13 September 2009

Manila Times column for 06 September 2009: "Sell out, sell out wherever you are"

original post here.

inspired by current decisions and past ones, by friends and colleagues alike hehe.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Sell out, sell out wherever you are

I’ve come upon writers who are so concerned about this “business” of selling out that they are ashamed to say or promote what it is they are writing.

This is especially true of scriptwriters Some who I met are conscious of their status as writers for major TV networks, saying that they should be writing stories with values and deep philosophical insights or social relevance or whatever Instead, they regularly churn out fanfare material that will ponder to all types of audiences (the lower in the social rung, the better, according to network executives) Hey, if it pays the bills, then why should one be ashamed of it? And yes, people do watch these kinds of stories, shallow or otherwise Somebody has to write them.

I’ve even met some former classmates in film school who say these things, too, that they are sellouts because they write for TV, not for film Given the current state of Philippine cinema these past years, I wouldn’t blame them Even in the midst of the digital independent film revolution, scriptwriters still have a long way to go in terms of proper recognition, respect or pay So thus, there’s really nothing wrong with branching out to other writing avenues We all have to eat and live, right?

Literary writers also find themselves in this sellout rut when they realize that, instead of writing fiction or poetry—forms closer to their hearts—they write words for advertisement copy, press releases that sound more like praise releases, or fluffy features for lifestyle and entertainment publications For me, this is not really selling out but more of expanding one’s skills as a writer What’s wrong with a little fluff? We need it sometimes in our lives And yes, people do read this stuff Not all material we read should be deep down serious or profound, right? It’s just a matter of balance or preference, I guess And there should be writers supplying material at all ends.

I guess these writers complain about these things once they have already reached their saturation point That I understand, and I can relate to I’m sure each creative soul has a breaking point when it comes to writing what you want to write and writing what you need to write to earn a living I don’t see anything wrong with writing to earn a living, even if the material one is writing is not that close to one’s heart, or mind, or soul or whatever Yes, even if others brand you as a “sellout ” I say, so what? As long as a writer is happy writing what it is he or she writes, and she gets paid for writing it, then that’s all good I just wish some writers would stop “complaining” that they are sellouts when confronted with their situations Sometimes, the best “defense” is not being so defensive at all.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay scribevibe@gmail com She is also at libaycantor multiply com

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