On Mediocrity


I’ve encountered a lot of people who are hard on themselves. There’s an aspect of me that understands the need for perfection somehow, the world being how it turned out, where every Facebook status update, tweet or Instagram post may be met with indignant, wrongly-spelled, grammatically flawed replies that berate you for not standing up for the rights of the latest minority group that plugs itself to cyber consciousness. Every word needs to be changed into a more complicated one (even in my native Tagalog) just to try to erase the history it once carried. It is a world that made calling a person on a wheelchair “disabled” derogatory, and then, deluding itself that lengthening the term to “person with disability” somehow eases the blow. In Tagalog, we have treated our “katulong” so unfavourably that we eventually needed to let go of the word and call our house help “kasambahay.” Two neutral words have been turned into the devil by political correctness, but that’s the nature of the world moving forward.

On the one hand, you tell yourself you need the online audience. On the other, you ask yourself, “Do I really have to deal with these idiots?” The quest for perfection becomes the adult equivalent of caving in to adolescent peer pressure. However, while peer pressure is frowned upon, perfection is actually sanctioned by the adult community, usually in the guise of “You have to work hard if you want to achieve something.”

And then, there are the ones who are hard on other people but not hard enough on themselves. These are the people that I try so badly to understand, to sympathise with. I imagine such individual as an undistinguished child who never had the love and support of a parent. He may have been the child with the brighter or better-looking sibling. Growing up, he was the wingman of a more popular, more charismatic, more intelligent friend in school. No one knew the name of this person, just that he was the child/sibling/friend of the more popular one. Sure, he would eventually achieve something, but it would come after a number of tries, while others cruise towards the same achievement by trying just once. Even after having deluded himself that he is now the member of an elite group and hence, commands respect, someone would come along — effortlessly more articulate, better loved, taller — and he’s right back where he started, playing second fiddle to a superior neighbour. Something has to be done to make this neighbour — as well as every other innocent person in the vicinity — recognise his authority. It’s best to growl while no one has yet uttered dissent, not let anyone get a word in edgewise.

So you see, I’ve tried my best to understand the workings of a mediocre mind who wants people to do as he says, not as he does, but thus far, I’m unsuccessful. Has this person not considered being nicer, expanding his vocabulary or rising from mediocrity in any way — for example, exercising common sense — to lift himself up? Is being a brute really the only way to go?



Speaking of mediocre beasts, I watched the Beauty and the Beast movie. It had been hyped for years now, the live-action version of the critically-celebrated 1990s animation. The new movie certainly looked good in the teasers, but as a whole and in comparison with the animated movie, it’s just uninspired. The opening song lacked the energy of the animation. The singing of the award-winning “Be Our Guest” was not the festive moment that it should have been. I’m probably rendered biased by the fact that the animated Beauty and the Beast was shown when I still enjoyed going to the cinema and the live-action one when my taste for it has been rendered flat by having seen two of the stupid Twilight movies.

Perhaps it’s inevitable that movies such as this one suck by comparison. As a book reader, I expected something great because somebody from the Harry Potter movies is in it, and she seems well-read, and she seems nice. It may be the expectation that kills the entire movie for me. I already knew the story — the lines, in fact — by heart. They should come up with something truly spectacular to get me to like their movie.

Except, do they really need me — or anyone else — to like their movie? They never come up with anything new and I’m thinking that, to the people behind the movie, it’s enough that people get suckered into the cinema. Who cares what they think after they’ve paid for the ticket?

Again, I’m put off by the political correctness. In order to assuage the feelings of the gay community, one character has to be outed as a homosexual. What’s wrong with this is not that he’s gay, but that his sexual orientation has nothing to do with any of the important plot points. The only reason for the filmmakers to go around saying they’ve created a gay character is to get people to ooh-and-aah the decision, as in “Ooh, they’re so progressive and open-minded!” And to get the LGBT leaders’ seal of approval so that the staunch believers will flock to the theatre hoping to see a piece of them in Gaston.

By the end of the animated movie, I didn’t care much if the beast transforms back into a man. It was enough that he and Belle gets together. By the end of the live action movie, I didn’t care. I just wanted to go back to my blog and bitch.

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