Wonder Woman (Spoiler?) Review

Yes! I went to see Wonder Woman yesterday with my Mom and sisters, and it was fantastic! I had to revive my blog just to rave about it (my blog has been on hiatus and in private mode so that I can focus on work and fully “adjust” to the adult world—it’s a personal thing). I’ve officially become obsessed with the movie and character.

I’m not a comic books nor a superhero fan. It’s one of the movie “genres” that I ignore. It’s just not my taste. I used to think that it can be pretty formulaic most of the times with the dude-gets-superpowers-and-decides-to-start-fighting-crimes-with-final-boss-battle-at-the-end. I’m aware though of how passionate comic book fans can be when it comes to this. I believe as of right now, the Marvel versus DC war is still ongoing out there in the comments section of YouTube movie trailers, debating on which cinematic universe makes more sense or which superhero movie adaptation is still the best. I usually avoid them, but it can be pretty amusing.

Besides, I don’t know my comic book stuff. I didn’t even know that there’s a whole different bunch of superheroes besides Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and that there’s in fact another team of meta-humans (or in this case, mutants?) called The Avengers. Spiderman is probably the only other superhero I knew. Even then he’s never been invited to avenge with them. Blame my parents for introducing me only to the DC superheroes as I grew up. It was only recently as the movies came out that I learned the existence of Thor, Captain America, and the others.

My Mom though is a big fan of Wonder Woman since Lynda Carter days. I watched some of the re-run episodes from childhood. I don’t remember much though. I would watch them with her sometimes but I never understood it nor enjoyed it. But I do know how Mom loves it so much. Wonder Woman is her all-time favorite superhero. So when I heard that the 2017 movie is coming out, I just knew I had to bring her and my sisters to the cinema.

At first, she was skeptical about the new Wonder Woman. She watched the series when she was still young. She had high expectations, set by her memories of the first adaptation. But she was still, of course, delighted and excited about finally having a live-action film about her beloved superhero after so many years. Spoiler Alert: She loved it! We all did. Now, here’s my honest thoughts about the movie, coming from a non-fan who fell in love all of a sudden with a superhero for the first time in her life. Just to be clear, I’m not an expert in comic books nor movies, but here’s just what I think.

Before you proceed, know that there might be spoilers, but I’ll try not to give away too much details. So if you’re planning to watch the movie and don’t want to ruin the story, best try not to continue reading.

The Good:

Story

It was well-written, very cohesive, and solid overall. As someone who doesn’t know about the origins of Wonder Woman or Diana, I didn’t know what to expect, but what I learned about her, I loved. The story started by introducing her mythical origins. I keep seeing parallels with the Christian theology–mostly the Fall of Lucifer–even though her story is very much based on the Greek mythology and features the Greek God of War, Ares. That made it easier for me to get into the story because I connected immediately (Catholic here).

The best thing about the story though is the seamless transition between the mythological exposition and the World War I setting. I love how the plot didn’t only show us how Wonder Woman came to be, but also how she grew as a person. It wasn’t just a story of someone finding out that she can be a superhero and fight the bad guys. Typical origin story. There were no “bad guys” here. Or at least, the real villains weren’t the expected bad guys. It was war itself. This is the story of a woman who learned that human morality isn’t as clear as black and white, and that the war will not stop by simply killing one boss villain. She learns that being a savior is more about fighting for what you believe in and less about defeating the bad guys and rid the world of all evil. ‘Cause no one really is purely evil nor good. It’s all a blur of in-between. But the movie was still hopeful about humanity.

Characters

Great casting, great chemistry! Gal Gadot was amazing, Chris Pine was perfect. I can’t imagine anyone else for the roles of Diana and Steve.

Two things this movie can boast are the character development, especially of the movie’s superhero, and the perfect balance between her and her love interest—who was just more than a love interest.

Diana started off as this naive girl who had absolute views of good and evil, war and justice. Coming from a hidden paradise of female warriors, of course she would be clueless about what’s happening in the real world. She soon realized the gray truths of humanity when Steve brought her to the war-torn areas.

Here’s where the balance comes in: Steve became her reality-check. But it wasn’t just Steve’s realist and almost cynical views that made him the perfect counterpart for Diana. Diana might be the “super,” but Steve was also just as strong-willed as her and it made him the perfect match. They were equals in character.

There was no power-play of the sexes. Yeah, most definitely this is a women-empowering film but it never forced feminist views nor dragged down any of the sexes to uplift another. Both the characters are learning from each other. Diana, the reality of human nature and the importance of holding on to your values from Steve, and Steve, the optimism to save the world and having hope for humanity from Diana. They were just two people, though with different views, fighting the same battle.

In the end, Diana matured as person and was able to determine what she really was fighting for. And Steve, well, you will always be in our hearts and your sacrifice will forever be remembered. *sobs*

Execution

The right mix of narrative and action. Before I could even get bored of the backstories (which would still be impossible for me because the backstories and the little down time moments were engaging, honest, and heartfelt at times), they give me stellar action sequences. There were three main action sequences in the movie–the beach battle, the Front battle, and the final boss battle–that were evenly distributed throughout the film. In between these parts, there was enough time for character development and story-telling. It was effective to give fans the hype and excitement of actions scenes that they expect from a superhero film, at the same time, show them the story without dragging on the plot. Slow-mo effects? I had no problem with that. Wonder Woman was still kickass!

There were also these funny and adorables little moments that added charm to the movie and the character of Wonder Woman, mostly. None of the humor felt forced or cheesy. When she saw a baby, when she tried to get out of the revolving door, when she ate ice cream, these little scenes showed how much Diana was out of place in the WWI London setting. These moments became opportunities for light breathers before the movie focused on the brutal effects of war, and I’m telling you. When the scenes of the soldiers from the war came on, showing their chopped leg and bloodied bandages, and Diana had to pass through them, mothers and children begging for help as explosions go off meters away from them, those really pierced me and stirred something in me. I’d say that the movie was successful to make us emotionally invest in the characters and the setting they were in. It was very timely.

