Posted by: nastypen | April 21, 2008

To Whore or Not To Whore

That is a question for artists. A decade ago, there was a little debate in a Fine Arts class. It was about the concept of selling out. The professor discussed on a certain ad agency’s rule that they will not get cigarettes as client. Was this a good thing or not? Of course, you have the young idealists hailing it as the most beautiful act on earth. Me? I was such a closet optimist with a perpetually raised left eyebrow in cynicism. I simply snorted, “Wow. Smoking is evil, yes. However, isn’t the core reason for advertising is to make people WANT things that they don’t exactly need? That is not exactly an act of goodness isn’t it?”

The professor decided to throw the question at the students, “Will you sell out?”

I sat up front in the room. I glanced around the class and there was a murmur among the students. One immediately said “Of course not! I will not sell out.” The person then sprouted forth on the dignity of the artist as the unbridled beholder of truth to society. Nope, those are my words. The classmate ATTEMPTED to articulate that.

Others agreed with the classmate that being an artist is far too noble a position to be dealing with marketing forces and focus group discussions. I just sat there with a smug look.  My friends, too, were introspective about the situation.

The professor looked at me and smiled, “How about you, Jose? Will you sell out?”

I sighed, “I guess it’s ok for me to sell my soul, just as long as i know how to buy it back.”

I could hear the scoffs behind my back.  My friend Mara smiled her beautiful smile, patted my back and said it was the best answer.  The professor smiled wide and nodded.  I didn’t get that smile.  Did she not believe me?  Did she think I was too much of a pragmatist?   Was that smile a show of pity?  I didn’t know.

Anyway…..

To date, the person who vehemently was against selling out is currently very much attached to the advertising and marketing industries. That person has championed ad campaigns to make you feel inadequate because only hot people are cool enough for that brand of jeans hence forcing the issue of being aspirational as making you buy those jeans to be cool like the people in the ads. Hooray for principles.

I am not trying to be noble. PUH-LEEEZE! I can’t do nobility! I think villainy has more character. In Disney films, I wanted to be the wicked witch, wicked stepmother…..they had better laughter and had an interesting fashion sense. I have had my share of soul-shrivelling experiences of selling out.  I have the emotional scars to prove them.  However….I didn’t sell out……much. I guess I’m still waiting for the highest bidder. Wahahahaha!!!!!

I typed this blog entry because a college friend of mine is so bummed out that he is heading this photography workshop somewhere. He said, “For 15 kiyaw at trip to the beach, pinuta ko art principles ko. kinagat ko ung 15 thou and beach trip para kumita sila.”  (For Fifteen thousand pesos and a trip to the beach I whored my art principles.  I swallowed the bait of fifteen thousand pesos and a beach trip for them to make more money from this.”

I told him it’s ok.  We have to do these episodes of inconvenience to see us through and give us the benefit of perspective.  I told him I bought some printmaking materials and he was delighted.  He said that when he returns to Manila, I should teach him.  I mentioned to him, “Don’t worry about whoring.  Art will heal that.”

I thought of my barkada in Fine Arts.  Most of us are not making doubloons of money.  Only one of us is in the advertising agency.   We barely meet because  we are too busy and we can barely afford to meet sometimes.  We are too busy with rackets and a jobs to make us afford just a bit of what we really like to do.  But I am comforted.  Most of us are allergic to constricting cubicles.  If we subject ourselves to battery of corporate abuse, we seek refuge in art.  One makes short films/documentaries.  Another draws comics.  Some make gag vlogs.  Another takes beautiful photographs.  Most of us are doing what we want and need to do.  And that is not a bad deal for now.

I now understand that professor’s smile.  I have that same smile, too.

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Responses

  1. somehow, while reading this entry i remembered yung character sa ‘heroes,’ that guy who had to take heroin so he could paint the future. his paintings turned out to be instrumental in saving the world. 🙂

  2. aba nga naman… hindi ko tuloy alam kung sellout ako or hinde 😀

    other samples pa

  3. My name is F*** and I have been a “whore,” too for some time.

  4. They made me bend over and asked me to smile while they screwed my principles out of me. And I did what they asked because I was, for a moment, persuaded to be a freaking yuppie with a glittering job to show off to the world.

    All that glitters isn’t gold.

    Cow dung looks like gold under the moonlight.

    Never again.


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