Saturday, July 2, 2011

THE ART OF DEADMA

Deadma: (n) a bastardized translation of a Filipino idiom patay malisiya. Referring to the practice of deliberately, consciously if not maliciously ignoring an individual or a group in order to  a) avoid a confrontation, b) express disgust, dismay or feelings approximating such  or c) refusing to accept responsibility for consequences, repercussions or implications if and when a face-to-face situation takes.  Can also be used as a verb to put into action definition given above.



Filipinos are fond of deadma.  As a matter of fact, some have even turned it into an art.  I will admit that I am one of the masters of deadma.  I can enter a room full of people and zero in on a specific creature who I have resolved never to have anything to do in this present reincarnation. Having focused on such a sad life form in a venue where I am expected to embody finesse and even attempts at sophistication, I would rather turn on my deadma mode than be a drama queen.



Besides, there is a certain cheapness --- a contrived kind of unspeakable (but very printable and You-Tube-able) vulgarity in being a drama queen ... most especially when there are pairs of eyes focused on you and waiting for your explosion.  Given the option to make a spectacle of myself (which I am capable of doing if properly provoked or under the influence of tequila) or to do a very good impersonation of Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestley, I choose the higher road.  That is when the art of deadma approximates being educated and not susceptible for blind item discussion in tv shows like Juicy.


But in a business like show business (like no other business), deadma goes beyond the art of creative bitching.  It has become a work practice, a standard which has become acceptable not out of choice but because you can't do anything about it ...except get a lawyer.


Deadma in show business comes in various shapes and sizes --- and is practiced by everyone from the lowest of ranks to the demigods and demigoddesses whose sense of aesthetics have become the barometers of Philippine popular culture today.  Deadma can come in various forms --- and with various reasons --- again ranging from the most predictably basic (i.e., stupidity and bad manners) to the most incredibly contrived (i.e., just plain bad manners that is empowered by money, position and connections and a feeling that you can treat anybody any which way you choose because their careers are dependent on your mood swings). 



Professional deadma is no different from the petty snobbery that is found in social events --- except here, the act of ignoring is associated with the wonderment of forgetting.   



Selective amnesia: (n)a self-inflicted, non-neurological state wherein an individual consciously, conspicuously and deliberately pretends or approximates the act of forgetting selected facts, events, commitments and individuals in order to escape culpability, responsibility and accountability.  However, selective amnesia can be readily cured, usually by actions associated with indignation, litigation or even violence.


Selective amnesia is a more sophisticated term for professional deadma. 


A co-worker gave this most common example: he is an actor. 


He received a call from a talent coordinator, asking for his availability, cost of talent fee and schedule for a regular stint in a television soap opera. They talk price, schedule and commitment. He is asked to block off three days of each week for the taping schedule. However, true to the tradition of most media negotiations at this point in this country--- there is no written contract, no affidavit sealing the premilinary deal --- in other words, nothing binding except the exchange of words spoken or sent as text messages on the cell phone. Everything depends on the legendary "palabra de honor."


And then it happens.  


Professional deadma is when the actor does not receive any follow-up but learns that the production has pushed through and somebody else has replaced him for the role. 


Although there was no argument, no issue, no controversy to disavow the verbal agreement, there was also no follow-up nor notice to the actor to tell him that he was bumped off the project for one reason or another.  And all the while, the actor had blocked off his schedule, accepted no other commitment, and is now caught flat-footed and looking stupid. Also add flat broke.


But when the talent coordinator or production assistant is accosted for not even sending a three-sentence text message stating that he has been replaced for the role, the actor will receive the best sample of rehearsed surprise, overused finger pointing and the lamest apologies ever conceived by organisms so jaded by their work that they are no longer capable of sincerity.


This is when the famous Filipino words, "Akala ko kasi ..." comes into practical use. Also add the most abused and overused, "Pasensiya na po ...". Yeah, right.


Ah, such exhibitions of callousness and lack of consideration go all the way to the top of the heap (except they don't say sorry from the executive offices).  


Almost every one in the entertainment business knows that deadma has been an accepted practice and anyone who dares complain can get himself into worse trouble.  You can wake up to find out that the job promised to you has gone completely kaput ... and that all your hard work has led to absolutely nothing ... and you don't say anything.  You just deal with it like any post-traumatic stress that shall be benchmarks of your career in movies and tv.




In a close knit industry where everyone is a tito, tita, kuya or ate, complaining and talking about commitments are not part of good manners and right conduct.  Regardless of how inconsiderate others have become ... or how you were so badly short changed by a talent coordinator, an executive producer or even the producer himself ... you don't start barking like a crazed mongrel.You don't talk about human right ... you can't be too smart for your own good.


You end up being branded as hard to work with because of an attitude problem.


And what is that attitude problem? You don't give due respect to the hands that feed you ... even if the same hands hit you on the head, slap mud on your face and make you feel like you have no other right aside from taking whatever those hands can give. It doesn't only have to be a humble talent coordinator to show you the deadma works ... even the most respected producers can do the same ... and you simply sit back, sigh and say ... "One day, it will be my turn to shove the crap down their throats."


By that time, you too would have mastered the art of professional deadma.







2 comments:

  1. Thank you DJ, I shared it on my wall. See you whenever :-)

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  2. What a sad, sad tale. I guess it's a cycle that never ends, huh. :-(

    ReplyDelete