I don’t have much experience with indie films – or films in general – but I do know that Cinemalaya films are a must-watch for they expose issues in society rarely discussed and much less shown on film. And so, I made it a goal to watch a Cinemalaya film this year – finally after being cooped up in the province for so long where Cinemalaya is virtually inaccessible.
With so many great films to choose from, I didn’t know where to begin. A friend recommended #Y and it being about my generation, I opted to watch it. And so, at 9pm on a Thursday night, there I was, alone, in Greenbelt, watching #Y.
I didn’t really know what to expect from the film. The reviews were mostly vague. And nothing could have prepared me for the film’s effect. Seemingly shallow at the beginning, the more I dwell on it, the more it exposed issues inside of me – issues I have been too afraid to disclose; issues I have set aside and never really dealt with. It was not your usual indie film. It didn’t just expose issues in society – it exposes issues within yourself.
And so, after almost a week of having seen the film and after countless discussions with friends, officemates, myself and even the director – here is my take on the film and how it has purged me of my own personal demons.
The overall apparent theme of the movie was suicide. The trailer unapologetically led people to believe it was a film simply revolving on sex, drugs and alcohol and never really gave a hint that it was primarily about suicide. Hence it was a shock when the film opened with the main character – Miles (Elmo Magalona) – lying on the pavement, in his own pool of blood.
And from there, it was a flashback to how it all began.
The suicide theme was softened by Miles’ comedic monologue. I found it funny when, even while lying in the pavement, apparently dead, the audience can still hear his thoughts – about how dying by jumping off a building, despite being really fast, was in fact, very painful.
No one really knew why Miles would commit suicide. In fact, his family and friends all pretty much had good opinions about him. They saw him as having everything he could wish for and living a pretty much good life. No one knew why he would do it. But I do.
And that I have expounded here.
Sex was another overriding theme in the movie. It tackled how sex is the norm in today’s generation and how the days of Maria Clara and sex-after-marriage are seemingly down the drain. My mom would have a fit when she reads my exposition on sex – and my vast knowledge of it but such is the reality of things.
I am not naïve and no novice though definitely not a Janna (Coleen Garcia). How pre-marital sex fits in to my being a Christian is discussed here.
What I like about how the film tackled sex is that it presented it very realistically. Mainstream films would show sex scenes wherein apparently everything is smooth sailing and the couple experience orgasms simultaneously. It showed sex as something very sexy and all glammed up. In reality, sex is far from that.
Guys struggle with premature ejaculation and most are not even aware that they should hold it off till after the girl reaches her own orgasm. Girls take a while before the big-O, sometimes never, and so guys should be more sensitive with their partners. It was funny how Miles, in his attempt to hold off, thought about everything – Math, what-not – eventually ending up with cellulite just to hold his excitement in.
Growing up without much realistic guidance and yet being exposed to so many stimulants, how is my generation expected to cope?
Lia’s (Sophie Albert) expressions while having sex with Miles were also more connected to reality than the screaming images of women having sex in mainstream films. Girls are made to believe that during sex they have to scream or be noisy or say dirty words when in fact, these are only true in porn movies. It is perfectly normal for girls not to scream in bed.
Janna’s slutty stories are funny yet downright shocking. One would think such stories are not reality. But if you ever read Ladies’ Confessions in FHM, you’d be surprised at the wild stuff they make up. Janna’s stories pale in comparison. And as they say, where there is smoke, there is fire. How true then could these stories be? How rowdy is this generation then?
My generation is growing up in a society where the guidelines around sex is outdated. Where sex education is opposed by overly conservative religious zealots who are too blinded to accept reality and thus are unable to competently tackle the issues head on. Growing up without much realistic guidance and yet being exposed to so many stimulants, how is my generation expected to cope?
My personal catharsis on sex is found here.
Probably the first theme that resonated in me from the film is cheating. Ping’s (Kit Thompson) monologue had an impact on me when he said that “for guys, it is natural to cheat. Because it’s in our nature and it’s purely a biological thing we need to address to – kalibugan. But for girls, cheating is a premeditated process. ”
The next day, I brought the entire issue up with my co-Gen Y officemates. I asked them if cheating was acceptable and if guys who cheat are less of a sinner than girls who do. One thing that half day discussion revealed was that cheating IS cheating and both parties who participated are just as guilty regardless of their gender. There can never be any excuse to cheating and it can never be justifiable.
Men and women cheat differently but the underlying action is still wrong. However, to qualify as cheating, does sex have to be involved? Or can you also cheat on your partner without sex coming into the picture?
