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Monday, August 01, 2005

God Bless you Ben Stein

It is with deep regret that I have not been blogging and bloghopping the past couple of days because I had been very busy with work. Much to my regret, I missed this post of my friend The Cat where she featured an article written by Ben Stein, which he claims, would be the last article he would write for his column "Monday Night at Morton's" after seven or eight years of writing it. The column is about a steak house called Morton which is supposedly frequented by movie stars. However, I am still in luck for another blogging friend, actually, idol, Sassy emailed the same article to me.

I have seen Ben Stein in a couple of shows before. There was this trivia quiz I regularly watched in Canada while seated on the couch and trying to answer the questions before the contestants gave out the answer. The idea was whoever won the match would pit it out with Ben Stein and grab his money. I forgot the title of the show. Then, I've seen him at Fox News giving his opinions on economic issues, and lastly, at that talent show hosted by, I think, Arsenio Hall. Yes, Ben Stein might be uninteresting on the surface, with that inanimated voice and sleepy stance on tv but he sure is smart. Now that I've read this article, I came to realize he's even smarter than I thought he is.

Anyway, in this article, we see how Ben Stein got to an enlightened realization that while it is true that society may not have changed looking for heroes, it has changed its criteria through time.

Beyond that, a bigger change has happened. I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.

He talked about how he shifted his ideas of what constitute heroism from these huge money makers to the ordinary soldier in Iraq, the policemen and firemen and women who will put their lives at risk without fear for life and limb just so the citizens of the world can live peacefully and happily.

Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.

A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit, Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.

What do I make out of this article? Why the interest? There are two things I want to point out here. First, the article moved me for I feel the same thing. Why do people look up to these so called "stars" making them ultra rich while thousands of people out there are sacrificing their lives for a measly sum? What kind of values do we have? Then that made me think this may be one of those perks of capitalism. The more money you have, the greater you are. Nevermind how wealth is attained. As long as you have plenty of it, you are worthy of emulation. This makes you realize how parents would make their "talented" child stand long hours in a queue to audition for a role, or a kiddie contest in a noontime show. The "return of investment" should the child succeed is staggering!

Second, can we say that the average Filipino cop worthy of our adulation? What with all the bribery, the corruptness and sometimes, the lack of intelligence that seems to plague policedom in the country today. What about firemen? We have heard how these firefighters would, holding his waterpump, stand guard on the richest guy in the neighborhood simply because he was promised a reward, or the looting that took place during a fire. Do I dare mention politicians? So, who do you think would be our heroes? I am tempted to say teachers but that would be self-serving. I'll let you be the judge.

What I do know is that I envy Stein for he has found his true heroes. Can we say the same thing if ever we wanted to have a paradigm shift in choosing our heroes?

You can read Ben Stein's article here



Anonymous bugsybee said...

Hello Tito Rolly - this post took a long time coming (but I know you're busy).
I just want to comment about this - why do people make stars "ultra rich" when so many are sacrificing their lives for a measly sum?

Exactly my thought each time I see these stars and I read about how much they make. I can't help but think of our teachers ... as usual, these are the people who are at the low-end portion of the salary scale. Why?

I've not found the answer until now but maybe, just maybe, it's because can you imagine how much education would cost if you receive the equivalent of Tom Hank's talent fee? Education would then no longer be affordable.

2:14 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Bugsybee Of course, you're right. That's why teaching is called a vocation and not a career, no? Hay naku, I'm fated not to be rich. Buti na lang ayoko naman talagang yumaman ng husto. hehe

3:58 PM  
Anonymous bugsybee said...

Sa dami ng masamang tao ngayon, ma-kidnap ka pa o kaya ma-holdup! Teaching na lang tayo, ibang klaseng yaman naman at hindi pa pwedeng nakawin.

4:23 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Oo naman. MAhirap ding maging mayaman. Mauubos ang oras mo kaiisip kung pano hindi mababawasan ang pera mo at kung pano pa ito lalong kikita kasi high living ka na e.

Yes, I'd rather live a simple but happy life.

4:45 PM  
Blogger cathcath said...

kaya titorolly i do not watch the reality show of britney spears and his
hygiene-challenged husband. why should i they make them rich by patronizing their crap.

12:27 AM  
Blogger ting-aling said...

I do not know why I have never been attracted to money. In fact, my only wish is to have just enough to keep me happy and healthy.

I have never idolized the "stars". Whenever I see a movie, I don't focus on the star but I focus on the story instead. That's why, you will seldom hear me remember a star's name but I could narrate the story.

I think it is but human that we tend to think that only those with glitters are heroes (like FPJ with his agimat). Exactly the reason why our perspective of heroism (esp in the Philippines) has extremely eroded. It is only when we mature that our perspectives shift to more meaningful ones. Pero kelan yon? Tingnan niyo tuloy kung anong naging bearing ng ating mga pulis.

