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American Idol. Pop Culture? Pop Trash? Mindless television?
The genuine pulse and temperature of public opinion?
or an opportunity to take advantage of a bigger picture?
16 year old singer from California Jessica Sanchez was voted
out by America at the last show. The look of confusion and
shock was clear on everyones faces, from the judges to her fellow
contestants, the sound of the studio audiences disapproval
audible in the background. She was saved by the judges,
using their one and only save card for the season.
Theres a lot of cyber talk going round the internet right now
and unsurprisingly one of the main topics people are focusing
on regarding this issue, is race.
Before even going down that minefield, a few facts
This girl is a phenomenal technical vocalist far beyond her mere 16 years
Shes got a deep, soulful delivery and commanding stage presence
earning her the respect, support and admiration
of global stars and professionals in the industry
(Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson).
She has displayed humility, class, grace and professionalism
in the face of incredible pressure,
the kind that would break most people twice her age.
And last but not least, she just happens to be a Filipina
living in America.
What last weeks show demonstrated if anything, is that: America
will choose who it wants to represent them as their American Idol.
But that doesnt mean its necessarily about Race. Its likely a
case of being about Region. AI is very popular in the Southern
United States (place likes Texas, South Carolina, Virginia etc.) 7 out of 10
of the last AI winners were from the Southern States.
This suggests that a significant number of AIs 21 + Million
viewers are probably concentrated in that area and vote a
lot more than the rest of America. With a strong sense of
regional identity and pride characteristic of the South,
its understandable they would lean towards voting
for one of their own. Fair enough.
So what now? Do we just wait for next weeks elimination?
Watch as Jessica walks on stage to be rejected a second time by America,
for the entire world to see? This time with the judges powerless to save her?
The jury is presently in recess.
You may be thinking, Ive got
better things to do with my life. Thats exactly what
I thought too.
But my interest in all this is more than just the show,
of course Jessica being a Filipina and a gifted singer caught my attention.
One thing is for sure, whenever exceptional Filipinos in popular culture
have risen to the highest level of their calling the world takes
notice of the Philippines..in a good way.
There are numerous
examples lately but most notable are Manny
Pacquiao dominating several weight classes in his rise
to worldwide boxing supremacy and Peter Gene Hernandez
a.k.a Bruno Mars winning a Grammy for Just the way you are.
Every single time a Filipino steps up and shines, it
becomes a better world for all Filipinos. The old stereotypes
of how we are perceived replaced by a new, exciting and positive
image provided by our Filipino icons on the global stage whenever
they display Talent with Humility, Tradition with Progress
and Success with Faith. They represent the best of who we are.
Reverse Crab Mentality
Theres also a phrase familiar to Filipinos called the
crab mentality. When you put crabs in a bucket they
never rise out of it, as soon as one crab gets to
the top, the others pull it back down.
I remember my grandmother talking about this when
I was a kid, how Filipinos have a crab-like mentality and
will bring a fellow Filipino down or do nothing out of indifference,
rather than see them succeed.
Were living in a very exciting time right now. We have
resources available to us that allow us to see and be
seen by others in real-time, all over the world.
We have the technology to communicate and
combine our thoughts, opinions and
voices in a way that is unprecedented.
If there really is such a thing as Filipino crab mentality? Then
lets be the first Filipinos for generations, to change this.
Lets use this so called crab mentality, in reverse. Using technology,
the internet and social media we can virally (and globally) help to push
a fellow Filipino to prominence; because once theyre at the top, the
prestige and admiration the world gives them acts as a step ladder for
the rest of us to climb higher.
It opens doors for Filipinos and
for the Philippines be it for tourism, business, the economy or
just good old fashioned respect and pride that you ARE Filipino.
Strength in Numbers
There are 103 million Filipinos in the Philippines,
another 11 million are overseas.
And an estimated 3.4 million are
living in the United States.
American Idol is an American product supposedly for Americans.
But because they broadcast it globally, this also opens
up the show to global public opinion.
There is a link to a Facebook app that allows you to vote online
(max 50 times apparently) for the contestant of your choice.
Lines are closed now but open up during the show.
Ill repost a shorter message next week to remind you about
the link and your ability to have a voice in this.
However, you can only vote if youre in America. So anyone
outside of the States is out of the picture in having a say.
If youre a Filipino artist, actor, singer, songwriter,
director, business person, politician, student, office worker, parent,
grandparent, brother, sister, cousin actually, bottom line
If youre a Fil-Am living in the States with internet access and a computer
(and youre reading this) vote for Jessica Sanchez on the next AI show.
Her story is our story right now. Her success is our success.
If you know a Fil-Am living in the states, repost this to them.
If Jessica still doesnt get through? Then at least youll know
you did something and didnt just stand by indifferently.
But if our votes go towards helping her get through
even one more round with dignity, you will have been
part of something incredible: a movement in a new direction.
A growing and rising consciousness of being a modern Filipino
connected with other Filipinos through technology, with the power
to change things by creating a positive
new identity for ourselves whenever we want... and
whenever we act in the same direction, as one.