The Bad:

The final boss. I just think that I was misled with the main villain. Just when you think she would have to fight either the general or the scientist, Spoiler Alert: Ares was real and he’s the old cabinet speaker. I read that Ares is an actual villain in the DC universe but I almost wanted him to be a misconception of Diana about the war, not an actual villain. At least not in this movie. I don’t know any other alternatives for Ares as the final villain but I thought it would have more impact if Ares was more of a representation of war, rather than a god to defeat. It’s just a little bit of a bait-and-switch for me with that plot twist. But it didn’t really ruin the movie for me, so it was still okay, and the overall movie is just too good that it didn’t matter at all. The rest of the story elements made up for it.

The Score: 9/10 Badass with a heart. (The deducted point is obviously for the villain.)

Beauty Talk

I’ve had enough with this. I have nothing against personal opinion on beauty and such. We all have our preferences, admit it or not, and we’ll naturally find some people “more attractive” than others. HOWEVER, talking about beauty as if it is not a subjective thing is absurd. Beauty is not set in stone. Beauty standards are pure bull. Enough talking about someone’s face as if it’s a matter of right or wrong. So their looks aren’t up to your standards. You think they’re ugly. That’s only your opinion. It’s not a statement of fact. That’s their face, not yours to worry about. Jeez. Beauty is NOT everything. It doesn’t save the world from its problems. What kind of a primitive brain do you have to set people apart by their faces and make other people feel bad about themselves? With what right?

[TL;DR Warning!] Why do I still believe in God?

If this was a reflection paper for a religion class, I would probably answer it with some deep, philosophical mumbo-jumbo about how God is real because He created me and the proof of His existence is present in the little miracles He graces me with in every day of my life. Something like that. But don’t worry, I’m not going to quote the Bible to prove or defend anything.

Answering the question in the most logical and basic sense, the truth is, I believe in God because I grew up in a household that taught me religion. Most religious people hate it when people call out and challenge their faith and religion. Well, I’m calling myself out now and tell you that I was conditioned to believe in God. There’s no major life-changing encounter with God for me. I was simply born and raised as a Catholic. My whole life, I was taught to pray to God, to thank God, to fear God. To us, the Bible is the Word of God and it should be the way of life. Looking back, it was never really my choice to be Catholic. If I was born in a different kind of family, maybe a Buddhist one, then I probably would never be Catholic. Who knows? But now that I have a mind of my own, now that I can make my own choices, why do I still believe in a God?

You might be a non-believer, an atheist who thinks that God is just some made up concept based on a centuries old fairy tale book. Or you might also be Christian or a Catholic who, like me, consider themselves as a person of faith. Regardless, there are things that I want to share about what it’s like to believe in a supposedly all-powerful being who may or may not exist. This is something personal and does not in any way represent the sentiments of other religious people.

Do I even consider myself religious? I go to church every Sunday, I pray every night before I go to sleep, and I read the Bible sometimes. But I am not a religious person. No, not really.

But I do have a strong faith in God. Just not for the reasons people think.

One thing that irks me is when non-believers or atheists think of us as illogical, irrational, fanatic, occult, or simply “just a bunch of idiots” for believing in a make-believe “fairy tale.” Trust me, those words have been directed at me many times for speaking as a Catholic. While it is true that there are ignorant, bigoted, extremist religious people, calling us stupid doesn’t make them intelligent either. Just a bunch of jerks. Obviously, not everyone. Only the disrespectful, prejudiced fraction of them who can’t get it through their heads that we have the freedom to believe in something whether they think it’s ridiculous or not. (Sorry for ranting off like that. I’m still kind of hurt.)

You know, I completely understand actually. Explaining to them the existence of God is like explaining to them how the Earth is flat. Which is to them, both absolutely false. Their logic is Earth equals not flat, God equals not real. But here’s the difference, it’s already been proven that the Earth is in fact NOT flat. It’s a giant floating ball in space, circling an old star. But God? There’s no way to prove nor disprove God’s existence. Not even science can. Because what humans will never understand is that if a God really exists, His existence is beyond the comprehension of a mere mortal being. I’ll try to explain in a language you can trust: logic and math. Simply put, God is like absolute infinity, the infinity of all infinities. Can we measure absolute infinity? No. We can only give it a concept, one that we can never fully grasp, but we know that there is such a thing, though mind-blowing as it can be. There’s no physical, measurable proof of God’s existence because God should be way more than just “physical and finite.” Just because something is incomprehensible to the human brain, doesn’t mean it’s not true. We’re just too dumb for things like infinity or God, but it’s not impossible that they exist.

But that doesn’t explain why I am a Catholic specifically, it only explains why I still believe in a God. So, right, why am I still a Catholic? Why do I still follow the Bible and go to church every Sunday? Why didn’t I move to other religion instead, like Islam or Judaism? It’s practically the same, they have a God too, just a different name and group. Or, you know, just not follow any religion at all! I could just believe in a nameless, incomprehensible God.

When all your life, you’ve seen colors, it’s hard to imagine what life would be like without them. I’m not talking randomly here. That’s what it’s like to be born into a religion. But that doesn’t mean I can’t stick nails into my eyes and make myself blind. It’s just that I choose not to. For me, being a Catholic is like that. I choose to keep seeing the colors.

I know this might be a little controversial to most Catholics and Christians, but it’s true. It’s hard to let go of something that has become a part of yourself, and sometimes I think it’s the only reason why I’m still Catholic. These Christian teachings have always been a part of my life and it’s something I can’t imagine my life without. It’s as essential as culture and identity to me. I don’t know what I would do if there’s no one somewhere out there that I could turn to and pray to when I feel like I’m breaking down and falling apart. This is also why I will never be an atheist. I can’t imagine a world without a God. It’s the life I’m used to.

