Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Cyber-bullying of Charice



There is no excuse to cyber-bullying. Especially if it is directed to someone who had struggled through a life of poverty and discrimination from her own people. Who had, time and time again, proclaimed her pride of her heritage even as she is celebrated outside her own country.

Charice had garnered the admiration of Oprah, Ellen, David Foster, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, and many more. Watch her on You-tube for her mind-blowing rendition of "All by Myself" and you should be amazed at the full standing ovation she received.

For making it through sheer determination despite her humble beginnings, she earned my respect. For always professing her love of country while facing her international audience, Charice earned my loyalty.

I was/ am still proud of her achievements. I was elated for the inroads she made in behalf of Filipino talents who dream of making it on the world stage. I was born and raised in the Philippines, so even after making the US my home for almost half of my life, I had always rooted for local artists who had succeeded to break the glass ceiling and to shatter expectations.

The competition for international attention is stiff; many had tried before her . Charice's successes are awe-inspiring and should be a source of national pride and respect. Just like Lea Salonga who continues to bring honor to the country.

Why the hate? What made her fair game? The bashing is vitriolic, cringe-worthy, and totally unnecessary. And sad.

Long before X-Factor Philippines, the local twitter world had been abuzz with negative tweets about Charice, criticizing her unfairly about trivial things, from her looks to her accent to her sexuality, and even her love of country. The microscope was upon her, ready to magnify the simplest indiscretion.

She had somehow become an easy target. Even at her most vulnerable, when her estranged father died, many had questioned Charice's sudden change of heart. Her detractors did not show respect on a daughter who grieved for a reconciliation that never happened. I cringed at the lack of sympathy, at the utter disregard of common decency.

The local media had no problem portraying Charice in a most negative light, while at the same time fawning about the foreign artists who flock to the Philippines for adulation. Even her own godfather had used his mighty pen to accuse Charice of not being Filipino enough because of her americanized accent and her colored hair.

How many of us had colored our hair? How many of us practiced our pronunciations? How many of us had copied American fashion, even Korean hair? How many of us bragged about our foreign-made bags, shoes, and clothes?

No wonder, Charice's own business manager, Courtney Blooding, a blonde American, questioned the support that Jessica Sanchez from American Idol received. For all intents and purposes, Jessica is an American who just happens to have Filipino blood. That Jessica loves her lumpia and pancit is well and good. I truly want her to succeed, she of the Filipino-Mexican-American pride.

But Ms. Blooding's statements had unleashed a torrent of denials, of insults, of counter arguments from the haters. They say that Ms. Blooding has no right to criticize her host country. She had offended the haters.

It needed a foreigner to ask a legit question. It was borne out of frustration. It exposes a fundamental wrong in our psyche. The truth hurts.

Of course, we can all like who we want. We are free to dislike any one. But there is a huge difference in just stating a preference (or a non-preference) without being mean. Crossing the boundaries with disrespectful remarks and vicious lies should not be tolerated. Bullying is hurtful. Plain and simple.

But there is no excuse to cyberbullying; it is wrong (and criminal) in all levels to inflict hurtful and malicious insults through words. Just because you don't like how Charice had transformed herself?

The tweets about Charice's physical appearance and actions had bordered on the ridiculous. Her transformation may not appeal to other people, but why can't she experiment with her look? How did the public claim the right to dictate what she should look like? It's her hair, it's her body. It's nobody else's business.

Charice is passionate about her team of singers at the recent X-Factor Philippines singing contest; if she cries, the haters call her dramatic. She had invested her emotions because she believed in her proteges. Damn if she does , damn if she doesn't.

Charice conducts herself with confidence, and she is perceived as "mayabang". She was supposed to remain meek and diffident.

Charice speaks English with a new accent. And why not? Does it mean that if she's in the Philippines, she can only speak with the Tagalog accent; and then she can easily switch to the American accent when she's out of the country? So, why is it that some Filipinos ignore many celebrities who speak English ALL the time, and yet, Charice is sent to the stake for the same transgression?

CRAB MENTALITY is the answer. INSECURITY may be another reason.

Crabs do not like others to succeed; they want everybody else to stay where they are. The claws come up, ready to pounce and to punch holes in her balloon.

Insecure people could not believe that one of their own can actually be better than other people with fairer skin, mestiza looks, and a taller stature. Did the years of foreign domination make some people forever mired in a mindset that only those with superior physical characteristics deserve to be idolized?

Is it against the law of nature that someone like Charice can actually be talented and worthy of emulation? Why can't we promote our own?

So, if the haters are not crabs or insecure, why do they bash Charice? There is no rhyme nor reason in life sometimes, so maybe some people are born to hate. Maybe, some people are just shallow and superficial. Maybe, they just find joy in spreading their negative vibes. Maybe, they are just cruel.

But most of all, how can you really sleep at night when you intentionally defame or maliciously hurt somebody. just because you don't like him or her? How can one hide behind the excuse of freedom of expression; there is an inherent responsibility in the freedom of speech- that is, express yourself responsibly.

Cruel words leave a deep scar. It is so unnecessary. Why do it?



Addendum:



June 2, 2013- - Today, Charice had finally admitted a long-held secret. In the past year, rumors about her sexuality abounded, fueled by changes in her appearance that were considered too drastic by the public : boyish hair and clothes and tattoos. On Philippine national tv, she faced her interviewer Boy Abunda and ended all speculations. She finally breathed a sigh of relief and admitted that she is a lesbian.

It may not have been a surprise to some who had witnessed her physical transformation from a sweet long-haired teenager to an adult who had freed herself from the constraints set by other people. And yet, it had sent the twitter world on fire.

I was disappointed, yes, because I was afraid for her. Life was difficult enough before. If she had struggled through all the hatred and the bullying before, she probably would get more of the malicious, indignant, and self-righteous vitriols. In our society, there had always been intolerance for what was perceived as out of the norms. It was a courageous revelation. Charice bared her heart to the public, even asking forgiveness to those who were disappointed by her confession.

I am a Christian and my religion prohibits practicing homosexuality, but I firmly believe that God will be the final voice. I would never ever impose my religious beliefs on someone else. My spirituality does not interfere with my respect for every person's right to live their life they want it to be, as long as nobody gets physically hurt. To each his own.

Charice had spoken from her heart. It is her body, her life to live. Her sexuality did not diminish her talent. Let Charice be herself, once and for all.



2 comments:

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