Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Obscene, I Tell Ya

    What is obscenity? It is not fixed in cement. It is variable. One person's joke is another's obscenity.

    We often think of obscenity in terms of swear words; words that deal with sex or religious blasphemy or unkind references to the anatomy.

    TV networks in the U.S. restrict kids' exposure to obscene words or "gratuitous violence" by scheduling adult television shows and undue gore late at night. But kids can watch cartoon violence all day long. Sponge Bob gets ripped to shreds before our very eyes, every afternoon at 3:30.

    And it is more fun for kids in the Philippines as they watch bloody network news.

    My own personal standards are strange. I can happily use swear words to punctuate my meaning in an article, or if I am angry, as a vent of steam. I love the convention-challenging humor of Chris Rock and the late George Carlin, dirt mouths for sure. Yet I find it offensive when people I hardly know launch immediately into a dirty joke. This is common in the Philippines when guys meet and no women are present. It is a part of the macho persona that infests the nation, from cock fights to murders for hire. Flex your muscles, your language, your manhood.

    So setting rules of understanding on obscenity is extraordinarily difficult. Especially when two cultures have different sensitivities. In America, you only get hard-core gore on the news if you are advised ahead of time that "viewer discretion is advised". That means get the kids out of the room mighty damn quick.

    Philippine radio is also a piece of work. I've hear the F-word in songs regularly, always before I can get my hand up to the car radio and save my three-year old from the trash. He has a mind like a trap when it comes to songs. That's the Filipino half of him, I suppose.

    But all in all, I am fairly liberal about words, seeing them as a part of unrestrained thinking and communicating. But I do argue for contextual discretion.

    One of the writers on Get Real Post the other day offended me by a sexual reference to President Aquino which was not kind. It is futile to explain my objection to the people in that crowd, for their face-saving backs get bent out of shape and all their macho buddies come flying to the rescue, flinging their own obscenities. Civility erodes. Get Real Post is a lot like that.

    So I'll simply lay it out here and hope for something other than an obscene response. Although I DON'T MIND being informed if my perspectives are off.

    Here is why I considered the writer's comment about Mr. Aquino inappropriate . . . and obscene. He referred to the President's missile being limp.

  1. It was juvenile humor best left in the eighth grade among kids who are trying on their manhood for the first time.

  2. It was sexual and offensive to me and I suspect others. Get Real Post is a public forum where  dignified people, men and women, nuns and grandmothers, are presumably in the audience. The remark suggested a lack of social refinement from the person making the joke, rather like the sex jokes told to me by Filipino men I have just met as if "ho ho, we are all macho guys here, sly and manly and quick of wit". The reality is that such intimacy is crude and unsophisticated to many westerners. I for sure have a different threshold of discretion.

  3. It was personal and had nothing to do with the blog subject. It astounds me how so many intelligent Filipinos can't sort out the difference between an issue and a person. Or they can, but don't want to, because they like to see gunfights. That, to me, is obscene.

  4. It was not patriotic; it disparaged the Philippines by disparaging its President. This is fairly typical of Filipinos who are missing the D drive, the personal commitment to raising the Philippines up. See my prior blogs: Article 1 and Article 2.

  5. It was a typically Filipino win/lose way of arguing; any thing that brings the opponent down to make the person whacking away seem smarter or better. Indeed, it was not something the writer would say to the President's face, which makes it flat-out chicken-shit. He might macho up and CLAIM he would say it to the President's face, but I assure you, put him in a room alone with the President and he would turn into the most kiss-ass Filipino you have ever seen in your life.

  6. The writer's denying there was anything wrong with the statement was typical face-saving Filipino intransigence, the ego-defensive attitude that contributes most to the Philippine's lack of progress at anything. Lack of responsibility. Lack of owning anything that does not work out well.

  7. Anyone with that particular writer's skills and perspectives, which are pretty sophisticated, has the ability to walk a higher road; it was disappointing to read low-road trash from him. His pen name is "Fallen Angel".

  8. My choice, in reading the remark, was (1) shrug and let it go, or (2) protest. I chose protest because so much was objectionable about the comment. It seemed like a "cross-cultural dialogue moment", although I am now sure my protest was taken as so much irrelevant blather.

    I need to do a blog about intransigence. For one thing, it is a big word. For another, the Philippines is thick with it. It is the failure to learn, as if education were a criticism, because it suggests we don't know something. It is the failure to own up to anything bad, as if responsibility were a threat to our very being. It is obscene, come to thing about it.


