Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Lost in details

SHOULDN'T the backstory be more important than political correctness?

My mentor, Sun.Star Cebu public and standards editor Pachico A. Seares (PAS), perfectly nailed the storm of reaction generated by Manny Pacquiao's latest foot-in-the-mouth

"They're tough on Pacquiao, soft on Duterte" was the title of his Feb. 19 column
"News Sense".

On why there was a more impassioned backlash to the boxer than the enforcer—
both have made statements that set off the public at one time or the other—PAS offered
four possible explanations: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism,
global media's agenda-setting, culture of machismo, and greater public acceptance of
Duterte's record in public service.

Compared to Duterte, a wily fox in playing with the press, Pacquiao is, to put
it charitably, naïve with media.

In his self-ignited controversies, Manny outtalked Dionisia, his mother, who has
amply demonstrated her willingness to give reporters a guided tour around the insides of
her closet as well as her heart.

Like many celebrities, Manny is undone by his own gullibility in Mannydom.
Mother and son talk to the camera as if what they were confiding—birthday plans, agonies, bible readings, biases—is no less than the Truth about the world, according to Pacquiao.

Someone needs to tell Manny that in this age of heightened communication, he shouldn’t forget the filters. As a filter, intolerance is most intolerant of intolerance. To sugarcoat the bitter pill of reality, as well as other human blemishes like literal-mindedness and bigotry, political correctness (PC) comes handy.

We say what others want to hear. We say whatever it takes to get what we want. We say because we can always deny later. We can blame the press. We apologize. We are human, notoriously frail, after all.

Unlike Pacquiao, who chose the route of public atonement for PC, Duterte breaks rules with audacity. He seemingly gets away with disrespect for women—arguably the feeblest pillar, besieged by machismo, misogyny and sexism—and disregard for life and the rule of law.

Why are we unmoved when Duterte undertakes a kissing spree with women who flock to his sorties? When he casually mentions the roles to be taken by his wife, current partner and other women in his political future, there is no outcry from netizens. Even his critics have fallen silent when they used to probe his connection to vigilantism and street justice.

Has his network of social media influencers achieved a coup in political correctness? Perhaps these memes are effective in entertaining a section of the online public drawn to Duterte’s “authenticity”. Perhaps his tough-guy stance on criminality can hardly be double-talk or empty promise from a man who is open about his connection to the Davao Death Squads.

For this voter, Duterte is no longer a candidate to be seriously considered. Political correctness—or its opposite—matters only when one is probing the image for sincerity.

To gauge sincerity, knowing the backstory is essential. In literature, it is the flow of events that lead to the main narrative. Applied to an actual person, the backstory are the characters, decisions, actions, events, responses, and consequences shaping the person.

Fictional or otherwise, a person is more than what he or she says. On May 11, let’s dredge up the backstory before choosing the ones to lead us.

( 09173226131)

*First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s February 21, 2016 issue of the “Matamata,” a Sunday editorial-page column

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