Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Act naturally

(Published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 2006)

IF I WERE a three-eyed alien channel surfing Philippine TV from a starship, I'd say this country consists mostly of teenagers who spend their waking hours either falling madly in love or vivisecting other people with gusto.

That's the impression you get from watching Pinoy programs. Your eye food consists of "fantaseryes" and fairy tales about that fantasy called "true" love.

And the stars of these programs are teenagers. Not a 30-or 40-something among them. 20-somethings? Sometimes.

Teen power on Pinoy TV is easy to understand. The teen market is huge. Teen viewership creates money.

And savvy stations are hardnosed market exploiters. There's no other way for them to make gazillions on the cheap.

With both eyes on the almighty bottom line, savvy stations churn out pointless programs featuring good looking teens (the whiter, the better) pretending to sing, dance and act. It's what the teen market wants, they tell themselves.

Let's give the teen market the rich boy meets poor girl gimmick or vice versa. Let's bling the show with CGI (computer generated images) special effects.

Let's give the teen heroes magical powers. Don't forget the badass swords and the cool armor.

Better yet, let's make them rulers of Neverland. Michael Jackson won't mind. He's broke.

And these suddenly famous teens love it. They're on nationwide TV. They've got screaming fans. They make tons more money than they did when they crewed for Jollibee.

And all they've got to do is act naturally.

But typecasting teenagers as either dumbos or bimbos in tacky tearjerker roles is an insult to these youngsters. These teenagers could actually become role models and great entertainers--if given good and intelligent roles.

Yet, producers claim silly roles are what the market wants, and have been doing so ad nauseam.

Today's star teens are the future of Philippine TV. Acting naturally shouldn't cut it if Pinoy TV has ambitions of equaling quality programs from Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

Acting smart should be the norm. This will, however, need stories written by more mature scriptwriters and creative vision from more mature directors.

And producers know these two vital ingredients in making Pinoy TV truly world class will cost them millions. That's more money than they care to spend.

But someone's got to start along this rough road because Pinoy TV's only alternative is staying trapped in a time warp where silly plots and wooden acting harken back to the silent movies of 1906.

It's 2006 and it would be a sad shame if the only laudable improvement between then and now were the CGI.

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