But my faith is quite different than just something that I’m “used to.”

A favorite argument of non-believers is that if God really loves us, why is there so much suffering everywhere? But at the same time, the only source of hope for some people when others of their kind are causing their pain is a merciful God who promises salvation. Regardless if you’re convinced or not, I know it’s true for me. I’m flawed, I make mistakes, I go through hard times, life can be unfair, but what makes me survive and keep going is this strong faith in a God that I believe can help me get through those hard times, a God that I can even blame for when things out of my control get more difficult, and that is something hard to make other people understand. This is just me, and I don’t know if anyone would admit to the same thoughts, but I know I am weak and my religion is my way to get through life, kind of like a defense mechanism. I am aware that I am not strong enough to “live on my own,” so I need to get strength instead from an intangible being that is more powerful than any of us. But faith is not just a protective shield for me so I could live in comfort.

I know that there are questionable things that atheists love to pick on about religion, Christianity most specifically. The Catholic Church as an institution obviously has it’s imperfections as well. I admit it, too, we choose what parts of the Bible should be taken literally and what should be taken figuratively. Interpretations change and vary among people and denomination, so it gets really confusing. I have my doubts too, and I am skeptical about some parts of the Bible. Questioning my beliefs is also important, otherwise I’d just be a blind follower. Yeah, I believe in God but you know, you can never trust people and whatever the hell happened in the past, if they even translated the Bible right or maybe ripped some pages off and added fake passages here and there. I’m just being realistic, that’s all. History is a dubious thing. You don’t know what part you should believe.

But you know how the Harry Potter series taught us to believe in the value of friendship and the power of good over Voldemort—I mean, evil? Well, regardless of what you think of it’s credibility and authenticity, the Bible has taught me things like that, too, and so much more. It taught me everything I need to know about life, and these teachings always give me strength and wisdom. I am the way I am (flaws and everything) because the Bible guides me. Bible verses are to me like the book quotes you live by. Whenever I feel so clueless and hopeless, the Word of God (as what we call it) never fails to help me get through everything. Faith, hope, love, mercy, and compassion are the main recurring themes in the Bible. Don’t you think those are good virtues to live by?

Again to the non-believers, if you don’t know what to make of the Bible. Just simply read it as any other book and you will find a lot of valuables life lessons from it, whether the stories make sense to you or not. What? You were able to learn something from the wand-wielding kid wizard that sleeps in the cupboard under the stairs, right? Come on, you were willing to give it suspension of disbelief. A God that was born as a human being in a stable next to horses and sheep shouldn’t be any different. But just so you know, the Bible might actually be closer to reality than the Harry Potter books will ever be. (Of course, I am not forcing anyone to read the Bible because I don’t read it that often either, but if you do read the Bible, please look for the deeper meaning it is trying to convey and you will at least see why it’s still the most influential book of all time.)

Faith in God is something hard to define for each person. It’s a personal thing and it’s very private. But what I know for sure is that genuine faith is more than just believing in something you have no sure proof of. It’s living not only with it but also in it. Even your death depends on your faith. The concept of afterlife comes with religion for the most part. Do I believe in the afterlife? Well, we sure have Heaven and Hell in my religion, and even though I don’t want to think that there’s only oblivion and nothingness after death (that doesn’t sound comforting at all), I also don’t want to live my life as if I’m just preparing for my afterlife.

Believe it or not, I don’t really care that much about the afterlife. As a Catholic, I recognize the existence of Heaven and Hell but honestly, I don’t buy the if-you-want-to-go-to-Heaven-then-you-have-to-follow-God propaganda. (Yeah, I know. How dare I say such a thing as a Catholic.) Personally, I believe in God not because I want to secure a spot in Heaven. I sure do want to go to Heaven (who doesn’t?) but I don’t want to live my life simply for the sake of “salvation.” I believe in God because I honestly think that He really does exist and because I have faith that His Words (a.k.a Bible) will guide me to live a life as a stronger, kinder person. What I want is for my faith and religion to make me a better version of myself. No offense to my fellow Christians who hold on to this promise, but faith for the sake of salvation is rather shallow and selfish. I know that the Bible teaches us that faith will bring salvation all the time. (I could go on and on about how some Christian groups are claiming that they are the only ones “saved” and the Catholics are to be doomed in hell because we don’t have real “faith” unlike them, ugh, but that’s for another story.) But, I don’t know, for me the core message of the Bible is more than just salvation.

There’s a quote by Albert Camus that says, “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.” Most people use this against non-believers, which is not really a good argument as it is only playing the chances safe and cannot really be considered true faith, but if I’m going to live as if there’s a God, I would rather follow a God that will push me to live a life guided by teachings that are above all about love and compassion for others. This is the reason why I am still a Catholic and this is why I choose to believe in the Christian God despite harsh criticism we get from others. Live as if there is a merciful God that watches over you, and if you find out there isn’t, you still lived a life full of hope and love. At least, that’s what I believe.

P.S.

Thank you so much for taking your time to read. For me, these things are always hard to talk about. Again and again, I’ve mentioned how this topic is very personal. I’ve been thinking of writing about this for months now but I never had the courage to do so until now. I’m afraid that people won’t understand and miss the point.

I am not forcing anyone to agree with my beliefs but I see a growing disrespect and intolerance towards the religious community. I know that there are also a lot of ignorant and bigoted people in the religious community, and there are all kinds of events recently that showed this, but it’s not right to insult us as a whole for our choice of religion. I simply want to show that faith and religion are a personal freedom and expressing mine doesn’t make me stupid or wrong. Believing in a God whose existence might be questionable is not stupid. It is a personal choice and people shouldn’t treat us with disdain and hostility regardless of their opinion. Everyone is free to argue against our beliefs, and I would love to entertain such debates, but disrespecting and antagonizing anyone for it is unreasonable, that’s all.

