The void left by Macross Frontier in my anime viewing is being inexorably filled by so many new shows. Yesterday I read Coburn’s post as well as Impz’s on Michiko to Hatchin and was intrigued. I’m a big fan of both Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo so this latest offering by Manglobe is very interesting. After watching the first episode, I’m definitely looking forward to more. The thing is, I almost never made it past the grueling and painful bit where Hana was subjected to the abuses of her adoptive family.
Watching Hana’s tribulations with her adoptive family was grueling and painful. I almost gave up on it (not because of the pathos per se). Let me explain:
Here in the Philippines, the dominant characterization of the female lead is a long-suffering martyr. Usually in the daily soap operas (or telenovelas) you have this girl who really is of high birth (at least equal to her tormentors) but is poor at the onset of the narrative. In addition she is tormented and at sometimes forced into servitude by a foster family or some similar arrangement. The usual cast: the rival sister, the perv brother, the indifferent/hypocritical father and the wicked mother. The girl gets saved by the lead male, and then her past is revealed in all its glory.
If you look at it, it’s the dashing prince who gets the prize.
In shows like these the characterizations are flatter than paper – the villains’ actresses are measured by how much they are villified IRL by the show’s fans, and in the happy endings they meet gruesome, violent deaths. Respect for formula aside, I can’t stand watching shows like this. This tradition is prevalent in former Spanish colonies like the Philippines and Mexico. I don’t see much of it in Japanese, Korean, or Taiwanese soaps (though I’m sure they exist).
THIS IS WHY HANA’S ASSAULT ON THE MEAN SISTER WAS PRICELESS.
I’m sure there are extensive reasearch papers devoted to the subject of martyrdom in the dramatic traditions of former Spanish (and perhaps Portuguese) colonies. In my opinion this is due to the elements of Christian doctrine itself, and how particular these are manifested in female behavioral norms. I’m no expert on Nietzche or Philosophy, but here are some of his ideas that I find both interesting and entertaining:
Master-slave morality is a central theme of Friedrich Nietzsche‘s works, in particular the first essay of On the Genealogy of Morality. Nietzsche argued that there were two fundamental types of morality: ‘Master morality’ and ‘slave morality’. Master morality weighs actions on a scale of good or bad consequences unlike slave morality which weighs actions on a scale of good or evil intentions. What Nietzsche meant by ‘morality’ deviates from common understanding of this term. For Nietzsche, a particular morality is inseparable from the formation of a particular culture. This means that its language, codes and practices, narratives, and institutions are informed by the struggle between these two types of moral valuation. For Nietzsche, master-slave morality provides the basis of all exegesis of Western thought. With the Death of God, morality became historical: it was created by mankind, not by a transcendent deity. The strong-willed man created morality by valuation.
From the Wikipedia article. What is interesting is slave morality:
Unlike master morality which is sentiment, slave morality is literally re-sentiment (ressentiment)–revaluing that which the master values. This strays from the valuation of actions based on consequences to the valuation of actions based on “intention”. As master morality originates in the strong, slave morality originates in the weak. Because slave morality is a reaction to oppression, it villainizes its oppressors. Slave morality is the inverse of master morality. As such, it is characterized by pessimism and skepticism. Slave morality is created in opposition to what master morality values as ‘good’. Slave morality does not aim at exerting one’s will by strength but by careful subversion. It does not seek to transcend the masters, but to make them slaves as well. The essence of slave morality is utility: the good is what is most useful for the whole community, not the strong. Nietzsche saw this as a contradiction, “And how could there exist a ‘common good’! The expression is a self-contradiction: what can be common has ever been but little value. In the end it must be as it has always been: great things are for the great, abysses for the profound, shudders and delicacies, for the refined, and, in sum, all rare things for the rare.” Since the powerful are few in number compared to the masses of the weak, the weak gain power by corrupting the strong into believing that the causes of slavery (viz., the will to power) are ‘evil’, and the qualities they originally could not choose because of their weakness. By saying humility is voluntary, slave morality avoids admitting that their humility was in the beginning forced upon them by a master. Biblical principles of turning the other cheek, humility, charity, and pity are the result of universalizing the plight of the slave onto all mankind, and thus enslaving the masters as well. “The democratic movement inherits the Christian.”–the political manifestation of slave morality because of its obsession with freedom and equality.
- “…the Jews achieved that miracle of inversion of values thanks to which life on earth has for a couple millennia acquired a new and dangerous fascination–their prophets fused ‘rich’, ‘godless’, ‘evil’, ‘violent’, ‘sensual’ into one and were the first to coin the word ‘world’ as a term of infamy. It is this inversion of values (with which is involved the employment of the word for ‘poor’ as a synonym for ‘holy’ and ‘friend’) that the significance of the Jewish people resides: with them there begins the slave revolt in morals.”
In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzche spoke about slave moralists who hid behind teachings of pacifism and contentment, which led to inactivity. However in this inactivity there is a lot of whining and villification of the “masters” or the source of oppression. My reading of this is that the slave moralists fail to take responsibility of circumstance and shift the burden of guilt towards their perceived enemies. The best example of such teachings are in Mattew (5:3-10), particularly the Beatitudes:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
- Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land. (Verse 4)
- Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
- Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
- Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
- Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
- Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
- Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)
Textual criticism available here. In Nietzche’s view, there is no real reason to bless the poor, the hungry, and those who are persecuted. The poor and persecuted “for justice’s sake” accept these “blessings” and feel a little better for themselves and contribute to the inertia that prevents them from changing their circumstance. They are reassured, that in the end, they will be saved one way or another. Certainly in the telenovela/teleserye traditions, they are always saved.
Hana was saved, or at least the possibility is opened by the end of the episode. However, this occured not before she took powerful action to establish herself as a person. She was being indoctrinated to not only accept her vile circumstances and the hypocrisy that permeates it, but also to accept it happily and beatifically.
I was so happy that she got to the core of herself and said NO. Hers won’t be a silent revolt while inwardly hating her adoptive family. She would put it out in the open, and give them the decency of accepting her new terms. This scene more than made up for the arduous parts that reminded me of all the cookie-cutter soaps that were and in ways still are the staple of Philippine television. It’s not that this tradition is bad, nor the morality it espouses. It isn’t my intention to make value judgments about them. I just don’t like consuming that kind of culture, and the subversion done in this pilot moves me.