All that derivative, imitative jazzBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – When we heard plugs for “Sarah G. Live” building up host Sarah Geronimo as “the Philippines’ Beyoncé,” we shook our head. There we went again, “colonially” trying to be the local version of a foreign ideal—as in “the Elvis Presley of the Philippines,” and all that derivative, imitative jazz.
Then, in another plug, the show further announced that Sarah would be engaging in
a musical “showdown” with the “Philippines’ J.Lo—Vina Morales.” —From bad to worse!
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we’re still fixated on foreign standards and ideals of looks and performance—many decades after our last colonizers officially left our shores.
Truth to tell, however, we’re still trying to be like them. But, we can only come into our own if we learn to prefer local over foreign, not the other way around (as is still the case in many aspects of our national life).
Our slavish preference for imported over homegrown values and standards is made even sadder by the fact that we can never attain and actualize it. We may get the looks and moves down pat, but inside us, we’re different (as we should be!), so the slavish approximation is superficial, at best.
For proof positive, we made it a point to catch the Sarah-Vina—or “local Beyoncé”-“local J.Lo” showdown on “Sarah G Live” last Sunday. Alas, true enough, both performers sang and danced up an imitative derivative storm, but they were as exciting and vital as two Xeroxed clones in full, gaya-gaya froth and frenzy.
In particular, Sarah does much better when she’s being herself. As a local approximation of the beautiful and bodacious Beyoncé, she was a wind-up doll.
An additional problem was the fact that she was trying her darnedest best to be super-sexy. —This, by the way, is quite in keeping with her new packaging. Now that she’s all of 24 years old, her handlers have finally realized that she can’t continue to play it giggly and cute, so she has to sex it up and come across as a young woman.
Trouble is, Sarah has focused on work so completely that she hasn’t had the time to really live—and love—so, her sensual poses and gyrations came off as artificial instead of felt.
As for Vina, she’s much older than Sarah and has indeed lived and loved, but her performance was similarly lacking in authentic sensuality, because it was imitative and didn’t express her own creativity.
We trust that the unsuccessful and derivative “showdown” will make other local stars realize that, when they try to copy or Xerox or otherwise emulate foreign performers’ looks, moves and styles, they are setting themselves up for failure.
The only way to go is for them to dig deep into themselves, their feelings and their creative resources, and say and sing what they want to express!
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