[TL;DR Warning!] Joke gone wrong? Over-sensitive people? Context matters.

I didn’t make this post to pick a side and defend it. I’m just here to share all possible angles that I can see from the perspective of an outsider, someone who lives faraway from this whole issue. I’ll try anyway. You judge.

Probably the first biggest internet issue or scandal to come out this year is the one about PewDiePie, a very famous YouTube personality, and his “anti-semitic” jokes. Basically, this is what happened: PewDiePie uploaded a video on his channel where he showed this website called Fiverr that will do practically anything that you ask of them for a few bucks. PewDiePie paid/ordered/asked (the word choice is yours) these two boys to make a video message where it says, “Death to all Jews. Subscribe to Keemstar,” as a joke. Of course, with that kind of statement, it caught a lot of attention, started a lot of debates, and offended so many people. Recently, Wall Street Journal posted an article with an accompanying YouTube video that Maker Studies, a subsidiary of Disney, cut ties with PewDiePie upon WSJ’s inquiry with Disney. YouTube also cancelled PewDiePie’s Scare PewDiePie show on YouTube Red in effect. Since then, the original videos have been removed from the channel.

Now, the online community is freaking out.

People are taking sides. There are people saying that PewDiePie went overboard with his jokes and shouldn’t have made a laughing stock out of such a sensitive and discriminating topic, and so he deserved the negative reaction. On the other hand, there are people calling out injustice, saying that PewDiePie didn’t mean to offend anyone and that WSJ took his videos and content way out of context to make him the bad person. Before you point fingers at anyone, consider all aspects of this issue first. ALWAYS remember that NOT everything is BLACK and WHITE, and that you can pick only one side and mark everything else as wrong. No.

There are five perspectives directly involved with this issue: PewDiePie, Wall Street Journal, YouTube and Disney, the online community, and the receiving end of the joke, which are the Jews themselves.

To PewDiePie, as he explained in his videos and blog, he didn’t mean offense. It was just a joke, albeit satirical and dark in nature, for a video. It was part of his humor, part of his content, part of his act and style of comedy as an entertainer and YouTube personality. He was not pushing any political agenda. To him, he was just a guy making funny videos for his subscribers.

I watched that exact video when it came out and if I remember clearly, that video was meant to explore and, in some way, criticize the website Fiverr in a satirical way. This website is an online freelance service platform that will do anything the clients ask of them for a few bucks. To test it out, PewDiePie chose various freelancers and came up with the most absurd requests to see if they will actually deliver. Some declined by saying it goes against the policy and the requests were offensive. To everyone’s surprise, one did deliver and that’s where this issue all started. The Funny Guys, as requested, made a video where they held up a sign that says, “Death to all Jews,” while laughing and dancing around. Because of this incident, the Funny Guys were banned by the website and PewDiePie, feeling responsible about, kind of appealed to Fiverr to un-ban them. This whole situation caused mixed reactions and criticisms, as expected. After that, PewDiePie made videos and a blog post explaining himself.

To Wall Street Journal, they were just doing their job as a reputable journalism company to point out all the possible offensive, discriminatory, and anti-semitic content that PewDiePie has inserted to his videos.

In this issue alone, a statement on annihilating a whole race or ethnicity or any group of people for that matter, is not just offensive but also intolerable and disheartening, especially one that is directed to an actual group of people who had a history with racial discrimination and genocide, and were immediate victims of it. It is understandable that people would find such statements, even if it was meant as a joke, to be offensive and hateful. There are simply things that you don’t ever take lightly and joke about, especially sensitive and derogatory topics that are deeply rooted in history. That coming from a famous personality and public figure with over 50 million followers (that is a number large enough to influence and make impact on) is indeed problematic and scandalous. Of course, major news sources such as WSJ would put it into light and even make it headline-worthy. It’s expected of them as it is their job.

To YouTube and Disney, this is all about business. They did what any business entity would do in the face of such scandal. Of course, in order to keep the reputation and credibility of their brand, they have to cut ties with someone who would put them into a negative spot and potentially harm their market. No businesses would associate themselves with someone who is “anti-semitic” or anyone allegedly supporting a hate group. Not only would that give the brand backlash, it would be a reason to lose their market. What YouTube and Disney did wasn’t surprising. They are thinking in a businessman’s mindset and their decision to remove or cancel their partnership with PewDiePie was the most obvious move to make. They are just doing what they think is the best for their company and people can’t blame them for that.

To the online community, it’s another issue to discuss, another point of debate, another thing to react to and talk about. The way I see it, the general consensus is split into two: those who are defending PewDiePie’s side and those who were offended for the Jewish Community. I don’t know if they picked a side because they truly understand the weight of this issue and formed a rational opinion in response OR if they were just blinded by their emotions and personal bias. Anyway, it’s a mess.

Those who are supporting PewDiePie are claiming that WSJ and other news publications took his videos out of context, cherry-picking what parts would make PewDiePie look anti-semitic, and therefore mischaracterizing him. Even other YouTube personalities have talked about this and considered it defamation of character. They believe that PewDiePie did nothing wrong and that it was unfair to judge him with a few clips that have no basis of context and were framed in a way to make him look bad. He was just making funny videos, and people should try to understand that it was all just a satirical joke that people took personally and negatively when it’s not meant to hurt anyone or support any kind of hate.

