Monday, February 12, 2007

Mere Celebrity

Edit(2): My bad, he registered as independent.

missingpoints classic
originally posted: 18 November 2005

Jinggoy Estrada is fuming mad because a school district superintendent released a "patriotism" memo that included an admonition against voting for actors and athletes running for public office. Taking it personally, he says the memo is unfair and risks affecting the impressionable students who may read the letter.

Which is perhaps the reason why Thelma Bueson wrote it in the first place. While we expect a reasonably educated person to be able to discern between deserving candidates regardless of their former profession, it is precisely these impressionable kids in the provinces who may be easily swayed by the kind of popularity Jinggoy and his kind wield.

Of course he had his day grilling the poor superintendent during the DepEd budget hearings. She, of course, could not defend herself for fear of losing her budget. In one of the few senate hearings that actually are useful aids to legislation, Jinggoy managed to act like a bully and waste time over trivial matters.

Woo-hoo, score one for the competence of actors in public office.

* * * * *

The biggest mistake actors make when trying to justify their political careers is assuming that their profession is at par with, say, a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer in terms of preparing them for political office. To the insecure actor, these are all just "jobs other than politician," leading him (and his gullible voters) to conclude that they all stand an equal chance of being good at public service, eventually.*

Not everyone is cut out to be a public servant in terms of aptitude and training. While a lot of people (out of work actors, especially) may claim to have "a heart for the poor and oppressed," we all know that being well-meaning is never enough. The old saying about the road to hell applies.

It's not that actors or athletes do not put any effort at all in order to attain success or that no successful professionals are slackers, it's just there's something wrong with assuming that the requirements for succeeding in each profession are more or less the same, employing a similar set of skills and qualifications. There are professions that can better prepare you for a life of public service and there are professions like acting and playing pro basketball.

As I've argued before in one of my most forwarded posts ("That's Entertainment"), an MBA can boast of management skills, an engineer understands how systems work, and a doctor understands the scientific method. These acquired proficiencies should assure us of their ability
to understand and be competent in the position we elected them to.

An actor, on the other hand, trains to adopt character traits and project emotion. He studies how to connect to audiences and make them feel a certain way. And while this, ironically, helps him win elections by convincing the most gullible, it hardly prepares him for the job that follows: actual management of a city or crafting legislation.

They can, as most basketball player candidates do, claim discipline and teamwork as values essential to being a good councilor or mayor. But that just insults other professionals who have as much claim to discipline and teamwork.

Of course I am being generous in assuming that they are actors in the true sense of the word. Real thespians who take their art seriously and, like other professionals, strive to improve themselves and their work, can be credited with at least the professional discipline needed to adapt to another career.

A lot of showbiz candidates, however, are just celebrities. A euphemism for "people who are famous although we don't know why."

In this country being an artista is not difficult. All one needs is a mukha that is both maganda and makapal. Real acting talent is not given as much importance as family connections coupled with the willingness to "play the game" (e.g. kiss Alfie Lorenzo's ass).

Premium is placed on pakikisama rather than actual talent (or even appeal as is the case with Willie Revillame), leading us college-educated professionals to wonder why they're making so much more money.

So a serious actor, despite (or perhaps because of) his training, is most likely not the best possible candidate for political office. What more a mere celebrity like, say, a fat "action star" living off his father's name?

* * * * *
*"Eventually" being a relative term, of course. The time frame for actually improving from neophyte to acceptable levels may vary, from "getting past the honeymoon stage" (a few weeks) to "becoming seasoned" (several years) to, in Jinggoy's case, "when pigs fly."


mojacko said...

Sonia Roco is running!!!

missingpoints said...

I know. She has the benefit of not being over exposed. The only negative comments I've gathered so far have been from people who don't know much about her. But they're not so much criticisms as they are questions.