  1. Joe,

    I followed your do realize that you are driving traffic to that blog that tries to pass off bile as intelligence, don't you? Do those people contribute anything to enrich the national conversation? I read your exchanges with them. I think a missionary would have a better chance of converting the Taliban to Christianity or the Pope to Islam if you, or anyone for that matter, think you can have an honest debate with those people. They're not on the level, my friend. They want Aquino to fail so they can be proven right.

    1. My "traffic" is modest and intelligent. I'm confident my readers grasp what the site is, and the more people who understand the vacuity there, the hypocrisy, the unkindness, the better. I write there to better learn to express myself without going emotional myself. It is sometimes a challenge. It is like sparring. Training for the real thing. Get Real is hardly the real thing. It is a shell of arrogance, juvenile harassment, and occasionally insightful dialogue.

  2. i only occassionally go there, and for entertainment purposes only. Plus, they banned me for no reason, which made them totally intellectually inconsistent (i.e. they claim that filipinos are intellectually inconsistent, that they know better, yet do the same things they say are wrong).

    1. Any site that encourages parallelaxe and trosp, and bans you, is not a font of honor or intellect. The place reeks of hypocrisy, especially Ilda who has no idea of her own psychological dysfunction and dishonesty.

    2. Is it just ilda you hate? Or you really don't like women bloggers in general?

      By the way, I consider ilda to be a poser.

    3. I actually find most women writers to be more gifted than men at discernment, objectivity and expression. Ilda is good at one of the three.

  3. C'mon, these guys go back to their dreary, hum drum lives. This is their only time to behave like complete savages.

    OMG. Did I just say that.


  4. Joe, I don't like PNoy that much. I used to pick on his looks even. I used to comment a lot about his hairstyle and mentioned one time that he should just shave it off or keep it really short. Guess what, I guess someone close to him felt the same way.

    Have you seen the man on the news lately? Better looking today, if you ask me.

    For your recent tussle with GRP, I think they're just being consistent with their position. No worries there. You should worry if they start burning flags. I guess you were a tad overly sensitive on that issue. They've always been no holds barred when it comes to criticizing PNoy.

    1. Yes, it is easy to go to a geek's "style". I don't mind a little of that. But I still hold that Filipinos generally don't have the same sense of patriotism that most Americans have, a willingness to sacrifice themselves for the nation. Or in the case of GRP, the inability to be gracious in the face of defeat of their favored candidate. They are still working for the win rather than working for the nation.

      I understand the GRP agenda. But that does not mean I have to roll over to ideas that I think are wrong or not in the best interest of the Philippines. Getting down and dirty on the President of the nation, our beloved Philippines, is not much different than calling the American President a disparaging racial word.

  5. "He referred to the President's missile being limp."

    And these people call themselves the "Intellectual Elites"? My god, I personally know a lot of uneducated people who have better manners and talk more sense.

  6. Ahhh, GRP. I agree with some of their ideas, and I agreed with their preferred candidates. However, I'm tired of the negativity and the chaos (in the comments). They're too pessimistic and condescending for me.

    I've checked their site today and have read the Ten commandments of GRP. Much of their regulars can't even follow half of these commandments.

    Recently, their points always break down to "You're wrong, you suck." instead of "You're wrong, you should have done this." "You" most of the time directed at the president. And in the comments section, these are raised up to eleven.

    The discussions are no longer constructive, they always end up with insults, and not even witty ones.
    They've reduced themselves to a bunch of bullies and trolls.

    P.S. Vincenzo cracks me up. It's amazing how this guy keeps commenting. If he's a true Pnoy fanatic, I guess I'd be worried about him. Fanaticism is dangerous.
    But if he's a just a troll, I have to admire the guy, that's one consistent and very dedicated troll.

    1. Benign0 is a more dedicated troll. Before GRP, he has been kicked out of various forums and blogs.

    2. It has become a chat room, where the focus is on personalities and one-upping others. I think that is the ultimate fate of "popular" sites, in a way. You start with ideas and end up with shit.

      Vincenzo must have worked in the rice fields. I see a guy plopping rice plants into the mud all day long, relentlessly. Only it is blog comments.

    3. Vicenzo is a troll with different "pilots."

  7. Better yet, just take in a bit of food for the soul and check out the latest our usually brilliant articles... this one a message for the Holy Week...

    Happy reading!

    1. Indeed a good article. I particularly liked the summation: "The Easter holidays need not be one where you need to be imprisoned in tradition."

      I always enjoyed Charlton Heston films myself. So cornball. He would invariably end up in a Christ-on-the-cross pose, bearing the suffering for the rest of us . . .

      Good of you to visit our more humble effort here.

    2. what do those films have to do w easter?


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