Thursday, September 20, 2018
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At Large

Taylor Swift, feminist

One wouldn’t normally think of Taylor Swift, she of the serial relationships duly memorialized in her songs, as a feminist, much less a feminist icon.

But her recent court appearance, occasioned by a suit filed against her by radio disc jockey David “Jackson” Mueller, whom she sued in turn for sexual harassment or assault, has catapulted her front and center into the gender wars.

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Mueller initially sued Taylor, claiming she caused his firing from the Denver radio station where he worked and jeopardized his chances of future employment. In her countersuit, where she asked for exactly $1 in damages, Taylor said Mueller “groped” her, putting a hand on her buttocks while doing a photo shoot with his girlfriend (ewww). In her testimony, Taylor said she “froze” at the moment and when she told her mother about it, her mother wanted to keep the incident private. They went to Mueller’s boss and told him in private about the groping, which led to Mueller’s firing.

It’s an old, all-too-familiar story for millions of women, but especially very young women who are rendered powerless, if not catatonic, by such abuse. But what is NOT old is the way Taylor testified in court and unflinchingly spoke of the lascivious host’s behavior. This even before the DJ’s lawyer (also male) tried to disprove Taylor’s version of the events.

Young women happen to make up the majority of Taylor’s fans, and I hope they take away from this the lesson that someone else’s bad behavior is not their fault, and that speaking up about it is the best defense and offense. You go, girls!

* * *

In Filipino, to brag about your own achievements is called “nagbubuhat ng sariling bangko (literally, lifting your own bench).” But what do you call bragging about the achievement of someone in your own family circle? Let me propose “nagbubuhat ng bangko kung saan nakaupo ang kamag-anak mo (lifting a bench where a family member is sitting).”

And so this is me shamelessly and proudly hoisting the bench where my niece Monster Jimenez is currently perched. The movie “Respeto,” which she produced, was recently chosen Best Film at the awards night for the 2017 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival. The movie also won the Best Editing and Best Cinematography awards, while Dido de la Paz was tagged Best Supporting Actor. The movie also won the “People’s Choice” award.

Directed by Alberto Monteras II, and starring real-life rapper Abra (backed by a whole crew of Pinoy rappers as well as
established poets who penned some of the “lyrics”), “Respeto” tells the story of aspiring teen rapper Hendrix who must confront family and personal issues as he navigates the convoluted route to rap stardom. The search is set against the rough and rough-hewn realities of life and state policy in the Age of “Tokhang,” an eye-opener for those still in denial about the awful state into which our country has descended since He Who Must Not Be Named took office.

I never expected a movie tracing the coming-of-age journey of a hip-hop rapper to be so soaked in politics. But maybe
that’s why it won as Best Film. Much respect to “Respeto”!

Among the more intriguing awards won by “Respeto” was the Netpac Jury Prize, which was also given to the short film feature “Aliens Ata.”

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Intrigued, I looked up Netpac on Google and found that it was short for The Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, an international organization based in Singapore of 29 member-countries, “at the instance and with the support of Unesco, Paris.”

Netpac is described as a “pan-Asian” film organization “considered a leading authority on Asian cinema.” It gives awards to outstanding films made by Asians to promote Asian cinema and open more doors to international markets.

There is money to be made from “indies,” to go by the box-office performance of “Kita Kita” and even of “Respeto,” which played before full cinemas even outside of Cinemalaya’s home at the CCP. I hope the decision-makers behind the coming Metro Manila Film Festival are paying attention!

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TAGS: 2017 Cinemalaya, At Large, David Mueller, femenism, Monster Jimenez, Respeto, Rina Jimenez-David, Sexual Harassment, Taylor Swift
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