Those who are against what PewDiePie did are claiming that, in the first place, he shouldn’t have done what he did, he went too far and low with it, and that his jokes were very thoughtless, offensive, discriminatory, and “not funny.” They feel offended for the Jewish Community and they think that what he did, as a public figure with millions of people watching him and listening to every word he says, is beyond disappointing and inexcusable. Even if it was a joke, he still tried to make fun of a very dark topic targeted at a certain group of people, trivializing this sensitive issue or even influencing others to do the same, so it’s expected that everyone would criticize him and give him backlash.

Then, of course, there are those people who don’t care at all and think that there are other problems—bigger problems—worth talking about, and everyone else is just over-reacting about the issue. Whichever, the result is chaos in the YouTube comment sections.

To the Jewish Community, I honestly don’t know what they think of this in general. While there are a few who have spoken up and said that they weren’t really offended because they were aware that it was just a joke, I’m sure that most of them were deeply hurt by the statement. Putting myself into their shoes, if someone famous and influential said, “Death to all Filipinos,” as a joke, I wouldn’t really take it personally but I know I would feel the sting. What I just don’t understand is why do other people feel the need to be so offended on their behalf. I don’t know what the Jewish Community think about this but personally, I feel that it is unnecessary. The concern is very much appreciated but it is just not needed? (I will have to make a separate post about this.) If anyone had the right to feel offended by this whole situation, it would be the Jews. Rightfully so. But I don’t know. Maybe they don’t even know about the existence of this issue or they have more important matters to deal with than just one YouTuber’s offensive joke.

Bottom-line, consider all perspectives of the issue. Why should you care? The problem with people nowadays is that they are so quick to judge, so quick to bash, without considering all sides involved. The result of this shows how people can be so ignorant and irrational with their opinions. It’s evident when you read comments everywhere. That is the sadder reality reflected in this mess.

Now, here’s what I think. But before I continue with my personal take on this issue, if you have your own opinions about this, please share them now. Don’t read the following paragraphs without sharing your own comments first because I don’t want in any way influence your thoughts. Okay? Okay.

To sum it up: Wall Street Journal is sensationalizing the heck out of it, YouTube and Disney are doing business as usual, PewDiePie should have known better, and the internet is so uselessly triggered about it.

I’ve been subscribed to PewDiePie for a few years now and, even though I don’t regularly watch his content, I know his style of humor so I wasn’t really shocked or anything with those “anti-semitic” remarks. He’s the kind of personality that makes fun of everything and doesn’t censor a single thing even though the jokes are very offensive, and he knows it. If you watch his videos, you’ll know that the tone of his humor is not the fluffy kind of funny. It’s dark and satirical and it’s often meant to criticize an issue or situation.

If you’ve been reading my blog, especially my earliest posts, you’ll know that I follow the same kind of humor, but the difference is that I am very careful not to unintentionally offend, attack, or hurt anyone. While I’m at level five at best, PewDiePie is at level fifty on the scale of how-sarcastic-are-you. And that’s the problem. People almost always miss sarcasm, and if people take it seriously, it is guaranteed that they will make an issue out of it. PewDiePie knows it and he doesn’t care. But he should know better and he should start caring. Especially nowadays when everyone is so easily triggered and offended even by a non-reaction.

He is a public figure so he should start acting like one. Even if he is an independent entity with no companies or organizations holding him down (except maybe YouTube because that is his medium, but PewDiePie is a such a huge personality now that I doubt even YouTube can hold him down), he should consider now that he is a person with millions and millions of followers that will hang on to his every word and action. What he does can influence people and make an impact to important socio-political issues whether it was his intention or not. I know he just wants to do his thing, and he doesn’t care about his image or reputation or what other people see him as, but for the sake of his followers, he should be more responsible. He should know the limits and be more thoughtful of what he does or say. I do feel bad for him with the amount of hate he is getting now but at the same time, I can’t say that I didn’t see it coming. It’s the consequence of his actions as an internet celebrity.

On one side of the spectrum, there is also Wall Street Journal making a sensation out of the issue. In case you didn’t know, I’m a communication arts student and I major in media studies, so this is kind of my thing. I’m going to take bits and pieces from what I’ve learned in school (if there’s anything I’ve learned) and try to form an opinion based on those things.

I believe that everyone already knows that even the most credible news sources, no matter how “objective” their facts seem to be, only give us a frame of the story. If not, believe me, all media and news organizations don’t always give the information people need to know. They give what they THINK people would WANT to know, and what people want are things that calls for attention, things that are interesting, things that have impact. Human interest, timeliness, conflict, consequence, and prominence—these are just some of the things that make newsworthy stories, and we can cross out all of it for the PewDiePie issue.

I’m not saying that they are deliberately hiding information from us, but part of their job is to take an angle that better suits the story or issue, and in the process, so details are omitted. There’s a thing called framing and this concept is basically about how information are presented in such a way that will give readers an impression of what topics or issues are more important than the other. Presentation influences the way people interpret information and even the most neutral thing can look either good or bad with the way it was presented. Maybe PewDiePie’s issue is a case of that. I’m NOT saying that PewDiePie was the victim here. I mean, he did make those “anti-semitic” jokes and it’s understandable that the media and the public wouldn’t take this lightly. But this is just on the surface level.

Behind the scenes, behind closed doors, journalism is more complex than the need to report accurate news and current events. Journalism is still a business after all, and businesses need to attract a market and profit from it. Where there is business, there are also people running it from the inside, and where there are people, there are also personal agendas, biases, motivations, and beliefs. Besides appealing to the public’s interests, the news stories will have to appeal to the needs and wants of the people running the business. I don’t know what exactly these things are for Wall Street Journal, but I know for sure that it is reflected in the way they are framing and sensationalizing the PewDiePie story.

