Hallare nonetheless couldn’t help but highlight the eventual popular backing a top celeb like Salonga would get following her quaint rants citing how “Netizens soon rallied behind her, making ‘I Stand with Lea Salonga’ a trending topic on Twitter as well.” But of course, right?

To be fair, us peasants are enjoined to empathise with these mega-stars considering the devastation wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic on their once lucrative industry. Salonga, it seems, is feeling the pain taking to Twitter to chuck a tantric lament on a dismal year…

I hate this year. I really, really hate this year.

Performing arts professionals have had it the roughest this year with many events and product releases impacted by the lockdown and fears of health risks. Salonga, for her part, had a performance at the Esplanade in Singapore scheduled for mid-March this year cancelled “due to the evolving COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) situation”. She has also had to postpone to October a tour of North America that would have started in April.

One could understand how distressing it is, specially for extroverted performers like Salonga who thrive in being the centre of attention of an audience to be cooped up for months on end with much of the social interaction they had come to be accustomed to curtailed. Even more stressful, perhaps, is the lack of work and the uncertainties of a future where large gatherings of people may no longer be possible. Indeed, Salonga did open up on the mental anguish of her quarantine experience…

For me, personally, I find that being able to sing for an audience of one, or a hundred, or a thousand, it’s somehow integral to my mental health,” she explained.

Nonetheless, the pandemic highlighted many things that in normal times would be highly-valued but, in the midst of a crunch, come to be regarded as non-essential. It is likely that celebrity performers like Salonga, perhaps with such a reality as the bumping down of their craft in people’s hierarchy of priorities creeping up on them as the months drag on, begin to suffer crises of relevance themselves. Erstwhile adored actress Gal Gadot, of Wonder Woman fame, for example, found her efforts at finding an audience singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” along with Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams, and others being met with scorn…

To her credit, beyond the quaint laments and rants on Facebook and Twitter, Lea Salonga had so far not engaged in any such stunts. However, a sampling of the snarky reception a chi chi star like her could attract waxing victimised from her ivory tower perhaps should give her and other celebs aspiring to reinvent themselves in a time of pandemic a prompt to engage in a bit of introspection, one would hope.

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8 Comments on “The curious cases of “activist” entertainers like Lea Salonga”

  1. Lea Salonga, played a “Miss Pok Pok role”, in “Miss Saigon”. The broadway play was popular in the mid ’80s…after the Vietnam war was ended.

    Celebrities are for our entertainment; not for running our country. Most of the celebrities, have no college degrees, or even high school degrees. We can see the results, when we voted : actors, singers, comedians, etc. in public offices. Most did not do anything, or are not doing anything; but to entertain us in political scenes.

    Ms. Salonga is a YellowTard, and is from the political “Salonga family”. The YellowTards are now a vanishing breed; so she is trying to save them from becoming extinct in the political scene/arena…

    Maybe, people will listen to her, if she is relevant.. However, I would rather listen to her songs !

  2. Either respond to her point or not but dont poison the well by discounting her as stupid just because shes richer and more talented, and you envy her.

    1. @greengin:

      Nobody has discounted , Ms. Salonga as stupid…we have too many celebrities who are in our political scene. We have also many celebrities, who are voted into offices…most of them are incompetent.

      We are ready to debate , Ms. Salonga,on whatever on issue or subject …

      I sill believe , she is trying to save the endangered species of YellowTardsim the political scene…

    2. She’s not stupid, one of the intelligent entertainers from the Philippines.
      Except she’s human and imperfect, and falters on some issues with “non well thought” blurts like “just buying a knife, automatically will call her terrorist (duh, why not automatically ask her if she is a chef or a cook; why would somebody just call her terrorist in an instance?) [rolls eyes]

  3. People like Lea Salonga who moan melodramatic shit like “PiLiPiNaS bAkIt aNg HiRaP m0 mAhALiN” make me cringe with the force of a thousand suns.

    Bitch, you don’t really love the country. You love a sanitized, Instagrammable version of it on your mind, complete with sparkling white sand beaches. Where you and your beloved puti friends are served by pango ang ilong, brown natives who go “ma’am sir”, as you and your elite kind blather about “Filipino resiliency” and “Pinoy Pride”.

  4. I think it’s the “white mans’ burden” type of mentality, when celebrities believe that they can contribute to or “repay” the world by doing something like protest or such. But for me, people who are more true to themselves don’t bother about changing the world and such. We’re all human, “changing the world” is often just a mere publicity stunt and done to satisfy oneself rather than really help people. But the suggestion by Casey Cipriani is more realistic.

    1. Let me also recall what I wrote before, that people whose happiness is based on other people’s adulations and validation are more vulnerable to breakdown. And for some of these people, they are more likely to do wrong. That’s why I feel lucky to be an introvert. Hmm, hope to finish my article on that soon, lol.

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