Friday, December 11, 2009

Stairway to heaven

Okay, I must admit I have never watched an episode of this series, be it the Korean version or the Filipino version. But my mom likes it a lot and it's not the first time I had to listen to her tell me over again how some girl called Eunice could be so jealous of the bida girl called Jodi that she, the former, would run over the latter twice, which in effect, results in injuries that kill Jodi just after she finds happily ever after with Cholo at the end of the series.

The Filipino version was made by GMA7. (There are so many koreanovela remakes now it's easy to forget which station did what.) Anyhoo, my mom was just telling me last night how they changed the ending of the Pinoy version of Stairway to Heaven. She felt sad for Jodi not because she dies--she really dies in the original anyway--but because in our version she doesn't forgive Eunice. Isn't it funny that people in a non-Catholic country like Korea would see it fit for the character to forgive before she dies, but we wouldn't? After copying everything about the series (even the cold-weather clothing and Jodi's abominable bangs), we forget to add the important fact that Jodi dies having already forgiven her enemies.... My mom says, that's the main reason why Stairway is so nice, because Jodi was so good. Apparently she isn't as good in the Philippine setting.

Maybe we're just so smitten by the Cholo-Jodi love story that the series' (probably existent) finer points have been tossed aside for more cutesy scenes between the two. I heard before that stories for Korean television were written with family values and individual virtues in mind--perhaps that's why most of the koreanovelas have relatively big roles for parents and siblings--apart from the given bida guy and bida girl. (For the record, I have watched the korean Full House, Coffee Prince, and the first episodes of Princess Hours...and now that I think of it, all three aren't as "serious" as Stairway, in the sense that there is no character seeking some horrible revenge. For lack of a better word, they fall under the "pa-cute" genre.)

What is lacking in our TV culture? Besides the obvious disregard for dressing women well enough so that they are respected and not drooled over (gross, I know), there is a lack of teleserye storylines that really put nation-building values (be they individual or community values and virtues) to the fore. It really just looks like TV people have gotten so lazy that they simply recycle already-popular stories. And also like they're banking on the stars' "cuteness" to raise the ratings...

Good stories by themselves really do have the power to draw audiences. Before it got its Hollywood makeover, nobody read Harry Potter just because "Harry is cute"! It's the adventure that draws, not the "cuteness" of the character. If ever, people will admire Harry for his courage, not his good looks. (Besides, Rowling never wrote that Harry was good-looking.)

Frankly, Pinoy TV has become so focused on what characters look like that it has forgotten that, more important than the Ding-dong-Rhian, Piolo-KC, Richard-Heart cuteness oozing factor, it's how the characters face up to conflicts that makes a story come alive. What inherent qualities do they have that are admirable and worth emulating?

Maybe it's time we stop watching TV and read more books! At least through the books we choose, we're sure that nobody underestimates our intelligence. :P

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