Yes, the way I see it, this story is being sensationalized. If you’re going to watch WSJ’s video of this issue, the signs are all over it. Never mind the video clips that were being taken out of context as there are various videos and posts addressing this issue. Just look at the way it started and ended. They started with an introduction of PewDiePie, explaining who is and what recently happened, and ended with these statements: “PewDiePie’s videos are being celebrated by The Daily Stormer website, which recently declared itself ‘the world’s #1 PewDiePie fan site.’ The Southern Poverty Law Center calls The Daily Stormer the ‘top hate site in America.'” They didn’t lie to us, they didn’t use any information that isn’t factual, and they didn’t say anything questionably subjective. HOWEVER, they left the audience with a piece of information that implies that PewDiePie is the bad guy, and the effects on PewDiePie’s image is severing and defaming. He doesn’t really deserve that treatment. Did they really take his videos out of context? You know what, news in general don’t give people context. As I’ve said, framing is what they do best and framing doesn’t give you every single detail you need. Although it would be much better if they did, they aren’t obliged to do so. Their job is to give us what they think is important to us, and they didn’t report anything that is false. Technically.

They already expect people to react. It’s more surprising if they didn’t because that would mean that the news isn’t “worthy” enough. That would mean that their story failed to capture people’s attention and influence companies to cut ties with PewDiePie. That’s what newspapers do. But they did succeed and now people are going crazy about it. Remember, WSJ is also a business-focused newspaper company. They know what’s going on and they know what they are doing. People are once again the pawns of this game. Whether you are pro or against them is irrelevant.

I’m NOT saying that what WSJ did was wrong…or right, and that WSJ shouldn’t have framed the story like that. But you can’t really say that they did wrong, because PewDiePie did say all of those things, and those things did really happen. Sure, it is way unfair that they took out all the context and make it seem like PewDiePie is such a horrible person. But, “Death to all Jews,” is indeed a very hateful and offensive statement even as a joke. It’s bound to be interpreted and taken in different ways. So we can’t really fault WSJ for doing that. But we can’t say that they did good either. I’m just saying, they did what they had to do as a newspaper company. WSJ did their job. PewDiePie is just another story. It goes to show that journalism and media haven’t changed. It’s still the same politically-fueled industry that guises itself as a form of public service. Are they corrupt? No. I don’t think so. Are they wrong? No. But as I have said, this matter is not as simple as pointing out black and white. There are moral and ethical grey areas—dilemmas, if you may—and the industry has demands that people will have to answer to, whether they like it or not. This is the way it is.

The lesson here, people, is to read all facts. Every freaking time, this is the problem, internet people! Read. Not just from one source, not just from the side that you support. If you really want to form a wise opinion, read from all angles of the issue and always, for the sake of humanity, verify facts. We live in the age of information, how hard can this be? This way, there will be no information taken out of context, there will be no statements misinterpreted, and there will be no baseless accusations. I see a lot of them all over the face of this issue, and it’s a shame. Even if they twist and bend the facts, you know the truth and you won’t be fooled this time.

No one is stopping you from picking sides—it’s natural for people to follow their values and principles—but you need to have a solid basis and a sound reasoning for choosing one. If people challenge your opinions, you can just lay down all the facts for them and easily justify it, and if they still don’t understand that you can have your own opinion just as they can have theirs and they start disrespecting you, they will come out as the stupid ones. No one is obliged to agree with your sentiments, but it matters that you know well what you’re standing up for and everyone should learn respect it, the same way you’re respecting theirs. But more than that, it makes you the more credible person and your opinion will become more substantial.

Oh, and another important lesson that I almost forgot. Think before you speak. 

Writing VS. Blogging?

Lately, I’ve seen a couple of posts about this and I wanna share my take on it, too. Obviously, there’s a difference. While writing can be a way to blog, not all blogs just focus on writing. Nothing is set in stone here though. But I just want to share what I think as both a casual blogger and a writer wannabe myself.

Actually, this is something I just realized now. For me, the greatest difference between writing (fiction) and blogging has nothing to do with the technical aspects of it. The difference lies in the reason why I’m doing it. By reason, I mean the people I’m doing it for.

I write for the readers. Whenever I write, I always consider what my potential readers would love or enjoy. It’s not necessarily about impressing them but I do want my writing to affect them in some way. I want my writing to stir something in them may it be an emotion, a memory, a feeling, or an insight, positive or not. It makes me happy when people react to my writing one way or another.

On the other hand, I blog for myself. I blog because I want to have a release. To express myself and unleash these heavy thoughts that’s been occupying me. Sharing it with people is just a part of it but I don’t really dwell on what the readers would think of my posts. I blog because I have something to say; whether someone reads my blog or not, it’s not really the most important part of it. (But, of course, I’m still very grateful when people read my posts and share their thoughts with me as well.)

I can’t say this enough though, this is only my personal take on it. I don’t know, other people might have it the other way around or it might work for them in a completely different way. But to me, this is how I see the difference between writing and blogging. Regardless, as long as people find both activities fulfilling, the differences don’t really matter.

What Makes Kpop

I’m not a Kpop expert but this I know much about Kpop. I’ve been a fan of Kpop for almost 7 years now. What’s interesting about Kpop is that even though it’s basically pop music expressed in the Korean language (and it’s true), it is still distinguished as a separate genre (with a vast range of sub-genres in it) and an industry as a whole. Why? Here’s what I’ve gathered. Take it from the fan.

1) Language

Obviously, Kpop should be in Korean (Hangul) because even though it has a huge international fan-base, it still caters first and foremost to the Koreans. Its main audience are still Koreans. Even though there are English phrases thrown here and there in the songs, its main language is still Korean because of this reason. But another important thing is that it should be promoted IN Korea. To further elaborate: If you change the language of the song (to Japanese or Mandarin) it isn’t Kpop anymore although it’s the same song. EXAMPLE: EXO-K and EXO-M. There are also lots of Kpop groups debuting in Japan nowadays. Notice that they are doing this to penetrate the Jpop scene and once they do that, they aren’t promoting as a Kpop group anymore. They ‘debut’ a second time in Japan. This time, they are promoting as a Jpop group now and their songs are all in Japanese, even though it was originally a Kpop song and even though the members are all Korean. Race/Ethnicity doesn’t matter in a Kpop group. There are Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even half-American members in some groups. But Kpop is Kpop ’cause like I said, Kpop is in Korea and for Koreans. The basic reason.

