Friday, March 16, 2012

Jimmy Sieczka is just another American dipshit honky

(Updated with pictures from Jimmy Sieckzka's video)

Jimmy Sieczka is the guy in the youtube video "20 reasons why I dislike the Philippines" and in my view, he's just another American dipshit honky who has somewhat gained popularity/infamy among a small group Filipinos on the internet. 

Now, before you start accusing me of being another onion-skinned Pinoy, let me clue you in on where I am coming from. 

Before Jimmy Sieczka, there are about a dozen or so other American and at least one Asian dipshit who became the subject of discussion in social media. The thing is, Jim's video comes after the David Letterman-Taylor Kitsch brouhaha where apparently, in a turn of a conversation with Letterman, Kitsch inadvertently was understood as saying that he was asked for a bribe at the airport here in the Philippines. 

As it turns out, he wasn't even in the Philippines. 

The thing is, if you go through the poorer, run-down section of any city in any country, you'll probably find the same things that Jimmy will find filth, piss everywhere, prostitution, crime, and other things.

Here's a picture of a ghetto in Detroit.

Here's a picture of a rundown neighborhood in Hongkong:

Here's a slum area in Malaysia:

Here's another one in Indonesia:

The point is, you will inevitably find something to complain about wherever you go in the world.

One thing that Jimmy doesn't say in his video is, why the heck did you go to a bar serviced by Lady Boys if you really wanted be with real women?

The thing is, it's pretty clear to me that perhaps Jimmy isn't really trying to make a social commentary or be funny.  He has probably discovered at least one sure way of getting hits from some 26 million Filipinos on social media and that is to pluck a very sensitive nerve by picking on flaws in "pinoy culture".

Anyway, complaining for the sake of complaining or worse, just for the sake of getting some attention is just pathetic. 

I think that if people are complaining because they want to improve things, they shouldn't stop at just complaining. They have to take steps to fix it. 

Busted CR in the mall? Complain about it to the administration of the mall, write them or blog about them and then write about it. However, if you do find a badly maintained public CR in a wet market or in some run down part of Manila, well, it's an indication that you brought the wrong set of expectations. 

Dirty streets? Complain about it to the Mayor's office, make it formal. While you are at it, be sure that you don't contribute to the problem of dirty streets by littering. What is better is to develop the habit of picking up the litter you find and throwing them properly into the nearest waste basket -- it shouldn't matter to you that it is somebody else's littler, that's how things start. 

Now, I am not debunking the use of social media in order to make changes happen. However, I am pointing out that a video or blog post hardly does anything by itself unless and until it moves people to actually do something. 

I mean, if you really care about doing something, then it is definitely time to log off from your blog's dashboard or sign off from Facebook, get some gear together and march out of the door to find something to fix. 

Using social media to complain may be more effective if it is paired with the act of lodging a formal complaint. Because, for one, the complaint is formal and therefore should at least be acknowledged as having been received. Any resulting inaction could be grounds for formal charges later or at least, it could be proof that the agency or organization was notified about a complaint and they ignored it. 

When the outrage over the Willy Revillame-Jan Jan controversy was just starting to catch on, I was among the first people to write to Unilever to call their attention to the offensive scene in the TV show they were sponsoring. Then I blogged about writing them a letter and in a matter of days, they stopped placing TV commercials on Revillame's show and they also issued a statement. 

Then again, it is also true that just like the way media does it, the publicity you can generate for a problem using social media can be effective in pressuring government agencies to act. This can happen without a formal complaint and still result in action. However, I have the impression that the pressure from social media should be strong, widespread, and sustained. 

One blog post isn't going to do anything until and unless a lot of people (including the bigshots in social media) turn it into a cause of sorts. 

As far as online campaigns are concerned, it should have the following elements: The complaint must be stated as clearly as possible. 

