Just ban them all. To what end do these idiotic programmes serve Filipinos aspirations to become a great people someday? Will these contribute to transforming the Philippines from a Third to a First World country over the next two to three decades? The argument around whether the Philippines’ entertainment industry needs more — or less — competition misses the point entirely. What it really comes down to is whether Filipinos need these sorts of content pumped into their screens and living rooms to begin with.
Step back and consider for a moment. As things are, Filipinos already face monumental challenges becoming the sorts of intellectually- and culturally-rich people that are important pillars for a truly progressive, prosperous, and strong society. What are the roadblocks to staying on the road to that end and keeping an eye on the ball? The latter part of the question — keeping an eye on the ball — highlights an important virtue of successful people: focus. The last thing Filipinos need are distractions. It is from this perspective that we should evaluate the place non-value-adding content like dramas (whether Korean, Mexican, American, or Filipino) enjoy in Philippine society given these important challenges. Already, Filipinos are beset by a crisis of attention — illiterate Grade 6 students, a political debate made up of players who fail in basic comprehension, and “bloggers” who are now incapable of writing — and reading — long form.
Worse, one can now observe laughable mudslinging between political factions even within that of the administrative camp (not to mention the even lamer debates between Yellowtards and communists that characterised their ill-fated campaign in the lead up to this year’s elections). This addiction to idiotic drama (to the extent that drama characterises relationships even among comrades) may very well be a result of the current widespread obsession with TV dramas. Rather than entertainment mirroring society, it seems it is society that is mirroring entertainment in the Philippines. Seen in this light, it can be said that television dramas (of the lame sort Filipinos are addicted to) are a serious social cancer in developing countries like the Philippines. Their effects on Philippine society are eroding the foundations (whatever such foundations exist to begin with) that would have underpinned the smart society that is essential to compete in today’s world order.
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There really has never been any shortage of programming that gave producers of local media content a run for their money. Foreign media have been in the Philippines like forever. First it was Amercian TV and movies, then it was Japanese anime, now it is Korean entertainment. Through all those waves of competition, the quality of locally-produced entertainment has hardly changed. We still see the same lame premises, the same lame plots, the same lame characters, and the same intellectually-bankrupt fare being churned out by these content mills. And, guess what: the domestic market for this crap is pretty robust. Filipinos happily consume all that crap. Meanwhile vast oligarch-owned conglomerates like ABS-CBN laugh all the way to the bank year in and year out on the back of their dishonest business models. You’d be smiling too if you are able to sell 10-cent products for a hundred pesos to 100 million fools, wouldn’t you?
The point here is that Filipinos need to get their priorities right. Their political “representatives”, their “activists”, and their “journalists” routinely apply a lot of scrutiny on any sitting government supposedly evaluating whether their officials are on the ball moving the country in the right direction. To ensure consistency with that lofty goal, these cohorts need to routinely reflect on whether the “issues” they raise as fodder for their legislative agendas, their “activism”, and their “reports” are actually relevant or, at the very least, contribute to strategic development objectives. The fact is, Filipinos need to become a smart people in order to become better at building a prosperous nation. K-dramas versus Filipino teleseryes? That notion is a non-issue.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.