The Flâneur's Archives

Archives from The Flâneur's Arcade (2007-2017)

Tag: youtube

Reversal of Fortune

Hillary Clinton campaigned on the appeal of being the first woman to run for the highest office in the United States, banking on the same identity politics that buoyed Barack Obama to power in 2008. But while it was true that many Americans were misty-eyed with the image of a first African-American president, Obama had many other gifts that Clinton sorely lacked. There was an ease about the Senator from Illinois, a nimbleness in speech, and the keenness to tap into the zeitgeist. He knew Americans wanted hope and change.

So it was with the confidence of repeating this feat of firsts, boosted by the favorable augury of the polls, that Clinton supporters gathered at the Javits Convention Center in New York. But the party soon turned into scenes of inconsolable wailing, as they watched blue state after blue state turn red.

While Clinton failed to make the case for electing the first woman president, Donald Trump is by no means a conventional choice. A Washington outsider, with no political experience, besting 16 other Republican candidates in the primaries, then going head to head against an establishment candidate backed by mainstream media and Wall Street money, and finally, pulling-off a stunning reversal of fortune on election night. He was outspent by Clinton 2:1, running a lean campaign by criss-crossing tirelessly around battleground states, and by his provocative use of social media, presenting his case directly to the people. (Let us not now forget who Citizens United and lobby money helped the most in this election.)

In some way, Trump’s win is also a first. He is the first reality TV candidate–raw and unfiltered, and prickly at the edges. He is also the first social media candidate, with an uncanny command of the medium. Marshall McLuhan said that radio created Hitler and television created JFK; this time, YouTube, Twitter, and the comment section created Donald Trump. The comment section, which Camille Paglia observes has become “a whole new genre” (Reason TV interview), is the anarchic countervailing medium to the composed article. In McLuhan’s terms, it is cool, participatory, and auditory, as opposed to the hot, linear, visual form of the article. Twitter has that same low-res, audile quality. This is where you hear the voices of dissent against the imposed narrative. Professional Internet troll Chuck Johnson gloats: “The trolls won,” and called this election, “the comment section against the article.” Surprising it was a candidate in his 70’s who seized upon the medium of the moment and understood its message.

Mainstream media’s inability to grasp the meaning of Trump’s victory is a signal of their decline and irrelevance. They continue to explain it in terms of absurd identity politics: those white working class voters in the Rust Belt must be racist, so it goes. But Wisconsin and Pennsylvania had not voted Republican since the 1980s. Did they just turn Aryan supremacist overnight? Even liberal filmmaker Michael Moore (who hails from Michigan) is incredulous of this narrative.

You have to accept that millions of people who voted for Barack Obama, some of them once, some of them twice, changed their minds this time. They’re not racist. They twice voted for a man whose middle name is Hussein. That’s the America you live in.

from The Daily Caller

Trump’s message “Make America Great Again” succinctly captured the thirst for upliftment in blighted manufacturing towns of the Midwest, while Clinton’s clunky slogan “Stronger Together” plastered on her jet plane never really took off. In her vision of inclusion, those who Trump addressed as the “forgotten man and woman” felt excluded. In a feat of firsts, it is the billionaire playboy and real estate mogul that put the traditionally Democrat base of working class Americans on the side of Republicans. It remains to be seen whether he can effect a reversal of their fortunes.

Charice: My Heart, My Soul, My Own

I have a little secret: I’m a fan of Charice. I just downloaded her self-titled album at iTunes, a store I usually avoid due to Apple’s fascist control of content, but they offered an irresistible deluxe edition that included two bonus tracks. I have been following her US appearances on YouTube, the medium that brought her incredible talents to the world’s attention, from the viral video of a Korean TV show, to her appearances in The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Her meteoric success is as much a testament of her multitude of talents–not just her impressive vocal range, but also crucially her stage charisma–as an epiphany of Oprah’s omnipotence, her divine Olympian status. She has literally plucked this little girl from Third World squalor, and buffed her into a sparkling pop princess. Nobody is more aware than Charice of her blessed state, that the media gods have smiled upon her fortunes.

A big part of her appeal, at least when she was discovered here in the US, was of an ingénue, a raw, unsophisticated talent. No one expected a big voice to come out of that pint-sized body. When asked about her vocal powers, she demurely replies:

Oh, that’s such a compliment. But in the Philippines, it’s not such a big deal because there are a lot of little people there and a lot of them have big voices. It feels weird to me that people are so surprised. But I do think it’s one of the reasons I made it… The Philippines is a very musical country. If you go there, most everyone sings. And even if they don’t, they know who’s great at it.

(from NY Daily News)

That’s not false modesty. It’s typical Filipino self-deprecation. It is also a big hat tip to the musical tradition she comes from, which has a uniquely profound feel for American popular musical forms, where singers are regularly hailed as Philippine versions of their American counterparts. There is an Elvis Presley of the Philippines (Eddie Mesa, Chito Bertol), a Barbara Streisand (Pilita Corrales, Kuh Ledesma), a Frank Sinatra (Dale Adriatico). It is an unremarkable fact that there are a lot of little people there with big voices. Charice, after all, only placed third in the Little Big Star competition.

What is surprising about Charice–and this is what makes people stand in ovation–is that her talents do not come across as raw and unsophisticated. She has uncannily emerged from her birth-shell whole and fully formed, with a genius for performance. Once handed the microphone, she switches into a rapturous Pythian mode, takes over the stage and hooks her audience. She sustains our attention throughout, leaving us hanging onto every note that proceeds from her mouth. This is no more evident than when comparing her to Bianca Ryan, another ingénue who debuted in Ellen. In contrast to Ryan’s tortured vocal contortions, Charice seems effortless, open, accesible. In a show down in Italy, both singing I Believe I Can Fly, Ryan looked even more constricted and constipated, focused solely on her singing, not interacting at all with the cute bambina they duet with. When Charice performs, there is an emotional wellspring she is able to deftly tap, that brings even teen age boys, dudes, and crusty codgers (see comments below) to teary admiration.

i have my share of groups and singers over the years, but I have never been so much in love with a singer than I have with Charice. She makes everyone that loves her feel so good, I can’t explain it. She is just magical. Love you Charice and I will always support you. (comment from Rusty2238)

…indeed!!! as an “old man” , as they call seems to be “inappropriate” for me to be so “addicted” to this very wonderful & talented girl…but as you have just said…it’s the MAGIC that has made me longing for more… just bought her album & all the tracks are amazing!!!!WOW!!!! (comment from i680sboi)

Young Nora Aunor Young Nora Aunor Young Nora Aunor


One final aspect of Charice’s appeal, accessible only to Filipinos, is her iconic link with superstar Nora Aunor. To me her photographs channel a young Nora Aunor from the 1960s, also a diminutive singer who won fame from a singing contest on TV, the emergent entertainment medium back then. The masses claimed her as their superstar precisely because she was a petite morena beauty, who rose from rags to riches, not a sleek middle-class mestiza. Like Nora, Charice speaks the vernacular of her audience, endearing herself to their hearts by being immediate and intimate. Nora is fondly called by her fans Ate (sister) Guy. “Charice”, a name easily transposed to Italian, is a portmanteau of Charmaine (charm) and Clarice (clarity)–the emblematic values of her person and art. Her mother, whom she constantly celebrates, must have had a visionary intuition when her little star was born.