The complaint cannot be vague like, "The whole government is corrupt" or "there is no justice in the Philippines". It has to be specific.  
The complaint must martial facts in an organized and orderly manner. A complaint turns into an adolescent rant when it is nothing but a long string of accusations. Take time to research the facts and organize it in a way that will be easy for a lot of people to understand. The better you are at describing the problem and making people understand the problem, the easier it will be for people to work together to solve the problem.  
The complaint must give convincing reasons why it is important that people act on the complaint. The complaint must have a call to action. You have to come up with some idea of how to solve the problem and if you don't have an idea, then perhaps, the call to action may be to solicit ideas or even perhaps ask experts/authorities in a field relevant to the complaint to help find solutions.  
The complaint must be directed against the relevant officer or official of an agency or organization. The thing is, for small stuff that people can do together on their own, just raising awareness will suffice. But if it involves more resources and more people acting on a problem over a sustained period of time, you will need the help of an organization. 
And also, if you really want to solve a problem that affects a lot of people, you have to state the complaint in a manner that will not be offensive to the people whose cooperation you will need. 

Using a smart-ass approach may look cool, but the thing is, not everybody will find it cool or funny. The worst thing that can happen is that it may just offend people who can actually help solve the problem.


Genki said...

 I dunno buddy but you do sound like another onion-skinned Pinoy.

Paul Farol said...

Thank you for taking time out to write a comment on this blog.  I realize that it must have taken great effort to learn typing skills and some English to be able to cobble together this comment.

I shall forever treasure this bit of wisdom you have sent my way and eagerly anticipate your next comment!

Ben Kritz said...

Actually, the walled city in Kowloon (not Hong Kong) was torn down and replaced by a park about 20 years ago.

Paul Farol said...

Yup. It's an old picture. Couldn't find one of the district that is one boat ride away across Wan Chair which reminded me of the Navotas area.  The point anyway, is that every city/country has an area that is backward.

Genki said...

Your sarcasm further validates what I said. 

Paul Farol said...

I sincerely appreciate your comment. What's wrong with that? Do you have inferiority complex issues or are you just paranoid?

DP said...

By way of brief background, I'm an American, presently residing in the States.  I've spent a lot of time in the Philippines, and have deep personal ties there.  I've lived and worked abroad quite a bit, was a US Peace Corps volunteer (in Korea) and, as such, I think I have a pretty good feel for matters including international understanding, and cultural sensitivity. 
I'd be the first to defend Sieczka's natural right to voice his opinions freely.  I'm a proponent of broad freedom and tolerance in the marketplace of ideas.  As a wise philosopher once said, it is easier to decide what is "true" and "right", when one can readily compare the truth to what is false and wrong.
As for what's "wrong" with the video, I'd say mainly it is in the area of packaging.  He touches on real and legitimate issues, but fumbles by presenting them so poorly.  I'd wager that few serious thinkers will be swayed by Sieczka's flippant style, and rough language.  I'm no prude...I'm simply not impressed by such tactics. . 
I can point out potholes in the streets of the Philippines what end?  He offers no particular insights into "why this is so", or "what can be done".  I gather he has lived in the Philippines for a few years, yet his script could have been written by most any literate college-aged backpacker who has spent a few weeks there.  And, Sieczka's fashion choice hurts his case, too.  That t-shirt he sports might go over favorably with, perhaps, South Park fans, or drunken college kids.  To me, the opening scene of his video, and that shirt, simply screamed:  “I am not to be taken seriously”.
I happen to have a strong and sometimes perverse sense of humor, yet I don’t find any of this video to be truly funny, really.  These are well-worn topics, and comments. 
There is nothing new or insightful here, and that’s a particularly glaring failure for a film maker who has lived in the Philippines for years.

Paul Farol said...

Thanks for sending in this comment DP.

I've been told several times over that Jimmy's video was actually satire and those who said it was satire also say it was poorly executed.

It does point out a number of pet peeves that I share with most people here in the Philippines but, it seems the humor Jimmy intended to use to point out these peeves was a tad too subtle or not there at all.

Even in the first scene that he did where he pointed out how people put trash cans over potholes or open man covers.  If he exerted a bit more effort, he could have come up with something really funny and true. In Manila, where I live, the strangest thing I've seen people put over a manhole is a mannequin and he could have played on that.

The scene was just plain lazy.

In organizing the piece, he could have also made a connection between the guy selling him Cialis and his visit to the bar serviced by Lady Boys.But right now, I realize, telling another guy how to come up with a funnier satire video seems similar to being told by a foreigner how to improve things in your country.

Genki said...

 You contradict yourself buddy.

Paul Farol said...

Oh? How is that?

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