When you already have someone, and yet you start to fancy having another relationship with another person or when you are already in a commitment, yet you start to crave the attention and the connection with a totally different person – aren’t you, in a sense already cheating? When you start flirting with that cute co-worker when you already have a significant other waiting at home – aren’t you already cheating?
Sex is not a precursor for cheating. You can cheat and not have sex. Cheating is not involuntary. It is a conscious and deliberate act. It is a choice.
My personal catharsis here.
In the movie, religion in the eyes of the youth was touched on when Janna deliberated which religion suited her best. She lamented how every Sunday, she was a picture of a demure and holy girl – a stark contrast to her actual slutty self the rest of the week. And yet in her quest to fill the spiritual emptiness inside, she has settled on Catholicism as the perfect religion for the sheer fact that it allows for her to pretend holiness when in fact she knows that most everyone in the room are probably going to Hell.
Fulfillment – a sense of purpose – is derived from having a relationship.
My one-cent here is that, religion is never the answer to anything. You don’t derive fulfilment from religion. You don’t derive peace or a sense of well-being from becoming a devout part of any religious group or order.
Fulfillment – a sense of purpose – is derived from having a relationship. We all know that there is a Higher Being than us. That Higher Being is the one who can fill the void in our spiritual selves. It is merely up to us to discover and cultivate a relationship with that Higher Being. Different religious beliefs call it different things – and many people swore and die that theirs is the one true being. I will not get in a debate here who the one true god is.
Suffice to say, I have found my spiritual relationship and it works for me. If you are searching, you are free to join in and have a relationship with Him too. Who knows, it might prevent you from falling prey to the traps of suicide and depression and finally liberate you from the chains of religiosity.
A PARENT’S CONCERN
So how are parents supposed to deal with Gen Y kids now? I bet it’s troubling for any parent to watch the film knowing full well that his or her son or daughter faces such issues. I bet it is unsettling to know that you can pour out your love and your life to raising a pretty damn good kid only to find out in the end that you are powerless to prevent him from taking his own life – rendering your efforts at lovingly raising him futile.
Miles parents gave him everything he wanted and needed. They were strict enough to check on his party ways yet lax enough to allow him to have a good time with friends. They gave him what he asked for and he was never in want. He did not live a life of scandal or a life of financial want. Of the lot, he was the one with a pretty good life surrounded by supportive and understanding parents.
So what went wrong?
*shrug* His parents remain clueless. Reeling from the pain of losing their only child, they blame themselves and beat themselves for what they could have done better. Many would say they couldn’t have prevented it. That there was no way they could have known he would kill himself. And that they need not be too harsh on themselves.
And I would probably agree if I was writing this some years back. But now I know better. I know that there was something Miles’ parents could have done that would have prevented their son from committing suicide.
What is it? My exposition on how Miles parents could have saved him here.
Privileged kids are not so privileged after all. Life is a great equalizer. It knows how to strike a balance. They may have all the riches in the world, and seemingly lead one heck of a life but deep down issues still plague them and they lead lives pretty much the same as ordinary people in society.
Gino Santos’ exposition on the issues of the rich kids is in fact an exposition on the issues faced by many Gen Y today. While it may be true that not everyone has access to high caliber drugs or ultra-socialite parties, it is true that everyone suffers from isolation – and to a greater extent, depression – in a world 24/7 connected by the Internet and social media.
While the trailer and synopsis said #Y was a film on the Internet, drugs, sex, alcohol, and the occasional YOLO, it is in fact a film about isolation, double-standards, bullying, coping mechanisms and peer pressure among others. It’s a film that dwelled on the real issues that Gen Y face when one tries to pry deeper in their often times narcissistic selves (selfie anyone?).
Although, I found the film shallow at the start, my initial reaction being that of indignation, in the end I was forced to admit that I was living in denial of the issues plaguing me within. Even though after watching the film, I was left screaming inside disagreeing with whoever made the film, in the end I had to concede that I disagreed because I was too scared to admit that I could actually relate.
Even if I believed in the beginning that whoever made the film probably lived in a secluded world of rich snobs who knew nothing about society and the real issues of today’s Gen Y; in the end I had to give him credit that his perception is actually more accurate than most of us and he knew what he was talking about.
I’d like to think of myself as extremely positive, an optimist and someone excited for what life has in store ahead but I have to also admit that life is not all rosy and that it is in fact filled with loopholes and muddied trenches.
It’s just that I had made the choice to focus on the silver lining; to anticipate the calm after the storm; and to make the most of whatever life throws at me. It is for this reason that I believe I have overcome the issues plaguing my generation and myself, finally having been liberated from the chains that bind me.