MY mind is still reeling from the overreaction of Sen. Robin Padilla concerning the movie "Plane" (2023).
For him, the Gerard Butler-starring actioner portrays our country in a bad light, a blatant attack on all Filipinos. He takes particular offense to the portrayal of Jolo, Sulo (hilariously pronounced by one of the characters in the movie as "Jow-low") as a violent no man's land, asserting that the situation there is no longer like in the past. This movie, he claims, should be banned before it shames the noble citizens of this country.
There are problems with this line of thinking.
The most obvious one is, of course, that this is a work of fiction. The characters, the setting, and the events all exist within the head of the scriptwriter. I hope the senator knows that this movie is unlike, let's say, the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, a REAL event that brought palpable shame to this country.
Now that we know it's fiction, would this prevent foreigners from traveling to the Philippines? Of course not. Padilla forgets (or doesn't know) that before this movie, our country had an extensive history of being featured in a bad light: we have "FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER" (Filipino prostitutes in Subic), "FATAL VACATION" (HK tourists held hostage by NPA Rebels), "MASTER" (the Philippines as the hideout of choice by top criminals), etc.
Did foreigners stop coming to Boracay because of these movies? Hardly. Like any rational person, these tourists know there is a significant risk in traveling to other countries; they still do so because they want to see and experience our country, fictional terrorists be damned.
The other problem with Padilla's thinking is his disregard for the effect of reality on culture and the arts. I am sure the filmmakers did not randomly choose the setting: they must have seen the news.
Remember the Jolo Church bombings? You should, considering that the church has endured four attacks, the latest of which occurred on August 24, 2020. Would it be so far-fetched to tell a story concerning terrorism set in a place where a church was periodically bombed? I'm thankful that the situation there is no longer volatile, but historically speaking, it will always be a place of past conflict. Are we, then, so thin-skinned that we can't let other people use our history as a springboard for reasonable entertainment? (For the record, the terrorists in the movie are never referred to as "Muslim" or even "Islamic.")
I know the controversy is old news to most people. Mark my words: this issue will rear its ugly head again, concerning another controversy-unworthy movie. This narrow-minded mentality will attach itself to it, spearheaded by another grandstander who should be doing better things with our tax money.
I am thankful that this movie exists. Without it, how can we expose the narrow-minded mentality of the people who should have known better?
Tomas Gerardo Araneta's passion in life is writing about what interests him the most. Those things include movies, books, and other unnoticed social phenomena.
March 24, 2023
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