[Opinion] Describing politics of fame

On May this year, registered voters all over the country will again troop to their respective voting centers to cast a vote for their chosen representatives in the senate, in congress, and to fill the positions for governor, mayor and council members as well as a party-list representative.

In the last 2010 elections, there were candidates who lost in spite of their financial resources and well-organized campaign machinery. There were also those unlucky despite being incumbents. Moreover, there were “new comers” who emerged victorious.

A political analyst pointed out the element of popularity and fame in bringing to victory these “new comers”. Fame has silently worked behind the scenes influencing our choices of candidates.

In the Philippine context, he emphasized, fame is an effective element which can elicit the necessary votes for the “new comers” to the political arena.

The elements of popularity and fame are working to the advantage of individuals who have acquired “publicness” because of their careers. This is the reason why we have more showbiz personalities, TV and radio anchors, sportspersons and their wives and children in the political arena today.

Two weekends ago, veteran Ilongga journalist Diosa Labiste, discussed “politics of fame” before media practitioners. It was the first topic, among the series of issues related to elections and media practice, organized under the Iloilo Media Institute of the Iloilo Press Club led by another old-timer Ilonggo journalist Boy Mejorada, and supported by this newspaper.

Diosa, who earned her doctorate degree in journalism from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, said that “politics of fame in the Philippines is a function of charisma and commodification, in which the socio-economic and political conditions are implicated.”

Labiste said it is our culture of consumption which nurtures personalistic politics. Charisma, of course, is an important characteristic demanded by people especially the masses for it serves as a measure of who are isolated and who can easily connect to people. Connection is an important component in communications.

According to Diosa, the culture of consumption is the frame of understanding celebrity politics”. This is the reason why celebrities in spite of their inadequacies as leaders will continue to thrive in our society. In the same manner, it is also worth pointing out that those individuals who have not acquired the celebrity-like status in society will always thread the path towards fame in its selfish aspiration to acquire political position.

That’s why we have more song and dance numbers in our political rallies rather discussions of platforms and programs for the people.

This is what politics of fame is all about. It is about forgetting the profiteering of people’s money by previously elected officials, their fame will serves as their ticket for re-election. It is about tolerance to those who are incompetent and unfit to occupy public office. Yet the politics of fame is a poignant reminder of our political immaturity as people. This is what describes our political life as a nation.*

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