2) Choreography

If the group is not trying to be an idol band that plays instruments (like CN Blue or FT Island) then there should be a choreography. Idol groups are very synchronized and creative with their choreography. Kpop group dances look so clean and precise as a whole, like, their movements look synchronized. The movements of the members are of the same level or intensity even though there are better dancers in the group. The way each member move and dance looks the same, if you get what I mean. Every Korean Idol group (take note I said, Idol, because there still non-Idol Korean artists and musicians) makes choreography even if it’s as simple as banging your head or waving your hands. But even if it can be that simple, it’s not just any choreography. There should be a ‘point.’ Point is the main part of the dance and it’s important. It’s what makes the dance memorable and possibly the move that’s going to trend. Even though most Kpop groups have powerful choreography, there’s at least one movement that people can easily remember and copy, and once they see it, they’ll know immediately that “ah, this move is this idol group’s signature dance for this song.” Famous example: the horse dance in Psy’s Gangnam Style. Other examples: hing dance in Seventeen’s Mansae, Thor dance in B.A.P’s Young Wild & Free, the rubbing of hands in SuJu’s Sorry Sorry, etc.

3) Music Video

Music videos are flashy and high in quality. From what I’ve seen through the years, this is how Korean music videos usually work: First, there should be the dance set or group shot. It’s where the whole group can be seen dancing as a group. Sometimes they use multiple sets or back drop theme for this shot. Often, it can be one dark-themed set and the other a bright-themed set. The whole point of this is to show the group’s choreography, obviously, in different angles or light. Second, the individual shots. Close-up of the members doing their individual parts. I think it’s also called the lip-sync shot? Because, of course, fans would also want to see their ‘bias’ or favorite member up close. Third, most Kpop MVs also have a story-line. Just a simple ‘plot’ that is connected to the song. You’d notice that many Korean male idol groups are going after a single girl in their MVs. It’s the most common plot. The plot can be as simple as that. But there are also a lot of MVs with complex story-lines that fans have to interpret. (Ahem, BTS – RUN, ahem.) Chop chop chop these scenes and put them alternately together in one video and BOOM. Your basic Kpop music video. But over-all these scenes should follow one, concise concept. Korean music videos aren’t just made up of random colorful sets and scenes. They have a single concept. There are many Kpop groups trying new styles and execution of music videos but there is still a main concept behind it.

4) Concept

Speaking of concepts, Idols take concepts seriously. Each comeback (or new album release) they have a ‘concept’ that they use, may that be a sexy concept, a cute concept, summer concept, a dark concept, a mature concept, fairy tale concept or whatever. It can be anything really. But they follow it all through-out promotion. B.A.P and EXO debuted with a concept of being ‘aliens from a distant planet.’ You’ll see that from their outfits to their music videos. It’s obvious that their concept is ‘alien.’ As they release new songs or albums, they change concepts to show a different side of them and fit into an image that they want to portray.

5) Fashion

Oh, the fashion sense. It’s important in showing off the group’s current concept. You’ll know what kind of outfits and make-up and hairstyle they have by checking out Kpop music videos and live shows. It’s kind of experimental, sometimes flashy or vibrant or fancy or trendy (it depends on the vibe they wanna show), but at the same time, uniform in the group. Their clothes, obviously, still matches the concept even with the wild statements. Like, even if the members are sporting a different style or even an individual concept, when you put them together, they still look uniform. You know there’s a theme going on.

6) Member Roles

Each member has a different role. They don’t just gather random cute guys that can sing and dance to form a group. Each one has a vital role in the group. You can call it an assigned archetype or whatever. You’ve got the main dancer, the main vocal, the main rapper, the lead dancer, the lead vocal, the lead rapper, the leader, the maknae (youngest), the visual or face of the group, and even the guy with the 4D personality. They take these roles seriously and it depends on what the member can do best. Some members take 2 or 3 roles, like the leader can also be the main dancer and the lead vocal or the maknae can be the main vocal with the 4d personality. It really depends on the skills and personality of the member. But the thing is, when they introduce themselves, that’s what they say to the fans. EX: “Hello everyone, I’m Seventeen’s vocal team leader, Woozi.” It is important as it is what makes the group complete.

7) Fandom

The fan clubs are taken very, very seriously and it’s a crazy, crazy world in the Kpop scene. You’ve got an official fan club name, official fan cafe, official group color, light stick designs, and official merchs. Being a fan of a Kpop group is serious business. Kpop groups often show their gratitude by doing a lot of fan services and there are even official OTPs and sailing ships, most of the time, boy to boy, amongst members. It’s not weird. It’s just how it is. Kpop groups have to go through a lot of activities and promotions to have a stable fandom and keep these fans happy and satisfied.

8) Training

What makes the Kpop industry different from the American pop industry is that Idols go through the training system. They train for a couple of years before debuting in a group even though most of them have real talents already. Entertainment companies still sharpen the skills they have to turn them into real Idols. Some only take a year while others even have to go through 6 years of training before finally debuting. They don’t just pop out of nowhere. Even though there are many groups debuting these days, these Idols have been trained to sing, dance, or rap prior their debut as Idols. Some even perform as back-up dancers or act as extras in the music videos of their sunbaes (seniors) before they become famous. It’s an intensive process. It’s a craft. That’s how dedicated these Kpop idols are. It’s no joke. People can’t simply say, “oh, we’re forming a group and we’re gonna sing songs in Korean” and call themselves a Kpop group. It’s so much more than that.

