For those who have the luxury of stewing about such things, the last few weeks have been a disappointment. The last season of the hit series “Game of Thrones” is airing and audiences are unhappy with the way the storyline is being handled, due to inconsistent and unfulfilling character development, unresolved arcs, dead-end foreshadowing and some glaring plot holes. With nerd rage at its peak, a petition calling the showrunners “woefully incompetent” has circulated online seeking redress, asking for a rewrite of this season to do justice to the seven that came before. More than a million people apparently feel the same way, as 1.02 million signed the petition on Change.org as of this weekend. Still, aren’t unfulfilled fandom hopes the raison d’être of fanfiction and fanart, where we can spin as many alternative endings as we want without needing to rail against showrunners and artists?
If only we could write fanfiction into real life and create an alternate ending of our own for the recent elections. Satirist and fantasy author Terry Pratchett wrote playfully about these alternate realities with the concept of the Trouser Legs of Time: moments when reality splits and one reality heads down one leg, and the other heads down the other leg. The morning after last week’s elections I felt that we had woken up in the wrong leg, a bizarre parody of what might have been: having been given a glimmer of hope where we could have had as our legislators and advocates a new, promising batch of statesmen, or at least to have one or two of new blood to be “critics and whippersnappers” raging to set things right… we now see the same interchangeable cast of trapos (traditional politicians) repopulating our Senate seats. The cast is completed by scions of political families, cronies, celebrities, thieves—categories which are not mutually exclusive. Whatever hope we had for an alternate ending dwindled as the ballot counts were broadcast, and now we must accept that a rewrite is not in the offing.
One would have thought that the clear and rampant irregularities would have been enough for this particular ending to be called into question. Philippine elections have always been dirty, but social media now allows us to see the dirt in real time, exposing its scope and magnitude: Facebook and Twitter were replete with reports of ballot receipts not reflecting how a citizen voted and the voters being unable to change them accordingly.
Malfunctioning machines and defective SD cards aside, these wrong, likely tampered, receipts were the most infuriating of all: of what value are our well-considered choices when the system just discards them? How do we even blame the Filipino people for their choices when it seems that, in so many instances, the choices were made for them already? What’s the use of all this statistical analysis, pinning down the blame on so-and-so segment of the electorate, when things have been rigged from the get-go? It’s one thing to say that we get the government we deserve and choose, and yet another to find that our ability to choose has been crippled by machinations beyond our control. And as in so many aspects of our political and public life, there is no recourse. To complain is all we can do: despite these reports of possible tampering, the count continues, the “losers” have conceded, and now we have one would-be senator asking innocently if there are seminars for lawmaking, and another whose graft cases would disqualify him from your average white collar job, but who is apparently still worthy of a Senate seat.
This is not a TV show, and we are not entitled fans asking for a remake because things didn’t go our way. The expectation of honesty and transparency in government ought to be a right and ought to be something we can demand, but as the last three years have taught us, what we want as a nation has very little bearing on how things will actually go: we can rage as much as we want, and all complaints fall on deaf ears. How long before we take to the streets to mount our own “petition”? This is real life, and we all have to live with the ending.
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