1:36 AM  
Blogger NvyBlu789 said...

TITO ROLLY, hi! Everything you said up above on your blog I wholeheartedly agree with. Each year, I assign the 5th graders a persuasive essay: "Who Should Be Paid More, Teachers or Sports Athletes/Movie Stars?". Whenever I come across a "movie star should..." essay, I can't help but feel so disappointed.

Little off-topic: My goal in life is not to make a lot of money or appear rich. I don't care how rich you are in the Phils, when you come to the States you have to work in order to maintain everything you have. But it seems like there are people nowadays don't live within their means. I don't know what it is about some of us here in who are in America. Some want to live like as if their zip code is 90210. Having credit cards up the wah-zoo! When they are "short", they wanna borrow somebody else's credit card or borrow money from a friend/co worker. Some parents work 16 hour jobs just to pay the monthly finance bill for a brand new luxury cars and homes with nice furniture, but also complain why their children are hooked on drugs and hanging around with the wrong barkada. They chase after material things but when it comes to financing their child's college education and send them to a good university, they retreat to "Hindi namin kaya".

I know, I know it's their perogative. I guess we just have to put everything in the right balance.

4:34 AM  
Anonymous sis said...

"who do you think would be our heroes?"

maybe, another good question to ask is, how do we tap the hero in each of us? why not look inwards? everyday we are given the chance to be heroic in our own ways--but do we answer to these opportunities?

in that sense, i'd say teachers are very blessed bec of the greater potential for us to make a difference in the lives of young people. and this may partly explain why, in teaching, it has never been about the money...most of us got hooked on the lifestyle...a totally different 'high' :)

(btw, 'yung show po ay "win ben stein's money")

8:35 AM  
Blogger rolly said...

Cathy I didn't even know there was a Britney Spears reality show. Sabagay kahit alam ko yun, just knowing that its about hygiene challenged people, I wouldn't be interested siguro. hehehe

tingaling I never did either. Minsan nagtataka ko sa mga kaibigan kong babae kasi bigla na lang silang magbubulungan at kikiligin, akala ko kung bakit, yun pala, may nakitang artista. Hindi ko naman kilala.

And yes, idolizing movie stars is so prevalent in our country that we even elect them in high government positions unable to distinguish their reel life from th real one.

Nvyblu I think the "keeping up with the Jones's" phenomenon can be explained like this. Filipinos who go overseas sacrifice leaving the country, family and friends to strike it rich. The sooner they realize this goal, the better. And because the manifestations of striking it big in America is the possession of material things, they go at great lengths to purchase more and live more than their wage can offer. Well, that is a generalization but I'm sure that's one of the explanations.

sis Of course, teachers are heroes. But as I said, I am a teacher so saing that would sound self-serving. :-)

Yes! Win Ben Stein's money! How could I have forgotten? Well, it's been three years since I last saw that show.

5:34 AM  
Blogger BatJay said...

yung neighbor ko sa house on a hill namin eh dating pulis. umalis sa serbisyo dahil di na raw niya kaya ang kotong. naka assign siya sa illigal gambling at marami atang napatay na mga hueteng lords.

9:11 AM  
Blogger eruannie said...

OFF TOPIC, tito rolly - i tagged you for a book meme :-)

2:12 PM  
Blogger vonjobi said...

off topic: thanks for dropping by. your questions are probably better answered by lawyers who blawg =)

all i can really say is that "portions of a book" will probably fall under "fair use." however, the definition of "fair use" varies.

re views on movie stars and teachers, it really just goes to show where an individual's priorities lie.

parang politics yan. do we or do we not deserve the officials we elected to malacanang and congress? oops, sobrang off-topic na yata =)

1:22 PM  
Blogger rolly said...

Batjay Pano mo nga ba gagawing hero ang mga ganyan? Nakakaawa nga kung saksakan ng baba ng sweldo nila pero kung ganyan namang nangungurakot na, mali talaga.

eruannie I'll see if I can do that today.

vonjobi I think I know where most of the Filipinos' priorities lie, put in that context.

6:58 AM  

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Jack of all trade, master of none. First a disclaimer. My students have discovered this blog and they might think that what I write is gospel truth. Worse is they might find an argument that they think they can use, for some reason or another, against their teachers. So, to set the record straight, it is NOT. As a matter of fact, I write and open it to feedback to get another view in the hope that somebody would tell me if I am wrong and reenforce my thinking if it is right. Not that I will accept anything thrown my way, though. Just so I can think about it some more and decide whether my original stance is right or definitely off tangent. So there. I hope that clarifies everything. Now, on to blogging.

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