Note: I initially posted this on my OverlieFangirlie blog based off my YouTube comment in EXP’s Luv/Wrong music video using my fan account. I wanted to explain why Kpop is a distinguished genre and what makes it so different from other pop music scenes. Kpop isn’t just music, it has culture of its own and it’s a completely different fangirl experience.

[TL;DR Warning!] The West Philippine Sea Issue

Hey, guys! It’s been a while. I decided to put my blog in private mode (temporarily) because I wanted to focus on other things, like my studies since I only have weeks before internship term and then months before graduation. But I want to talk about a serious and sensitive matter as I don’t know where else to rant and open up about this.

Why is it so hard for some people to understand that my conscience cannot and will never let me continue supporting someone who openly promotes a movement that makes my fellow Filipinos suffer even if that person used to be a role model of mine?

I am talking about this Chinese political movement against the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal ruling that the West Philippine Sea and the Scarborough Shoal belongs to my country. China doesn’t consider it as valid as I know that their historical records say that it is part of their territory and so many Chinese protested by posting on their Social Media accounts, claiming that the South China Sea and whatever is in the 9 dash line are theirs, a movement that some of the people I admire are supporting due to their Chinese origin.

But that is beside the point.

I understand where they are coming from. Of course I know that they have to and they will support their country and what they believe to be true. They think the whole “South China Sea” belongs to China, I cannot deny them the right to fight for that claim and express it too in whatever means, through social media and whatnot. I don’t expect and never expected them to side with my country either.

However these people, the supporters of these public figures, have to understand that I also have the right to stop supporting these people especially when I believe that this movement that they are promoting is only hurting my people, specifically these poor fishermen that cannot fish on our own waters because of the threat from the Chinese ships and vessels circling the islands and seas. Just where are they going to get their livelihood from? My country is poor enough. Do these innocent people have to suffer too?

I do not care which country has the right to claim these islands and bodies of water. I am in no position to give my opinion on this matter and I am without proper knowledge on how these political and territorial matters are processed and decided. But what I know is that this movement is only further promoting the suffering of my people. I know that the lives of these fishermen are the ones affected. If my role models are supporting this movement, how can I keep following them? I cannot in my right mind and conscience enjoy the good work of my idols, may it be in the field of music, literature, entertainment, etc. when I know that their fame and name are being used to promote a movement that I strongly oppose.

Some people say that their work or expertise has nothing to do with their political views so why should I stop supporting them? Why should it affect my admiration for their work? They said that I can still enjoy their work and support them for it without having to agree with their political views or beliefs. Sure. I’d like to separate politics from, let’s say, literature and my favorite books. But how can you expect me to enjoy my favorite book when I know that the author is openly supporting a movement that is the cause of the suffering of my people? I don’t hate these people for their views but I don’t have the heart to support them either.

Now this is a far-fetched example but imagine your favorite actor supporting the Nazi Party and their movement to kill all Jews because they believe that they are the superior race. Can you still stomach watching his movies? Can you blame me if I stop supporting these people because they support a movement that the consequence is the suffering of my fellow citizens?

On the other hand, some people say that these public figures were forced to support the movement because they’ll lose their career and reputation within their homeland if they didn’t do so. They will receive backlash and hate from their country if they kept quiet and didn’t show support. While I believe that they should have just kept quiet on such a sensitive matter that isn’t part of their career and field of expertise, the thing is that they have the right to show support, express their side on it–and they did, whether they actually wanted it or not, forced to or not. They let their names be used to send a message and the world is watching them. Expect that there will also be backlash from us who are affected and deeply devastated by such uncompromising political views. Don’t I have the right to do the smallest thing I can to oppose something that I believe is wrong? We are as much of a victim as they think they are. Can’t I do something about this issue even if it’s just as simple as to “unfollow” my role models?

If they wanna keep supporting these people then go, I won’t stop them. But don’t call us out for fighting for what we believe is just and moral for our people. We all have something to fight for. We all have something that we care about. Theirs is their reputation, career, the views and beliefs of their country. Mine is my people. If they think going against my idols for their political views is ridiculous, “what has music got to do with politics,” “entertainment and politics don’t mix,” “his talent is what made you a fan not his political views, why should it affect you,” then I cannot force them to think otherwise. I am not a patriotic person but I cannot just sit and pretend that my idols are not openly supporting a movement that hurts my people when in fact they are. Supporting them feels like I’m turning a blind eye on the suffering of the Filipinos for the sake of what? Entertainment? Literature? Music? The reputation of these people who are supposed to be my role models? I hope they understand where I’m coming from. I cannot choose these famous people’s career and lives over the innocent Filipinos affected by this political movement.

I have a voice and I choose to use it this way. I stand strong on my views and beliefs. The effects of China’s movement and actions in the West Philippine Sea are making my people and the marine life suffer. I just cannot keep quiet. I can and will oppose whoever is supporting this movement. I have the right to defend my side just as they have the right to fight for their political views.

I am not asking anyone to agree with me and my views but why is it so hard to accept that not everyone will tolerate this movement and that we have the right and reasons to oppose them? Is that so hard to understand? Why is it when I voiced out my strong opposition to these people, I am the unfair one? That I am not trying to understand their side? Have they even tried to understand my side? Do they know what it does to my conscience to support these people and enjoy their work, the very reason that their voices and reputation matter so much that anything they say can affect so many–and some not in the good way? Is this blind devotion or do they really understand what is happening here?

To all of my Chinese friends, I am sorry but you have your views. I have mine. To me, it doesn’t matter who really owns the islands and the seas. What matters to me is that the people of my country do not suffer in this process of claiming territories. If the consequences of your political movement hurt my people then I will use what little voice I have to protest against it.