‘Cute’ and ‘porma’ factors muddle up kiddie talent tilts
We made it a point to catch “Talentadong Pinoy-Kids” when the show held its third quarterly tilt, with the winner going on to compete in the finals. A lot of gifted young performers have competed on the show, so the quarterly finalists could be expected to be the cream of the really talented crop.
They did turn out to be exceptional: Julia sang and accompanied herself on her guitar. A young violinist set the strings of his instrument on fire with his rendition. The Kaboom Kids danced up a storm. Five-year-old Josh gyrated his way into viewers’ hearts. And Alyssa did a song from “The Little Mermaid,” complete with fish tail and oyster shell.
They did so well that the judges had a tough time figuring out who should win. So, they settled for a tie, with Josh and the boy violinist romping off with the right to compete in the finals.
Now, we don’t intend to question the judges’ verdict, but we do want to cite the show as an example of the subjectivity with which child talents are sometimes perceived and evaluated in these parts.
In other performing climes, the major considerations in talent tilts for children are the exceptional quality and level of the talent itself, its uniqueness, the personality and charisma of the young performer, and the indefinable “X-Factor.”
Here, the list is added to and adumbrated by the so-called “cute” and porma factors, and a tendency for us to favor little performers who look and behave like pint-sized adults—and thus choose to perform material that’s too mature for their juvenile sensibilities.
It’s OK to like “cute” and precocious performers, but their parents and mentors should make sure that the cuteness isn’t switched on for its own sake.
Past local child superstars like Niño Muhlach and Aiza Seguerra didn’t have to push the cute factor because it came naturally to them. This was due to their unique ability to ad-lib brightly, interestingly and entertainingly, while the other child talents in the biz with them had nothing of the sort to contribute, so they settled for being fiercely and artificially “cute.”
We submit, therefore, that instead of looking for young talents who push the cute factor into overdrive, talent tilts should develop the knack for spotting precocious finds like Aiza and Niño, who can talk interestingly and spontaneously share their young thoughts and feelings, without having to worry if they are entertaining or not.
The “porma” or “little adult” factor presents a different set of problems and limitations: Our penchant for making kids behave like pint-sized adults is a huge problem in developing young talents, because it’s so patently artificial.
It also leads to a number of possible psychological complications, like kids singing songs with lyrics about love and lust, gyrating to sexy music, playing little hookers in comedy skits, portraying married couples in bed together, etc!
The already troubling situation is exacerbated by adult mentors who “jokingly” ask tiny tots about their “crushes,” among many other unenlightened attempts to be funny. Why, one woman was even seen on TV recently interacting with a boy who admitted that he had a “crush” on her—and she “enticed” him (again, “jokingly”) with a sexy roll of her tongue! Oh, please, we can all do much better than that.
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