Repeating some old ideas which still make sense, even today. Below are unorganized notes of thoughts I’ve been trying to organize for days now. It still came up unorganized and I apologize for it.
- Honorary fathers are often times weird. Especially, Godfathers.
Bourgeois history is often concerned with founders, or, Godfathers. Whether or not the Godfather has anything to do with writing that sort of history or not. And with this, replicates the dominance of the singular being responsible for building something that is worthy of being written as historical. Within this historiography established around the figure of a godfather, practices and relationships are established, reestablished, produced, reproduced, and replicated surrounding what the Godfather supposedly has built. It is no surprise that fathers, or godfathers, are often the source of psychological trauma among children: psychoanalysis has long established that presence (where abuse is possible) or absence (where lack is highlighted) causes one’s own trauma. Lacan would extend this on trying to understand the sources of knowledge through codes established around a system, which we can call as language. And hence, the accusation that language (or even “language” as we refer to conventions) and the knowledge we gain which is established from it, intrinsically fall within patriarchy and its looping trauma. In the sense of Godfathers “building” something is the trauma of shame if one does not follow as the Godfather’s example.
- I want to tug the concept of “independence” from an old debate about “independent cinema.” The other day, I stumbled upon this post about this debate from Oggs Cruz’ old blog. Bottomline of the debate is that “independence” in independent cinema resides within artistic creation. The blog will link you to an older post by Raya Martin which reaches the same point of independence of form. While the idea is noble, it can be assessed now that the discursive liberalism of the mid-2000s indie commentators seem to fall within the same kind of entrepreneurial naivete that prosperity churches give off their followers which is why it often makes sense to me that Lav Diaz calls it Digital Cinema as Liberation Theology.
Weirdly enough surrounding this debate on what is indie, there seems to be quite a quiet approval about its non-antagonism and coexistence with the thing it supposedly is trying to be independent of. Looking at the sides existing in the debate, the conscious choice to remain “in the fringes” plays very well for the existence of the center. Like neoliberal economic policies, their notion of “independence” is not ambitious enough to break free from debt: it is precisely their existence that bloats the debt to the center.
- I think we can establish now that the real historical “Father” or “Godfather” of the independent cinema is the mainstream center and not some weirdo from Bagiuo.
- Talks about educating the audience about “independent” or “alternative” cinema have been going around circles of “alternative” filmmakers and connoisseurs, bearing with them an automatic cynicism of non-ambition to become dominant someday. After all, they need a mainstream to differentiate themselves with.
- More often than not, attempts to novelty are exacerbated by identity politics when what is being considered as new is old stuff done by people with fringe identification.
- The independent cinema circle of the 2000s has reached a point of collaborating with the center in a very ideal set up: that they are distinguished in style. Despite some people’s disagreement, I think they are living Liza Dino-Seguerra’s and Teddy Co’s wet dream of “one cinema” now. It’s the other end of the string that needs to be addressed now: the consumers.
- In pre-pandemic times, watching films at home does not count as watching and is shameful to your cinephilia. It does disrespect to the Name of the Father. Even more so, most of the home-watching activities are considered illegal, because you have not paid for it. Even if you have subscription-based streaming that YOU PAID FOR are not really looked at as a very noble kind of film watching.
The pandemic and the quarantine period that went with it has finally rendered home-watching some legitimacy, but Father needs to approve of what you’re watching first.
Then again, what are you watching, really?
- To go back to the “independent” cinema and their cynicism. I read of a filmmaker who acts all rebellious on takes but sings praises to the murderers at the Armed Forces due to some sort of charity work.
Well, this is not new. (the following is a synthesized insight with my friends’ which I won’t name just yet). The “alternative“ or independent cinema in this country has always had this non-radical-radicalism on them (or simply put, “trendy” reaction, or, say, “woke” reaction). I only got conscious of it now that I’m older but I first witnessed this on a lot of “trendy” people from my youth a lot of whom are associated with Philippine indie. Raymond Red has long been openly reactionary and is really anti-protest. I think Jerrold Tarog’s Randian Fascism has always been out in the open. In my youth, there’s a parallel between Ramon Bautista or Lourd De Veyra’s anti-activist monologs and the piling bodies of activist dead and missing under Oplan Bayanihan, while Pangilinan’s Ako Mismo campaign rolled with Bautista himself insulting activists in the ad like a contemporary Duterte Supporter. There’s one short film back in 2010 which is literally titled “we don’t care for democracy”, I’ve yet to rewatch the film, I’m not sure if it’s ironic or not. We’ve now reached a point that activists have willingly become background decorations for a romcom.
This reflects a lot in their films. Where those who boast “new forms” oftentimes bear with them old ideas. It can be observed in the sense of frictionlessness of a lot of films produced in the “alternative” movement. If you had a chance to see a lot of Mowelfund works, say of Raymond Red, Roxlee, or Eli Guieb for example, a lot of them do not seem to problematize the image much to the point of not generating any lasting affect other than a moment of discomfort. For supposed pioneers, a lot their works do not really generate anything new with regards to signification.
If you mix this formal aesthetic bore with the anti-radicalism, you’d get the current indie cinema.
- Duterte is a really really easy target for them. First of all, he’s ugly and has an “indecent” mouth. His murderous policies are already a given, but you can never see from them a reaction beyond conservative moralism: none of their woke productions has ever problematized the economic and cultural policies they are so much benefiting from and how those support the Presidential murders.
Now that all the mishandling of this administration is exposed, at the height of the rage weeks ago, the same bootlicker filmmaker questioned the call for ouster, asking for “reason” and “practicality.” And that woke filmmaker told people to “wait a little longer.” Uhm, really?
- Cinema after this lockdown will never develop further despite the ecological and microbiological changes surrounding us without a change in economics. The dialectics of charity in Lockdown cinema ensured this: that you’ll never forget the Father.